Congressman Petri Calls for Medal of Honor for James Megellas

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday Rep. Tom Petri introduced H.R. 795, legislation to awardthe Congressional Medal of Honor to former Fond du Lac resident James Megellas.Jim Megellas served with great distinction in World War II, especially during the Battle of the Bulge when he single-handedly took on a number of German soldiers and led his unit to success in their part of the battlefield, Petri said. All of his colleagues who served when he engaged in his World War II heroism have supported his getting the Medal of Honor, and – he has just about every other medal in the book, frankly. And this would be a great capstone to his career.

Petri explained that on January 28, 1945, then Lt. Megellas led his platoon of the 82nd Airborne Division on a surprise and devastating attack on a much larger advancing German force, killing and capturing a large number of the enemy and causing others to flee. In an act of fearless courage, Megellas single-handedly destroyed an attacking German Mark V tank with two hand-held grenades. He then led the charge of his men and seized Herresbach, Belgium.

After serving four years as a rifle platoon leader during World War II, including many combat jumps into Italy and Holland, Megellas left the active Army and served for 16 years in the Army Reserve. He retired after 20 years of service as a lieutenant colonel.

His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Star Medals, two Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, and he is credited with being the 82nd Airborne Divisions most decorated officer. During World War II, General James Gavin selected one 82nd officer – Lt. James Megellas – to receive the Military Order of Willhelm Orange Lanyard from the Dutch Minister of War on behalf of his division.

To this day, James Megellas continues to inspire, Petri said. In February 2006, 61 years after that momentous battle, James Maggie Megellas set foot on a battlefield with fellow 82nd Airborne Division soldiers, this time in a current theater of war – Afghanistan. He was impressed with what he saw of the paratroopers and their work. He listened to their stories of the past year of deployment and shared with them his own experiences during World War II. Maggie continues to inspire by speaking to groups across the country about his experience and is planning to observe his 90th birtday in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne troops, Petri said

Link to Congressman Petris website: Petri Calls for Recognition of Fond du Lac Hero

Audio link to Congressman Petris speech: Audio (MP3) Available