LUNCHEON MEETING AUGUST 23,
JAMES MEGELLES, LT. COL. US ARMY (RETIRED)
James Megellas is a retired United States Army
officer who commanded a platoon in Company "H" of
the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
(PIR), 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.
He is "the most-decorated officer in the history of
the 82nd Airborne Division," having received a
Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, and
has been nominated for the Medal of Honor.
His awards are the Silver Star, Distinguished
Service Cross. His military operations were: Battle
of the Bulge, Operation Market Garden, World War II
and Operation Shingle.
Originally assigned to the Signal Corps he grew
tired of additional schooling and he volunteered to
become a paratrooper to see combat. He first
experienced combat in the mountain of Naples, Italy
where he was wounded and hospitalized. He remained
behind while the rest of his 82nd departed to recoup
before the Invasion of Normandy.
The 504th took part
in Operation Shingle and also in the Assault on
Anzio where he was wounded again in heavy fighting.
The 504th parachuted into the Netherlands in
Operation Market Garden where he took part in
crossing the Waii river with the 504th in flimsy
boats under heavy fire.
During this operation Megellas single-handedly
attacked a German observation post and machine gun
nest. For this action he was awarded the U.S.
military's second highest decoration, the
Distinguished Service Cross. In late December the
504th was rushed to the Battle of the Bulge.
Megellas platoon was advancing toward Belgium and
struggling in heavy snow and surprised 200 Germans
who were leaving town, Catching them off-guard the
attack was devastating. They started to enter the
town and a Mark V tank took aim at them and Megellas
ran towards the tank and disabled it with a grenade.
Climbing on top of it he dropped another grenade
eliminating a threat to his men. He then led his men
in seizing the town and not one man was killed or
wounded. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor but
since the records of his actions was not included in
the original battle reports he was awarded the
Throughout the war he served with Company H 504 PIR
and would later come to command the group. In
January 1946, he led his company in the Victory
Parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City.
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