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LUNCHEON MEETING AUGUST 23, 2016
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 Silver Star.

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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This unit was established in October 1967. Membership is open to any retired, active duty, former or reserve officer, including Warrant Officers, and widows of uniformed officers.

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