Bipartisan legislative seeks Medal of Honor for Fond du Lac native James Megellas
Washington, February 24, 2021
By: Sharon Roznik (Fond du Lac Reporter)
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) introduced companion bills in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday to request President Joe Biden award the Medal of Honor to Lt. Col. James “Maggie” Megellas.
Megellas, a Fond du Lac native and World War II veteran, is considered a war hero for his acts of valor during the Battle of the Bulge.
The Senate bill (S.367) is co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).
Legislation has been introduced in each of the last four sessions of Congress to award Megellas the Medal of Honor. This legislation for the 117th Congress continues the effort posthumously on behalf of Megellas.
Megellas, who most recently lived in Texas, died in April 2020 at the age of 103.
He served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division during World War II and is recognized as the most decorated officer in the history of the division. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
“His heroic actions helped ensure the liberation of Europe and our nation’s continued freedom," Johnson said. "He has been recommended for the Medal of Honor since 1945. It’s high time this happens.”
The World War II veteran participated with distinction in the landing at Anzio, in Operation Market Garden, and in the Battle of the Bulge, among other battles. He and his fellow troops courageously crossed the Waal River near Nijmegen, Netherlands, in small boats under substantial machine gun fire.
During a night patrol in the Netherlands, Megellas crawled forward alone and killed two outpost guards and the crew of a machine gun nest. After the attack, he carried a wounded man to safety while firing a submachine gun with one hand. For this, Megellas was awarded the military’s second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross.
At the Battle of the Bulge, Megellas led an outnumbered platoon in a successful attack on enemy forces near Herresbach, Belgium. Soldiers testified Megellas single-handedly attacked and destroyed a German Mark V Panther tank with two grenades and a submachine gun. His citation noted that his platoon did not suffer a casualty during the battle, a remarkable feat.
In 2015, Congress passed a bill designating the U.S. Postal Service facility in Fond du Lac as the Lt. Col. James “Maggie” Megellas Post Office.
“James Megellas' service and heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge remind us of the American values that define us as one nation united,” Baldwin said.