U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson
Press Release

Senator Johnson, Congressman Grothman Lead Legislation to Award Fond du Lac Native World War II Veteran the Medal of Honor


By - Feb 22nd, 2021 11:00 pm

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 today to request President Joe Biden award the Medal of Honor to Lt. Col.  James “Maggie” Megellas, a Wisconsin native and World War II veteran, for 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.).

Megellas died in April 2020 at the age of 103.  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 is originally from Fond du Lac (and most recently lived in Texas) and is one of our nation’s most revered soldiers. He served with the Army’s 82ndAirborne Division during World War II and is recognized as the most decorated officer in the history of the division.

“It is a privilege to continue this quest on behalf of  Lt. Col. Megellas,” Sen. Johnson said. “His heroic actions helped ensure the liberation of Europe and our nation’s continued freedom.  He is the most decorated officer in the history of the 82nd Airborne with the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He has been recommended for the Medal of Honor since 1945. It’s high time this happens.”

“James Megellas’ heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge saved precious American lives and deserve our nation’s highest military recognition,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I am glad to join Senators Johnson and Baldwin in recommending he be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to memorialize this Texan’s selflessness and bravery.”

“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,” said Sen. Baldwin. “With the passing  of James Megellas last year, I’m proud to introduce legislation that would award this Wisconsin veteran the Medal of Honor and recognize the deep sense of honor and devotion to his fellow soldiers that he so bravely displayed on the battlefield.”

“More than 70 years ago, Lt. Col. Megellas proudly represented the United States with a display of heroism in the face of one of WWII’s bloodiest battles that is deserving of our nation’s highest military honor,” said Rep. Glenn Grothman.  “He saved many lives and stopped the advance of enemy troops to protect his brothers in arms without regard to his own safety. Luckily, Maggie survived the ordeal and so did many American soldiers who would not have if Maggie was absent. I thank Senator Johnson for joining me in recognizing a local hero and hope that the rest of my colleagues in Congress can come together in a bipartisan manner to recognize that Maggie is a true American hero who deserves to be awarded the Medal of Honor.”

Megellas 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.

Then, during the Battle of the Bulge, Megellas led an outnumbered platoon in a successful attack on enemy forces near Herresbach, Belgium. Soldiers testified that 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.

Mentioned in This Press Release

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