FOND DU LAC, Wisc. — James “Maggie” Megellas, the highly decorated veteran of World War II received a rare honor. The post office in his hometown was renamed for the remarkable 99-year-old veteran in June.
The bill passed unanimously in the Senate in August 2015. In March, Congress passed the bill and President Obama signed it into law.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who introduced the bill, called Megellas one of the nation’s most revered soldiers. He served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and is the most decorated officer in the history of the division.
“I’m pretty excited,” Megellas said from his home in Texas about the honor, as reported in the Fond du Lac Reporter. “Coming from my home town, this has a lot of meaning to me, and I lived in Fond du Lac most of my life.”
He and his wife, Carole Megellas, returned to Fond du Lac for the post office renaming celebration. At the ceremony, Megellas said, “It’s something I will never forget, even in my waning years. I will never forget this moment.”
Senator Johnson noted in the news release, “His heroic actions helped ensure the liberation of Europe and our nation’s continued freedom. It is appropriate that the Fond du Lac post office carry the name of one of the finest among us. It will remind us of his heroism for generations to come.”
Megellas has yet to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest award of the U.S. Military. Originally recommended for the award, it was, however, downgraded to a Silver Star due to details omitted from the report. A letter-writing campaign as well as an online effort to see Megellas receive the Medal of Honor continues.
Among the battles Megellas participated in with distinction were the landing at Anzio, Italy, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. He and his fellow troops crossed the Waal River in the Netherlands in small boats under substantial machine gun fire.
Then, Megellas carried a wounded man on his back while firing his machine gun with one hand.
He received the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest decoration in the military, for that effort. Megellas was also awarded multiple times with the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.
In 1946, Megellas left the Army as a Captain, and then continued to serve in the Army Reserve for 16 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
He was elected First President of the Fond du Lac City Council, and later appointed by President John F. Kennedy to direct the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
His postings included Yemen, Panama, and Vietnam. He spent 32 years with USAID.
Born in Fond du Lac to Greek immigrant parents, lifetime AHEPA member Megellas is a proud Greek-American whom many believe should be honored for his service.
In February, House Members Pete Sessions, Gus Bilirakis, and Carolyn Maloney – the latter two co-Chairs of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus – circulated a letter calling for Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy to grant his urgent consideration and personal review of Lt. Col. Megellas’ Medal of Honor case.
Rep. Maloney said in May “we were all inspired and humbled by Maggie’s story that he shared with us during his Capitol Hill visit. We are working to make sure that the Army sees any new information that would justify another review so that this American hero gets the recognition he so deserves.”
Megellas’ bestselling autobiography All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe (2003) and the documentary Maggie’s War (2012) which aired on PBS are available online.
More information about the efforts for Megellas’ Medal of Honor and an online petition to sign are available at medalformaggie.com