In Memory of James “Maggie” Megellas ’42

FOND DU LAC – World War II hero and Fond du Lac son, James “Maggie” Megellas, died just weeks after celebrating his 103rd birthday.

The 82nd Airborne Division announced on Megellas passed away Thursday.

“This loss will be felt by us all. Remember, Paratroopers never die they, just slip away,” the division said in a Facebook post, Friday morning.

Born on March 11, 1917, in Fond du Lac, Megellas became the most decorated officer of the 82nd Airborne Division during his service in World War II. Graduating from Ripon College in 1942, Megellas became a second lieutenant with the United States Army Infantry, according to the Dallas Morning News.

During Operation Market Garden, he parachuted into the Netherlands, saw combat in Italy, crossed the Waal River as Germans fired, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, according to the division.

When in a firefight in Herresbach, Belgium, he disabled a German Mark V tank by throwing a grenade at it, and then mounted it, and threw another into the crew compartment. Not a single person was lost in his platoon that day, according to Fond du Lac Reporter Archives.

He was discharged from the Army as a captain, continued as a citizen-solider, and retired as a lieutenant colonel, according to the foundation.

He earned two Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross. In 1945, he was the first American to receive the “Military Order of Willhelm Orange Lanyard” from the Dutch Minister of War in Berlin, the foundation said.

Fond du Lac was proud to call Megellas one of its own. The American Legion Trier-Puddy Post #75 is named the James “Maggie” Megellas Fond du Lac County Veterans Memorial Building. In 2016, the post office was renamed the Lieutenant Colonel James ‘Maggie’ Megellas Post Office. In 2019, the city opened a new park near the Meadowlands Subdivision. Read more here.