James Megellas, one hundred and three and still kicking, the most decorated officer in the history of the 82nd Airborne, reminds us that in a tight spot the Blessed Virgin is our best friend.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to First Lieutenant (Infantry) James Megellas (ASN: 0-439607), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as a Platoon Leader in Company H, 3d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in action against enemy forces on 30 September 1944, in Holland. First Lieutenant Megellas led his platoon on a combat patrol to secure information and prisoners. Arriving at the enemy observation post, he crawled forward alone and killed two outpost guards and the crew of a machine gun nest. He brought forward his patrol, attacked the main enemy defenses and single-handed secured three prisoners and killed two more. Two blockhouses were then attacked and destroyed. The aggressiveness of this patrol action thoroughly demoralized the enemy in the sector. His mission completed, First Lieutenant Megellas withdrew his platoon through the enemy lines and under mortar fire. He personally carried a wounded man while firing his Thompson Sub-Machine Gun with one hand. The extraordinary heroism and brilliant leadership displayed by First Lieutenant Megellas enabled his patrol to inflict disproportionate casualties on the enemy, secure vital information and force the Germans to abandon their planned offensive in the area. His conduct was an inspiration to his men and his intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 82d Airborne Division, and the United States Army.