James Megellas: All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe
This special interview with James "Maggie" Megellas centers on the first-hand accounts of his World War II combat experiences and leadership challenges, as outlined in his 2003 book, All the Way to Berlin.
Megellas fought in the Italian and Western European campaigns, first as a platoon leader, then later as the company commander, H Company, 3rd Battalion, 504 th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR). His most notable battle experiences include action in the Italian mountains near the Anzio beachhead, his combat jump into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden, crossing of the Waal River under heavy German fire in broad daylight, and the Battle of the Bulge. He finished World War II in the occupation of Berlin and led his company, the only one he served with during the entire war, down 5th Avenue, New York City in the January 1946 Victory Parade.
Following his wartime Army service, Megellas served in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for 18 years with work in Yemen, Panama, South Vietnam and Columbia. During his work with USAID, he served two years in Vietnam, leading 4,000 soldiers and civilians from Vietnam and other nations in civil-military relations. For this work he received the National Chieu Hoi Medal and the Psychological Warfare Medal from the South Vietnamese government.
At 89 years "young", Megellas recently visited his old outfit in Afghanistan along the Pakistani border. Returning from Afghanistan Jim stopped in Holland and spoke at an event for the release of the second edition of his book All the Way to Berlin in the Dutch language.