A bill by a Wisconsin senator to rename the local post office after a Fond du Lac war hero passed congress Thursday. Now all it awaits is President Barack Obama’s signature.
The honor goes to Fond du Lac native Lt. Col. James “Maggie” Megellas. Sen. Ron Johnson, who introduced the bill, called him one of the nation’s most revered soldiers.
Megellas, who will turn 99 on March 11, served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division during World War II and is recognized as the most decorated officer in the history of the division.
“I’m pretty excited,” Magellas said Thursday from his home in Texas. “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 Magellas, plan to return to Fond du Lac for the post office re-naming celebration.
The legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent last August.
“His heroic actions helped ensure the liberation of Europe and our nation’s continued freedom,” Johnson said in a news release. “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.”
Efforts are still underway for Megellas to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest award of the U.S. Military. He was originally recommended for the award, but it was downgraded to a Silver Star due to details omitted from the report.
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 crossed the Waal River in the Netherlands in small boats under substantial machine gun fire.
He was elected first president of the Fond du Lac City Council, and was later appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the directorship of the U.S. Agency for International Development and posted to Yemen, Panama and Vietnam.
Magellas said that, though he tires a little easier, he still feels pretty good. He and his wife are traveling to Holland next week by invitation from Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.
His story is told in the autobiography “All the Way to Berlin” and in the documentary “Maggie’s War.”