Friday, January 10, 2014

"A Paratrooper at War in Europe"

I finished reading "All the Way to Berlin" published in 2003 by James Megellas, a former member of the 82nd Airborne's frontline para-infantry in the Second World War. In college, the author was in ROTC, so he was destined to serve in the military after graduation in 1942. He wanted to fight the enemy in combat from the first; eventually settling on paratroop training. The memoir is easy reading; his memories are reinforced by research about names, dates and places. Lt. Megellas's view of WW2 was not comfortable or fancy, most of the two years spent on front lines, in foxholes, in battle in places like Anzio Beach in Italy, in Holland with Operation Market Garden (the "Bridge Too Far" story), helping to contain the German's last offensive with the Battle of the Bulge. Ultimately, he volunteered to be part of the forces policing divided Berlin after the German Surrender. Amazing to learn how brutal conditions were: for example a couple of instances were troopers were force-marched into combat zones without the proper supplies like rations and blankets for the zero-degree nights. (they were having a Polar Vortex then, too; a cold phase.) James Megellas was highly decorated for bravery and there is an initative to have him awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor, belatedly. I learned that from the internet, not from the book.

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