Hail Mary Full of Grace

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the World War II Mavens of Almost Chosen People would enjoy it.)

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.

Published in: on March 9, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Hail Mary Full of Grace  
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Franciscan Paratrooper

 

For love of Him they ought to expose themselves to enemies both visible and invisible.

Saint Francis of Assisi

Ignatius Maternowski entered this Vale of Tears on March 28, 1912, in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the son of Polish immigrants  He attended, appropriately enough, Saint Francis High School.  Impressed by the Franciscans he encountered there, he decided to become a Franciscan priest.  He was ordained to the priesthood on July 3, 1938.  His gift for preaching manifesting itself, he was assigned as a missionary-preacher at the friary of Saint Anthony of Padua in Elicott City, Maryland.

From the time of Pearl Harbor he sought permission to serve as a chaplain and in July 1942 he enlisted in the Army.  He served as a chaplain in the 508th regiment of the 82nd Airborne.  In the aftermath of the chaotic combat drop into Normandy on the night before D-Day, Captain Maternowski busied himself in tending both American and German wounded. (more…)

Published in: on June 7, 2019 at 7:36 am  Comments Off on Franciscan Paratrooper  
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Alvin C. York Addresses the 82nd Division

 

The things you find on the internet.  Alvin C. York addresses his old outfit the 82nd Division “All-American” in May of 1942.

Published in: on September 25, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Alvin C. York Addresses the 82nd Division  
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Franciscan Paratrooper

Father Ignatius Maternowski

For love of Him they ought to expose themselves to enemies both visible and invisible.

Saint Francis of Assisi

Ignatius Maternowski entered this Vale of Tears on March 28, 1912, in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the son of Polish immigrants  He attended, appropriately enough, Saint Francis High School.  Impressed by the Franciscans he encountered there, he decided to become a Franciscan priest.  He was ordained to the priesthood on July 3, 1938.  His gift for preaching manifesting itself, he was assigned as a missionary-preacher at the friary of Saint Anthony of Padua in Elicott City, Maryland.

From the time of Pearl Harbor he sought permission to serve as a chaplain and in July 1942 he enlisted in the Army.  He served as a chaplain in the 508th regiment of the 82nd Airborne.  In the aftermath of the chaotic combat drop into Normandy on the night before D-Day, Captain Maternowski busied himself in tending both American and German wounded. (more…)

Published in: on July 16, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Franciscan Paratrooper  
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The Archbishop and the Concentration Camp

Retired Archbishop Philip. M. Hannan of New Orleans, still alive at the age of 98, discusses his service in the video above, made in 2007, with the 505th parachute infantry regiment of the 82nd Airborne in World War II.  Ordained at the North American College in Rome on December 8, 1939, he served with the 82nd Airborne as a chaplain from 1942-46, and was known as the Jumping Padre.  He was assigned to be the chaplain of the 505th Regiment with the rank of Captain shortly after the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.  He had many adventures during his time with the 505th, but perhaps the most poignant was what happened to him on May 5th, 1945, in the final days of the War in Europe.

On May 5, 1945, the 505th overran a concentration camp near Wobbelin in Germany.  Captain Hannan and his assistant James Ospital hurried to the camp to see what they could do to help.  A scene of complete horror awaited them.  Corpses were sprawled everywhere.  Dying prisoners lay in filthy bunks crudely made out of branches.  All the prisoners looked like skeletons, both the dead and the living.  The camp reeked of the smells of a charnel house and a sewer.

He found a Belgian priest who had been in the camp since 1940.  He told the chaplain that another priest who had been arrested with him had just died.  Commandeering a truck, Hannan loaded as many prisoners into the truck as it could hold.   Here is a photograph of Hannan helping an inmate into the truck.

Since so many seemed on the verge of death he led them in an act of contrition and gave them a mass absolution.  He then had the truck driven to a nearby civilian hospital.  The Belgian priest refused to be helped until all the prisoners at the concentration camp had been aided.  The priest told him that throughout his captivity he had said mass every day, bribing the guards for a few crumbs of bread and a few drops of wine.  Even the non-Catholic prisoners took part in his masses, giving them something to live for. (more…)

Published in: on August 4, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Archbishop and the Concentration Camp  
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