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82nd Airborne Division, veterans honored in the Netherlands

Fayetteville Observer - 9/15/2018

Sept. 15--Nearly 74 years after wave after wave of 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers crossed the Waal River, the Dutch have not forgotten.

They have not forgotten the 48 soldiers who lost their lives making that dangerous crossing against withering German fire.

And they have not forgotten Lt. Col. James Magellas and Capt. Roy Hanna, two legendary members of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment who served during World War II.

Magellas, who is the most decorated officer in 82nd Airborne Division history with a Distinguished Service Cross and two Silver Stars, and Hanna, a Distinguished Service Cross recipient, were guests of honor in the Netherlands earlier this month as the 82nd Airborne Division was celebrated by the city of Nijmegen and the Dutch Army.

Hanna, who recently turned 102, was presented an orange lanyard, representing the highest honor of the Netherlands -- the Military Order of William.

The 82nd Airborne Division received the honor following Operation Market Garden, during which the Waal River Crossing took place.

Officials said the trip to the Netherlands was the last for the two friends. Magellas is 101. And both men, at the invitation of the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, took part in several events meant to honor the sacrifices made by the division in World War II.

More than 20 members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, traveled to the Netherlands to take part in a ceremony honoring a Dutch Apache pilot, Maj. Roy de Ruiter, with the honor.

The soldiers marched in the ceremony honoring de Ruiter. And, the next day, they participated, alongside Magellas and Hanna, in a ceremony at the Oversteek Bridge, which spans the Waal and is a tribute to those soldiers lost 74 years ago.

Hanna and Magellas, pushed in wheelchairs by 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers, led the way across the bridge as part of the Sunset March, a tribute to those lost making the dangerous river crossing decades ago.

Once across, the soldiers took part in a remembrance service and laid 48 roses at a stone memorial.

Col. Tobin Magsig, the commander of the 1st Brigade, said it was a privilege to take part in the memorial.

He also thanked Hanna and Magellas for their service.

"You are not just American heroes...," Magsig said. "But heroes of the entire world."

The colonel said the two men showed the world that not only are some things in life worth fighting for, but they are also worth dying for. He said both men were prepared to do just that in order to fight for what is right.

"You inspire us with your greatness," Magsig said.

Military editor Drew Brooks can be reached at dbrooks@fayobserver.com or 910-486-3567.


(c)2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

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