All Veteran Group

James Megellas

James Megellas with Mike Elliot, Founder of AVG All Veteran Group

James Megellas with Mike Elliot, Founder of AVG All Veteran Group

James Megellas, born March 11, 1917, is a retired U.S. Army officer who commanded a platoon in Company H of the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. He is "the most decorated officer in the history of the 82nd Airborne Division," having received a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star and a nomination for the Medal of Honor. Megellas was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and attended nearby Ripon College. He participated in the school's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program and, upon graduation in May 1942, received a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

He first experienced combat in the mountains outside Naples, Italy, where he was wounded and hospitalized. In October 1943, while the remainder of the 82nd Airborne departed Italy to recoup before the invasion of Normandy, the 504th PIR remained behind and took part in Operation Shingle. On Jan. 22, 1944, the 504th took part in an amphibious assault at Anzio. The fighting took a heavy toll with Megellas being wounded again. Due to the losses at Anzio, the 504th did not participate in the D-Day Normandy landings, but they did parachute into the Netherlands as part of Operation Market Garden.

Megellas took part in the crossing of the Waal River near Nijmegen, where American forces crossed the river in flimsy boats while under heavy machine gun fire. He single-handedly attacked a German observation post and machine gun nest during the engagement. For these actions, he was awarded the U.S. military's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross, and, in December 1944, the regiment was rushed into the Battle of the Bulge.

On Jan. 28, 1945, Megellas' platoon was advancing toward Heresiarch, Belgium. Struggling through heavy snow and freezing cold, they surprised 200 Germans who were advancing out of the town. Catching the Germans largely off guard, the attack proved to be devastating, with the Americans killing or capturing a large number and causing many others to flee. As they prepared to assault the town, a German Mark V tank took aim at them. Megellas ran toward it and disabled it with a single grenade. Climbing on top of the tank, he dropped another grenade into the tank, eliminating the threat to his men. He then led his men as they cleared and seized the town with no casualties to his team. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor, but the account of his actions was not included in the original battle reports, and he was instead awarded the Silver Star.

Throughout the war, Megellas served with Company H, 504th PIR, which he would later command. In January 1946, he led his company down Fifth Avenue in New York City in the Victory Parade. He left the active Army service that year with the rank of Captain and served an additional 16 years in the Army Reserve. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel and wrote a memoir of his wartime experiences entitled “All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe.” Megellas and his wife currently live in Colleyville, Texas. Maggie was nominated for the Medal of Honor seventy years ago, it was reviewed by the Senate on 01/30/2017 and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

Mike’s Life Chest Story

“With the development of The Life Chest I now realize that these moments and stories can be shared by family and friends because the silent voice of each item is a piece of me… the essence of who I am. Thank you for giving the vehicle to share the path I have walked and the path I will explore.”

– Mike Elliott, Golden Knight and founder of The All Veteran Group

PTSD Awareness : Combat Injured Troops

In honor of June being PTSD Awareness Month, we at The Life Chest want to call attention to some of the issues our American soldiers face as the realities of combat. The statistics are jarring, but we believe that there is power in being informed, and understand that there are many who are unaware of the spectrum of problems that may follow our troops home.

For every US soldier killed in World Wars I and II, there were 1.7 soldiers wounded. In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, for every US soldier killed, seven were wounded. Combined, over 48,000 servicemen and women have been physically injured in the recent military conflicts.

In addition to physical wounds, it’s estimated as many as 400,000 service members live with invisible wounds of war, including combat-related stress, major depression, and PTSD. Another 320,000 are believed to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while deployed.

PTSD is claiming the lives of 22 veterans PER DAY. The numbers continue to rise and we must remember that without our veterans we would not have the freedoms that have become the norm of our everyday lives.

22 a Day – An Image from Combat Injured Troops

22 a Day – An Image from Combat Injured Troops

Transitioning back into “normal” life can be difficult for veterans upon arriving home, and that transition may prove to be even tougher for those injured in combat or dealing with PTSD. Luckily, there are many charities and organizations who strive to make a difference in these wounded veteran’s lives.

One such organization is the All Veteran Group. They are focused on representing military veterans through parachute demonstrations, tandem parachute experiences, brand ambassador programs, sponsorships & special events. They have a program called Therapy in the Air, where combat-injured troops have the opportunity to skydive with the All Veteran Group founder, Mike Elliott. Therapy in the Air is both therapeutic and rewarding to veterans. The All Veteran Group’s Therapy in the Air skydiving program “… helps warriors thrive through post-traumatic growth (PTG)…  [It] inspires individuals during rehabilitation, reintegration and during the healing process.”

The All Veteran Group

The All Veteran Group

One such positively impacted combat-injured veteran is Todd Love, a testament to both the power of the human spirit as well as the impact that Therapy in the Air produces.Todd Love was a U.S. Marine, and was injured in an IED explosion while he was deployed in Afghanistan. As a triple amputee, Todd dreamed of being able to skydive with Mike Elliott; however, his doctors told him it wasn’t a possibility. With the help and training of Mike Elliott, the invention of a special tandem harness, and the joy of the jump, Todd proved them wrong. Todd has completed over 200 skydives with Mike Elliott to date, and the happiness it brings him is incredible.

Mike Elliott and Todd Love

Mike Elliott and Todd Love

Todd Love is a USMC veteran who lost both of his legs and his left hand to an IED in Afghanistan, who's determined to not let that get in the way of ANYTHING (Watch Todd's story: He has been surfing, skiing, scuba diving, wrestling alligators, and now learning to skydive.

The Life Chest is currently holding a CrowdRise campaign in order to raise money to donate Life Chests to combat-injured veterans. Life Chests serve to provide a special place for those who have served or are currently serving in the military to keep their most treasured mementos and keepsakes. By having their very own Life Chest, they will have the opportunity to constantly be reminded of major milestones, and intimate memories. With the help of your donations, after the combat-injured solders complete their skydive with Mike Elliott through Therapy in the Air, they will be presented a Life Chest.

Save a life and leave a legacy… Please donate today to The Life Chest and give our incredible veterans something special. Visit our CrowdRise page at and make a difference!

CrowdRise for Combat Injured Troops and All Veteran Group

Join The Life Chest Team May 1st through June 30th as we launch our Crowdrise campaign benefitting the All Veteran Group! Our goal is to raise $100,000, which will be used to donate 100 Freedom Life Chests to combat-injured troops and other veterans across the country.

The Freedom Chest was designed with veterans in mind, with the direct input of US Army Special Forces members at Fort Bragg. A Life Chest would provide a place for veterans to store their most meaningful items. A Life Chest is a place for veterans to hold their memories until they’re ready to be shared, and becomes a tangible source of healing and growth.

22 veterans a day commit suicide, which means we lose a hero every 65 minutes. That statistic is something that the All Veteran Group is working to turn around through their Therapy in the Air program, “…[a skydiving program that] helps warriors thrive through post-traumatic growth (PTG).  PTG refers to positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances. Skydiving has an unparalleled sense of freedom mingled with excitement unlike that of any other sport.  Therapy in the Air inspires individuals during rehabilitation, reintegration and during the healing process. They assist with helping individuals realize that they have the power to tell new stories that will help them overcome adversity and move forward. Through telling new stories, warriors are able to rebuild a sense of self—to reconstruct an understanding of who they are, their place in the world and what their expectations of the world are.”

Through creating our Crowdrise campaign and partnering with the All Veteran Group, our goal at The Life Chest is to complement the Therapy in the Air program with the donation of one hundred Freedom Life Chests. A Life Chest would serve as a physical manifestation of everything a veteran has accomplished in their life. With a Life Chest, they can store or display their awards, accolades, and other memorabilia collected while defending their country. So much in our modern world is immediate, fleeting, and ultimately, disposable.

The Life Chest is a place of memory and comfort and tells the story of its owner, making it the most soulful product on the planet. They can consciously create their story and construct their legacy while living right there in the moment. A Life Chest allows them to look back on all of the amazing aspects of their lives and to tell their life’s story, while at the same time serving as a bridge for that person’s spirit to continue on even after they have left the earth. There are so many forces in the world that destroy, but we believe in growth, positivity, and above all, the power of the human spirit. Nothing can stand a chance against a human spirit filled with the power and determination of hope. Save a life and leave a legacy… Please donate today to The Life Chest and give our incredible veterans something special.

Visit our Crowdrise page at and make a difference!

Please view our Video for more information and for a look into our mission.

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

AVG at the Snowball Express

Every balloon in this image represents a fallen soldier. Mike and the AVG team joined an estimate of 2000 children of fallen soldiers at the Walk of Gratitude, a part of the Snowball Express. 

Now in its ninth year, Snowball Express brings together families of post-9/11 fallen military members for an all-expenses-paid trip to create new memories and provide much-needed support.

Mike Elliot - Life Chest Badge on Shirt - Snowball Express Parade - 2014 - The Life Chest

An AVG Salute to Jill Conley, founder of Jill’s Wish

Jill Conley was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2009, one day before her 32nd birthday. She has openly shared her journey and has been an incredible motivator and inspiration for many women and their families.

Jill’s Wish helps families struggling with the financial repercussions of breast cancer.

Jill’s Wish is a source of information about the warning signs and treatments of breast cancer.

Jill’s Wish is a community, a place where women can share their story and go for support.

Please visit for more information and to donate.

Jill will be joining our CEO Donna Yost and the All Veteran Group in jumping from an AVG airplane for the cause.

Visit for more information about Mike Elliot and his team.

This video is their tribute to Jill Conley and her cause:

A Salute to Jill Conley!

Mike Elliott Shares The Contents of His Life Chest

To look inside Mike Elliott’s Life Chest is to travel through time and see each of his accomplishments, experiences and moments of inspiration. Through the carefully selected items he has placed inside of his Freedom Chest you are able learn so much about his life and of his passion to make a difference. Mike’s story is incredibly deep and touching, he is an American Hero and we are honored to know him.

Please watch this video to learn more about Mike and Visit the All Veteran Group on their website or Facebook Page.

Thank you Mike Elliott, Founder and President of the All Veteran Group, for not only sharing your memories and mementos but for also inspiring us to create meaningful Life Chest Moments of our own.

As Mike always says..

Blue Skies!

The All Veteran Veteran Group is a unique collection of highly experienced parachutists who represent the essence of what it means to be an American: patriotism, creativity, initiative, professionalism and dedication to excellence.

Harris Rosen: A Legacy And A Birthday Jump With AVG

For his birthday Mr. Harris Rosen did the jump with Mike Elliot and his AVG team.

Rosen was born in 1939 in Manhattan. He attended Cornell University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree from their School of Hotel Administration. He then served in the United States Army for three years in Germany and South Korea.

In 2002, Rosen donated a 20-acre (0.081 km2) site and $25 million to the University of Central Florida to develop the Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

His efforts extend far beyond UCF, including large involvement in Tangelo Park. These efforts include scholarships for members of the community who are accepted to vocational school, college or university in the state of Florida, and an alternative spring break for Cornell students who wish to spend their vacation mentoring students from Tangelo Park.

Please Visit these links for more information and to donate to the Tangelo Park Program:

Source :

Honored To Be A Part Of President George H.W. Bush’s Big 90th Birthday Jump!

Kennebunkport, Maine – Life 2000 Ltd.

CEO Donna Yost attended George H.W. Bush’s 90th birthday party yesterday, which included the former President jumping from a plane at 6,300 feet!

It was an amazing day and an incredible moment to witness as President Bush landed on the ground with his tandem partner Sgt. 1st Class Michael Elliot, a retired member of the U.S. Army’s parachute team, the Golden Knights and the founder and President of our affiliate All Veteran Group. As they landed on the grounds of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, family and friends sang “Happy Birthday.”

After his jump Donna presented President Bush with a personalized Freedom Chest filled with memories from this wonderful event.

“What all of us seek in our life is meaning and adventure. It’s through service that all of us can find both.” – George H.W. Bush

CEO Donna Yost with George H. W. Bush on 90th Birthday Jump
Mike Elliot and George Bush Jumping on 90th Birthday
Mike Elliot and George Bush Sr. Jumping Tandem on the Former Presidents 90th Birthday
Freedom Lifestyle with AVG and George Bush Mike Elliot
AVG Founder Mike Elliot with George Bush Sr. After the Jump