William L. Devitt (# O-513215)

Place of Birth
Date of Birth

May 25, 1923
2nd Lieutenant


Combat Infantryman's Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, ......

William Luis "Bill" Devitt was born on May 25, 1923 to Louis James and Nora Gertrude (Cavanaugh) Devitt. He attended St. Thomas Military Academy and in 1943, at the age of 19, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, being summoned for service in Europe in World War Two where he served until 1946. When he arrived at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, for his first army assignment, he had not been through basic training. In many ways, he knew little more about the army than the new recruits he was about to instruct on how to be a soldier.
Bill joined Company E of the 330th Infantry Regiment in France on August 18, 1944, as a replacement officer. He was a platoon leader in Luxembourg, the Hürtgen Forest, Germany, and the Ardennes, Belgium. He became SWA by shrapnel of a mortar shell on January 3, 1945 in the Ardennes, when the 330th joined the allied efforts of repulsing the 'Bulge'.

William Devitt was subsequently called back to serve in the Korean conflict for 17 months as an army captain. After the wars, he became a devoted father and husband, who constantly spent time with his children. He attended St. Thomas College, and the University of Minnesota where he received degrees in Business Administration and Law, practicing Law in St. Paul from 1955 to 1988. He authored a book about his experience, "Shavetail: The Odyssey of an Infantry Lieutenant in World War II". It was extensively quoted by preeminent historian Sir Max Hastings in "Armageddon: The War 1944-45." The 19 year old officer's photograph appears in Hastings' tome, illustrating the exceptional youth of American officers.

William Louis "Bill" Devitt age 94 of Edina, formerly of St. Paul, and of Minneapolis, died well and peacefully on July 23, 2017, after constant vigil by his children in hospital several days following the onset of acute illness. A courageous soldier has reported for duty in the ranks of paradise. Predeceased by his wife of 54 years, Mary McNulty Devitt.

Ambushed in the Hurtgen Forest (click above to read this article)

Shavetail by William L. Devitt
WWII magazine - Jan/Feb 2006
Daniel Lefever (article)