On Memorial Day we remember all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who gave their lives during times of war and conflict. Some of them and their stories are well known to us; their heroic bravery retold in books and in films. Yet, others were killed in action in faraway places and are lost to history through just a sheer numbers game. 

About 10 years ago, I had the privilege of honoring Bernard F. Devoe, a World War II B-17 tail gunner who died in action. And every Memorial Day since I can’t help but remember Devoe, whose life was cut short and whose miraculous story needs to be told. 

Bernard Devoe, of Millbury, MA was a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber that went down in the Adriatic after a mission over Germany. (U.S. Army)

SSG Bernard F. Devoe and Life During WWII

Devoe was from the town of Millbury, Massachusetts. The town dedicates monuments to its citizens killed in action. Ten years ago, the local Veterans Council, consisting of veterans from the VFW, American Legion, and unaffiliated vets, was dedicating a monument to SSG Bernard F. Devoe across the street from the home he grew up in.

Shortly after the ceremony, as a journalist for the local Daily Millbury, I had the opportunity and privilege to interview author Beverly McLean Cambridge, whose book The Bramanville Girls tells of life in the small central Massachusetts town of Millbury just before and during WWII. The book is described by Cambridge as a “true age of innocence.”