Ranger Joseph R. Devoli
Born: 4 September 1915, Shawnee, Ohio, USA
Died: 23 February 2015
Army Serial Number: 19066135
Ranger Battalion/Company: 2D
Enlisted: 21 December 1941, Los Angeles California
Discharged: 31 October 1945
Battles/Campaigns/Significants: Normandy, the Battle of Hurtgen (Hill 400 in Bergstein, Germany), Ardennes (the Battle of the Bulge), the Rhineland, and throughout Central Europe.
Medals/Awards: Purple Heart, WWII Victory Medal, Combat Infantry Badge
Joe was the son of Raffaele (Ralph) Davoli and Peppina (Josephine) Murone. Joe was born and raised in Shawnee, Ohio. Joe was proud to graduate from the local high school, Ohio, in 1932. After high school, he enrolled in the newly-created Civilian Conservation Corps. In December 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Joe enlisted in the Army, joining the newly created Rangers 2nd Battalion. His role in the unit was Company Clerk. After completing basic training, he was sent to England where he was billeted with a local family while the Rangers practiced the maneuvers they would need for the offense that would be known as D-Day. On that day, June 6, 1944, the boat Joe was riding in capsized under enemy fire, and he and the rest of the men were thrown into the chilly waters. Joe saved a man's life that day by holding him afloat and treading water for over an hour until they were rescued. Joe earned the Soldier's medal for bravery for his actions that day. In addition to Normandy, Joe saw combat action throughout Northern France, the Battle of Hurtgen (Hill 400 in Bergstein, Germany), Ardennes (the Battle of the Bulge), the Rhineland, and throughout Central Europe. Joseph was honorably discharged on 31 October 1945, after a shell exploded nearby, permanently damaged his hearing. Joe did not shy away from talking about his war experiences which had been permanently etched upon his mind and heart. One story told of his bedraggled unit having nothing left in their rations except for dry bread, when they suddenly came upon a unit that had nothing left but butter. A feast was had by all! Before and during the liberation of Paris, Joe (who was pretty frugal his entire life) was known to drop his entire pay (about $1,000) in a single night, including taking a cab for one block to get to the next pub. The war helped him develop a philosophy of: enjoy every day, and always try to find something to laugh at. Joe remembered walking up one morning and seeing a mortar shell that had landed, but not exploded, right next to him. The French Resistance who were forced to work in munitions plants for the Germans, often left out firing pins and other critical components to help the Allied cause. One time he and another soldier were asked where they slept last night. He replied " on that hill over there." To which their buddy replied "we haven't taken that hill yet!" In 1954, Joe met and married Vivian Clark, a vivacious blue-eyed beauty he met through friends. They were blessed with two children, a son Randy born in 1955, and a daughter, Kathie, born in 1958. They purchased a home in Fullerton. After Vivian passed away in 1960, Joe moved back to Los Angeles. After spending several years as a bachelor, Joe met his future wife, Loretta Linster. Joe and Loretta were married in 1970 in Los Angeles. Joe was employed for about 30 years by Universal Carloading in Los Angeles as a billing clerk. Universal Carloading honored Joe with a gold watch when he retired. Joe's favorite pastimes were pool and snooker, horse races, playing cards, Dodger baseball games, and crossword puzzles. His high moral standards and traditional values served Joe well, and he was a lifelong member of the Catholic Church. One his his deepest memories was during his war service, when his unit was sleeping in an abandoned building. Joe felt a tap on his shoulder and heard the words "Get out" - but there was no one there. It took some convincing, but Joe finally rallied his buddies to exit the building - whereupon it exploded from a booby-trap bomb set by the enemy. Joe never doubted God's existence. Joe enjoyed his annual Ranger reunions held around the country, as well as a memorable trip back to Europe with his Ranger unit in the 1960s where he took gag pictures such as holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa with his hand. Joe's beloved wife Loretta predeceased him in 2008. Joe passed away on February 23, 2015 at St. Rose Hospital, in Henderson, Nevada, from complications after a fall that broke his left hip. He is survived by his children Randy and Kathie; his grandchildren Devon, Erica, Ashley, Rikka and Catey; his great-grandchildren Jada, Evelyn and Aisha; his sister Carmella; and many loving nieces and nephews, their children and spouses.