Father John B. DeValles
Father John B. DeValles founded the first Portuguese parochial school at Espirito Santo Church in Fall River. In 1918 he was appointed a chaplain in the regular army with the rank of first lieutenant and administered to the needs of both Allied and German soldiers. His exploits became legendary with many published accounts of his deeds. He died in 1920 of complications caused by injuries sustained serving in World War I two years prior.

Early life

John B. DeValles was born Joao Baptista DeValles of Azorean and Cape Verdean parentage in St. Miquel, Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

 in 1879 before moving to New Bedford, Massachusetts
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New Bedford is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States, located south of Boston, southeast of Providence, Rhode Island, and about east of Fall River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 95,072, making it the sixth-largest city in Massachusetts...

 with his family at the age of two. He attended local schools before studying for the priesthood where he became fluent in six languages.

New Bedford

DeValles served at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in New Bedford and before serving as pastor of St. John the Baptist Church
St. John the Baptist Church
St. John the Baptist Church, or variants thereof, may refer to:-Australia:* St John the Baptist Church, Reid, Canberra, Anglican* Saint John the Baptist Anglican Church -New Zealand:...

. he opened the first Portuguese parochial school
Parochial school
A parochial school is a school that provides religious education in addition to conventional education. In a narrower sense, a parochial school is a Christian grammar school or high school which is part of, and run by, a parish.-United Kingdom:...

 in the United States at Espirito Santo Church in Fall River
Fall River
-Cities and towns:In Canada:*Fall River, Nova ScotiaIn the United States:*Fall River, Kansas*Fall River, Massachusetts, the largest city with this name*Fall River, Tennessee*Fall River, Wisconsin*Fall River County, South Dakota-Rivers:In Canada:...


Army Chaplain

He was appointed Knights of Columbus
Knights of Columbus
The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in the United States in 1882, it is named in honor of Christopher Columbus....

Military chaplain
A military chaplain is a chaplain who ministers to soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and other members of the military. In many countries, chaplains also minister to the family members of military personnel, to civilian noncombatants working for military organizations and to civilians within the...

 attached to the 104th Regiment of the 26th Division of the United States Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 in 1917. A year later, he was appointed a chaplain in the regular Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

 with the rank of First Lieutenant
First Lieutenant
First lieutenant is a military rank and, in some forces, an appointment.The rank of lieutenant has different meanings in different military formations , but the majority of cases it is common for it to be sub-divided into a senior and junior rank...


Father DeValles served 18 months in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and often entered No-Man's Land to search for wounded and dying Allied and German
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 soldiers. Father John, as he was known to the troops, risked his life on many occasions and his exploits became legendary. On one occasion, he did not return to the trenches and searchers found him unconscious and wounded next to a dead soldier that he was trying to aid. Although his injuries caused his health to deteriorate, he continued to serve. Father John returned to the United States in 1919 and spent the remaining months of his life in and out of hospitals until his death in May 1920. He was 41.

Awards and honors

John B. DeValles was awarded France's Croix de Guerre
Croix de guerre
The Croix de guerre is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts...

 and Legion of Honor as well as the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

's Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree...

 in addition to other awards.

A funeral was held on May 15, 1920, at St. John the Baptist Church which was led by Right Rev. Mgr. James E. Cassidy. Soldiers, Clergy, and Citizens attended and General Clarence R. Edwards placed the Distinguished Service Cross on DeValles' chest as the medal had not arrived from Washington before his death. Flags were at half-staff and stores closed for half an hour in tribute. Following the ceremony, a military and civil procession
A procession is an organized body of people advancing in a formal or ceremonial manner.-Procession elements:...

escorted his body to the cemetery where he was interred with full military honors.

In October 1920 the Katherine Street School of New Bedford, Massachusetts was renamed in Father DeValles' honor. The ceremonies were attended by a large cross section of the community.
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