War Stories

Man with a Cross, A Man of peace

by Joe Soga


I was fortunate to have had contact with Father Kevin Devine twice in my life. Back in 1969 when he was our Third Brigade Chaplain and again for the last six years as a retired Priest with the Paulist Fathers. Many of you may remember him from your days in Vietnam as the Chaplain who would find his way out to the field right after a firefight or when you were right in the thick of it. Others may remember him from our last four reunions, where he would join in talk about the days in Vietnam or discuss with you whatever was on your mine. He has passed on the morning of March 25, 2021, and left us for a better place.

My wife and I were able to attend his last viewing on the morning of Saturday, April 10th, in the Inwood section of upper Manhattan, New York City. On display at the funeral home, were Father Kevin's Army uniform and cap and pictures of his younger life along with mementos from the 35th Reg. Assoc. On his uniform was the ribbon bar which was a testament to his many years of service. He was awarded three Bronze Stars, one with V devise, one Silver Star and an Air Service Medal. All earned during his 18-month tour of duty in Vietnam. It was a bright sunny day and the two-block walk to The Church of The Good Shepard was a peaceful one. As the hearse carrying Father Kevin pulled in front of the Church five bagpipers started playing Amazing Grace. The bagpipers were from a group that were members of the New York City 911 First Responders Organization. Father Kevin was also a member, due to his participation in the aftermath of 911 in New York City. The Church was full of the many people that knew Father Kevin, for he was the Paster of this Church before joining the Army. This also was the neighborhood that he grew up in as a child. After the Funeral Service, the bagpipers played again as Father Kevin was carried from the Church. I talked with members of Father Kevin's family about the planning of his internment in Arlington National Cemetery. There is a rather long waiting time in that process.

The funeral for Father Kevin continued on August 23, 2021, at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. My wife and I were also joined by Bill Wallin, Chuck Santose and their wives from the 35th Reg. Assoc. We had a sunny day and had to be at the Cemetery 45 minutes before the funeral which started at 3 o'clock sharp. We followed the hearse in our cars as we drove past the many white tombstones that marked the graves of our fallen Heroes. It was a short drive to our first stop under the shade of the large oak trees that lined the road on both sides. As we left our cars and moved to the front, we were met with a horse drawn caisson and a lone saddled black stallion with a pair of black booths in its stirrups. There was an Army Band that played as Father Kevin casket was removed from the hearse and put on the horse drawn caisson. There was a Color Guard along with a detachment of Riflemen at this location. The Color Guard started the march to the funeral site followed by the Band and detachment of Riflemen. They were followed by a team of four horses pulling the caisson. The Black stallion was at the end of procession. We returned to our cars for the short drive to the funeral site. Again, we parked under the shade by some large trees and disembarked to the funeral site. Father Kevin's casket was covered with a United States flag and arranged on a green carpet under a small canopy. There were two rows of covered chairs for the family. About forty yards to our front stood the Army band and the detachment of Riflemen. On a hill to our left was stationed a detachment of seven Riflemen and an Officer. As an Army Chaplain started the Cathloic reading, the horse drawn caisson and stallion were retired from the area. Upon completion of the chaplain's service, six Paulist Fathers blessed Father Kevin's casket with Holy water. A 21-gun salute was provided by the seven Riflemen stationed on the hill to our left. This was followed by taps provided by a lone trumpeter to our front. Upon the completion of taps, the eight soldiers standing, four on each side of Father's casket, snapped to the task of folding the United States Flag in a presentation triangle. An E6 Sergeant from the group, on bended knee, presented the Flag to Father Kevin's niece. The band, then along with the detachment of Riflemen marched off. An older lady escorted by an Army Officer greeted The Family members. She was a member of the Cemetery's bereavement group. I saluted Father Kevin one last time on behalf of the 35th Reg Assoc before returning to our car.

Father Kevin's final resting site will be located in the section of the cemetery just below Lee's Home and just across from John F. Kennedy's Grave. This Final chapter in Father Kevin's story was befitting his contribution to his Faith and the United States. Rest in Peace Father Kevin.