William J. Novelli

U.S. Army


Chicago, IL

Joe Mantegna, Nephew

Sergeant Novelli was drafted out of college in November 1942. A metallurgy student, he was offered a deferment to work at Rock Island Arsenal but turned it down to follow his two older brothers to war, one an Army Air Forces bombardier and the other a Marine. Novelli trained with the 563rd Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion at Drew Field near Tampa before shipping to the European Theater of Operations in January 1944. He landed with the 563rd at Normandy on D-Day + 20 and served as a squad leader of a mobile radar unit His job was to coordinate and direct aircraft strikes against enemy tanks while attached to the U.S. 4th Armored Division of Patton’s 3rd Army. Although Novelli was wounded by a V2 rocket in the Saar Valley, he insisted on remaining with the unit despite a shattered knee and fought on with the 4th Armored Division throughout the Battle of the Bulge and on to Kassel, Germany by war’s end. He was evacuated to a hospital in Paris in May 1945 and then transferred to a stateside hospital in Iowa before being discharged in December 1945. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with silver service star (for the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe campaigns), World War II Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, and Meritorious Unit Commendation.