He was a hometown hero, just passing through.
Col. James Patrick Sinnott Devereux was a son of wealth and privilege in a family whose military service dated back to the Revolution. Moving from place to place, he was little known here outside his family’s social circles until the Marine outpost he commanded on Wake Island in the South Pacific was overrun by Japanese forces in the dark days after Pearl Harbor.
Asked what the defenders of Wake needed, he was reported to have replied, “SEND MORE JAPS.” He later disavowed the remark, saying, "I would not have been damn fool enough to send such an idiotic message."
Still, the valiant defense and ultimate surrender were front page news back home. When Wake fell, Anne Devereux remembers, Army Chief of Staff (later Secretary of State) Gen. George Marshall and his wife paid a courtesy call on Bradley Lane.
Devereux spent the rest of the war in a Japanese POW camp. Liberated at last, he returned, ever so briefly, to his sometime home, to Bethesda-Chevy Chase...