Walter Cinn Debill was born in Geddes, SD, in 1913, the son of Harry and Clara (Cinn) DeBill. He received his elementary education in one-room schoolhouses in Minnesota and Montana and attended high school in Deer Park, WA, graduating in 1930. He then entered the military at Ft. George Wright and went to Ft. DeRussey, Territory of Hawaii, for recruit training, followed by service with Battery D, 55th Coast Artillery, at Ft. Ruger. He qualified as an Expert Gunner at the first opportunity and was promoted to private first class.
Upon reaching the age of 18, Walt took steps to have his age corrected on his service record and made preparation to compete for entrance into the West Point Preparatory School at Schofield Barracks, Territory of Hawaii. He was accepted and went on to earn a senatorial appointment to West Point.
Walt married Julia Ann Green of Texas in 1938. The young couple then went to the Panama Canal Zone, where he was given command of Battery G, 73rd Coast Artillery, upon its activation. After a two-year tour, he returned stateside to Ft. Winfield Scott, CA, to be assistant commandant of the IX Corps Area West Point Preparatory School and serve as an instructor of mathematics. It was a thoroughly enjoyable task, in light of his own beginnings at the Hawaii prep school.
In early 1941, Walt was invited to take a detail with the Ordnance Department, based upon his request for such service while an artilleryman in Panama. While taking special training to be a technical representative for our tanks with the British in Libya, he was diverted to the cadre of the Ordnance Bomb Disposal School that was activated when WWII was declared. His services as acting commandant were rewarded when he was given charge of a new ordnance unit training center being built near Texarkana, TX, for the training of maintenance, supply, ammunition, tire repair, and recapping units. For his work there, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
While operating that training facility, he was visited by a general who had been given command of a division to be formed and trained for the invasion of Japan. LTC DeBill was requested, by name, to be G-3 of the division and traveled to the Philippines to assume these crucial duties. The use of atomic weapons brought WWII to an abrupt halt, so the assignment did not materialize.
After the war and a brief stint as ordnance officer of the Tenth Air Force, the Ordnance Corps selected Walt for two years of graduate training in industrial management at the College of Engineering of New York University. That training was put to use immediately in Japan as Commanding Officer of the Fuchu Ordnance Depot, where he remanufactured heavy trucks in direct support of combat operations in Korea, earning him the Bronze Star.
Upon return from Japan, Walt commanded the Lima Ordnance Depot, OH, where tanks were received direcdy from the manufacturers and given extensive modifications before their issue to combat units. As that work was phasing out, he was given the dual job of Ordnance Officer of the Anti-Aircraft and Guided Missile Command, at Ft. Bliss, TX, and Commanding Officer of the 61st Ordnance Base Group. In those capacities, he supported the introduction of the Nike Hercules guided missile and trained several units of his command for service in the Strategic Aimy Command.
Walt DeBill retired in 1960, 30 years—to the day—from when he first enlisted. In retirement, he made his home in San Antonio, TX, and enjoyed family life as he embarked on a second career, teaching mathematics in Alamo Heights High School, where he established and taught a pre-calculus course.
After 15 years of teaching, Walt retired once more. Health concerns demanded that much of his time be devoted to working on physical fitness, but he nevertheless became involved in church activities. He was a frequent lecturer for a large Sunday school class made up of senior citizens, like himself.