Courtesy of his classmates, United States Military Academy, Class of 1946
Published Assembly April 1951
Robert Hogan Stephenson No. 15595
Class of 1946 Killed on March 23, 1950 near Phoenix, Arizona
Interment: March 31, 1950, Arlington National Cemetery
Steve was born at Indianapolis, Indiana on the 23rd of January 1923. The Stephenson family moved shortly thereafter to California, which Steve adopted as his native state.
From the beginning Steve was a very colorful character and his life was filled with enjoyment and happiness. His childhood was distinguished for the development of two of his most outstanding characteristics the organizer and the diplomat. He was always the ring leader, and the perfect diplomat when apprehended for his endless string of childhood pranks.
His first nine years of schooling included attendance at both Hamilton School and Polytechnic Elementary at Pasadena, California. His next move was to Culver Military Academy for three years. His schooling at Culver nearly met an untimely end when he was instrumental in dumping Culver’s Reveille Cannon into a nearby lake on Halloween Night. But being the suave, personable and smooth-tongued cadet, he convinced the school authorities of his potentialities and was permitted to continue in school and graduate Cum Laude in 1941.
From Culver, Steve enrolled at Stanford University at Palo Alto, California. Here he had the greatest of all times. In fact, so good that the school authorities decided that he would be better off at home from mid-year on. One can not blame Steve for this situation because he had a lot of living to get fast after his regimentation at Culver.
The next fall, and this brings us to 1942, Steve enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute, where he suffered the usual indoctrination as a “Plebe” for a year. The following spring he won an appointment to West Paint and entered the Gray Walls on July 1, 1943. Plebe Year at the Point would have been extremely trying and difficult for the average cadet who had already completed one “Plebe” year at VMI, but Steve took it in his stride and his cheerful disposition and humorous mannerisms made life more pleasant and worthwhile for all of us who were fortunate enough to know him.
Academics and athletics came easy for Steve. He was frequently appointed or selected to serve on the numerous cadet committees, such as the Hop Committee and First Class Committee. He became intensely interested in aviation during his Yearling Year and was sent to Primary Flight Training at Uvalde, Texas, in the spring of ‘45, and to Stewart Field for Basic Flight Training in the summer of ‘45. He received his silver wings and gold bars on June 4, 1946.
After graduation, he was assigned to Enid, Oklahoma for B-25 Transition Training. He arrived in Enid for flight training after having traversed the United States several times during graduation leave serving as a best man or usher in weddings of his classmates. Steve is well remembered at Enid for his famous car, “Whisky Nose” which was always available for anyone’s use, and also for that famed “Stephenson-Donahue Gambling Casino” in the BOQ which lost its assets after a one night stand.
It was at Enid that Steve was thrown into a flat spin by a bridesmaid at a wedding in which he was acting in his usual capacity of usher or best man. When he finally came down out of the clouds a few months later—in the fall of ‘47–the Bachelors Association of ‘46 had lost its most staunch member to Miss Doris Griffin of Chickshaw, Oklahoma. To the happy marriage of Doris and Steve, was born a daughter, Cynthia—“Cynnie” to her admirers—in March 1949.
From the fall of ‘46 to the spring of ‘50 Steve was assigned to the 65th Bombardment Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona. While assigned to the 65th Bombardment Squadron, he participated in numerous noteworthy B-29 and B-50 flights, such as maneuvers in Japan during June 1947, a Good Will Tour of Europe while based in Germany in the fall of 1947, and cold weather operations in Alaska during the winter of 1949. While in Alaska he became a member of the “Order of Polaris”, for successful completion of a flight over the North Pole, and also graduated from the Arctic Indoctrination School at Nome.
His service included training in 1945 at the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project at Sandia Base, New Mexico, and at the Anti-Submarine Warfare School conducted by the U.S. Navy at Norfolk, Virginia, and at Key West, Florida.
It was on the morning of the 23rd of March 1950 that death struck suddenly near Phoenix, Arizona, when Steve’s B-50 Bomber disintegrated due to fire while on a routine training flight. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on March 31, 1950.
Steve’s life was completely full of hard work, play and enthusiastic living. The greatest of all his talents was making those around him happy, erasing their disappointments, and exulting in their successes. This ability to give part of himself to those who needed him made his life, though too short, the height of success itself. The memory of “Fabulous Stephenson” will go on forever!
–C. R. D., a Classmate.
STEPHENSON, ROBERT H
- 1ST LT AF USA WWII
- DATE OF BIRTH: 01/23/1923
- DATE OF DEATH: 03/23/1950
- BURIED AT: SECTION 10 SITE 10991-1
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard