SAN ANTONIO, TX, USA U.S. Army SFC, HHC, 1ST INFANTRY BRIGADE, FORT RILEY, KS TIKRIT, IRAQ 03/15/2007
Oregon lost one of its native sons, Sergeant First Class John ‘Scott” Stephens. Stephens died March 15, 2007 of wounds suffered when his patrol came under attack in Tikrit, Iraq. He served with the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. He was a combat medic and trained others to be medics. He had served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield and multiple tours to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Known to family and friends as Scott, he was born in Prineville, Oregon on May 16, 1965 and raised in La Grande, Oregon. In high school, he was known for his sports – baseball, football, swim team – and his academic prowess. He often tutored his classmates. He continued his education in the Army and planned to eventually become a teacher and a coach.
Typically, he was involved in teaching at the time of his death. He was part of a group training Iraqi soldiers. He was training the medics.
Scott loved sports – the Bengals and the Braves – hunting, fishing, trapping and enjoying the beauty of Eastern Oregon. He frequently requested sports equipment for the children in areas he was stationed. He loved his country, and was known to tear up when he heard the National Anthem. And, he loved his family.
Scott started his Army career with a bang. On his first assignment in Germany, Scott was undergoing on-the-job training when a young soldier lost his leg in a training accident, his father Gene recalled. He jumped in and took care of the soldier, saving his life. “Scott’s commanding officer wrote a letter telling us all about it and what a fine young lad he was. So apparently I’m not the only one that thinks he was a pretty good man.”
“He was a dedicated military man,” his father said. “He told us that he was doing his job, and when he went back to Iraq this time, he said he was going back to do his job and try and help people there.”
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski said Stephens’ life was dedicated to taking care of others and protecting those who couldn’t protect themselves. But Stephens was special in another way, the governor said. He took younger soldiers under his wing and taught them skills he had learned in 20 years of boots on the ground, Kulongoski said.
He previously had been awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and the NATO Medal twice. He was posthumously awarded a second Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.
SFC Stephens is survived by his wife, Bea, and children, Brian, Cheryl and Darren; his parents, Gene and Jo Stephens of La Grande; a sister, Michelle Flowers of Hermiston; nephews, Tyler and Sean Flowers; grandmother, Gayle Stephens of La Grande; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.