DAVID R. STEPHAN, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

David Stephan '33

Date of birth: December 5, 1910

Date of death: April 4, 1945

Age: 34

Lucky Bag

From the 1933 Lucky Bag:


Dirk was a member of the Reception Committee, the Basketball Team, and the Lacrosse Team.

Biography

1933 Stephan 1.jpg
"Hazel and Dick"

From the 1953 edition of the book "Double Three Roundup," published by the class of 1933:

On being asked to write the story of Dick's life his wife Hazel wrote that she was sorry that she did not have the talent for eloquence with which to properly portray the graciousness and simple elegance which was Dick's life each day. She wrote that he was a man of intense loves, a deeply religious person whose first love was that of his God. He loved truth and honor and demanded of himself a strict adherence to a high code of moral and spiritual discipline. A humble and kindly man, his heart was filled with love and compassion for all mankind. She never heard him utter an unkind word to or about anyone. The stories told about Dick do indeed support every bit of it.

Dick was commissioned in 1934. Between then and Pearl Harbor Day he served successively in the PENSACOLA, NEW ORLEANS, BADGER, NEVADA, MCLANAHAN, HOPEWELL and PHOENIX. He was in the latter ship at the start of the war becoming Navigator in 1943. After a year's duty in BuPers he was ordered to command the destroyer FRANKS, and then participated in nearly all of the important THIRD and FIFTH fleet operations in the Pacific during 1944 and early 1945.

Dick was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic service as Commanding Officer of the FRANKS. The award stated "Commander Stephan skillfully directed his ship in the bombardment of Guam and Rota, the operation on Palau Island, and the capture of Ulithi Atoll. Later assigned to Task Force Thirty-eight, he aggressively supported landings on Luzon, conducted daring strikes against the Japanese Empire, and covered the assault on Iwo Jima. By his inspiring leadership and bold initiative in extended operations, Commander Stephan contributed materially to the success of the operations of his command".

During a heavy storm in the late afternoon of April 2, 1945, while steaming about 100 miles off the East Coast of Okinawa, maneuvering for assigned running screen position, the FRANKS collided with the Battleship NEW JERSEY. The initial impact demolished all port side armament and the bridge wing, and threw Dick from the bridge to the deck below, causing injuries which brought about his death two days later. He was buried at sea from the TAPPAHANOCK.

Dick and Hazel Crawford Manning, from Los Angeles, California, were married in Westgate, Maryland, on 27 May 1943. Hazel has married again, this time to Herbert Croen, a former Army Colonel whom Hazel describes as "such a swell guy he should have been in the Navy." They are living at 815 Fulton Street, Wausau, Wisconsin.

Loss

From Find A Grave:

Commander David Richard Stephan was born December 5, 1910 to Alice Grace (Clark) and David Edgar Stephan, He served as Commander of the USS Franks during WWII (6/30/144 - 4/2/1945), and died as a result of injuries serving his country on April 4, 1945, and was buried at sea (Pacific Ocean).

Survived by parents, Alice and David, sister Alice Elizabeth (Stephan) Joyce, and brother Rear Admiral Edward Clark Stephan. Preceded in death by brother, John Ralph Stephan.

From the commemoration remarks of crewman Michael Bak: "... "During a heavy storm on April 2, 1945, and while on duty as Plane Guard Ship, USS FRANKS began maneuvering to return to our assigned outer screen position from behind the aircraft carrier USS YORKTOWN as night flight ops ended at 2100. Steaming at 23 knots, the USS FRANKS then side-swiped the 55,000 ton battleship USS NEW JERSEY , and the collision fatally injured CDR Stephan, our Commanding Officer. Two days later, Cdr. Stephan was buried at sea with full military honors...."

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Wartime Service

David had command of USS Franks (DD 554) since June 30, 1944.


Class of 1933

David is one of 38 members of the Class of 1933 in Memorial Hall.