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.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1935

Ensign, USS New Orleans

Others at this command: ENS Charles Mallory, Jr. '32.

April 1935

Ensign, USS Badger

October 1935

Ensign, USS Badger

Others at this command: LTjg Eugene Sarsfield '26.

January 1936

Ensign, USS Badger

Others at this command: LTjg Eugene Sarsfield '26.

April 1936

Ensign, USS Badger

Others at this command: LTjg Eugene Sarsfield '26.

July 1938

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Nevada

Others at this command: LTjg Melvin Radcliffe '35, ENS John Patty, Jr. '37, and ENS Richard Hughes '37.

January 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Nevada

Others at this command: LTjg Melvin Radcliffe '35 and ENS Richard Hughes '37.

October 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Nevada

Others at this command: LT James Clarkson '30 and ENS Robert Evins '39.

June 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS McLanahan

November 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Phoenix

Others at this command: ENS Hugh Wood, Jr. '40.

April 1941

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Phoenix

Others at this command: ENS Hugh Wood, Jr. '40 and ENS John Harris '40.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Carl Holmstrom '38 (Cruiser Scouting Squadron (VCS) 9).


Class of 1933

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