From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Don Stephens '48

Date of birth: December 23, 1926

Date of death: July 22, 1950

Age: 23

Lucky Bag

From the 1948 Lucky Bag:

1948-B 6th Company


From Find A Grave:

The Painesville Telegraph dated 24 Jul 1950 page 1

Ens. Stephens Killed At Korea
Navy Pilot Dies In Airplane Crash

The war in Korea was brought home when a telegram was received Sunday morning at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. William T. Stephens, Headlands Rd., Mentor Headlands, notifying them that their son, Ensign Donald R. Stephens, 23, had been killed in a plane crash.

The telegram was addressed to Mrs. Thalia Stephens, wife of the Navy officer and stated that Ensign Stephens lost his life on July 21 in a plane crash "in the Korean area." Other details would follow, it said.

He is the first Lake County casualty of the war and one of the first Navy aviators to die as a result of hostilities in the far east.

The tragedy of his death was heightened by the fact that the telegram followed by a few hours a letter to his wife in which he said:

"I know you're all disturbed about this whole affair, but try to take it in stride and don't worry, I'll be back, I'm sure of it, so take care of yourself and have this new baby with a minimum of anxiety. That's the one way you'll help me most and at the same time help yourself."

It is believed that the crash in which he was killed occurred near the carrier or in American territory.

Known to many as "Steve", the popular young officer was a graduate of Annapolis and the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He attended Mentor schools and the Admiral Farragut Academy at Pine Beach, N. J. before entering the Naval Academy.

He was a life long resident of this area, having lived in the Headlands most of his life. He entered Annapolis in 1944 after graduating from the Admiral Farragut School. While at the preparatory school, he was captain of the basketball team and a three-letter man in basketball, track and football. He graduated from Annapolis in 1948 and entered flight school at Pensacola in August of the same year. He won his wings in December, 1949 and since that time has been on duty with the fleet.

He was married on August 4, 1948.

At the time of his death he was flying off one of the Navy's large carriers and had flown a number of missions over enemy territory in Korea. He was quoted in a United Press dispatch from Korea last week, telling of one such raid. That was on Wednesday, two days before he was killed in the crash.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by a son, Paul Richard, 15 months, and a sister, Mrs. Patricia Stephens Phillips of Painesville, and his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. G. S. Roderick of Madison,

The AD-4 Steve was piloting struck the ground and exploded while strafing on July 22, 1950, near Kangnyon-ni. He was flying from USS Valley Forge (CV 45) as a member of Attack Squadron 55 (VA-55).

Earlier in the month, on July 4, 1950, he survived the destruction of his plane by AAA. (Appears he parachuted and was rescued uninjured.)


Steve was survived by his wife, Thalia, and their son Paul Richard.

Related Articles

David Thornhill '48 was also in 6th Company.

Ian Fraser '48 was also on the 150 pound football team.

Class of 1948

Don is one of 46 members of the Class of 1948 on Virtual Memorial Hall.