From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Richard Stephenson '35

Date of birth: September 20, 1912

Date of death: July 10, 1943

Age: 30

Lucky Bag

From the 1935 Lucky Bag:


Richard was lost when his SOC-3A scout plane was shot down over Sicily. He was flying from USS Philadelphia (CL 41).


On 10 July 1943 Douglas Pierson was airborne again. It was 06:01 hrs. Again the plane was piloted by Lieutenant Mishanec, two more planes were launched. Tow hours later Mishanec and Pierson were on board of the Philadelphia again. Lieutenant Commander Richard D. Stephenson (from New York) took off in 8-CS-1 at 10:02, his observer was Douglas Pierson. The plane was scouting CENT area, off shore the coast of Scoglitti. It would be the men’s last flight. Nearing the coastline of Scoglitti at an altitude of some 1,000 feet the vulnerable seaplane was suddenly attacked by two Messerschmitt Bf109’s. The Seagull was beyond the range of the ship’s anti aircraft guns. At 13:13 hrs the Seagull crashed into the waterline of the Mediterranean Sea some three miles east of Gela, 3 miles northwest of Scoglitti and some 100 yards offshore. The plane sank immediately.

Both men were buried by the infantry in a field grave on the side of the Via Riviera Gela, near the corner with the Strada Baia Donca. The Via Riviera Gela is situated along the beach and connects Scoglitti and Gela. When the temporary cemetery at Gela was opened and circumstances permitted, the remains of both men were exhumed and reburied at Gela.

Later Richard was reburied once more near Rome.

His wife was listed as next of kin. He is buried in Italy. He was also survived by three sons. (Information from January 1958 issue of Shipmate, which mentions him in the context of his re-married wife winning a judgement against the Veterans Administration.)

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Richard Davids Stephenson (NSN: 0-75050), United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight during the invasion of Sicily on 10 July 1943. Knowing that enemy aircraft of superior speed and armament were in the vicinity, he piloted his scouting plane from the U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA seven miles inland to spot long-range naval gunfire. Until his plane was shot down, he courageously assisted in carrying out the mission assigned to him.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 324 (March 1944)
Action Date: July 10, 1943
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Scouting Squadron
Division: U.S.S. Philadelphia

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.

October 1935

Ensign, USS Louisville

January 1936

Ensign, USS Louisville

April 1936

Ensign, USS Louisville

July 1936

Ensign, USS Louisville

January 1937

Ensign, USS Louisville

Others at this command:

April 1937

Ensign, USS Louisville

Others at this command:

September 1937

Ensign, USS Louisville

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at this command:

LTjg Charles Ostrom '30 (Cruiser Scouting Squadron (VCS) 5)
LTjg Thomas Ashworth, Jr. '31 (Cruiser Scouting Squadron (VCS) 5)

July 1938

Ensign, USS Tattnall

Others at this command:

January 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Tattnall

Others at this command:

October 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Tattnall

Others at this command:

June 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Noa

Others at this command:

November 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), under instruction, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command:

Class of 1935

Richard is one of 56 members of the Class of 1935 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.