February 18, 1944 (Norwalk, CT) – June 10, 1967; 23 years old
Last local address: 65 Van Zant Street, East Norwalk
Enlisted on October 31, 1963
MOS: 94B20, Food Service Specialist
Tour Start Date: December 1, 1966
Service number: 11432410
Unit: 9th Infantry Division, 60th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, HQ & HQ Company
Born to Leland A. (1922-2012) and Mary Williamson Stevens (1920-1978). Robert was their only child.
Casualty Location: Long An, South Vietnam
Robert is on The Wall at Panel 21E, Line 85
Awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor (citation below) and the Purple Heart Medal
As told by Joseph W. Callaway Jr. in his book “Mekong First Light: An Infantry Platoon Leader in Vietnam” (used with permission)
“A cook, SP5 Robert Francis Stevens, whom I knew in Charlie Company, 2nd of the 60th Infantry, in fact from Norwalk, Connecticut, the town adjacent to New Canaan, had volunteered for field duty. I told him to stay a cook, that the work was tough, not glorious, but safe. He used to say if a New Canaan man can do it out on the line, then a Norwalk man should be even better. I couldn’t talk him out of the decision. As a member of Sergeant Marshal’s 2nd Platoon, he was killed in the “bowling alley” on his first patrol, on June 10, 1967, when he was shot through the side of his chest by a sniper. He never knew what hit him. He was just walking along in a rice paddy next to a wood line when he was drilled by a VC [Viet Cong] and fell over dead. It was so arbitrary and final. It seemed that life should have more value than this.”
Posted on Facebook on May 29, 2022, by Carolyn Steger. Used with permission.
I met Bob during the summer of 1961 right after my graduation from HS and before starting nursing school at Norwalk Hospital. Our first date was at Frontier Town in Queens, NY. We spent many summer days at the beach (he was a great swimmer), and at family gatherings and cookouts at my family home on Jefferson St. He was a quiet and unassuming person but, unfortunately, things didn’t work out and we parted ways. Ironically, I was living in Long Beach, California, when mom called me about the news of his passing. The Port of Long Beach was where many of our military shipped out so he was probably one of them. No one who sacrificed himself for his country should be forgotten.
Posted on vvmf.org May 26, 2008, by Sandy Maroney, cousin of Robert Stevens
The years have passed since ’67, but the tears still flow. Fond memories of you proudly wearing your Army outfit, the family gatherings, my high school gift from you, and the treasured letters you sent me from ‘Nam. You were honored as one of the 612 in Coventry and we all miss you so dearly! Until we see each other in heaven, rest in peace, and know you are missed! Love, Sandy
From The Norwalk Hour June 12, 1967
A sixth Norwalk serviceman has been killed in action in Vietnam. Army Specialist Fifth Class Robert F. Stevens, son of Mrs. Mary T. DeFeo of 65 Van Zant Street, died in action on Saturday. A telegram from the Secretary of the Army reported that SP5 Stevens was on a combat operation in the Mekong Delta area when he was hit by a Viet Cong sniper. A native of Norwalk, SP5 Stevens had been in the Army since 1963, the year he graduated from Norwalk High School. He had been in Vietnam with the U.S. Engineers for almost two years. Previously he had served in France and Germany for one year each. In addition to his mother, he is survived by his father, Leland Stevens of 22 Summit Avenue; his grandfather, George Tuttle of 51 South Main Street and several aunts and uncles. Funeral arrangements, in charge of Ganung Funeral Home, will be announced. SP5 Stevens is the third Vietnam fatality from Norwalk this year and the sixth since the war began. He is the second Army man; the others having been Marines. The other Army victim was Sergeant William J. Tarsi, killed in 1966. This year, two local Marines – Corporal Michael J. Scanlon and PFC Alexander Wainio – were killed in separate campaigns in the far eastern country. In addition to Sergeant Tarsi, the two Norwalkers killed in 1966, both Marines, were Captain Albert Prevost and William Lilly. Funeral services for PFC Wainio are scheduled to be held this afternoon in Georgetown.
From The Norwalk Hour June 19, 1967
MILITARY SERVICES FOR R.F. STEVENS
Funeral services for Robert F. Stevens of 65 Van Zant Street, who was killed in action in Vietnam on June 10, were held Saturday morning at the Ganung Funeral Home, 84 South Main Street to St. Thomas the Apostle Church where Reverend Michael A. D’Elia celebrated a requiem mass. Interment took place in St. John’s Cemetery with Father D’Elia conducting committal rites. Specialist Stevens, with the U.S. Army, died from a sniper’s bullet in the Mekong Delta area. Full military honors were provided by a firing squad from Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York, with Sergeant Melvin D. Bowen in charge, assisted by Private James Finnie, Private First Class Paul Gruber, Private First Class Peter Wolowacz, Specialist 4th Class Walter Marshall, Private Berkley Harrison, Private James Mooney, Private First Class George Davigion. Taps were sounded by Bugler Private First Class David DeLeal. The pallbearers were Specialist 4th Class Robert Dickinson, Private First Class John Martakis, Private First Class John Pickering, Private First Class Barry Asman, Specialist 4th Class Richard Lines, and Private First Class William Fiumara from the Detachment of Fort Hamilton, New York ceremonial section.
From The Norwalk Hour February 24, 1968
SPEC 5 STEVENS AWARDED MEDAL POSTHUMOUSLY
Specialist Five Robert F. Stevens, U.S. Army, of Norwalk, killed in action in Vietnam on June 10, 1967, had been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism in engaging the enemy, it was disclosed today. He was the son of Mrs. Mary T. DeFeo of Van Zant Street. The specialist was leading a squad in a search and destroy mission at a village when he was cut down by sniper fire while directing the fire of his own men at the enemy according to the citation. Specialist Stevens did so in the face of “withering’ enemy fire and complete disregard for his own safety. The citation:
“Reason: For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Specialist Five Stevens distinguished himself on 10 June 1967 while serving as a squad leader on a search and destroy mission near the village of Binh Chanh, Republic of Vietnam. As Specialist Stevens was leading his men toward a clump of mangrove trees, hostile sniper fire erupted from them. Specialist Stevens immediately organized his men, and in complete disregard for personal safety, braved withering fire so that he could point out targets. Due to his competence and the volume of fire, he was pouring on the enemy, fire superiority was soon gained. As Specialist Stevens rallied his men to prepare for an assault upon the Viet Cong, he was cut down by a hostile sniper round. Specialist Five Stevens’ courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 9th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.”
Specialist Stevens is buried in St. John’s Cemetery, 223 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut; Veterans section, Grave 27. Photo by webmaster.