Steven P Stevens II
June 22, 2012
Killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
|From The San Diego Union-Tribune utsandiego.com
Camp Pendleton Marine killed in first deployment
Camp Pendleton Marine, Pfc. Steven P. Stevens II, died Friday
By Jeanette Steele3:10 P.M.JUNE 25, 2012
A 23-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine was killed Friday during his first deployment to Afghanistan.
Pfc. Steven P. Stevens II, who grew up in Detroit, was a combat engineer assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, officials said.
Stevens enlisted on June 1, 2009, and had already earned a Purple Heart Medal in addition to other decorations.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Stevens' wife delivered an infant son in March but the Marine never got to meet him.
Stevens attended Detroit Technology High School and went to Florida A & M on a college swimming scholarship, the newspaper reported. After two years of college, he joined the Marines to serve his country.
He quit college in order to join, his grandmother told the Detroit Free Press. I guess he had the calling because he just went and joined.
|From The Detroit Free Press freep.com 06/26/12:
Young Marine killed in Afghanistan never got to hold his son
By Elisha Anderson and Christina Hall
Detroit Free Press Staff Writers
His son was born just eight days after Pfc. Steven Stevens II was deployed to Afghanistan.
Stevens, 23, saw the boy that he and his wife named Kairo for the first time over Skype. Relatives say he was looking forward to holding his only child, born March 29, when he was scheduled to return in October.
"I was told he fell in love with the little guy real quickly on Skype," said his uncle Dwight Atkins, 56, of West Bloomfield. "I'm sure he was looking forward to coming home to his wife and child."
But Stevens will never get the chance. The U.S. Marine was hit with shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade on Friday. He had a helmet on, but was hit in the neck and died six minutes later, friends and family said.
"I'm sorry that he never got a chance to see his son," said his grandmother Dorothy Atkins, 85. "I wish he could have had that blessing."
On Friday afternoon, four military officers arrived at the northwest Detroit home of Stevens' mother, Lois Stevens. Odis Pearrie Sr., who lives across the street from her, called Steven Stevens' father, Steve Stevens of Detroit, when he learned they were there.
The two men met on the block and waited for information. "We just had a feeling that something had happened to Steven," Pearrie said. "We just had to wait until his mother got home to actually find out just what happened."
A family member asked the military officers to pull around the corner so Lois Stevens wouldn't see them when she arrived. Once she was inside, the officers walked in single-file, closed the door and told her about the death of her only child, Pearrie said.
"He's going to be sadly missed," Dorothy Atkins said. "But like my mother used to tell me, his work on Earth was done, and God called him home."
Steven Stevens of Tallahassee, Fla., was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. He died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, which announced his death on its website Monday.
"He leaves this world way too soon," his uncle said.
Stevens' wife and parents were expected to be at Dover Air Force Base on Monday when his body came to the U.S., relatives said.
Stevens' father-in-law, John W. Jones, 82, of Pensacola, Fla., said his daughter Monique, 23, met Stevens in college. He said he's trying to keep her strong.
"I loved him like a son," Jones said.
Stevens grew up in northwest Detroit. As a baby, he had asthma, so the doctor suggested finding a sport that would help him breathe, relatives recalled. Stevens' mother put him in the swimming pool, and he had been a swimmer since.
"He took to the water like a fish," Dwight Atkins said.
He worked as a lifeguard in high school and attended Florida A&M University on a swimming scholarship.
Stevens was featured in the Free Press in 2006 when he -- then a high school senior -- represented Pershing High in swimming because Detroit Technology High School, where he attended, did not have a team. He placed first in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100 backstroke in the Public School League swimming championships.
"I talk to my mom the day before (a meet) about how I'm going to achieve my times," he said at the time. "I like to visualize touching the wall first in the heat."
The Rev. Louis Forsythe II, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Detroit, said Stevens joined the church about 16 years ago. Forsythe remembered him as a polite, quiet young man who loved his family. Forsythe wrote a letter on behalf of Stevens for his admission to college.
"The interesting thing is that you don't have many African Americans in swimming," Forsythe said. "That was one of the things that caught my eye."
After two years of college, Stevens joined the Marines and began serving his country. Family members and friends said the thought of traveling the world and studying abroad was enticing to him.
"He quit college in order to join," his grandmother said. "I guess he had the calling because he just went and joined."
Stevens was strong in art, wanted a career in architectural engineering, loved to laugh and was a jokester who was good at imitations, his family recalled.
"We'd always talk about his smile," Pearrie said. "Every time you saw Steven, you saw all 32 teeth."
Forsythe said he told the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church congregation about Stevens' death during church services Sunday. He asked members to stand for a moment of silence.
"He was willing to give his all for his country," Forsythe said. "It speaks to his commitment."
Contact Elisha Anderson:
Funeral services for Pfc. Steven Stevens II are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Hope United Methodist Church, 26275 Northwestern Hwy., in Southfield. Viewings will be 4-8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday at the church, with family hour at 10 a.m.
The James H. Cole Home for Funerals in Detroit is handling other arrangements.
|From Michigan mlive.com 06/29/12:
Detroit Marine Steven P. Stevens II returns home to patriotic welcome
By Gus Burns
on June 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM, updated June 29, 2012 at 1:45 PM
CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI The appreciation displayed for U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Steven P. Stevens II of Detroit, who lost his life serving in Afghanistan last week, and for his family, was strong Friday.
Underneath a milky-blue sky, flags fluttered in the shoreline winds of Lake St. Clair at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township as the Marine returned home.
Stevens, 23, of Detroit died June 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
He enlisted in June of 2009 and leaves behind a son whom he was never able to meet. Deployed on March 21, Stevens' son was born on March 29.
About 30 people, old and young, hoisted American flags of all sizes, some saluting, others with hands on hearts, and stood silent as Stevens' motorcade passed on its way to James H. Cole Funeral Home at 16100 Schaefer Hightway in Detroit.
The "Star-Spangled Banner" played from a yellow DeWalt stereo placed on the gravel shoulder of the road.
The motorcade included several dozen motorcycles riden by Patriot Guard Riders a volunteer group of motorcyclists that honors fallen soldiers by escorting their caskets upon their return home Wayne County sheriff's deputies, state police and Stevens' family.
The procession passed under a large U.S. flag hung from a line strung between the elevated ladders of two Chesterfield Township firetrucks.
Clinton Township and Chesterfield Township firefighters stood in line and saluted.
Even after the procession passed, those who came to welcome Stevens remained still and waited for the national anthem to finish.
"Can you imagine, never being able to see your son," said Angela Brand, who was brought to tears as the plane carrying Stevens' flew overhead on its way to land at the base.
"He never got to hold him; he never got to touch him," said her husband, Mitch Brand, 40.
The couple attends the arrival of every fallen soldier from Macomb County and tries to be present for as many other arrivals as possible.
Up to 100 people sometimes come out in a show of respect, said Angela Brand, who's helped organize the welcoming of soldiers since the war began.\
"We put flags from the church to the cemetery, and the looks on the (faces of the family members) was amazing," said Angela Brand, remembering the first soldier she welcomed home.
The mother tracked Brand down at the hair salon she owns with her daughter, Mirror Mirror in Clinton Township.
"She walked in and I didn't know her and she said, 'I wanted to thank you. We had a ten-second smile,' and that made my day" Brand said. "Do you know home many people come home and nobody does this? Everything is taken for granted and it makes me so mad."
Mitch Brand, whose family delayed a camping trip come out to the base Friday, said people need to do more to show their appreciation.
"These people that are driving by now, just looking, they could just take five minutes out of their day and show their support," he said.
American combat troops are expected to be pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but recent activity there has left some with doubts.
Most who attended Stevens' return said they want the troops brought home, but some wonder if the U.S. is in too deep to bring the troops home without it causing greater calamity.
"I didn't think we should have been over their in the first place," Mitch Brand said. "The billions and billions we are spending is ridiculous.
"But I think if they did a full pullout, I think it would just be a matter of time somebody else would try to take over."
Wearing a blue tank exposing his dark-tanned arms, the back of which said, "Hang Loose, Hawaii," Mark Walerzak, 63, of Algonac holds a small American flag.
It was 1971 he was 20 then, a few years younger than Stevens when Walerzak lost his fraternal twin brother Bill in the Vietnam War.
Walerzak said his brother was a "spotter" in an unarmed helicopter with no protection when he was shot down.
"I've never really had closure," he says, adding that when he comes out to support fallen soldiers like Stevens, he is also paying tribute to his brother.
Stevens' uncle, Dwight Atkins, said his nephew attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit and attended Florida A&M University on a swimming scholarship, according to the Associated Press.
Visitations for Stevens are scheduled from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at James H. Cole Funeral Home, 16100 Schaefer Hightway in Detroit.
The funeral begins at 11 a.m. Monday at Hope United Methodist Church, 26275 Northwestern Freeway in Southfield.
|Body of fallen Marine returns to home state
The Associated Press
HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. The remains of a 23-year-old Marine who was killed in Afghanistan have been returned to Michigan.
The body of Lance Cpl. Steven P. Stevens II of Detroit arrived at Selfridge Air National Guard Base on June 29, according to WXYZ-TV. The Pentagon says Stevens died June 22 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province.
He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Stevens received a posthumous promotion from private first class.
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