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Robert Winston Stephens


Robert W Stephens flew 80 combat missions over Germany in World War II and had a total of 241 combat hours.
He enlisted in Feb 1942 and by 1944 had advanced to the rank of Lt Colonel and was commander of a P-51 Mustang fighter squadron.
Before the war, he was a short-stop and pitcher for baseball teams at Bowling Green, Ky., and Evansville, Ind., which were farm clubs for the Boston Braves.
He remained in the Air Force after the war and was promoted to Colonel in 1955. Since the war he had served at bases in Germany, Italy, and Turkey as well as in the United States. He was a wing commander at George AFB, CA before his appointment as director of inspection for the Tactical Air Command.
He was killed in a crash of an F-100 jet fighter just after taking off from Cannon AFB, NM. Killed with him in the crash was Lt. L. W. Emerson, 26, Alhambra, Calif. The plane was about a half mile from the end of the runway and about 300 feet high when engine trouble apparently developed, an Air Force spokesman said. It crashed into a slaughter house lot hitting two discarded railway box cars.
During 18 years of service, Colonel Stephens had flown more than 3,300 hours and had been awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 21 Oak Leaf Clusters, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, National Defense Service Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with one Oak Leaf Cluster and Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with three Oak Leaf Clusters. In addition, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Silver Gilt Star by the French Government.


Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 354th Fighter Group

    354th Fighter Group

    The Group moved to England in the autumn of 1943 and was assigned to the Ninth Air Force in December 1943. The Group were the first to fly P-51 Mustangs operationally and in their bomber escort missions pushed to find the long-range limits of the...

  • 355th Fighter Squadron


  • 44-13335 'Too Bad' 'Killer'

    P-51 Mustang
    P-51D 44-13335 GQ-A 'Too Bad' 355th FS, 354th FG, 9th AF, Assigned to Capt later Col George R Bickell, later became Capt Gilbert Talbot's mount. Subsequently reassigned to Capt later Col Robert W Stephens as GQ-S "Killer".

Associated Place

  • Boxted

    Military site : airfield
    Boxted was built for heavy bombers and became operational from May 1943. In the few months B-26 Marauders of the 386th Bomb Group were stationed there, there were two night attacks by the Luftwaffe. On 17 August 1943, one man was killed when bombs...


Event Location Date
Born Saint Louis, MO, USA 1921

Saint Louis, Missouri, USA.

Enlisted Saint Louis, MO, USA 19 February 1942

Saint Louis, Missouri, USA.

Enlisted Missouri, USA 19 February 1942

February 19, 1942.

Graduated earning his wings Luke Airport, Vestal, NY 13850, USA 29 September 1942

September 29, 1942, about the same time he would have been winding up his second season in professional baseball, Bob Stephens earned his wings and an Army Air Force commission at Luke Field.

Shipped Overseas New Jersey, USA 20 October 1943

20th October 1943, the squadron departed aboard the liner Athlone Castle as part of a large convoy bound for Great Britain.

Arrived in ETO Liverpool, Merseyside, UK 3 November 1943

3rd Nov 1943, the Athlone Castle docked at Liverpool in northwest England.

Last sortie in ETO Brittany, France 28 August 1944

28th August 1944 was to be Stephens' last sortie in Europe after nine months in the combat zone. In his typical style, he destroyed yet another Me 109 bringing his confirmed total to an incredible 13 kills and claiming his position as leading ace of the 355th Fighter Squadron. During his time in Europe, Major Stephens had flown over 233 hours during 122 missions.

Returned Home United States September 1944

Returned home to the United States in September 1944.

Died Cannon Air Force Base (CVS), Cannon Air Force Base: Commissary, 110 E. Sextant ave, Cannon Air Force Base, NM 88101, USA 6 April 1960

Killed in a crash of an F-100 jet fighter just after taking off from Cannon AFB, NM. Killed with him in the crash was Lt. L. W. Emerson, 26, Alhambra, Calif. The plane was about a half mile from the end of the runway and about 300 feet high when engine trouble apparently developed.

Lived in Missouri, USA

Missouri, USA.

Buried Jefferson Barracks, 533 Grant Road, Saint Louis, MO 63125, USA

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


Date Contributor Update
31 October 2017 19:48:16 Al_Skiff Changes to media associations
Sources Biography Details.

Date Contributor Update
25 July 2015 23:19:56 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, service number, highest rank, biography, awards, events, unit associations and place associations
Sources Biography Details.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:24:18 AAM AAM ingest
Sources / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia