Meeting on March 20, 2012

Lt. Col. John Stevens on “The 1st Marine Brigade, The Fire Brigade, in the Pusan Perimeter”

Summary provided by Charlie Sweeny: This gallant siege was a desperate fight by unprepared UN troops against North Korean invaders.

In June of 1950 the North Korean Army suddenly attacked its southern neighbor. The merciless flood was easily able to defeat the totally surprised South Korean Army. President Truman and the United Nations went to help the South. The U.S. Army and the Marine Corps ordered available troops to the Korean peninsula and sent them into action.

The US military had been effectively shut down in the summer of 1945. Housekeeping and occupation duties were the only challenges. The summer of 1950s saw a great haste to mobilize all of our forces: Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard. Reserves were called up.

Initially, inexperienced and undersupported US forces were also pushed back to the South along with our Korean allies. A corner of the peninsula at the southeast became a bastion around the port of Pusan. This was the historic resistance point and a base for the successful fight back.

The conditions under which the war was fought were very bad. The weather was of extreme cold in the winter and extreme heat in the summer. Disease, especially malaria, was quite bad.

Colonel Stevens was there and helped lead the victorious way back. He was awarded two Bronze Stars with V for Valor.

John Stevens was born in April 1921 in Butte, Montana. He enlisted in the Marine Corp in 1939 and had a 23-year career, serving in WW2 and the Korean War, (all told a total of 6 campaigns). He obtained a BS degree at the University of Maryland.

After boot camp and field-telephone training, he was assigned to the 1st Defense Battalion which was sent to Pearl Harbor in February 1941. From there, Sgt Stevens was sent to Midway, and then back to Pearl Harbor, where he was on December 7, 1941 when it was bombed. (John is a Pearl Harbor Survivor.) Master Technical Sgt Stevens was field commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in August 1942 on Palmyra and then sent back to Midway.

After returning to the U.S. in July 1943 for additional training, in 1944 he was assigned to the 1st Marine Division as XO of the 1st Signal Company, on Pavuvu Island. He participated in the Battle of Okinawa, including the assault and subsequent occupation. He later served as the Regimental Communications officer of the 7th Marines in North China, returning to the U.S. in June 1946.

After a tour as the base Communications officer at the Recruit Depot in San Diego and various schools, Capt Stevens joined the 1st Marine Division. As the CO of A Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in 1949, he took that unit to Korea in July 1950. While in Korea, Capt Stevens participated in the Pusan Perimeter campaign; the Inchon landing and capture of Seoul; the Wonsan Landing; and the Chosin Reservoir Campaign.

Returning to the United States in November 1950, LtCol Stevens was assigned to various tours, including CO of the Marine Barracks Naval Supply Center in Oakland; assistant G3 of Parris Island Recruit Training Depot; Sr Instructor at the Weapons Training Group, Basic School in Quantico; student at the Amphibious Warfare School; CO of Headquarters Battalion, Basic School, and a 2-year cross-training tour with the 2nd Marine Air Wing.

His final duty station was at Kaneohe, Hawaii. In July 1959, he was the ground G-3 of the 1st Marine Brigade, and later served as XO of the 4th Marine Regiment. From July 1961 until retirement in 1962, John was the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion 4th Marine Regiment. His combat awards include 2 Bronze Stars with Combat Vs and 2 Presidential Unit Citations, among many others.

In 1962, he joined IBM where he served in various systems engineering, marketing, and management positions. He left IBM in 1969 to become an entrepreneur. First he founded a software consulting company specializing in the insurance industry, American Information Development (or A.I.D). He then formed a joint venture, called Insurnet, with A.I.D, Quotron Systems, and the Continental Insurance Corporation to market turnkey computer systems to the independent insurance agencies.

In 1983, He left the active management of Insurnet to co-found a new telecommunications management company, called Centex Telemanagement. In 1985, John Stevens turned the active management of the company over to a talented man, who took the company to a successful IPO in 1987. This company was used as a case study both at Harvard and Stanford business Schools.

In 1986, he founded Stellar Net, Inc., where he served as the Chairman until 2001. This pioneering company provided an electronic data interface, using the Internet, between medical service providers and Worker’s Compensation insurance claims payors. He was a co-recipient of a U.S. patent for the business system developed for this business.

John has found the time to contribute as an officer or board member for many community and business organizations, including:

  • Past Board member of the Marine Memorial Assn
  • Board member of the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation
  • Past Pres of the Pac Heights HO Assn
  • Vice President and Founder of the Honolulu Civitan Club
  • Past President of the No. CA Chapter 1st Marine Div. Assn
  • Past Vice President of the 1st Marine Division Assn (National)
  • Past Deputy Vice President of the West, of the 1st Marine Division Assn
  • Past Board Member of VantageMed Corporation, a public company
  • Past Board Member of Collimated Holes
  • Member of the Marine Corps Coordinating Council
  • Founding President of the Chosin Few-Golden Gate Chapter
  • Board Member & Secretary of the Korean War Memorial Foundation

John is married to Joanne (Jody) Stevens, and he has four children, 7 grand children and 10 great grand children.

And finally, last but not least, John is a 13-year colon cancer survivor.