John Bradley Stephens was born in Salem County, New Jersey, on March 8, 1965. He was the son of William John Stephens and Charlotte Stephens. He had one brother, Brent Stephens. John’s father died when he was a small child and the family relocated to Morristown, Tennessee.
John graduated from Morristown West High School with the Class of 1983. He was active in the Navy ROTC for four years while attending Morristown West.
He enlisted in the Army on July 7, 1983 and attended basic training and advance individual training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After basic, from November 1983 through January 1986 he was an ammo handler in Garlstedt, West Germany, with service battery, 4th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery, 2nd Armored Division.
In January 1986 he returned stateside and was an ammo handler for the 6th Student Company, Red Stone Army Depot, Alabama. This assignment would last until December when he would return to Germany.
Upon returning to Germany in December 1986, Sergeant Stephens was a heavy weapons gunner with the 111 Armored Cavalry Regiment, Germany. He would remain with the 11th ACR until May 1990. John returned home in June 1990 and joined the Army Reserves.
He served as a transport driver with the 418th Quartermaster Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky a twenty member water distribution unit. His unit was activated in December 1990 to participate in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
While participating in Operation Desert Storm, reserve Specialist 4th Class Stephens was killed on March 27, 1991 when the five ton truck he was in rolled over as the vehicle made a right turn.
Stephens was repatriated back to his childhood home in Penns Grove, New Jersey and buried at Eglington Cemetery in Clarksboro, New Jersey on April 2, 1991. He was buried with full military honors by the US Army.
The 125th US Army Reserve Command held a memorial service at First Methodist Church in Knoxville on April 7, 1991 for Specialist Stephens.
The Knoxville News Sentinel- March 29, 1991:
KNOXVILLE-BASED RESERVIST KILLED, ANOTHER INJURED IN GULF ACCIDENT
A Morristown soldier was killed and another member of a Knoxville-based. U.S. Army Reserve unit injured in an accident in Saudi Arabia, military officials said Thursday.
Specialist John B. Stephens, 26, of Morristown was killed Wednesday morning when the 5-ton truck he was in rolled over as the vehicle made a right turn. Injured in the accident was Sgt. John Lewis Smith, 43, of Oliver Springs.
Smith was seriously injured when he broke a bone in his left leg in the accident, said Bill Peoples, public affairs officer with the 125th U.S. Army Reserve Command in Nashville. He was unsure where Smith is being treated.
The accident occurred around 945 a.m. Saudi Arabia time, according to a release from the U.S. Armys Casualty Sub Area Command in Knoxville.
Both men were members of the 418th Quartermaster Detachment, which is stationed in Knoxville, Peoples said. The 20-member unit served as a tactical water distribution detachment, Peoples said.
The unit was called to active duty Nov. 29, 1990, and was deployed to Saudi Arabia Dec. 27, 1990.
Stephens was a driver for the 418th, and Smith is a water treatment sergeant.
Peoples said Stephens is the first Tennessee-based reservist to die in the Persian Gulf. He’s the second soldier with the 125th U.S. Army Reserve Command, which oversees units in Tennessee and Kentucky, to die in the gulf.