S/Sgt Lawrence William Stephens - 5th Air Force, 160th Liaison Squadron
Photos courtesy of Kathy Morgan, S/Sgt Stephens Daughter
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic Pacific Ribbon with 4 stars
WW II Victory Medal
Philippine Liberation Ribbon with 1 star
In January 1942, one month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lawrence William Stephens, of Texon TX, a 20 year old former cadet at Texas A&M, enlisted in the Army Air Corps. After extensive training at various locations in the United States, the newly promoted Staff Sgt. Stephens was ordered to overseas duty in support of the recently initiated retaking of the Philippine Islands. Staff Sgt. Stephens served the rest of his time during WWII in the Asiatic Pacific Theater Operations as a liaison pilot with the 160th Liaison Squadron. He initially landed on Leyte Island in the Philippines in November or December of 1944. Later, while based Primarily on Luzon, his military duties included flying to many of the other Philippine Islands, including Mindoro, Marinduquet, and Sibay. His primary duties were flying missions to evacuate the wounded, carrying supplies, and ferrying personnel. The planes he piloted were small 185 horsepower Stinson L-5B’s, L-5C’s, and L-5E’s. These flights were often made in poor weather conditions, over dense jungles, open water and enemy territory. On 4 July 1945, he was forced down in his unarmed plane in the guerrilla held village of Baler, on Luzon Island. He was reported missing, and for 3 days he was sheltered by the local Philippinos. Finally, on 7 July, he was sighted and rescued. During his time in the Philippines he flew over 900 hours as a liaison pilot and his proudest achievement was having successfully evacuated 82 wounded men. After he was Honorably Discharged in November 1945, he joined the Air Force Reserve and settled in Tulsa, OK with his wife, the former Helen Jessie Hays. Staff Sgt. Stephens completed his military service, in August of 1952, and was Honorably Discharged from the Air Force Reserve. He and Helen had 2 children during their 39 year marriage: Katherine Elizabeth Stephens and Lawrence William Stephens, Jr. When Helen died, he married a widow, Mary Elizabeth (Rolland) Michener, with whom he had a 25 year marriage.