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Pat M Stevens III, a retired Army Colonel of artillery and an early developer of Army guided missiles, died in Novato, California, on June 21, 2007 at age 97. Colonel Stevens served over 32 years in the Army, heading the U.S. Army Standardization Office in London, commanding the Nike Missile Anti-Aircraft Group in Philadelphia and the U.S. Army Support Group, Vietnam in 1962.
The son of an Army family, he was born in Gainesville, Georgia in 1909 after his pregnant mother traveled home from Zamboanga, Philippine Islands, where she was with her husband, a Lieutenant of the 23rd Infantry. He was raised as an “Army brat” at a number of posts including Laredo on the Mexican border, Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay, Syracuse, New York, Fort Logan, Colorado, Texas City and Galveston, Texas. He was an Eagle Scout, earning the 2nd Eagle badge awarded in Georgia. A 1933 Beta Theta Pi graduate of Georgia Tech in Mechanical Engineering, he was a veteran of World War II and the Vietnam War.
His first trip to the Washington area was in 1923 when he hitchhiked from Atlanta to see the museums and monuments. He was to return many times, and was stationed at the Pentagon on the Army Staff for five years until 1953.
Commissioned in 1933, he was appointed to full active duty in 1938 in the Coast Artillery and reported to March Army Air Field in August 1940, where he commanded Battery D, 78th Coast Artillery Regiment through the attack on Pearl Harbor. His was one of only a small number of anti-aircraft batteries on the West Coast and he often recalled the fear of a concentrated Japanese attack from the sea.
He rose to Lieutenant Colonel in World War II, and was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, the French Croix de Guerre three times, and the Purple Heart for wounds in battle. He served in North Africa, Sicily, Corsica, France and Germany with Patton’s Third Army, authoring the Anti-Aircraft Artillery annex of the Sicily invasion order. After the war he headed the Artillery Tactics Department at Fort Bliss, and in 1948 was assigned to the Pentagon where he worked on the development of the first generation of Army missiles. As a new Colonel, in 1953 he became the Senior U.S. Representative to the United Kingdom Standardization Group in London and in 1956 took command of the 24th AAA Group charged with the Nike missile defenses of the Philadelphia region. In 1961 he was appointed to command of the IX Corps Artillery in Okinawa. During that time he was named the first commander of the US Army Support Group, Saigon in 1962, which grew to become U.S. Army Vietnam.
He retired from Fort Monroe in 1964, and moved to Novato, California, where he lived until his death. He traveled extensively and became an expert model sailing ship builder. After his wife of 30 years Grace Marshall Stevens died, he married Billie Burke Heim of Novato, who preceded him in death. His health remained near perfect until his final days, and he enjoyed cross-country road trips in his sport car until his last year. He is survived by a son, Major General Pat M Stevens IV, US Army, Retired, of Fairfax County, Virginia, a daughter, Nancy S. Vaughan of Palm Bay, Florida, two stepsons, Harry V. Heim and Charles Heim of Novato, California, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.