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MSG LOWELL WESLEY STEVENS, Sr.
FAYETTEVILLE - Lowell Wesley Stevens Sr., 69, of Fayetteville, made the leap into eternity on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011. Lowell arrived on this earth as the first child of a coal mining family on July 8, 1941, in Putney, W.Va. The coal mining camp of Putney was located at the head of a 16-mile hollow and no longer exists. He was the son of the late Elmer and Opal Young Stevens. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Larry; and his sister, Jean. He was named after both of his grandfathers, Lowell H. Stevens and John Wesley Young. Lowell was the first one in his family to graduate from high school, but had only two options after doing so; go to work in the coal mines, which had killed his dad, or join the U.S. military. His father had served as a machine gunner in Europe during the last stages of World War II with the 376th Infantry Regiment of the 94th Infantry Division and was immensely proud of his Combat Infantryman Badge. On July 29, 1959, Lowell entered the U.S. Army, having enlisted for Airborne unassigned. He graduated from Jump School in February 1960, and six years later he was a master parachutist. Later on, he added HALO and HALO Master Wings to his chest. From December 1959 to May 1963, he was a proud member of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. In May 1963, he volunteered for Special Forces training and completed the course with MOS 112 (Heavy Weapons Infantryman) in November of that year. In November 1963, Lowell was assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) located on Okinawa and performed the duties of the Heavy Weapons man on A-Detachments. He served on Detachment A-312 from Company C on a six month TDY mission to South Vietnam from June to December 1964. From May to July 1965, he was a squad leader in the Recon Platoon of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment. In October 1965, Lowell was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in South Vietnam. Between this date and August 1972, Lowell completed a total of 71 months with the 5th Group in Vietnam. His duties included serving on A-Camps, MACV SOG, Mike Force company commander, and instructor at MACV Recondo School. He served for a total of six years and five months in Vietnam. After Vietnam, he was assigned once again to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) on Okinawa for 18 months. In April, he was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg. During the last eight years of his military service, he preformed the duties of the team sergeant on Operational Detachments. In his opinion, nothing in the Army was greater or more important than the team sergeant on an ODA. After retiring from the Army on March 1, 1980, he was an owner and operator of a new Peterbilt truck, leased to trucking companies that specialized in hauling steel and machinery until July 1983. During these 3 1/2years, he traveled the continental United Sates and visited with his rig all but two of our states. He enjoyed seeing our country from the vantage point afforded him by the cab of his truck. In July 1983, he started work on Camp Mackall as the range control representative. He took an intense interest in the history of Mackall and for more than 27 years, he endeavored all but daily to learn the rich history of the "home of the Airborne during World War II." He said many times that his service in Vietnam and his time at Camp Mackall defined his life and provided a degree of contentment that few men ever realized. On Sept. 1, 2010, Lowell retired from civil service on Fort Bragg with more than 47 years of enjoyable service with the federal government. Although he did not like to enumerate the awards he received while in the Army, it is customary to do so, so here it goes: Silver Star Medal (three awards), Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (six awards), Purple Heart (two awards), Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge and a handful of "I was there" awards. He was most proud of his Vietnam Campaign Medal, which indicated that he was awarded 16 campaigns out of a total of 17 awarded for the entire Vietnam War. He is survived by his sister, Frances Stevens James and husband Cecil, of Thomson, Ga.; his wife of more than 35 years, Emiko; son, Lowell Jr. and wife Lauri; daughters, Natalie Stevens and husband Bart Palmer and Cheryl Stevens Mericle; two grandsons, Chance Palmer and Brandon Stevens; and two granddaughters, Brooke Stevens and Chasity Palmer, all of Fayetteville. Memorial services will be held at Rogers and Breece Funeral Home chapel in Fayetteville on Monday, Jan. 31, 2011, at 12:30 p.m. Interment will follow at Sandhillls Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lakes with full military honors. Services entrusted to Rogers and Breece Funeral Home of Fayetteville.