Sergeant First Class Riley Gene Stephens was born in Tolar, Texas on 26 August, 1973. He died 28 September, 2012 of wounds received from small arms fire in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.
SFC Stephens enlisted in the U.S. Army in January, 1993 as an 11B, Infantryman. Upon completion of his initial training, SFC Stephens was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327 Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He served in several infantry positions including squad automatic gunner and Fire Team Leader. SFC Stephens later served as a Scout Section Leader at his next duty assignment at Fort Wainwright, Alaska with the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment.
SFC Stephens volunteered for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course. In March, 2005, following completion of the Special Forces Qualification Course, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3d Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant.
SFC Stephens deployed on five separate deployments to Afghanistan with 1st Battalion in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. This was SFC Stephens sixth deployment in support of Overseas Contingency Operations.
His military education includes the U.S. Army Air Assault School, U.S. Army Airborne School, Warrior Leaders Course, Advanced Leaders Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, Hostage Negotiation Course, Advanced Cardiac Life Support Course, Emergency Medical Technician – Ambulance Course, Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course, Special Operations Target Interdiction Course, USASOC Jumpmaster Course, the Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant Course, U.S. Army Ranger School, and the Special Forces Qualification Course.
SFC Stephens’ awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Valor device, Bronze Star Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with Valor device, Army Commendation Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal (5th Award), National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 3 device, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 3 device, Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Air Assault Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Ranger tab, and the Special Forces tab. His permanent unit awards include the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation. SFC Stephens was also awarded the Canadian Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation Medal.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and Meritorious Service Medal.