Sunday, April 4, 2010

A mysterious $5 bill

One of the more interesting possessions returned to Glen Hubbard Stevens’ family following his death was a $5 bill.

The bill was printed in 1934 and features the signature of W.A. Julian, the 28th treasurer of the United States.

But that’s not what’s so interesting about it.

The bill appears to contain the names and partial addresses of people Stevens knew and places he had possibly visited.

One of the names on the bill is J.E. Humphrey, one of the men in the plane with Stevens when they parachuted onto the beach at Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

Under Humphrey’s name is an apparent address – 420 NW in “Okla. City or Beaver, Okla.”

S.E. Waller is another fellow paratrooper whose name appears on the bill, over “Newsome, Texas.” Another is R.J. Bello, with a Philadelphia address.

In addition to the 15 or so names are about a dozen cities, including London, Nottingham, Birmingham and Belfast.

While the cities appear to have been written by the same person using the same pen, the names and addresses were clearly written by a different people, presumably Stevens’ friends.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Big man to a young boy

Johnny Stevens was 8 years old when his Uncle Glen Hubbard Stevens was killed on June 6, 1944, so he doesn’t remember a lot about him.

He has no idea why the family referred to him by his first and middle names, and he has no idea whatever became of the military training rifle his uncle gave him when he was about 6.

“I’ve always wondered what happened to that rifle,” he said. “We moved so many times, I’m sure it got left behind somewhere.”

Johnny, now 73, also remembers his uncle as a big man, at least 6–foot tall, a much larger man than older brother Butler, who was Johnny’s dad.

But military records show Glenn Hubbard was 5-8, 138 pounds when he entered the military on Feb. 7, 1941. A family photo taken the last time Glen Hubbard was home on leave from the Army indicates he was actually smaller than his brother Butler.

Maybe that’s because the people we admire are always larger than life in our memories.

(That's Butler on the end in the photo, next to Glen Hubbard in uniform.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Information from a friend

Glen Hubbard Stevens was the fourth of 18 or 19 men scheduled to parachute from the C47 troop transport plane with tail No. 43-15312 during Operation Neptune on June 6, 1944.

He did not appear nervous. In fact, he slept most of the two-hour flight from England. He was probably wearing an identification bracelet and carrying an Army-issued fountain pen.

The paratroopers were not able to jump at the location they had hoped – too much enemy fire. So they jumped as close to their target as they could.

We know these things about the last minutes of Stevens’ life because the Army kept records and because at least one of the men on the plane survived the invasion of Normandy.

James E. Humphrey, whose T/4 rank was the same as Stevens, was scheduled to be the 17th of 18 jumpers that day, military records show.

He said he was the 19th and last jumper, according to a letter Stevens’ fiancée wrote Stevens’ parents on Jan. 5, 1945.

Humphrey, according to the letter, contacted Viva Nevil at the bank where she worked in Dallas. He identified himself as “a friend of Steve’s” and asked if he could make an appointment to meet with her.

“I could hardly wait to hear what he had to tell me about Glen,” Nevil wrote in her letter.

They met that same night, a Tuesday, Jan. 2, 1945.

Humphrey told Nevil they learned of plans for the invasion 12 days before D-Day, which was June 6. He told her he was “one of the few” from their plane who survived the attack. Nevil noted in her letter that Humphrey was also in another major battle and that his medals included a purple heart and a silver star.

She wrote that he had a “terrible leg,” having been hit by machine-gun fire and that he was on his way to the hospital at Fort Sam Houston, where he expected it would take about three months “to fix his leg up.”

Humphrey said he never saw Glen Hubbard again after he jumped from the plane. “Humphrey said he didn’t know how he was killed but he did know it was quick,” Nevil wrote.

Nevil wrote Glen Hubbard’s parents that Humphrey told her he would try to return to Dallas at some point and that she would insist on him traveling to their home in Leonard, Texas, if he did.

She had asked if there were anything special Humphrey might want to tell John David and Ethel Stevens about their son. He responded: “Nothing, only this – Glen was doing what he wanted to do.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

'One of the best liked men in his company'

Eight things you should know about Glen Hubbard Stevens:

1) He was born Sept. 8, 1918, in Trenton, Texas, the fifth of six children born to John David Stevens and Ethel Mae Prather.

2) He grew up on a farm and graduated from Leonard, Texas, High School in 1936.

3) Military records show he was single and employed as a bookkeeper/cashier when he enlisted in the Army on Feb. 7, 1941, in Dallas.

4) Military records show he was the fourth of 18 paratroopers to jump from a C47 Troop Transport plane during Operation Neptune on June 6, 1944.

5) The Western Union telegram expressing “deep regrets that your son Technician Fourth Grade Glen H. Stevens was killed in action on six June in France,” was sent to his mother at 7:03 p.m. on July 6, 1944.

6) A letter to his mother from Maj. Gen. M.B. Ridgway reported Glen Hubbard was a “sincere and loyal solider” whose “pleasant and cheerful manner made him one of the best liked men in his company.”

7) His newspaper obituary lists a fiancée among his survivors. Her name was Viva Nevil and she’s alive and well at 87.

8) My uncle, Glen Charles Stevens of Muleshoe, Texas, was named in honor of Glen Hubbard.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A hero among us

I never knew Glen Hubbard Stevens.

My granddad’s little brother died more than 15 years before I was born.

A newspaper obituary reports Sgt. Stevens was killed in action on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and that’s what’s inspired me to learn more about him.

A real hero among us Stevens’? Imagine that.

Records show my great uncle was a member of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment that first saw combat during the Normandy Invasion. Its mission was to establish defensive positions near the west bank of the Merderet River.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt cited the regiment for “outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy between 6 and 9 June 1944 during the invasion of France,” and so I guess the mission must have been accomplished.

My mission, with this blog, is simply to get to know Glen Hubbard Stevens – how he lived and how he died – and share that information with all who share my interest.

In the words of Mauridell Bennett, my dad’s cousin and a dedicated chronicler of our family’s history, “This needs to be passed down the generations.”