LCpl. Dion J. Stephenson
Dion Stephenson was the first of three sons born to Geri and James Stephenson on December 19, 1968 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He attended elementary school in Southern California and junior high and high school in Bountiful, Utah. While in high school he was active in swimming, soccer, track, cross country and drama. Following graduation from Woods Cross High School in 1987 he assisted the coach of the Woods Cross swimming team while a member of the Marine Corps delayed entry program.
Dion's father James had served as a Marine and in the Army and was a Vietnam veteran. Both Dion and his younger brother Shaun would enlist in the Marine Corps. Although Dion had the opportunity to attend two different universities on scholarship, he chose to be a Marine and left for recruit training in San Diego in February 1988. He graduated with honors from recruit training, requested and was assigned an MOS of infantry and during his subsequent training at the School of Infantry in Camp Pendleton he accepted the challenge of indoctrination screening by First Force Reconnaissance Company. Dion was one of the few chosen, was assigned to First Force Recon and earned his gold jump wings, scuba bubble, and numerous other certifications required for a Force Reconnaissance Marine.
In late 1989 Dion was re-assigned to First Battalion, Ninth Marines. In August 1990, in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 1/9 and other Marine Corps units were deployed to Saudi Arabia. The initial mission of the Marines being deployed to Saudi Arabia was to deny the Iraqi Army access to the Saudi oil fields and to defend the critical port and air facility of Al-Jubayl.
The Marine's light armored vehicle, the LAV-25 and other variants, were ideally suited for maneuver warfare on the open desert. Each LAV-25 was crewed by three Marines and was designed to carry four scouts. However the First Light Armored Infantry Battalion of the 1 st Marine Division had never been fully manned with all of the scouts that were called for on its Table of Organization. A request for volunteers to serve as scouts in LAI went out and L/Cpl. Dion Stephenson answered the call. He was a logical selection because of his previous reconnaissance training.
The LAV's, due to there speed and range, could screen forward of the Marine's defensive positions. LAI units were in their forward screening positions 17 miles west of Al-Wafrah, on the night of January 29, 1991 when an Iraqi brigade crossed the Saudi border and attacked. This action was the first of five separate Iraqi attacks that would be known as the Battle of Al-Khafji. During the night action, the LAV that L/Cpl. Dion Stephenson was assigned to, was observing the enemy movement from behind a berm line. While observing the Iraqi movement and directing air strikes, the LAV was hit, killing six of the seven Marines inside. L/Cpl. Dion Stephenson was the only Utah Marine who was killed in action during the Persian Gulf War. He was laid to rest in Bountiful City Cemetery. He is survived by his parents Geri and James Stephenson and brothers Shaun and Mike.
L/Cpl. Dion Stephenson's ribbons and personal awards include the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with gold star, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Purple Heart Medal and the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
In 1992 the Dion J. Stephenson Scholarship fund was established. Annually a scholarship is awarded to a graduate of Woods Cross High School. The scholarship was established to encourage and assist those well-rounded students who have demonstrated a high degree of patriotism, athletic involvement and humanitarian efforts.
In 1999 The Dion Stephenson Detachment of the Marine Corps League was chartered in Salt Lake City, UT. Since that time, members of the detachment have been contacted by Marines who served with L./Cpl. Dion Stephenson. Those who knew him describe him as a person who was always positive, outgoing and friendly. The detachment is honored to memorialize this fine Marine and strives to contribute to the community in his name.