Died September 28, 2012
Operation Enduring Freedom
Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.
Army Special Forces Medical Sergeant Riley Stephens died September 28, 2012 of wounds sustained while providing cover for his unit during an enemy small-arms fire fight in Wardak, Afghanistan.
Growing up in Tolar, Texas, Riley always knew he wanted to serve in the Army and excelled at everything he put his mind to. He spent his time playing football as the Center and Defensive End, helping to lead his team to All State and lettering in UIL all four years. When he wasn’t playing sports, he worked diligently to participate in FFA where he competitively raised champion goats and hogs. Riley constantly pushed himself, and when he was only 17, he became the youngest member of the Tolar Volunteer Fire Department after completing his EMT certification. Riley graduated in 1991 as the Salutatorian of his class.
Stephens enlisted in the Army in 1993, starting his 20-year Army career, in which he continued his life-long tradition of pushing himself to grow and to serve others. During his career, Stephens served in several infantry positions, including Squad Automatic Gunner, radio-telephone operator and Fire Team Leader before volunteering for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course. In March of 2005, after completing the Special Forces Qualification Course, he was assigned as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant to the 3rd Special Forces Airborne group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Stephens completed five separate deployments to Afghanistan with this unit, and was in his sixth deployment when he was killed.
During his extensive Army career, Riley was awarded several awards including Bronze Star Medal with Valor, two Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device, and four Army Commendation Medals among others. Additionally, Riley continuously pushed himself to grow his skills earning the Air Assault Badge, the Basic Parachutist Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Ranger Tab and the Special Forces Tab.
PFC Stephens was 39 years old from Tolar, Texas.
Original portrait by artist Jonathan Stasko was presented May 25, 2016 to Riley’s family during the Duskin & Stephens Annual Beef n Beer.