Stephen Thomas Hepner
Second Lieutenant
2ND PLT, K CO, 3RD BN, 9TH MARINES, 3RD MARDIV, III MAF
United States Marine Corps
Glendale, Arizona
February 13, 1940 to April 30, 1967
STEPHEN T HEPNER is on the Wall at Panel 19E, Line 14

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Combat Action Ribbon
 
Stephen T Hepner
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8 Aug 2002

I first met 2nd Lt Steve Hepner in July 1961. I was transferred to Camp Pendelton and assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. Steve was a Corporal (E4) and I was a PFC assigned to the 3rd Platoon under 2nd Lt James Cooligan. During our "lock on" period prior to our deployment to Okinawa as Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, I discovered how dedicated Steve was to the Corps and his uncanny ability to lead men. Steve was respected by all, enlisted and officers alike. Steve made Sergeant (E5) during our tour overseas and became Right Guide of the platoon. When our battalion returned to the states in October 1962, I went to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, at Camp Margarita, and never saw or had contact with Steve after that.

In June 1967, I was a patrolman with the St. Louis City Police Department where I received a telephone call from a friend and former Marine, Klaus Fischer who lived in Ft. Worth, Texas and a very close friend of Steve's. Klaus told me that Steve was killed in action on 2 May 1967. Steve's death was difficult to believe and accept, but what disturbs me the most is that those Marines in his platoon did not get a chance to know or experience his leadership to the fullest and the compassion he had for those in his presence.

2nd Lt Steve Hepner was a great person and a dedicated Marine who, had he returned from VN, would have excelled at everything he strived for in his military career. 2nd Lt Steve Hepner, like so many good men who lost their lives for this great country, is deeply missed by everyone who knew him during peacetime and war.

GOD BLESS YOU, STEVE, AND SEMPER FI.

A memorial initiated by a former Marine who knew and respected 2ndLt Steve Hepner,
Dan Swan
moangler@earthlink.net


9 Jan 2005

Though I never knew Steve, I am a second cousin to him. I was born in 1977, well after Steve had given his life for the country he loved. My mother is a cousin to Steve and she has had nothing but wonderful things to say about him.

Steve grew up in Delaware, Ohio, where he was graduated from St. Mary's High School. He entered the Marines after graduation, and while he was in service his parents moved to Arizona.

While searching for information about Steve, and information about the rest of my family members who served in the U.S. Military, I came across this web site. From what I gathered Stephen was killed in action while fighting on Hill 881 South near Khe Sanh. I also understand Steve was an outstanding Marine, who after his first tour in Vietnam returned home and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Not wanting to leave his fellow Marines behind, Steve volunteered for a second tour, which ultimately cost him his life. One story I always heard was that Steve had made a great impression on a fellow Marine and they became good friends. I do not know this Marine's name; I do know that upon returning from his tour in Vietnam, he would place a can of beer at the gravesite of Steve.

Anyone with more information or more stories about Steve, please feel free to contact me. I am trying to gather as much information I can about my family's history of military service, including Steve's Uncle John Hepner, grandfather, cousins, parents and myself.

Steve, though I never had the chance to meet you, I am glad to be able to say you are family. Semper Fi!

From a cousin,
Kyle T. Bennett
combat_dispatcher@yahoo.com


A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, had been in and out of Khe Sanh area several times during the spring of 1967, participating in the famous "Hill Fights" in the mountains surrounding Khe Sanh Combat Base. They were "in" during the latter part of April, and on 30 April lost 17 men in a bitter engagement with the North Vietnamese Army on the jungled slopes of Hill 881 South. 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines lost 27 more in the battle.

Two days later 3/9 had another loss - 2ndLt Stephen Hepner was shot and killed while leading his platoon in the area of the 30 April fight.

The 3/9 Marines were withdrawn from Khe Sanh shortly thereafter and became one of the forces used in Operation Hickory, the first US incursion into the Demilitarized Zone itself.



The picture I sent of CPL Joseph Mieczkowski was taken from a Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division (Kilo 3/9/3) platoon photo that I have. I have all my brother marines' photos done the same way. I served in Kilo 3/9/3 with Joe. His name is on the Kilo 3/9 honor Roll and is one of my fallen brothers. I had that picture in my "Kilo folder". We, the brothers of kilo, have been sending them to several sites in memory of our brothers.

-- Robert Chiominto, LCPL, Kilo Co, March 1967 to April 1968, 09/24/2012


Known as the "Hill Fights" or "The First Battle of Khe Sanh", these battles took place at the end of April and early May 1967. April 24 to May 11, 1967 to be exact. The battle between the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN or NVA) and United States Marines took place in the I Corps Tactical Zone, near the village of Khe Sanh. The fights were for Hill 881 North, Hill 881 South, and Hill 861.

Khe Sanh was located near the Laotian border, south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. As early as 1962, the U.S. Military Command, Vietnam (MACV) established an Army Special Forces camp near the village as the Americans wanted a military presence there to block the infiltration of enemy forces from Laos, to provide a base for launching patrols into Laos to monitor the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and to serve as a western anchor for defense along the DMZ.

In 1966 the Marines built Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB) adjacent to the Army Special Forces camp, and organized their combat activities around named operations. By early 1967, the Marine position was reinforced to regimental strength. On April 20, Operation Prairie IV began, with heavy fighting between the Marines and NVA forces. The next marine operations were named Crockett and Ardmore.

The Marines were monitoring the strategically vital Ho Chi Minh trail as it wound through the jungles in nearby Laos. Dominated by high hills on all sides, the combat base had to be screened on foot by the Marine infantrymen while crack, battle-hardened NVA units roamed at will through the high grass and set up heavy defenses on steep, sun-baked overlooks.

Read a detailed accounting of events and participating units, with a listing of all 45 Marines killed in action, in the Hill Fights here.

Full details of the entire battle for the 3/3 Marines can be found at Ray Stubbe's 3/3 Marines Khe Sanh Hill Fights of '67 web site.

A Marine's Story on Hill 881 South is a story of one man's participation in the battle on the 30th of April 1967. Kenneth Flowers, Vinton, Virginia gives his accounting of events on that day.

The battle for Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines began early on April 30. At 0615H, they moved from their night defensive position to link up with M/3/3. The lead elements of Kilo Company linked up with the rear elements of the formation while the lead elements of M/3/3 started their attack on Hill 881 at 0800H. The battle was to last some 6 hours.

M/3/3, M/3/9, and K/3/9 finally disengaged from the heavy enemy contact and set up for the night. The evacuation of casualties was done by 2155 hours (almost 10 p.m.). Final casualty figures for the 881-South battle of 30 Apr were: 43 Marines killed, 109 wounded (90 were medevaced), 125 NVA confirmed killed (confirmed) and another probable 85.

Most of the casualties were suffered by M/3/3, the initially engaged unit. The dead marines left on Hill 881 were recovered by 2100 hours (9 p.m.) on May 2 by the 3rd Battaion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

K Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines lost 17 men killed in action as they tried to provide security and later relieve Mike Company, 3/3 Marines. They are:

M Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines lost 1 man killed:

-- The Virtual Wall, April 11, 2014


Lieutenant Stephen Thomas Hepner is buried in St Mary's cemetery, Delaware, Ohio along with his parents. His father, Francis "Frank" J, pre-deceased Stephen in 1966. He was survived by his mother, Theresa M Hepner (1906-1993), and a sister Eleanor T Dunlap both living in Arizona at the time.

Stephen T Hepner

Stephen T Hepner
Marker for Lt Hepner just to right of Parents

-- The Virtual Wall, May 6, 2014


 
8 Aug 2002

I first met 2nd Lt Steve Hepner in July 1961. I was transferred to Camp Pendelton and assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. Steve was a Corporal (E4) and I was a PFC assigned to the 3rd Platoon under 2nd Lt James Cooligan. During our "lock on" period prior to our deployment to Okinawa as Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, I discovered how dedicated Steve was to the Corps and his uncanny ability to lead men. Steve was respected by all, enlisted and officers alike. Steve made Sergeant (E5) during our tour overseas and became Right Guide of the platoon. When our battalion returned to the states in October 1962, I went to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, at Camp Margarita, and never saw or had contact with Steve after that.

In June 1967, I was a patrolman with the St. Louis City Police Department where I received a telephone call from a friend and former Marine, Klaus Fischer who lived in Ft. Worth, Texas and a very close friend of Steve's. Klaus told me that Steve was killed in action on 2 May 1967. Steve's death was difficult to believe and accept, but what disturbs me the most is that those Marines in his platoon did not get a chance to know or experience his leadership to the fullest and the compassion he had for those in his presence.

2nd Lt Steve Hepner was a great person and a dedicated Marine who, had he returned from VN, would have excelled at everything he strived for in his military career. 2nd Lt Steve Hepner, like so many good men who lost their lives for this great country, is deeply missed by everyone who knew him during peacetime and war.

GOD BLESS YOU, STEVE, AND SEMPER FI.

A memorial initiated by a former Marine who knew and respected 2ndLt Steve Hepner,
Dan Swan
moangler@earthlink.net

 
9 Jan 2005

Though I never knew Steve, I am a second cousin to him. I was born in 1977, well after Steve had given his life for the country he loved. My mother is a cousin to Steve and she has had nothing but wonderful things to say about him.

Steve grew up in Delaware, Ohio, where he was graduated from St. Mary's High School. He entered the Marines after graduation, and while he was in service his parents moved to Arizona.

While searching for information about Steve, and information about the rest of my family members who served in the U.S. Military, I came across this web site. From what I gathered Stephen was killed in action while fighting on Hill 881 South near Khe Sanh. I also understand Steve was an outstanding Marine, who after his first tour in Vietnam returned home and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Not wanting to leave his fellow Marines behind, Steve volunteered for a second tour, which ultimately cost him his life. One story I always heard was that Steve had made a great impression on a fellow Marine and they became good friends. I do not know this Marine's name; I do know that upon returning from his tour in Vietnam, he would place a can of beer at the gravesite of Steve.

Anyone with more information or more stories about Steve, please feel free to contact me. I am trying to gather as much information I can about my family's history of military service, including Steve's Uncle John Hepner, grandfather, cousins, parents and myself.

Steve, though I never had the chance to meet you, I am glad to be able to say you are family. Semper Fi!

From a cousin,
Kyle T. Bennett
combat_dispatcher@yahoo.com

 

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, had been in and out of Khe Sanh area several times during the spring of 1967, participating in the famous "Hill Fights" in the mountains surrounding Khe Sanh Combat Base. They were "in" during the latter part of April, and on 30 April lost 17 men in a bitter engagement with the North Vietnamese Army on the jungled slopes of Hill 881 South. 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines lost 27 more in the battle.

Two days later 3/9 had another loss - 2ndLt Stephen Hepner was shot and killed while leading his platoon in the area of the 30 April fight.

The 3/9 Marines were withdrawn from Khe Sanh shortly thereafter and became one of the forces used in Operation Hickory, the first US incursion into the Demilitarized Zone itself.

The picture I sent of CPL Joseph Mieczkowski was taken from a Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division (Kilo 3/9/3) platoon photo that I have. I have all my brother marines' photos done the same way. I served in Kilo 3/9/3 with Joe. His name is on the Kilo 3/9 honor Roll and is one of my fallen brothers. I had that picture in my "Kilo folder". We, the brothers of kilo, have been sending them to several sites in memory of our brothers.

-- Robert Chiominto, LCPL, Kilo Co, March 1967 to April 1968, 09/24/2012

Known as the "Hill Fights" or "The First Battle of Khe Sanh", these battles took place at the end of April and early May 1967. April 24 to May 11, 1967 to be exact. The battle between the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN or NVA) and United States Marines took place in the I Corps Tactical Zone, near the village of Khe Sanh. The fights were for Hill 881 North, Hill 881 South, and Hill 861.

Khe Sanh was located near the Laotian border, south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. As early as 1962, the U.S. Military Command, Vietnam (MACV) established an Army Special Forces camp near the village as the Americans wanted a military presence there to block the infiltration of enemy forces from Laos, to provide a base for launching patrols into Laos to monitor the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and to serve as a western anchor for defense along the DMZ.

In 1966 the Marines built Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB) adjacent to the Army Special Forces camp, and organized their combat activities around named operations. By early 1967, the Marine position was reinforced to regimental strength. On April 20, Operation Prairie IV began, with heavy fighting between the Marines and NVA forces. The next marine operations were named Crockett and Ardmore.

The Marines were monitoring the strategically vital Ho Chi Minh trail as it wound through the jungles in nearby Laos. Dominated by high hills on all sides, the combat base had to be screened on foot by the Marine infantrymen while crack, battle-hardened NVA units roamed at will through the high grass and set up heavy defenses on steep, sun-baked overlooks.

Read a detailed accounting of events and participating units, with a listing of all 45 Marines killed in action, in the Hill Fights here.

Full details of the entire battle for the 3/3 Marines can be found at Ray Stubbe's 3/3 Marines Khe Sanh Hill Fights of '67 web site.

A Marine's Story on Hill 881 South is a story of one man's participation in the battle on the 30th of April 1967. Kenneth Flowers, Vinton, Virginia gives his accounting of events on that day.

The battle for Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines began early on April 30. At 0615H, they moved from their night defensive position to link up with M/3/3. The lead elements of Kilo Company linked up with the rear elements of the formation while the lead elements of M/3/3 started their attack on Hill 881 at 0800H. The battle was to last some 6 hours.

M/3/3, M/3/9, and K/3/9 finally disengaged from the heavy enemy contact and set up for the night. The evacuation of casualties was done by 2155 hours (almost 10 p.m.). Final casualty figures for the 881-South battle of 30 Apr were: 43 Marines killed, 109 wounded (90 were medevaced), 125 NVA confirmed killed (confirmed) and another probable 85.

Most of the casualties were suffered by M/3/3, the initially engaged unit. The dead marines left on Hill 881 were recovered by 2100 hours (9 p.m.) on May 2 by the 3rd Battaion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

K Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines lost 17 men killed in action as they tried to provide security and later relieve Mike Company, 3/3 Marines. They are:

M Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines lost 1 man killed:

-- The Virtual Wall, April 11, 2014

Lieutenant Stephen Thomas Hepner is buried in St Mary's cemetery, Delaware, Ohio along with his parents. His father, Francis "Frank" J, pre-deceased Stephen in 1966. He was survived by his mother, Theresa M Hepner (1906-1993), and a sister Eleanor T Dunlap both living in Arizona at the time.

Stephen T Hepner

2LT STEPHEN THOMAS HEPNER

-- The Virtual Wall, April 11, 2014


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