Richard Paul Stebbing, 74, SSA analyst, decorated veteran of Korean War

March 15, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Richard Paul Stebbing, a retired Social Security Administration analyst and decorated Korean War veteran, died of a heart attack Thursday at his Perry Hall home. He was 74.

Born and raised in East Baltimore, Mr. Stebbing attended City College. When he was 16, he left school and joined the merchant marine. He was a water tender in the engine rooms of Liberty and Victory ships during the waning days of World War II.

Mr. Stebbing was aboard a Liberty ship that broke in two during a storm and sank off the coast of Scotland in 1946. The townspeople of nearby Campbeltown came to the rescue of the doomed ship's crew.

"He had three cigar boxes filled with souvenirs, and on their lids had written the names of the ships he served aboard," said his brother, Leroy Stebbing of Norfolk, Neb.

After returning to Baltimore, Mr. Stebbing enlisted in the Marine Corps and later switched to the Army. He was a radioman when the Korean War broke out in 1950 and was sent to an infantry unit in Korea.

While serving with the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division in Korea, Mr. Stebbing was awarded two Bronze Stars for valor.

"When enemy automatic weapons were holding up the company's advance, Sergeant Stebbing exposed himself to enemy fire and directed firing at the enemy's position, successfully destroying two enemy machine gun positions," the citation for his first Bronze Star says.

His second Bronze Star recognized his participation in action near Pohang-dong, Korea, when his company was pinned down by intense enemy fire.

"Utterly disregarding the heavy fire, Sergeant Stebbing repeatedly exposed himself to direct the fire of his recoilless rifles. The fierce attack continued for over 15 hours, during which time his directed fire accounted for the destruction of four of the enemy's machine guns," the citation reads.

When his squad was ordered to withdraw, Mr. Stebbing provided cover fire until the company had left the position.

"Sergeant Stebbing's fearless actions and complete devotion to duty reflect great credit on himself and the United States Infantry," the citation concluded.

"He was a hell of a man," his brother, who is eight years younger, said yesterday.

After his discharge from the Army in 1952, Mr. Stebbing was a postal clerk for 10 years before taking a job as a systems analyst at Social Security headquarters in Woodlawn. He retired in 1977 after receiving a diagnosis of emphysema.

He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He enjoyed swimming, crabbing and being near the Chesapeake Bay.

"All his life, that's all he ever talked about was the bay," said his wife of 50 years, the former Mildred Holstein.

Plans for services were incomplete yesterday.

In addition to his wife and brother, Mr. Stebbing is survived by three sons, Michael D. Stebbing of Essex, and David E. Stebbing and Hal G. Stebbing, both of Catonsville; three daughters, Susan L. Stebbing of Essex, Deborah J. Stebbing of Fells Point and Donna Poljak of Dundalk; three sisters, Carol Seaman of Baltimore, and Patricia Godwin and Beverly Overbey, both of Perry Hall; and four grandchildren.

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