Stephens enlisted in the United States Coast Guard on January 17, 1950, and after boot training was assigned to the Coast Guard Station at Grand Haven, Michigan, where he subsequently advanced from Seaman Apprentice to Boatswain"s Mate Second Class. From August to November of 1954, he served as coxswain on search and rescue missions out of Portuguese Aransas Lifeboat Station. He next served two years onboard the Coast Guard Cutter TRITON. From 1956 to 1958 he was assigned as Officer In Charge of the Light Attendant Station, Panama City, and Point Aufer Light Station Louisiana.
Next he served onboard the 83" Patrol Cutter at Panama City, where he was advanced to Chief Boatswain"s Mate.
He returned to Portuguese Aransas where he served various jobs including: Lifeboat Station, Group Office, and Officer In Charge of both the Tender USCGC MYRTLE and the 82" Patrol Cutter. From 1962 to 1965 he served as an Instructor of recruits at the Training Center at Cape May.
That was followed by two years at LORSTA Kolca, Kauai, Hawaii. In 1967 he was transferred to Detroit, Michigan where he served onboard the USCGC BRAMBLE and later as Officer In Charge of the Recruiting Station at Detroit.
From June 1970 to July 1971, he was assigned to Portuguese Security and Waterways Detail and as Liaison between Army Transportation Units and Coast Guard Explosive Loading Detachments in the Republic of South Vietnam.
After returning to the United States, he returned to Detroit where he served at the Group Office until 1974. Stephens was assigned as Executive Petty Officer and Training Officer of the Presidential Support Detail at Miami Beach. His next assignment was stationed at the Coast Guard Base in Miami, Florida.
On August 1, 1977, Master Chief Stephens was selected to become the third Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard.
He also has the Cutterman Insignia and the Coxswain Insignia.