Flag flies for Daniel Stebbins

Flag flies for Daniel Stebbins photo

In its mission to bring history to life, the Hampton Bays School District honors a local veteran every month of the school year by flying an American flag in their honor. Throughout the month of May, the district paid such tribute to U.S. Marine Corps veteran Daniel Stebbins.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Stebbins for his bravery and service to the United States,” Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen said. 

The May honoree was recognized with a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School on May 25. Highlights of the event included a performance by the Hampton Bays High School jazz band and speeches by local officials, including Congressman Lee Zeldin. The ceremony culminated with the raising of the flag in Stebbins’ honor. 

Daniel Stebbins was born in April 1966 in Auburn, New York, and grew up in a hamlet called Half Acre in Aurelius, where he attended school. After graduating in 1984, he obtained a factory union job as a bulldozer track press operator at the Syracuse Caterpillar Track and Roller Builders facility. He joined the Marines in 1986. 

He attended boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, followed by infantry training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and finally, TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire command link guided missile system) training at Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Following training, he was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, India Company, 2nd Weapons Platoon, 2nd Squad. With his unit, he participated in operations on naval ships, including two Med floats, two Blue/Green Water workups and a NATO float to Norway and West Germany.

On Aug. 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and rapidly moved south toward Saudi Arabia, establishing a fortified front line with millions of land mines. America’s response on Aug. 9 was Operation Desert Shield. Corporal Stebbins was sent to Saudi Arabia on a C-141 Starlifter cargo plane and assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion Bravo Company, which was tasked with eliminating enemy tanks and clearing a path through two land mine belts. Stebbins was in charge of a three-man Humvee team with a roof-mounted Heavy Close Combat Missile System, an anti-tank precision assault weapon.

Operation Desert Storm began four months later on Jan. 17. Hussein’s forces had ignited hundreds of oil wells.  The Marines were given the command to liberate Kuwait, and the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions started to breach two minefield belts. Stebbins and his unit fought against Iraqi mechanized and armored units as part of the biggest enemy tank destruction in Marine Corps history. In one fight, 31 T-62s and 44 T-55s were destroyed or put out of action in the darkness.

Not long after, on Feb. 28, President George Bush declared Kuwait liberated. The Marines had decimated 17 Iraqi divisions; destroyed 1,843 tanks, 678 armored vehicles and 439 artillery pieces; and taken 22,908 prisoners.

Prior to reassignment to Camp Lejeune in August 1991, Stebbins patrolled Kuwait City as part of a multinational peacekeeping force. He was discharged from active duty a month after his return in September 1991.

Stebbins holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics from ITT Technical Institute and an Associate of Arts in mechanical engineering from the University of North Florida. In 1996, he moved with his family to Hampton Bays and began work as a technical service engineer with a government contracting company at Plum Island and with Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he learned skills that led to his work at universities, labs and nuclear facilities across New York state.

Stebbins also served as commander of Hand Aldrich Post 924 from 2003 to 2005 and is a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350, the Marine Corps League, the Irish-American Society of the Hamptons, the Elks of Southampton, the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion Riders.