Steve Pierce

 STEVEN D. PIERCE  1962

Cullum No. 633467 | February 3, 1962 | Died in West Point, NY

Interred in West Point Cemetery, NY

Steven Duward Pierce was born in Clarksburg, CA on June 13, 1940. He excelled in academics, athletics, and leadership positions at his high school in Sacramento, CA. As a result, he won an appointment to West Point. Steve entered West Point on July 1, 1958 as a member of the Class of 1962.

Steve, affectionately nicknamed ‘Rabbit,’ quickly adjusted to his new home in F1. He was more than just successful in meeting the challenges of the academic, athletic, and tactical departments, he was a high achiever. He wore academic stars during his Third and Second Class years. He was on the Squash Team and manager of the Army Lacrosse Team during his plebe and yearling years. He was a member of the Chapel Acolytes and as a member of the Public Information Detail all four years of his cadet career.

His abilities, integrity, and leadership potential were recognized. Steve was selected to serve on the Cadet Honor Committee during his Second and First Class years. As a First Classman, Steve was the cadet commander of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment. He served capably in that position until his untimely death at West Point in the winter of 1962.

Steve was quiet, thoughtful, and well liked and made friends easily. His best friend in the Class of 1962 was his roommate, Ron Witzel. When Steve and Ron ordered their class rings, they ordered each other’s birthstone to be set in their rings. During his upper class years, he discovered the pleasures that the Jersey Shore had to offer and saw to it that he pursued them as often as possible. By his last year, Steve was engaged to the sister of an F1 member of the class of 1960.

Steve Pierce returned to West Point from Christmas leave in January 1962 with mononucleosis. He was subsequently hospitalized in the old Post Hospital. He never walked out. Steve developed pneumonia and died on February 3, 1962. On a cold, gray, and sad day in February, the Class of 1962 buried its first classmate to die on active duty. Even though her son wasn’t there, his mother traveled from her home in California to be there for our graduation. Steve’s classmate and friend Ron was her escort during June week.

Tom Johnson ’65 captured the legacy Steve left us in a poem he wrote. His tribute to Steve was included in the Class of 1962’s Howitzer.

Challenge

Footsteps pass by outside,

No more but a passing on to where

In the dusk of evening a sentry calls

The eternal question—Who is there?

Silence was in the air.

There were only the words he said:

Only the wind across the snow

And the words—Steve Pierce is dead.

We filed back in the door.

No one spoke but the wind blew on;

No word but a quiet sound inside,

No word but a whisper—Steve is gone.

We all had been his friends,

Four words: In that moment a part

Of each man changed—each man became

A little of Steve Pierce in his heart.

The sorrow dies away.

What remains is a memory with no name:

Is there a man who can lose a friend

And come away the same?

The Sentry passes quietly, 

We who remain answer for him:

We must be his fame.

In three and a half brief years, Steve Pierce succeeded in leaving all of us that knew him with a sincere respect for his character, determination, and leadership which provided an inspiration for our service yet to come. Well done Steve Pierce. Be Thou at Peace.

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