Phillip H. Stevens, 59, a retired Army colonel who served as an information officer at the Pentagon and in Vietnam, died of a heart attack May 2 at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond. He was stricken on his pleasure boat, Carronade II.
Col. Stevens, who lived in Fairfax, was born in Berkeley, Calif. He started his military career during World War II when he enlisted in the Army Air Forces and flew B17 bomber missions with the 15th Air Force in Italy as a gunner.
After the war, he earned a journalism degree at the University of California. With that and an Army commission, he began what turned out to be a lifelong career of gathering facts, sometimes for his own writings but more often for reporters in his capacity as an official Army spokesman.
Col. Stevens was a low key, unflappable information officer--even during the most contentious days of the Vietnam War--and earned a reputation among his colleagues within the Army information network as an officer who believed in getting the information out as quickly and completely as the generals would allow.
His overseas assignments included tours in Korea and Vietnam. On his first tour in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 he served as an artillery adviser to the South Vietnamese army. He returned to Vietnam in 1971 to become chief spokesman for the U.S. military command, working under Gen. Creighton W. Abrams, the U.S. commander.
He reported to the Pentagon in 1972 as chief of the Army's information division, a post he held until his retirement in 1974.
His military decorations included three Bronze Star medals, seven Air Medals and the Purple Heart.
After retiring from the Army, Col. Stevens covered Congress as a reporter for the private publication, The Army Times, and in 1976 joined the Association of the United States Army as special assistant to its executive vice president, a position he held at the time of his death.
His writings included two books, "Artillery Through the Ages" and "Search Out the Land." He was active in Little League baseball in Fairfax and loved to be out on the water in his boat.
Survivors include his wife, Kathleen L., of Fairfax; two sons, Phillip Jr., of Chicago, and John Tucker of Dover Air Force Base, Del.; a daughter, Colleen, of Roanoke, and his mother, Mrs. Benjamin H. Stevens of McLean.