Mark Stephens - Contributor
Mark Stephens was born in Central Florida where his family worked for several large cattle ranches (Lykes Brothers and Duda & Sons). During that time Mark spent a great deal of time in the outdoors hunting and fishing. Several years later his family moved to Kissimmee, FL due to his Dad taking a job as the Executive Vice President of Florida Cattlemen's Association. During this time he and his brothers showed 4-H steers and continued to hunt as much as possible.
After High School Mark Stephens enlisted in the United States Army, where he spent almost 22 years in Special Operations; retiring in 2005. He served with Special Forces (Green Berets) on Operational Detachment Alphas (ODAs) with 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Okinawa, Japan and 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, NC. In 1991, Mark Stephens joined the Army Special Mission Unit spending almost 14 years as a Special Operations Operator. Mark brings a great deal of tactical expertise to our team and will be an ongoing contributor.
Mark Stephens' military training and education includes the Advanced Non-Commissioned Officers Course, the Basic Non-Commissioned Officers Course, the Operator Training Course, Special Forces Qualifications Course, Special Forces Operations and Intelligence Course, Special Forces Combat Divers Course, Jumpmaster Course, Military Freefall Jumpmaster Course, Special Weapons and Tactics Course, Tactical Pistol and Rifle Training Course, Special Operations Target Interdiction (Sniper) Course, DOD High Risk Survival Course, Marine Reconnaissance School, Advanced Land Navigation, and numerous shooting, driving and hand-to-hand combat courses. Mark also has earned a Masters Degree in Security Management from Almeda University in 2003.
Mark Stephens' combat deployments include 3 deployments to Iraq for OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, 3 deployments to Afghanistan for OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (to include beginning first boots on the ground), to Somalia as part of TASK FORCE RANGER, other significant real world classified operational deployments include Honduras (OPERATION GOLDEN PHEASANT, 1988), in Panama (1989), counter-narcotics operations with the USCG (OPERATION HAT TRICK II, 1991), in the Balkans / Bosnia and Columbia. Numerous other contingency operations around the world.
Mark Stephens' awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, 5 Bronze Stars for Valor and Combat, 4 Purple Hearts, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, 4 Joint Service Commendation Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, 4 Army Achievement Medals, the NATO Medal, the United States Coast Guard Commandant's Letter of Commendation with "O" device, the United States Coast Guard Special Operations Ribbon, 2 Armed Forces Expeditionary medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal with Arrowhead, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Ribbon, the Valorous Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantryman's Badge 2nd Award, the Military Freefall Jumpmaster Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Scuba Diver's Badge, the Guatamalan Parachutist Badge and the Polish Parachutist Badge.