Johnnie Stevens was born on November 19, 1920 in Georgia, to Obie Long and Johnnie Stevens Sr. The grandson of a slave, he attended Dover T. Howard High School in Atlanta, Georgia.

He joined the United States Army when he was 22 where he became the country's first black tank commander, serving for three years in the segregated 761st Tank Battalion and Staff Sergeant. He received the Gold Star for heroic achievements and actions, five Battle Stars, the Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart. He also received a Presidential unit citation from former President Jimmy Carter, and in 2006 he was honored with the highest medal a non-French Citizen can receive, the French Legion of Honor. During his tours of duty Johnnie served in Major Military Campaigns such as Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe.

Upon his honorable discharge from the military, he returned to Atlanta for a short time before leaving due to racial problems with the K.K.K. He relocated to New Jersey where he became the first African American bus driver in Middlesex County working for New Jersey Public Services Transportation.

He soon met and was swept of his feet by Evelyn Adams and they were married in 1948. Their union of forty-five years produced two daughters, Leslie and Doreen.

Known as "Coach", Johnnie was a man dedicated to his community and has been active in sports in Carteret for over fifty years, serving as the first coach of an integrated Club League Team coaching four generations of residents in Little League Baseball and Pop Warner Football.

Also active in politics, he was instrumental in the hiring of the first black police officer and the first black school teacher in Carteret.

Johnnie's hobbies were hunting and fishing. A member of the First Baptist Church of Carteret, he also belongs to the American' Legion Post #263, a Life Member of the Military Order of Purple Heart, Post #181 and the Disabled Veterans of American International Board of Trustees MCEOE.

He leaves to cherish his memory: his devoted wife, Evelyn Stevens; two daughters, Leslie Higdon of Tampa, Florida and Doreen Stevens of Carteret, New Jersey; three grandchildren, Tiffany Solomon (Alfred) of Tallahassee, Florida, Dermont Stevens and Raashaan Higdon, both of Tampa, Florida; a great grandchild, Shayla Marie Stevens of Tampa, Florida; two sisters, Dorothy Enomoto (Jerry) of Sacramento, California and Mae Simmons of Monroe, New Jersey; his brother, Hubert Stevens (Jean) of Atlanta, Georgia; special family friends, Loretta Grider and Jimmie Seymour of Carteret, Joe Wilson of Maryland; her special nieces, Latanya Batts of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Cheryl Davis of Somerset, New Jersey and Joyce Williams of Roselle, New Jersey; a nephew, Frankie Swigler (Melissa) of Carteret, New Jersey; a special friend, Chris Fedroff of Tampa, Florida along with a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends. He joins in eternity: his parents, one sister, Barbara Wilburn and his brother, Eddie Stevens.

761st Forum topic for in memoriam messages

Personal messages to Johnnie Stevens upon his receiving the French Legion of Honor

Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony, January 13, 1997