A strong desire to serve his country prompted Stephen Joyner, San Diego State ’66, to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps during his senior year of college. The day after graduation, he left home to attend basic training at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. After completing his training, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Joyner was killed in action on June 15, 1968, in Vietnam while leading his men in a counterattack against a group of enemy soldiers.
A standout on the football team at Fullerton Junior College, Joyner was named first team all-American. He then attended San Diego State University, where he played linebacker and joined SigEp’s California Delta chapter. A plaque dedicated to his memory can still be found on display in the chapter house. Joyner’s name is also etched on a San Diego State war memorial honoring alumni who died in service.
He genuinely cared for the troops who served under him and always thought about what was in their best interests. Several months prior to his death while serving as a platoon leader, Joyner helped safely evacuate seven Marines who had been wounded in combat. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for this heroic act.
“He was a tremendously talented guy as a football player and a team player, but without ego — he never put himself before others,” according to Dan Moore, who spent a month training with Joyner when they were both stationed in Japan.
In the decades since then, Moore, a retired historian, often thought about Joyner’s bravery and wanted more people to know about him. In 2017, Moore honored his friend by publishing a book on his life, “Promise Lost: Stephen Joyner, the Marine Corps and the Vietnam War.”