John Paul Stevens was born in Chicago, Illinois, on 20 April 1920. He joined the Navy the day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 6 December 1941, and served in the Navy from 1942−1945. Then-Lieutenant Stevens was awarded the Bronze Star for his work with the U.S. Navy’s cryptanalysis/code-breaking section. The citation reads:
“For meritorious achievement while attached to the Division of Naval Communications, from March 30, 1942 to September 2, 1945. Discharging his important duties with skill and initiative, Lieutenant Stevens rendered invaluable assistance in carrying out the vital work of the Division of Naval Communications throughout a critical period in the history of our country. By his tireless efforts, outstanding professional ability and devotion to the fulfillment of an exacting assignment, he contributed to the prosecution of the war and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” For the President, James V. Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy (Ref: End -1 on CNO Top Secret Ser. 00023P20 dtd 23 Jan. 1946)
As a Navy cryptographer, Stevens was part of the team that broke the code which resulted in the plane carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese naval commander responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack, being shot down in April 1943. Stevens, however, described his contribution as “small potatoes compared to the magnificent accomplishments of the geniuses who were recovering JN-25 (Japanese operational naval code) additives and translating 5-digit values into plain language.”
Stevens earned an A.B. from the University of Chicago, and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. He is most notable for his tenure of more than 34 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, to which he was appointed by President Ford in 1975 and served as an associate justice until his retirement in 2010. Justice Stevens wrote three books: The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years (2019); Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change The Constitution (2014); and Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir (2011). He passed away on 16 August 2019 at the age of 99.
H-Gram: Passing of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court John Paul Stevens
H-Gram 018-2: Operation Vengeance—Admiral Yamamoto Shot Down, 18 April 1943