The end of World War II left the helicopter training program in a state of confusion. Training Command suspended all training in early October 1945 and by the end of the month little remained of the school. The Army Air forces offered no incentives for the men to stay with the program, and more than 75 percent of the personnel left the service. By the middle of October, there was just one qualified helicopter pilot remaining to act as an instructor, and he was a recent graduate of the school. On 1 March 1946, all entries into helicopter pilot training were temporarily suspended due to lack of maintenance personnel. In June 1946 there were five R-5 and sixteen R-6 helicopters at San Marcos and seldom were they all in operable condition.

The problem of instructor pilots was almost as critical as that of maintenance personnel. Most of the assigned pilots had not been overseas returnees, and were, therefore, subject to overseas duty. The number of instructors on hand varied from one to five making planning student loads nearly impossible. To stabilize instructor manning, the helicopter school requested assignment of one class composed entirely of combat returnees, who could be retained as instructors. A class of 10 combat returnees began training 15 July 1946.

Ed Stevens had recently returned from flying 32 missions over Europe in B-17 bombers. He was one of the 10 combat returnees assigned to receive flight instruction and upon completion served as an instructor at the Helicopter School.

In 1948, Stevens was assigned to Flight D, 1st Rescue Squadron, Waller Air Force Base, Trinidad, British West Indies. Soon after arriving in Trinidad, he was notified that his helicopter had arrived. Stevens went down to the hanger expecting to find a functioning helicopter. Instead, he found a crate that contained the parts of his helicopter. As there was no helicopter mechanic stationed at Waller Field, he recruited some of the base mechanics and he, with their help, put the helicopter together. Ed says the first flight in that helicopter was hair raising event. Since there were no trained helicopter mechanics to assist with the assembly of the helicopter, he wasn't really sure that the helicopter would fly. He says that as exciting as the first flight was, the first return landing was an enormous relief.

In 1948, Ed Stevens made the first landing of a USAF Helicopter on a Navy Carrier, off the coast of Trinidad.


In 2010, 66 years after the event, Ed Stevens was awarded the Silver Star for nursing his badly damaged B-17 back to England on one engine after the aircraft sustained major damage from anti-aircraft guns. His skillful and courageous action saved the crew and aircraft.

Additionally, in January of this year, 2011, Stevens was awarded the "LEGION OF HONOR" by the French government for his participation in the liberation of France from German occupation during WWII.