Stephen Potter, born in Saginaw, Mich., on 26 December 1896, was a member of the second Yale University unit which left college in April 1917 to enter naval aviation. He trained with Volunteer Aerial Coast Patrol Unit No. 2 at Buffalo, N.Y., and was commissioned ensign on 2 November. Ensign Potter volunteered to go overseas immediately and was assigned to the Advanced School at Montchic, Gironde, France. He was later assigned to the British Royal Naval Air Station at Felixstowe, England.

Ensign Potter, as second pilot to a British captain on North Sea service, won the distinction of being the first American naval aviator to shoot down a German seaplane. He flew from the North Sea Station on 25 April 1918 in company with another plane. They were approximately six miles from North Hinder Light when they spotted two German planes heading toward them. Five other enemy planes joined them, and they all attacked the two British aircraft. Ensign Potter was shot down and perished in his plane.