Fred W. Stockham

Awarded Medal of Honor


Belleville Township Council declares June 18 – 24, 2018, 'Sgt. Fred Stockham week.'

Belleville Historical Society dedicates monument
to Stockham at St. Peter’s Church cemetery

 MOH awardee G/Sgt. F.W. Stockham, courtesy Steve Coop/FAGGunnery Sgt. Fred W. Stockham

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Fred W. Stockham, of 96 Dow Street, Belleville, N. J., died June 22, 1918, of wounds received in action at Belleau Wood, France. Stockham was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that saved fellow Marines yet cost him his life.

Stockham, 38, served in the 96th Co., 2nd Battalion, Sixth Regiment. He was serving his fifth enlistment, last joining the marines about a year earlier.

His death occurred June 22, according to a message received by Bernard McGuire where the sergeant had made his home in Belleville for four years, previously residing in New York State and St. Louis. He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Elmer Lanning of St. Louis.

According to Timothy Daudelin, in TALES OF HONOR AND VALOR, Hero of Belleau Wood, Stockham was born in Detroit on March 16, 1881. Private Stockham took his first post in the Corps on July 16, 1903.

During the next fifteen years the soldier would be discharged and reenlist three times. During his first enlistment between 1903 and 1907 he served two tours in the Philippines and one in China. Private Stockham returned to New York City and received an Honorable Discharge on July 5, 1907.

 “Civilian life apparently did not work for this Leatherneck because after just four years he would return home to the Marines on May 31, 1912, and would serve as a sergeant for the majority of his tour that was spent in Nicaragua,” Daudelin wrote. On Oct. 6, 1915, Stockham saw combat in an engagement at Leon, Nicaragua. On May 30, 1916, Sgt. Stockham received his second Honorable Discharge. Seven days later he reenlisted.

Gunny Stockham was assigned to the 96th Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 4th Brigade attached to the US Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. He served in The Toulon sector and was engaged in two major actions, Aisne Operation and Belleau Wood, Daudelin wrote.

Stockham was awarded a French Croix De Guerre posthumously for his actions. Following successful lobbying by fellow Marines, including the soldier whose life was saved at Belleau Wood, an act of Congress awarded The Army’s version of The Medal of Honor 20 years after his death, on December 21, 1939.

Fred William Stockham memorial, Belleville, NJ -by Anthony BuccinoMedal of Honor Citation

During an intense enemy bombardment with high explosive and gas shells which wounded or killed many members of the company, G/Sgt. Fred Stockham, upon noticing that the gas mask of a wounded comrade was shot away, without hesitation, removed his own gas mask and insisted upon giving it to the wounded man, well knowing that the effects of the gas would be fatal to himself.

He continued with undaunted courage and valor to direct and assist in the evacuation of the wounded, until he himself collapsed from the effects of gas, dying as a result thereof a few days later.

His courageous conduct undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades and his conspicuous gallantry and spirit of self-sacrifice were a source of great inspiration to all who served with him.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It is generally presented to its recipient by the president of the United States of America in the name of Congress.

The soldier had lived in various cities across the country and worked as fireman in Detroit and in Newark., N.J.

While living in St. Louis, he was a member of the Minnetonka Tribe of Red Men and of the Excelsior Lodge No. 18 Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, cemetery, Belleville, NJ. by Anthony BuccinoAmerican Legion Post 245 in St. Louis was named in his honor. Baseball great Yogi Berra played for Fred W. Stockham Post 245 in St. Louis and was once quoted as saying it was the most fun he ever had. In 1943, when Berra and his childhood friend, Joe Garagiola, were members of the St. Louis [Fred W. Stockham] Stockholm Post 245 American Legion team, they both attended a Cardinals' tryout camp.

Stockham's name appears on all three WWI memorials in Belleville, N.J., including one at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church cemetery on William Street.

He is buried at Hollywood Memorial Park and Cemetery, Union, N.J.

The USS Stockham (DD-683), a Fletcher-class destroyer, U.S. Navy was named for G/Sgt. Fred W. Stockham, USMC (1881–1918). The ship saw action in WWII and was active in the Korean War era.

The destroyer earned eight battle stars during World War II. The ship was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on Dec. 1, 1974, and sunk as a target off Puerto Rico Feb. 17, 1977.

USNS GySgt Fred W. Stockham (T-AK-3017) is a Shughart-class container & roll-on roll-off support vessel in the United States Navy's Military Sealift Command. The vessel is the second Navy ship named after Stockham.


TALES OF HONOR AND VALOR

Hero of Belleau Wood

By Timothy Daudelin, USMC 1987-1991

On March 16, 1881, in Detroit, Michigan, a future Marine hero Fred William Stockham was born.

Private Stockham took his first post in The Corps on 16 July 1903. This would turn out to be a revolving door for this warrior for over the next fifteen years would be discharged and reenlist back into the Corps three times. During his first enlistment between 1903 and 1907 he would serve two tours in the Philippines and one in China.

Private Stockham would return to New York City and receive an Honorable Discharge on July 5, 1907.

G/Sgt. Fred Stockham, front, courtesy Lenny Moore

Civilian life apparently did not work for this Leatherneck because after just four years he would return home to the Marines on May 31, 1912, and would serve as a Sergeant for the majority of his tour. That was spent in Nicaragua. On Oct. 6, 1915, Sgt Stockham would see combat action in an engagement at Leon, Nicaragua.

On May 30, 1916, Sergeant Stockham received his second Honorable Discharge, this time he only waited seven days to return to The Marine Corps.

For most of his Presidency Woodrow Wilson, made every effort to keep The United States neutral in the Great War in Europe which had raged savagely since the summer of 1914. Every major power in the world locked in ferocious combat following the assassination of Austria-Hungarian Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand. The allied systems that were in place for mutual defense led to the domino effect that plunged the world into War.

Several events took place in 1917 which made impossible for him to keep that stand. The sinking of The Lusitania, several explosions in Northern New Jersey caused by German saboteurs and the Zimmerman note to Mexico had now Gunnery Sergeant Stockham heading for the killing fields of Europe.

Gunny Stockham was assigned to the 96th Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 4th Brigade attached to the US Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. The Gunny served in The Toulon sector and was engaged in 2 major actions, Aisne Operation and Belleau Wood.

The Gunny served in The Toulon sector and was engaged in two major actions, Aisne Operation and Belleau Wood.

At Belleau Wood Marines battled numerically superior German infantry troops were some of the bloodiest hand to hand engagements of the war.

The Leathernecks so impressed the German commanders they were called Shock Troops but the German Grunt had a different name, one that has remained a proud nickname Marines are proud to use today Tueffel Hunden or DEVIL DOG.

This was the place where Gunnery Sgt. Stockham would become part of Marine lore. During a poison gas attack during the period June 13-14, 1918, a wounded Marine was struggling to breathe when his gas mask was shot away. Stockham without hesitation placed his own protective device on his wounded comrade ingesting a lethal dose of poison gas. This would lead to Stockham's death on June 22, 1918.

FW Stockham Courtesy of Don Morfe/Find-a-GraveStockham was awarded a French Croix De Guerre posthumously for his actions, but it was not until the successfully lobbying by his fellow Marines including the one whose life was saved by The Gunny that day at Belleau Wood resulted in an act of Congress awarding The Army’s version of The Medal of Honor 20 years after his death, on December 21, 1939.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It is generally presented to its recipient by the president of the United States of America in the name of Congress.

Gunnery Sergeant Fred W. Stockham USMC now rests in honor at The Hollywood Cemetery in Union, N.J.

Reprinted with permission


US Marine Flags To Fly in Belleville for Medal of Honor Recipient Belleville-Nutley Patch

Essex County Marine honored for braving 'flaming hell' by Matt Kadosh, Belleville Times

‘Bravest Man I Knew’, April 25, 2018, by Karen Zautyk, Observer

100 years later, Belleville hero gets his due, Mark Di Ionno, NJ.Com


Sources:

Belleville Historical Society, Michael Perrone - Presentation to Belleville Council

Belleville Times, Essex County Marine honored for braving 'flaming hell', June 11, 2018

Newark Evening News, June 29, 1918

Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Find a Grave; Steve Coop, Don Morfe, Lenny Moore

Hero of Belleau Wood, reprinted with permission of Timothy Daudelin

Medal of Honor Recipients

The Observer, 'Bravest Man I Knew', Karen Zautyk

Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

World War I Casualties of American Army Overseas, reported on June 30, 1918, Genealogy Buff WW1 Casualties

Links subject to change.

Memorial - Medal of Honor - Fred W. Stockham, Belleville NJ

Belleville Sons Honor Roll

  A Place of Honor and Remembrance 
In the Home of the Brave

Belleville, New Jersey


World War I


BELLEVILLE SONS HONOR ROLL

Belleville Sons Honor Roll, Belleville, N.J.

Contact/Join Our Email List

BellevilleSons.com  © 2003-2018 By Anthony Buccino

Permissions & other snail mail: PO Box 110252 Nutley NJ 07110


Support this website by buying a book

BELLEVILLE SONS HONOR ROLL - Remembering the men who paid for our freedom

Belleville and Nutley in the Civil War - a Brief History

Anthony Buccino