FRED W. STOCKHAM, USMC
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Painting Courtesy of Fred W. Stockham American Legion Post 4 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Medal of Honor Citation
Gunnery Sergeant Fred William Stockham was awarded the Medal of Honor in the Battle of Belleau Wood, France, the night of 13-14 June 1918, when he exposed himself to mustard gas, which killed him, in order to give his own gas mask to a wounded comrade. He died 22 June 1918, and was posthumously awarded the Nation's highest decoration, 21 December 1939.
General Clifton B. Cates, who later served as Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1948 to 1952, was commanding GySgt Stockham's company that night and said of his actions: "No man ever displayed greater heroism or courage and showed more utter contempt of personal danger."
In addition to Belleau Wood, GySgt Stockham fought at Toulon, Hill 142 and Bouresches, earning a posthumous Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star for displaying "great courage and judgment as platoon leader during numerous combats."
He was born 16 March 1881, in Detroit, Michigan, where he worked as a fireman before enlisting in the Marine Corps 16 July 1903, in Buffalo, New York.
After serving briefly in the States, he sailed for the Philippine Islands, where he served at the Olongapo Naval Station from October 1903 to August 1905. In September 1905, he joined the Marine Detachment at the U.S. Legation, Peking, China, where he was stationed until returning to the Philippines in September 1906.
He returned to the United States in February 1907, and was stationed at the Marine Barracks, Mare Island, California, until June 1907. In July 1907, at the end of his enlistment, he was discharged at the Navy Yard, New York, New York.
Returning to civilian life, he was employed as a fireman at Newark, New Jersey, until reenlisting in the Marine Corps 31 May 1912, at Newark. He served briefly at Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard, and in September 1912, arrived in Nicaragua with a Marine battalion sent to help quiet that country's domestic disturbances.
He remained in Nicaragua until November 1915, when he was ordered to the Marine Barracks, Mare Island, California. He was transferred from Mare Island to the Eastern Recruiting Division in May 1916, and in July 1916, was ordered to recruiting duty at St. Louis, Missouri. In September 1917, after volunteering for service in France, he joined the 96th Company, 6th Regiment, at Quantico, Virginia. He sailed with the company in January 1918, and was killed six months later.
Gunnery Sergeant Stockham's body was originally buried in a military cemetery in Clermont, France. The remains were returned to the United States in December 1920, and forwarded to C.H. Terrill and Son, of Irvington, New Jersey, for reburial.
In 1919 American Legion Post 245 of St. Louis was named in the his honor, and in June 1943 the destroyer, USS Stockham was christened. Because no next of kin could be found at the time GySgt Stockham's Medal of Honor was awarded, the decoration was held by the Smithsonian Institute.
In addition to the Medal of Honor and the Croix de Guerre, GySgt Stockham's medals and decorations included a 2d Division Citation for gallantry in action, the Good Conduct Medal, the Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, and the World War I Victory Medal with Aisne and Defensive Sector Clasps.
World War I 1917-1918 Medal of Honor