John Harlan Stickell was born in Gilson, Ill., on 31 July 1914. He attended Bradley Polytechnic Institute for two years before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. Before America's entry into World War II, he served withe Path Finding Force in England and received both the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Order for his outstanding service in heavy bomber missions over Germany.
He accepted an appointment as lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve, to date from 29 March 1943, and reported to Naval Forces, Europe, for active duty and transportation to the United States. Lt. Stickell was attached to the Bureau of Aeronautics from early April until late May, and then assigned to the Naval Air Training Center at Corpus Christi, Tex., for indoctrination in naval aircraft. He completed training on 5 August and, on the 19th, he reported to the Pacific Fleet Air Wing for duty. He was assigned to Bombing Squadron 108 (VB-108), based in the Ellice Islands.
During his combat service, Lt. Stickell conducted search and reconnaissance missions during the Gilberts-Marshalls campaign. His skill and ability contributed to the destruction of three enemy planes, the sinking of an enemy boat and possibly of a cargo vessel. For the two actions in which these events occurred, Lt. Stickell was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.
Lt. Stickell volunteered for a hazardous, two-plane bombing strike on 13 December 1943 against an underground oil storage tank located on Jabor at Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Seriously wounded by antiaircraft fire during the tree-top level approach, Lt. Stickell ignored his wounds and singlemindedly pursued his mission. His plane scored a direct hit on the target; but upon commencing the return flight, he was forced to relinquish the control of the plane to his copilot. Preferring to risk his own life and suffer pain rather than risk the safety of his crew and plane, Lt. Stickell ordered his co-pilot to pass up the dangerously narrow airstrip at Tarawa and head for a safer field over 400 miles away. Lt. Stickell died of his wounds six days later. For his gallantry and selfless sacrifice, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
(DD-888: dp. 2,425; l. 390'6"; b. 40'10"; dr. 18'6"; s. 34.6 k. (tl.) ; cpl. 345; a. 6 5", 10 40mm., 10 21" tt.; cl. Gearing)
Stickell (DD-888) was laid down on 5 January 1945 at Orange, Tex., by the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 16 June 1945; sponsored by Miss Sue Stickell; and commissioned on 31 October 1945, Comdr. Francis E. Fleck in command.
Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, Stickell operated under Commander, Amphibious Training, Galveston, for a month, 10 December 1945 to 11 January 1946. She then conducted shakedown training out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before arriving in Charleston, S.C., on 11 March for post-shakedown availability. She shifted to Norfolk, Va., on 21 April and, until 6 May, supported carrier qualifications from that port with Kearsarge (CV-33). She then screened Kearsarge to Guantanamo Bay and, from there, to the Panama Canal. She returned to Norfolk on 13 June. Two days later, she got underway for the west coast. Heading via the Panama Canal, she reached San Diego, Calif., on 29 June and joined Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 11. Over the next four and one-half years, Stickell made three cruises to the Far East to serve with the 7th Fleet. During these deployments, she visited the Philippines, the Marianas, Japan, China, and Okinawa. After each tour of duty in the western Pacific, she returned to duty along the west coast and in Hawaiian waters. Drills and exercises occupied the bulk of her time during the postwar period.
On 6 November 1950, Stickell completed overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard and sailed for the Korean War Zone with DesDiv 52. She made Sasebo, Japan, on the 27th and, three days later, joined the screen of Task Force (TF) 77. The destroyer's first Korean War tour lasted until 20 July 1951. During that deployment, she operated with the fast carriers off the southern and eastern coasts of Korea, participated in antisubmarine warfare exercises off Yokosuka, Japan, conducted shore bombardments of the Songjin-Wonsan area and patrolled the waters off Shingjin, Yong-do, and Chongjin for enemy small craft. In addition, she landed Republic of Korea intelligence teams on hostile shores: and she rescued three air crewmen while on lifeguard duty for the carriers. On 20 July 1951, she headed east toward the United States and arrived in San Diego, Calif., on 4 August.
For almost seven months, Stickell remained on the west coast, conducting training operations out of San Diego. On 26 January 1952, she put to sea for the Far East once again. After stopping at Yokosuka from 19 to 23 February, she began her second combat tour in Korean waters. Between 23 February and 19 March, she operated with TF 77 off the coast of Korea and made three shore bombardments; one off Yong-do on 28 February with Roahester (CA-132); one at the bombline on 5 March; and one off Singchong-Ni on 11 March with Saint Paul (CA-73). On the 19th, Stickell and the rest of DesDiv 52 joined the United Nations blockading and escort force, Task Group (TG) 95.2. As the bombardment and patrol element, Stickell not only blockaded Hungnam, but also delivered interdiction and shore bombardment fire.
After bombarding Wonsan Harbor on 31 March, she rejoined TF 77 on 1 April and retired with that force to Yokosuka. She remained at Yokosuka during the first two weeks in April; then resumed support for TF 77 air strikes and intermittent shore bombardments. She was in Yokosuka from 29 May to 18 June for dry-docking and repairs before conducting a brief operation along Korea's east coast, including a night landing in the vicinity of Pohang Dong. Stickell cleared the area on 23 June with DesDiv 52 for exercises out of Buckner Bay, Okinawa. The division returned to Yokosuka on 5 July and, on the 6th, was underway again to visit Hong Kong and to patrol the Taiwan Strait. She rendezvoused with Carrier Division 3 on the 14th and, with TG 50.3, conducted operations in the Philippines and in the South China Sea, before returning to the Taiwan area to rejoin TF 77 on the 27th. After further operations off the eastern coast of Korea, she entered Yokosuka on 6 August and, four days later, sailed for return to the United States.
Stickell arrived in San Diego on 26 August and remained there until 13 December, when she was decommissioned at Long Beach to begin conversion to a radar picket destroyer (DDR). On 2 September 1953, Stickell (DDR—888) was recommissioned at Long Beach, Comdr. James Boyd in command. Following training out of Long Beach, she joined DesDiv 21 at San Diego on 18 January 1954. Two days later, she and her division headed for the western Pacific. This deployment consisted primarily of hunter-killer training and Taiwan Strait patrol. On 1 June, she departed Sasebo on a voyage to complete a circumnavigation of the globe. Along the way, she visited Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, and Trinidad, She reached Norfolk, Va., on 10 August 1954 and joined DesDiv 262 of the Atlantic Fleet.
For the next nine years, Stickell served the Atlantic Fleet as a radar destroyer. Between 1954 and 1958, she went through two complete training cycles, including yard overhauls, Mediterranean deployments, refersher training, and NATO and Atlantic Fleet exercises. She received the latest in electronic equipment during her 1958 overhaul; and, soon thereafter, she was outfitted with an experimental data processing and weapons analysis system. In 1961, she earned the Atlantic Fleet Destroyer force Antiair Warfare Trophy. Her seven-month Mediterranean cruise in 1962 was highlighted by an excursion into the Black Sea. In the fall of 1962, Stickell participated in the Cuban Quarantine and showed great efficiency by departing Norfolk on very short notice to assume her station.
In May 1963, she entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for a Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) overhaul. Stickell surrendered her antiaircraft warfare electronics equipment in return for the latest in ASW gear, including ASROC missiles and DASH helicopters. Early in; 1964, she rejoined the Atlantic Fleet in Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 12 as a straight DD. Home ported at Newport, R.I., she became the flagship of DesDiv 122. Following refresher training in April, she became a unit of the midshipman training squadron and made a cruise to northern European ports in June and July. From August to November, she served with the Atlantic Antisubmarine Warfare Forces; then she deployed to the Mediterranean until March 1965.
She returned to Newport and, in April, shifted to Norfolk to complete her DASH outfitting. In June, Stickell joined TF 124, in supporting United States and other OAS forces operating in the Dominican Republic during the 1965 upheavals in that country. After five weeks of patrolling, she entered the Bethlehem Steel Corp. shipyard at Boston, Mass., for a six-week overhaul. In October, she took station off the west coast of Africa to participate in the recovery of Gemini 6. However, the mission was scrubbed, and Stickell returned, via Martinique, to Newport. In November and early December, she participated in amphibious exercises at Vieques Island, near Puerto Rico; then returned to Newport.
On 19 January 1966, Stickell, along with the other units of Destroyer Squadron 12, departed Newport for duty with the 7th Fleet in the Far East. After transiting the Panama Canal and brief stops at San Diego and Pearl Harbor, the ship commenced wartime operations in the South China Sea in support of the Republic of South Vietnam. While attached to the 7th Fleet, Stickell was assigned to Search and Rescue (SAR) and helicopter inflight refueling duties in the Tonkin Gulf; plane guarding for various attack carriers, especially Ranger (CVA-61) ; and gunfire support duties. During the deployment, the ship visited the following Far East ports: Kaohsiung, Formosa; Yokosuka, Japan; Subic Bay, Philippines; Hong Kong; and Naha, Okinawa. En route back to Newport—completely circumnavigating the world—Stickell visited Port Dickson, Malaya; Cochin, India; and Aden. She transited the Suez and touched at Athens, Greece; Palma, Mallorca; and Gibraltar. The ship returned to Newport on 17 August 1966.
In October 1966, Stickell entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for overhaul. She emerged in February 1967 and headed toward Guantanamo Bay for refresher training. Stickell then headed for Culebra Island where she qualified as a naval gunfire support ship. After a short inport period, Stickell deployed on a four-month ASW cruise. During the northern European segment of the cruise, Stickell visited Bergen, Norway; Aarjus, Denmark; Sundsvall, Sweden; and Thurso, Scotland. She operated with ships and aircraft from the navies of Norway, Denmark, West Germany, Great Britain, and France. Stickell then entered the Mediterranean Sea and joined the 6th Fleet. She operated with Essex (CVS-9) and several other destroyers as a "pouncer" ASW Task Force. While in the Mediterranean, Stickell visited Naples, Italy; Valletta, Malta; and Palermo, Sicily. On 19 September 1967, she steamed past Brenton Reef Light and was home again.
Before the end of the year, Stickell participated in two ASW exercises. The first, “Canus Silex,” a combined Canadian-United States ASW exercise and the second, “Fixwex India.” By February 1968, Stickell was preparing for a visit to the Caribbean and her part in “Springboard 68.” After leaving frozen Newport behind, Stickell participated in a variety of training operations designed to sharpen her crew's already finely honed efficiency. Following Springboard, she acted as sonar training ship at the Fleet Antisubmarine Warfare School at Key West, Florida.
The next several months were spent preparing for Stickell's next deployment. On 2 July 1968, Stickell left Newport for a six-month, 13-nation cruise of the Indian Ocean as part of the Navy's Middle East Force. She visited San Juan, Puerto Rico; Recife, Brazil; Luanda, Angola; Lorenco Marques, Mozambique; Port Louis, Mauritius; Cochin, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Bahrain; Massawa, Ethiopia; Mombasa, Kenya; Assah, Ethiopia; Bandar Abbas, Iran; Bush-ire, Iran; Kuwait; and Dakar, Senegal—touching some ports more than once. While in the Persian Gulf area, Stickell participated in the international naval. exercise “Middlinx XL” Together with units of the United States, British, and Iranian navies, Stickell once again demonstrated her readiness in the fields of antisubmarine and antiaircraft warfare. Stickell returned home on 10 January 1969.
Over the next three years, Stickell alternated deployments with operations off the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean Sea. She was deployed to the Mediterranean again from September 1969 until late March 1970, when she returned to Norfolk, After post-deployment leave and upkeep, sheheaded to Davisville, R.I., on 18 May for a month of hull repairs. Back in Norfolk again on 20 June, she remained there, except for two brief operations with John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) in July, until 9 November when she got underway to off-load ammunition at Yorktown, in preparation for drydocking at Newport News, Va., from 13 November until 7 December. For the remainder of the year, she prepared for deployment to the Indian Ocean. Her second deployment with the Middle Eastern Force began on 7 January 1971, when she put to sea from Norfolk and ended on 29 June, upon her return to Norfolk. In the meantime, she visited ports in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Bahrein, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Iran, India, Pakistan, Kenya, and Senegal.
At the end of this, her last, deployment, Stickell remained in the Virginia Capes area-for the most part at anchor or in port. She spent most of the remainder of 1971 and the first half of 1972 preparing for decommissioning and transfers to the government of Greece. On 1 July 1972, Stickell was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list. Immediately thereafter, the Greek Navy took possession of her and recommissioned her as Kanaris (D-212).
Stickell (DD-888) earned six battle stars for Korean War service and one for service in the Vietnam War.