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Soderman II (T-AKR-317)


The second U.S. Navy ship named in honor of William A. Soderman, who enlisted in the U.S. Army at West Haven, Conn., in August 1943, and ultimately served in Company K, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.

On 17 December 1944, during the German Ardennes counteroffensive, Private First Class Soderman was armed with a bazooka, defending a key road junction near Rocherath, Belgium. After a heavy artillery barrage, he heard enemy tanks approaching his position. Soon, five Mark V tanks [Panthers] rumbled into view within pointblank range. Soderman stood up and fired a round into the lead Panther that set it afire and forced its crew to abandon it as the other tanks moved forward. He remained at his post throughout the night under heavy artillery, mortar and machine gun fire until the Germans launched another attack shortly after dawn on 18 December by five more tanks. Running along a ditch to engage them, Soderman reached an advantageous point and leaped to the road in full view of the tank gunners, aimed his weapon and disabled the lead vehicle, thus preventing the other Mark Vs from moving forward and they withdrew.

While returning to his post, Soderman then engaged an enemy infantry platoon at close range, killing three German soldiers and wounding several others with a round from his bazooka. By that time, enemy pressure had rendered Company K’s position untenable, and orders came down to withdraw to an assembly area where Soderman was located when he again heard enemy tanks approaching. Knowing that elements of his company had not completed disengaging and were extremely vulnerable to an armored attack, he rushed from his position to meet the tanks. Again he disabled the lead vehicle with his last round and before he could reach cover, machinegun bullets from the tank ripped into his right shoulder. Unarmed and seriously wounded he dragged himself along a ditch to the American lines before being evacuated.

William A. Soderman, awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism near Rocherath on 17-18 December 1944, died on 20 October 1980, and was interred at Oak Grove Cemetery in West Haven, Conn.

Cargo ship PFC William A. Soderman (T-AKR-299) was renamed GySgt Fred W. Stockham (T-AK-3017).


(T-AKR-317: displacement 62,644; length 950'; beam 106'; draft 34'; speed 24 knots; complement 30 civilian and 5 active duty; class Watson)

Soderman (T-AKR-317) was laid down on 31 October 2000 at San Diego, Ca., by National Steel & Shipbuilding Company.; launched on 26 April 2002; and sponsored by Mrs. Virginia Rae Leake Soderman, widow of  the late William A. Soderman. Soderman entered non-commissioned U.S. Navy service with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) with a primarily civilian crew on 24 September 2002. A non-combatant Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off (LMSR) vessel, Soderman and other ships of her class are used to pre-position tanks, trucks, various wheeled vehicles and supplies needed to support an army heavy brigade. She is assigned to Afloat Prepositioning Ship Squadron Four.

Detailed history pending.

Paul J. Marcello

7 January 2016

Published: Thu Jan 07 14:27:21 EST 2016