Fred William Stockham was born in Detroit, Mich., on 16 March 1881. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on 16 July 1903 and, over the next four years, served twice in the Philippines, from 26 September 1903 to 28 August 1905 and from 29 September 1906 to 13 January 1907, and did one tour of duty in China in the intervening period. Private Stockham was honorably discharged at New York City on 15 July 1907. Four years later, on 31 May 1912, he reenlisted in the Marine Corps. By the time he was again discharged, on 30 May 1916, he had risen to the rank of sergeant and had served most of his term ashore in Nicaragua. Sgt. Stockham saw combat during the engagement at Leon, Nicaragua, on 6 October 1915, a little over a month before his departure from that troubled Latin American nation. He was honorably discharged again on 30 May 1916, this time at Mare Island, Calif. However, within a week, he had returned to New York City, where on 7 June, he reenlisted.
By 8 February 1918, Sgt. Stockham was in France and heading for the trenches. Between that time and his death, he served in the Toulon sector, in the Aisne operation, and at Belleau Wood. During- the last named battle, Gy. Sgt. Stockham displayed the "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty" which later earned him the Medal of Honor by an Act of Congress. On the night of June 13 and 14, "during an intense enemy bombardment with high explosive and gas shells," Sergeant 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. Despite the fact that he was without the protection of a gas mask, he continued with undaunted courage and valor to direct and assist in the evacuation of the wounded in an area saturated with gas and swept by heavy artillery fire, until he himself collapsed from the effects of the gas." Gy. Sgt. Stockham died in France on 22 June 1918. Thanks to the efforts of his former comrades, one of whom undoubtedly was the man whose life his gas mask saved, Gy. Sgt. Stockham was belatedly and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by an Act of Congress on 21 December 1939, over 20 years after his sacrifice.
John Stockham was First Lieutenant in HMS Thunderer at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In the absence of her captain, he assumed command of the ship during the battle and was subsequently promoted to captain for his actions.
Stockham (DD-683) was named for Gy. Sgt. Fred W. Stockham, USMC, and Stockham (DE-97) (K.562) was named for Capt. John Stockham, RN.
Stockham (DD-683) was laid down on 19 December 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Co. at San Francisco, Calif.; launched on 25 June 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Melba Mattingly; and commissioned on 11 February 1944, Comdr. E. P. Holmes in command.
The newly-commissioned Stockham conducted shakedown training off the west coast until 20 April, and then got underway for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. There, she continued training until departing for the Marshalls on 31 May in preparation for the invasion of the Mariana Islands. She arrived off Saipan on 14 June and conducted preinvasion bombardments on that island until the 17th. On the 18th, she steamed to the west of the Marianas with Task Group (TG) 58.7 to engage the approaching enemy fleet. In the ensuing battle, known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea and less formally as "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," the 5th Fleet swept the skies clear of Japanese naval air power, though the two fleets never closed to engage in surface action. Instead, the two adversaries launched their planes at one another and American antiaircraft fire and combat air patrol proved superior to the attacking Japanese planes. During the battle, Stockham contributed to the victory by splashing at least three Japanese planes and probably two others.
She rejoined the amphibious forces on 25 June and, until mid-August, supported the occupation of Saipan and Tinian and conducted patrols off Guam. Her primary responsibilities were to protect the invasion fleet from air attack and to render fire support when called. She helped repel several air attacks, splashing another enemy plane in the process, and duelled with Japanese artillery batteries ashore. On 21 August, she entered the lagoon at Eniwetok Atoll for a week before rejoining the Fast Carrier Task Force for a 33-day sweep of the Philippines, during which the carrier planes hit targets on Luzon and Mindanao in addition to striking the Visayan and Palau island sub-groups.
She entered Ulithi on 1 October for provisions and upkeep. During her six-day stay, a typhoon struck the atoll and broke Stockham and two others loose from the nest. She cast off lines and anchored, but was later forced to get underway to evade the storm. She returned with the task group on 4 October to complete upkeep and provisioning in preparation for another cruise with the carriers.
On 6 October, the destroyer sortied from Ulithi with TG 38.2 for a month-long sweep primarily of the Philippines, but beginning with strikes on Okinawa, on the 10th, and on Formosa, from the 12th to the 14th. She supported the landing at Leyte Gulf on 20 October and screened the carriers during their strikes on southern Luzon and the Visayans on the 21st and 22d. On 25 and 26 October, she joined most of the elements of the 3d Fleet in meeting and defeating the Japanese Northern Force during the Cape Engano phase of the Battle for Leyte Gulf. On the 29th, Task Force (TF) 38 resumed air strikes on the Philippines. Those raids continued until Christmas broken only by two provisioning and upkeep periods at Ulithi, from 9 to 13 November and from 25 November until 9 December. Stockham's crew spent Christmas Day and the eight days following it at Ulithi preparing for another cruise with the fast carriers.
On 3 January 1945, she departed with TG 30.8, the replenishment group for TF 38, and screened it until 7 January, when she rejoined the carriers. Over the next 19 days, she screened the carriers as their planes made sweeps of the inner defenses of the Japanese Empire. They hit French Indochina and Japanese shipping on the 12th, bombed Formosa a second and third time on the 15th and 21st, and struck Hainan, Hong Kong, and the China coast on the 16th. On the way back to Ulithi, they raided Okinawa again, on 22 January.
Following- two weeks of upkeep, provisioning, and training at Ulithi, Stockham put to sea with TF 38 to bomb Tokyo on 16 and 17 February and to support the Iwo Jima assault on 19 February. During the short stay in the Volcano Islands, the destroyer's guns brought down another enemy plane. On 22 February, she headed north to Japan and screened the carriers during another air strike on the Japanese home islands. On the 26th, she sank an enemy patrol craft off Tori Shima, fighting heavy seas as well as the Japanese. On 6 March, she put into Ulithi once again for provisions and upkeep.
On 14 March, she put to sea once more and operated with TF 59 until the following day, when she joined the screen of the Fast Carrier Task Force for sweeps of Kyushu, Okinawa, and Kerama Retto. After the 1 April landings at Okinawa, Stockham remained off that coast until 29 April, protecting the invasion fleet from the onslaught of the kamikazes. On 6 April, she splashed two "Zekes." She bombarded Minami and Kita Daito Shima on the 21st. She put into Ulithi on the 30th. On 7 May, she put to sea with TF 58 and, conducting drills along the way, headed for another series of air raids on Kyushu and Okinawa. She screened the fleet from air attack during the strikes, helping to repel several enemy raids. She parted company with the main body of the fleet on 6 June to escort a group of crippled ships, including the bowless Pittsburgh, to Apra Harbor, Guam. She remained at Guam from 11 to 30 June; then escorted a group of ships to Eniwetok, before rejoining TF 38 on 8 July.
Between 8 July and 15 August, she screened the fleet carriers while their planes struck their last series of blows at Japan. Starting with Tokyo on the 10th, they moved swiftly up along Honshu to Hokkaido, pounding targets on both islands on the 14th and 15th, then returned to Tokyo on the 18th. On 24 July, she bombarded Cape Shiono at the southern extremity of Honshu, and then returned to screening the fleet from suicide attack while it sent planes to pummel Honshu and Shikoku.
On 15 August 1945, the Japanese Empire capitulated and, four days later, Stockham joined the Yokosuka occupation force, which entered Sagami Wan on 27 August. She supported the landings at Tokyo Bay and at Tateyama on the 30th and 31st respectively, then anchored off Yokosuka on 2 September for six days of upkeep, provisioning, and recreation. She was underway from 9 to 18 September, supporting the minesweeping operations in Sendai Bay and in the vicinity of Goshi. She returned to Tokyo Bay for a month on 19 September, conducted training exercises between 24 and 28 October, and then provisioned for the voyage home. On 31 October, Stockham stood out of Yokosuka to return to the United States. After more than a year on the west coast, she was decommissioned and berthed at San Diego, Calif.
The hostilities in Korea in 1950 necessitated an increase in the size of the active fleet. Stockham was recommissioned on 14 November 1951, Comdr. A. P. Zavadil in command. She was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet until 1953, engaged in fleet training missions out of Newport, R.I. In December 1953, the destroyer joined the United Nations Fleet and operated in the Far East until the summer of 1954. In July, she returned to Newport after completing a circumnavigation of the world. In November 1954, Stockham entered Boston Naval Shipyard and, at the completion of her overhaul in February 1955, she shook down in the Caribbean. She then resumed normal operations with the Atlantic Fleet until 1 February 1956, when she was posted to the 6th Fleet. She cruised the Mediterranean for four months; visited Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, and Greece; then, resumed operations out of Newport. Stockham returned to the 6th Fleet in the fall of 1956; visited France, Italy, and Greece; and participated in an antisubmarine exercise with American and Italian ships. On 23 February 1957, the destroyer returned to Newport. Seven months later, she was decommissioned and placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia, Pa., where she remains to date.
Stockham (DD-683) earned eight battle stars during World War II.
(DE-97: dp. 1,400; l. 306'0"; b. 36'0"; dr. 13'6"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 213; a. 3 3", 3 21" tt.; cl. Buckley)
DE-97 was laid down on 25 August 1943 at Hingham, Mass., by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 31 October 1943; delivered to the United Kingdom on 28 December 1943; and commissioned in the Royal Navy as the Captain-class frigate Stockham (K. 562) on the same day.
She served with the Royal Navy in the English Channel during 1944 and participated in the invasion of Europe at Normandy. She was returned to the United States on 31 January 1946 at Philadelphia; and, on 21 February, authority was granted for her disposal. On 12 March, her name was struck from the Navy list. Her hulk was sold to the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., and she was scrapped on 15 June 1948.