This Is Why We Stand: Sergeant Fred William Stockham.
Sergeant Fred William Stockham exemplified the spirit of the United States Marine Corps in every single way. In 1918, Sergeant Stockham was in France assisting in the American war effort to help bring the devastation of World War I to an end.
Stockham was part of a large Marine effort to drive the Germans out of a highly contested area known as Belleau Wood. On the morning of June 13th, the Germans began an artillery barrage on the Marines 6th Regiment. Stockham and others were targeted by explosive and gas shells for hours during the bombardment. Poison gas shells were a horrifying element of the First World War. Without mercy, these chemical agents could kill, blind, or cripple anyone who was exposed to them. As the German bombardment ensued, many of Stockham’s men had been killed or wounded. During the chaos, Sergeant Stockham noticed that one of his soldiers was lying wounded on the ground in the midst of a cloud of gas. An excerpt from Stockham’s Medal of Honor Citation describes how he proceeded, “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.”
We may not know a great deal about Stockham’s life, but we do know what kind of man he was from this story. Sergeant Stockham possessed a selfless spirit that can only be found in the heart of a hero. We stand for Sergeant Fred William Stockham and we fulfill our duty to him by remembering his name and story forever.