UNION, NJ – Veterans, first responders, elected officials and others paid homage to a Medal of Honor recipient in Hollywood Cemetery in Union and celebrated all veterans on Monday, Veterans Day.
- On June 13, 1918, during an intense enemy bombardment with high explosive and gas shells which wounded or killed many members of the company, Sgt. Fred William 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. His courageous conduct undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades and his conspicuous gallantry and spirit of self-sacrifice were a source of great inspiration to all who served with him. Stockham was born in Detroit in 1881, moved to Newark, and then to Belleville where he served as an area fireman.
“Stockham’s actions, 100 years later, still serves as an inspiration for all of us,” said Congressman Tom Malinowski. “We use Stockham’s story to make sure we remember every brave American soldier, not just those who have been granted this highest honor that our country can bestow.” Addressing the Union High School JROTC cadets, Malinowski added, “it’s also to honor the young people who want to follow this path. I know your presence here shows you are willing to sacrifice something that is important to you for the benefit of others.”
“On behalf of the New Jersey Veterans Network (NJVN), we’re hosting a ceremony today for Medal of Honor recipient Fred Stockham, given the honor during World War I,” said NJVN President Michael Boll, “It’s very rare to have a Medal of Honor recipient in your town, so we wanted to make sure we honored him on Veterans Day.”
“One wonders about a person who can find the inner courage to sacrifice themselves for others,” said State Senator Joe Cryan of Stockham. “There are a number of veterans here that we remember in a special way, who made an impact through the service to their country so we can stand here today.”
“It’s an honor to attend an event that honors our veterans,” said Springfield Mayor Erica DuBois, who grew up in Union. “I want to thank everyone who are currently serving, has served in the past, and to our young people here who are making a commitment to serve. Very few of us can make such a commitment."
Malinowski presented Certificates of Congressional Commendation to VFW Post Commander Bob Johnsen; Union VFW Post 2433; VF Post Commander Leo Graf; VFW District 5; VFW Commander Jay Boxwell; New Jersey Veterans Network members Michael Boll, Frank Schupp, Debbie Skeete-Bernard, and Sara Abraham; and the Union High School JROTC.
Editor's Note: In the interest of transparency, TAPinto Union's owner/publisher, Kathy Cryan, is married to State Senator Joe Cryan.