John H. Stickell
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Stickell was born in Gilson, Illinois, on July 31, 1913. He attended Bradley Polytechnic Institute for nearly two years before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. Before America's entry into World War II, he served with the Path Finding Force in England and received both the British Distinguished Flying Cross (gazetted 6 November 1942) and the Distinguished Service Order (gazetted 11 June 1943) 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 March 29, 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 August 5 and, on the 19th, he reported to the Pacific Fleet Air Wing for duty. He was assigned to Bombing Squadron 108 (VB-108), based on Nukufetau Airfield 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 December 13, 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 (640 km) away. Lt. Stickell died of his wounds six days later. For his gallantry and selfless sacrifice, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Genealogy Record at www.Stickels.org
- Fydenchuk, W. Peter (2009). Immigrants of War. Americans Serving with RAF Bomber Command: WPF Publications. pp. 460–484. ISBN 0-9737523-0-0.
- Carey, Alan (1999). The Reluctant Raiders: The Story of United States Navy Bombing Squadron VB/VPB-109 During World War II. Schiffer Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 9780764307577.
- Morison, Samuel (1975). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Volume VI: Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June 1942-April 1944. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 306. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.