CDR Clarence William “Bill” Stoddard, Jr

CDR Clarence William “Bill” Stoddard, Jr

Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Death 14 Sep 1966 (aged 39)
Burial Sandy Springs, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Memorial ID 61818089 · View Source
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In Memory of ..... CDR. Clarence William Stoddard, Jr.
*** Cdr. Clarence William "Billy" Stoddard was remembered in a ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia on 26 May, 2005. In the image of Arlington National Cemetary.The Marine Band from Albany, GA, Color and Honor Guards from NAS Marietta, and a special Navy flyover highlighted the occasion. Admiral James Ellis, USN (Ret) led the Memorial Service

You may be gone, no longer living on this earth; but you will live on - in the memories of your family and friends. There will always be a part of you living in those who knew you. You will live on because we remember you!

Age: 39
Race: Caucasian
Date of Birth Jan 30, 1927
Marital Status: Married - Mary Jane Stoddard. Sons, William Michael, Born Oct. 18, 1950, and Paul Vincent Stoddard, Born Nov.26, 1957. Daughters, Leslie Ann, Born Nov. 22, 1951, Cynthia Theresa, Born Dec. 15, 1954, Valerie Jayne, Born April 11, 1956 and Stephanie Clare Stoddard, Born Aug. 17, 1960, all from Lenoore, CA. Parents: Father, Clarence Stoddard, Sr., and Mother Helen Brooks Stoddard, also of Lenoore,CA.

***** Bill Stoddard Jr. was born in Atlanta 30 January 1927 and graduated from Marist High School in 1944 and from the United States Naval Academy in 1949.
CDR Stoddard joined the U.S. Navy in 1944 during World War II. During his 22 years of service, he served in China, four tours in the Korean Conflict and two tours in Vietnam.
He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, eight Air Medals and two Navy Commendation Medals with Combat V in addition to numerous service medals and foreign decorations.

***** Commander Stoddard was the first casualty on the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43).
John A. Santiago

***** 1940 Census-Clarence W. Stoddard in the 1940 Census
First Name: Clarence
Middle Name: W.
Last Name: Stoddard
Age at Time of Census: 44
Gender: Male
Race: White
Ethnicity: American
Est. Birth Year: 1896
Birth Location: Georgia Map
Enumeration District: 160-156
Residence: Ward 4, Atlanta, Atlanta City, Fulton, GA Map
Relationship to Head of Household: Head
Other People in Household:
Helen Stoddard
44 yrs, Female
Clarence Stoddard
13 yrs, Male
Marital Status: Married
Language: English

Length of service 18 years
His tour began on Sep 14, 1966
Casualty was on Sep 14, 1966

Body was not recovered
Panel 10E - Line 95

On 14 September 1966, while Commanding Officer of Attack Squadron 25 embarked on the USS Midway (CVA 41), CDR Clarence William Stoddard, Jr. was leading a two-plane bombing mission over North Vietnam searching for enemy truck convoys.

Near the village of Nghi Thiet, his radar detection system warned him of enemy missile activity.

He withdrew over the Gulf of Tonkin before his aircraft, an A-1 Skyraider single engine propeller plane, was struck by enemy fire.

CDR Stoddard was initially listed as Missing In Action.

His status was changed in 1973 to Killed In Action.


Commander Stoddard was the Commanding Officer of VA-25, an A-1 Squadron aboard the USS Coral Sea. He had been on a previous combat tour aboard the Midway. I was the Air Intelligence Officer assigned the brief the missions to the squadrons flying over North Vietnam. Cdr. Stoddard was an extremely well-liked skipper and an outstanding pilot.

We arrived in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and one day later started combat missions. Since we had several new pilots, the senior pilots with experience flew the first missions with junior guys as their wingmen. Cdr. Stoddard was scheduled to do armed recon around the Thanh Hoa area and drop bombs on the rail yard there if he found no suitable targets (trucks or barges). Since it was the first day in combat, they were assigned relatively safe areas of North Vietnam.

Before the flight,I briefed his group on their assignments, along with the en route weather and the expected resistance and flak. I remember that he said the that Thanh Hoa area was extremely well protected by AAA, and that they would be careful around there. Since this was my first combat brief, I told him he could go wherever he was comfortable going.

Several hours later, I was stunned by the announcement that he had been shot down. In debriefing his wing man I found out that they had not found any trucks, so were going to Vinh, instead of Thanh Hoa to drop their bombs. There was no previous intelligence, but the North Vietnamese had moved a Surface to Air missile battery into Vinh where there had not been one before.

During his attack, a missile was fired, Cdr. Stoddard and his flight dove toward the water, but a missile scored a direct hit on his plane before he could escape. The other planes airborne searched for him, but there was no parachute or anything in the water.

He was a real leader and his death brought the war directly to those of us who had been practicing,but to whom the war didn't seem real until that day. We lost a lot of pilots over the next two years, but the one I remember most was Commander Stoddard. I think he had four or five daughters and was a devoted family man.
Jay Stone


In October 1965, CDR Clarence J. Stoddard, Executive Officer of VA-25 'Fist of the Fleet', flying an A-1H Skyraider, NE/572 'Paper Tiger II' from Carrier Air Wing Two aboard USS Midway carried a special bomb to the North Vietnamese in commemoration of the 6-millionth pound of ordnance dropped. This bomb was unique because of the type... it was a toilet!

The following is an account of this event, courtesy of Clint Johnson, Captain, USNR Ret. Captain Johnson was one of the two VA-25 A-1 Skyraider pilots credited with shooting down a MiG-17 on June 20, 1965.

572 was flown by CDR C. W. 'Bill' Stoddard. His wingman in 577 was LCDR Robin Bacon, who had a wing station mounted movie camera (the only one remaining in the fleet from WWII).

The flight was a Dixie Station strike (off South Vietnam) going to the Delta. When they arrived in the target area and CDR Stoddard was reading the ordnance list to the FAC, he ended with 'and one code name Sani-flush'.

The FAC couldn't believe it and joined up to see it. It was dropped in a dive with LCDR Bacon flying tight wing position to film the drop. When it came off, it turned hole to the wind and almost struck his airplane.

It made a great ready room movie. The FAC said that it whistled all the way down. The toilet was a damaged toilet, which was going to be thrown overboard.

One of our plane captains rescued it and the ordnance crew made a rack, tail fins and nose fuse for it. The squadron flight deck checkers maintained a position to block the view of the Captain and Air Boss while the aircraft was taxiing onto the catapult. Just as it was being shot off we got a 1MC message from the bridge, 'What the hell was on 572's right wing?'There were a lot of jokes with air intelligence about germ warfare. I wish that we had saved the movie film.
CDR Stoddard was later killed while flying 572 in Oct 1966. He was hit by three SAMs over Vinh.----


Family Members

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  • Created by: Eddieb
  • Added: 18 Nov 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 61818089
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for CDR Clarence William “Bill” Stoddard, Jr (30 Jan 1927–14 Sep 1966), Find A Grave Memorial no. 61818089, citing Arlington Memorial Park, Sandy Springs, Fulton County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Eddieb (contributor 46600350) .