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Cmdr. Stokes NOT KIA in naval battle of Guadalcanal

April 23 2009 at 6:28 PM
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Kit  (no login)

Response to Stokes and Parker in the naval battle of Guadalcanal


I visited a couple of websites to learn if Cmdr. T. Murray Stokes got a gong for the battle in which he allegedly lost his life. What I learnt was that yes, he did, the Navy Cross, but no, he was apparently NOT killed in that action.

The 'In Memory' section of the website you have previously cited

lists both the men lost in that battle (their surnames are capitalised) AND those who died later in the war or who succumbed after the war to the toll of time (their surnames are in lower case, and they include that of T. Murray Stokes). So, I fear that you misread those names as all of them KIA in the battle of Guadalcanal. As further proof, here is Stokes's citation for the Navy Cross:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Thomas M. Stokes, Commander, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commander, Destroyer Division TEN (DesDiv 10), during an engagement with Japanese naval forces near Savo Island on the night of 12-13 November, 1942. On this occasion the force to which Commander Stokes was attached engaged at close quarters and defeated a superior enemy force, inflicting heavy damage upon them and preventing the accomplishment of their intended mission. This daring and intrepid attack, brilliantly executed, led to a great victory for his country's forces. By his indomitable fighting spirit, expert seamanship, and gallant devotion to duty, Commander Stokes contributed largely to the success of the battle and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)
Born: February 2, 1899 at Fulton, Alabama
Home Town: Meridian, Mississippi

The citation does NOT indicate his Navy Cross as having been awarded posthumously. Dare I say we might as well....

I had a thought that you may have already stumbled upon the answer to one of your questions. Could Cmdr. Talbot have been relieved because of age? As they say, war is a young man's game - or at least for such things as piloting fighter aircraft, leading infantry attacks on defended positions, and perhaps commanding the small ships of destroyer divisions. But from your vital stats posting, then I noted that Binford was a year older than Talbot, and he certainly stayed in place. I share your curiosity, as I would have thought given the grave exigencies of the hour, coupled with his experience and gallantry in action, Talbot's staying in place as ComDesDiv 59 would have been preferred to his batting round Oz for two months. As far as Parker was concerned, it is very probable that he needed to get his sea legs in modern destroyers (versus the Asiatic Fleet relics) and more seasoning before being given command of an entire destroyer division. But that would argue, as you have done, that his rising to command of such a division in the Asiatic Fleet was precipitous rather than planned.


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  • Re: Cmdr. Stokes NOT KIA - Nelson on Apr 23, 2009, 8:09 PM
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