From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Clarence Stoddard, Jr. '49

Date of birth: January 30, 1927

Date of death: September 14, 1966

Age: 39

Lucky Bag

From the 1949 Lucky Bag:


1949 Stoddard 1.jpg

From the November 1966 issue of Shipmate:

Cdr. Clarence W . Stoddard, Jr., USN, died on 14 Sept. when the plane he was piloting was hit by enemy fire and crashed into the sea off North Vietnam. He had been serving as commander of Attack Squadron 25 aboard USS CORAL SEA. Memorial services were held on board the carrier.

Cdr. Stoddard, who was born in Atlanta, Ga., attended Marist College in Arianta before entering the Naval Academy, from where he was graduated in 1949. He first served in USSCABOT, after which he received flight training at Pensacola and was designated a naval aviator in 1950.

He had two combat tours with VA-115 in Korea; received an advanced degree in engineering electronics at the Naval Postgraduate School; served in the Office of Naval Research, and was assistant navigator of LAKE CHAMPLAIN. He was operations officer (plans) to Commander Fleet A ir, Jacksonville, then was attached to VA-44 and VA-35. Following duty at the Naval Air Station, Memphis, he had replacement pilot training, then became executive officer followed by command of VA-25.

Cdr. Stoddard served in World W ar II before entering the Naval Academy, and held the American Campaign Medal, Victory Medal for China service. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal (eight awards). Navy Commendation Medal with Combat " V " (second award) and the Navy Expeditionary Medal for services in SARATOGA.

Survivors include his widow, the former Mary Jane Miller of Arianta; two sons, William Michael and Paul Vincent; four daughters, Leslie Ann, Cynthia Therese, Valerie Jayne and Stephanie Clare; and his mother, Mrs. Helen Brooks Stoddard.

From Find A Grave:

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.


From Find A Grave:

On 14 September 1966, while Commanding Officer of Attack Squadron 25 embarked on [USS Coral Sea (CVA 43)]*, 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.

  • Note Find A Grave gives USS Midway as his aircraft carrier; this is incorrect.


1949 Stoddard 1.jpg

From Find A Grave:

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.

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Commander Clarence W. Stoddard, Jr. (NSN: 0-521896), United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while engaged in combat operations against insurgent communist guerrilla forces in Southeast Asia on 10 June 1965. Commander Stoddard, as strike coordinator, planned and led an aerial striking group of twelve fighter planes on an attack against the thermal power plant in North Vietnam in the face of heavy cloud cover, thunderstorms, rain and low visibility in the target area. Placing his own section of aircraft directly over the target and above the bombing pattern, he coordinated the simultaneous attacks of propeller aircraft and jets and pinpointed specific targets to be bombed within the power plant complex. In order to mark many of these target positions, he made numerous strafing attacks, thereby showing the way for other aircraft. As a direct result of his efforts, a possible deteriorating situation was averted and 75 per cent of the entire power plant complex was destroyed.

General Orders: All Hands (April 1967)
Action Date: June 10, 1965
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander

Class of 1949

Clarence is one of 40 members of the Class of 1949 on Virtual Memorial Hall.