Vice Admiral Joseph Edward Stika was born on September 21, 1889, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He attended the public schools of Milwaukee and Kewaunee, Wisconsin, and on October 19, 1908, was appointed a cadet for training at the School of Instruction, Revenue Cutter Service. Progressing through the various grades of the Service, he was promoted to Rear Admiral on January 30, 1948.
His first assignment was in December, 1910, to the Androscoggin on duty in the North Atlantic. Commissioned a Third Lieutenant on January 18, 1911, he continued service on board the Androscoggin, with a short period of temporary duty on the Itasca. In April, 1913, he was transferred to the Tuscarora, on duty on the Great Lakes, followed a year later with assignment to the Snohomish, with Port Angeles, Washington, as her home port. He made two Alaskan cruises on the Unalga, to which he was assigned from April, 1916, to March, 1917, when he returned to the Tuscarora for a short tour of duty. Telegraphic orders to the Yamacraw in the Atlantic were soon superseded by a transfer to the Itasca on duty at San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In World War I, he was awarded the Navy Cross, accompanied by a citation signed by Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, “for heroic conduct on the occasion of the fire at the shell-loading plant, Morgan, N.J., when, with others, he moved a train of nine cars loaded with high explosives to a place of safety through an area where fire was liable to break out at any moment.” The incident occurred October 7, 1918, eight months later he had been transferred to the New York Division from San Juan. With five enlisted Coast Guardsmen and two soldiers, all volunteers, he laid down rails and directed the moving of the cars filled with TNT to safety.
In November, 1918, he was transferred to duty at the Coast Guard Depot, Baltimore, Maryland, and a year later to the Apache, then to the Yamacraw, and in May, 1920, to command the Manhattan during the Lipton Cup Races off New York.
In July, 1920, he was assigned to outfitting the Chillicothe. He assumed command of it and had interesting duty during the prohibition regime on the Canadian border. In January, 1922, he was given temporary duty on the Seneca and in December of that year was assigned to duty on the Ossipee in the North Atlantic. In March, 1923, he was assigned to the Modoc for three ice patrol seasons off the Grand Banks.
He was made executive officer of the Conyngham in June, 1925, and in July of the next year, made commanding officer of the Roe, operating out of New York. In May, 1929, he was assigned to duty with the New York Division, and promoted to the rank of Commander, September 1, 1930. In March of 1932 he was given command of the Seneca, which was on duty at San Juan, Puerto Rico. In June, 1934, the Unalga replaced the Seneca at Puerto Rico and he assumed command of that vessel. Vice Admiral Stika was commended by the Swedish government for “the good work and excellent seamanship displayed by the Commander, officers and crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Unalga” on the occasion of the accident which occurred to the Swedish Training Ship AF Chapman in the harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 18, 1934.
In January, 1935, he was appointed Purchasing Officer, Coast Guard Store, New York, followed in July of that year by assignment as Ordnance Officer at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Under his supervision many improvements wore made in Lifesaving Ordnance, including the Lyle line-throwing gun. The system of training all law enforcement divisions of the Treasury in revolver shooting was instituted and put into working condition under his administration, and he also promoted the efficiency of the Coast Guard rifle teams.
In May, 1937, he was assigned to duty as executive officer of the Coast Guard Academy, where he remained until June of 1940, when he became Commanding Officer of the Bibb, which was on Atlantic weather patrol
From 1941 to 1943, he served simultaneously as Commanding Officer, Alameda Base, Purchasing Officer, Pacific Coast, and Superintendent, Merchant Marine Training Station, Government Island, Alameda, California, and in May, 1942, was appointed Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Training Station at Alameda in addition. He returned to the East coast in September, 1943, for duty as District Port Security Officer, Fifth Naval District, Captain of the Port, Norfolk, Virginia, and Assistant District Coast Guard Officer at the busy port of Norfolk. In September, 1945, he resumed duty at Government Island, Alameda, California, as Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Group, which included Operating Base, Supply Depot and the Training Stations.
Vice Admiral Stika was assigned to duty as Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District with Headquarters at Seattle, Washington on July 8, 1946. He went to San Francisco, California, on March 13, 1949, as Commander, 12th. Coast Guard District, and Commander, Western Area. He retired October 1, 1951, with the rank of Vice Admiral.
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