Lawrence Kockler was born on January 16, 1917, in New Haven, Connecticut. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on October 22, 1935, and completed basic training and advanced training as a Machinist's Mate at NTS Newport, Rhode Island, in February 1936. Sea1c Kockler's first assignment was aboard the battleship USS Tennessee (BB-43) from March 1936 to May 1938, followed by Submarine School at Submarine Base New London, Connecticut, from July to August 1938, where he was trained as a Torpedoman. His next assignment was aboard the submarine S-28 (SS-133) from November 1938 to June 1939, and then aboard the submarine USS Porpoise (SS-172) from June 1939 to June 1941. TM1c Kockler was then assigned to the submarine USS Perch (SS-176) from June 1941 until his honorable discharge from the Navy on November 1, 1941. He reenlisted in the Navy on December 23, 1941, and then served aboard the submarine USS S-20 (SS-125) from December 1941 to January 1942. TM1c Kockler transferred to the submarine USS Grunion (SS-216) in January 1942 for her fitting out and commissioning, and then remained aboard from April 1942 until he was killed in action during a confrontation with the armed Japanese freighter Kano Maru on July 30, 1942. On August 22, 2007, a search team organized by the three sons of CDR Mannert Abele (the Captain of the Grunion when she was sunk) used a remotely operated vehicle to find a sunken vessel 3,000 feet down in the Bering Sea north of Kiska Island at the tip of the Aleutian Islands. On October 1, 2008, the U.S. Navy announced that the sunken vessel is the World War II submarine USS Grunion (SS-216).
His Navy Commendation Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious conduct as a member of the crew of the U.S.S. GRUNION which destroyed three enemy destroyers while engaged in a war patrol in enemy controlled waters. Despite severe and persistent anti-submarine measures resulting from these three successful attacks, the GRUNION was brought safely through the counter attacks and continued an aggressive war patrol. As a member of the crew of the GRUNION, your performance of duty was an important and material contribution to the prosecution of this war.