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July 06, 2005

Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale -- A Great Man Passes

America has lost a hero -- James Stockdale, whose heroic actions as a prisoner of war in the during the Vietnam War led to his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, has died.

During the Vietnam War, he was a Navy fighter pilot based on the USS Oriskany and flew 201 missions before he was shot down on Sept. 9, 1965. He became the highest-ranking naval officer captured during the war, the Navy said.

He endured more than 7 1/2 years as a prisoner, spending four of them in solitary confinement, before his release in 1973. He was tortured repeatedly, according to the Navy.

Stockdale received 26 combat decorations, including the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest medal for valor, in 1976. A portion of his award citation reads: "Stockdale ... deliberately inflicted a near mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated their employment of excessive harassment and torture of all prisoners of war."

He retired from the military in 1979.

Stockdale suffered serious torture during his time as a prisoner of war.

Stockdale was taken to Hoa Lo Prison, known as the "Hanoi Hilton." His shoulders were wrenched from their sockets, his leg had been shattered by angry villagers and a torturer, and his back was broken. But he refused to capitulate.

Rather than allow himself to be used in a propaganda film, Stockdale smashed his face into a pulp with a mahogany stool.

"My only hope was to disfigure myself," Stockdale wrote in his 1984 autobiography "In Love and War." The ploy worked, but he spent the next two years in leg irons.

After Ho Chi Minh's death, he broke a glass pane in an interrogation room and slashed his wrists until he passed out in his own blood. After that, captors relented in their harsh treatment of him and his fellow prisoners.

Stockdale spent four years in solitary confinement before his release in 1973.

Stockdale was one of the many POWs whose injuries exposed the lie of the North Vietnamese that all prisoners were treated humanely.

Stockdale was one-of-a-kind, a legend in the Navy and well-respected by his peers among the POWs from Vietnam. Following his retirement, he served as president of the Citadel. He later served as a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution. In 1992 he reluctantly ran as Ross Perot's vice presidential candidate, a position he accepted out of gratitude for the assistance that Perot had given his wife in setting up a support organization for POW/MIA family members, on the condition that Perot would replace him before the election (he didn't).

May you rest in peace, sir, and may a flight of angels accompany you home.


For more tributes:
Michelle Malkin
Jeff Quinton
Brainster's Blog
Macmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense
Commonwealth Conservative
Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator
The Conservative Man
Joust The Facts
Outside The Beltway
Danny Carlton (aka Jack Lewis)

Hube's Cube



» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: War hero, politician Stockdale dead at 81
» Hube's Cube links with: In Memoriam: Adm. James Stockdale



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» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: War hero, politician Stockdale dead at 81, on July 06, 2005, 09:14 AM
Excerpt: Retired Vice Adm. James Stockdale, a former prisoner of war and Ross Perot?s running mate in 1992, h

» Hube's Cube links with: In Memoriam: Adm. James Stockdale, on July 06, 2005, 09:34 AM
Excerpt: Perhaps best known as Ross Perot's running mate in 1992 (hey, they got 19% of the vote, remember), Vice Admiral James Stockdale has passed away. From the AP: During the Vietnam War, he was a Navy fighter pilot based...

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