Stockdale, James B. 1923-2005

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STOCKDALE, James B. 1923-2005

(James Bond Stockdale)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 23, 1923, in Abingdon, IL; died July 5, 2005, in Coronado, CA. Naval officer, educator, politician, and author. Stockdale was a Medal of Honor recipient and vice admiral in the U.S. Navy who later in his career served as president of the Naval War College and the Citadel and was a 1992 running mate for U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot. A 1946 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he entered service in the Navy as an ensign and three years later became a fighter pilot. Rising through the ranks, he also attended Stanford University to earn an M.A. in philosophy in 1962. Two years later, he found himself leading air strikes in Vietnam as fighting there intensified under what Stockdale would later describe as false pretenses on the side of the United States. The Americans claimed they began hostilities because the North Vietnamese attacked two U.S. warships, but Stockdale said no such aggression ever occurred. Nevertheless, he performed his duty with bravery and led over two hundred missions. On his 202nd mission, his plane was shot down and he was captured. Stockdale was tortured for years in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," prison camp. However, as many of his fellow P.O.W.s would later report, he demonstrated remarkable leadership, resisting his captors' demands repeatedly, proving himself an example to his fellow prisoners, and even developing a way for the prisoners to communicate with each other secretly. After over seven years of captivity, he was finally released in 1973, receiving the Medal of Honor for his remarkable bravery and leadership during that time. His other military honors included two Purple Hearts, four Silver Stars, and two Distinguished Flying Crosses, just to name a few of his over two dozen combat medals. Stockdale remained in the Navy for several more years, retiring in 1979 with the rank of vice admiral after also serving as president of the Naval War College in Rhode Island from 1976 to 1979. From 1979 to 1980, he was also president of the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. The last part of his career was spent as a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. With the exception of his vice presidential candidacy as an independent in the 1992 election campaign, Stockdale focused on his Stanford work from 1981 until his 1996 retirement. Suffering from Alzheimer's disease in his later life, Stockdale was sometimes criticized as being unfit for either political office or for teaching. Despite such criticism, his contributions to his country during his years in the Navy were acknowledged when he was inducted into the Carrier Aviation Hall of Fame in 1993 and the U.S. Naval Aviation Hall of Honor in 1996. With the assistance of his wife, Stockdale published a memoir about his role in Vietnam titled In Love and War: The Story of a Family's Ordeal and Sacrifice during the Vietnam War (1984), which was adapted as a television movie in 1987. Among his other publications are A Vietnam Experience: Ten Years of Reflection (1985) and Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot (1995).



Chicago Tribune, July 6, 2005, section 1, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2005, p. B10.

New York Times, July 6, 2005, p. A19.

Times (London, England), July 7, 2005, p. 59.