Rear Admiral James Bond Stockdale
Rear Admiral James Bond Stockdale (Vietnam)
James Bond Stockdale was born December 23, 1923, in Abingdon, Illinois, son of Vernon B. Stockdale and Mabel E. Bond. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946. Upon graduation he earned his pilot’s wings at Pensacola, Florida. In 1954 he reported to the Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, MD.
In August of 1964, while serving as squadron commander, Stockdale was one of the U.S. pilots flying overhead during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. On a mission over North Vietnam on September 9, 1965, Stockdale’s A-4E Skyhawk was disabled by anti-aircraft fire and he was forced to eject. Stockdale parachuted into a small village, where he was severely beaten and taken into custody. He was held as a prisoner of war in the Hoa Lo prison for the next seven years where he was tortured many times but he refused to capitulate. Stockdale was released as a prisoner of war on February 12, 1973. His citation reads, in part, for “his valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment,” James Bond Stockdale received the Medal of Honor in 1976 from President Gerald Ford.
After his retirement, he became the president of The Citadel in South Carolina in 1979. He left The Citadel to become a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in 1981. During the following two decades, Stockdale wrote a number of books both on his experiences during the Vietnam War and afterwards, and on philosophy. His best known work is In Love and War: the Story of a Family's Ordeal and Sacrifice During the Vietnam War, co-written with his wife Sybil and published in 1984. It was later made into an NBC television movie of the same name.
Stockdale came to know H. Ross Perot through his wife’s work in establishing an organization to represent the families of Vietnam POWs. Ross Perot asked Stockdale to accept the nomination as the Vice-President on the ticket for the Reform Party in March 1992. Admiral Stockdale accepted. The independent ticket of Ross Perot and James Stockdale received 19 percent of the vote in the 1992 presidential election. Although they did not carry any states it was one of the best showings by an independent ticket in US electoral history.
Vice Admiral Stockdale retired to California as he slowly succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. He died on July 5, 2005. Stockdale's funeral service was held at the Naval Academy Chapel and he is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.
Compatriot Stockdale was a life member of the Illinois Society. His National number is 110583 and his Illinois Society number is 5765. His Patriot ancestor was Captain James Elliot who served as a soldier and officer of the Rockbridge County Militia, Virginia. There is a note on the back of his applications which reads “Admiral Stockdale was a member of the “Winifred Miller” chapter of C A R, which has disbanded.” Interestingly, he is a cousin of another Compatriot Medal of Honor recipient, Major Robert H. Dunlap.
In September 2008, the Navy accepted delivery of the guided missile ship (DDG-106) named for him.