STOCKDALE, JAMES BOND Deceased 07/05/2005
Name: James Bond Stockdale Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy, pilot Unit: CAG 16, USS ORISKANY (CVA 34) Date of Birth: 23 December 1923 Home City of Record: Abingdon IL Date of Loss: 09 September 1965 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 193400N 1065800E (WG839635) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E Missions: 175+ Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK as noted 2006.
Academy of Achievement's biography, photo gallery and exclusive interview of James Stockdale.
The site is an excellent resource for students and teachers trying to learn more about James Stockdale. The interview can be found at: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/sto0int-1.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: By midsummer 1964 events were taking place in the Gulf of Tonkin that would lead to the first clash between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces. In late July the destroyer USS MADDOX, on patrol in the gulf gathering intelligence, had become the object of communist attention. For two consecutive days, 31 July-1 August, the MADDOX cruised unencumbered along a predesignated route off the North Vietnamese coast. In the early morning hours of 2 August, however, it was learned from intelligence sources of a possible attack against the destroyer.
The attack by three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats (PT boats) materialized just after 4:00 p.m. on August 2. The MADDOX fired off three warning volleys, then opened fire. Four F-8 Crusaders led by Commander James B. Stockdale from the aircraft carrier USS TICONDEROGA, also took part in the skirmish. The result of the twenty-minute affair saw one gunboat sunk and another crippled. The MADDOX, ordered out of the gulf after the incident concluded, was hit by one 14.5mm shell.
A day later the MADDOX, accompanied by the destroyer USS C. TURNER JOY, received instructions to reenter the gulf and resume patrol. The USS CONSTELLATION, on a Hong Kong port visit was ordered to join the TICONDEROGA stationed at the mouth of the gulf in the South China Sea. The two destroyers cruised without incident on August 3 and in the daylight hours of August 4 moved to the middle of the gulf. Parallel to the movements of the C. TURNER JOY and MADDOX, South Vietnamese gunboats launched attacks on several North Vietnamese radar installations. The North Vietnamese believed the U.S. destroyers were connected with these strikes.
At 8:41 p.m. on August 4 both destroyers reportedly picked up fast-approaching contacts on their radars. Navy documents show the ships changed course to avoid the unknown vessels, but the contacts continued intermittently. At 10:39 p.m. when the MADDOX and C. TURNER JOY radars indicated one enemy vessel had closed to within seven thousand yards, the C. TURNER JOY was ordered to open fire and the MADDOX soon followed. For the next several hours, the destroyers, covered by the TICONDEROGA's and the CONSTELLATION's aircraft, reportedly evaded torpedoes and fired on their attackers.
Historians have debated, and will continue to do so, whether the destroyers were actually ever attacked. Most of the pilots flying that night spotted nothing. Stockdale, who would later earn the Medal of Honor, stated that a gunboat attack did not occur. The skipper of the TICONDEROGA's Attack Squadron 56, Commander Wesley L. McDonald, said he "didn't see anything that night except the MADDOX and the TURNER JOY."
President Lyndon B. Johnson reacted at once to the supposed attacks on the MADDOX, ordering retaliatory strikes on strategic points in North Vietnam. Even as the President spoke to the nation, aircraft from the CONSTELLATION and TICONDEROGA were airborne and heading for four major PT-boat bases along the North Vietnamese coast. The area of coverage ranged from a small base at Quang Khe 50 miles north of the demarcation line between North and South Vietnam, to the large base at Hon Gai in the north.
On August 5, 1964, Stockdale led a flight of sixteen aircraft from the TICONDEROGA on the Vinh petroleum storage complex at 1:30 p.m. in response to the presidential directive to destroy gunboats and supporting facilities in North Vietnam which the President indicated were used in the attack on the MADDOX. The results saw 90 percent of the storage facility at Vinh go up in flames.
Meanwhile, other coordinated attacks were made by aircraft from the CONSTELLATION on nearby Ben Thuy Naval Base, Quang Khe, Hon Me Island and Hon Gai's inner harbor. Skyraiders, Skyhawks and F8s bombed and rocketed the four areas, destroying or damaging an estimated twenty-five PT-boats, more than half of the North Vietnamese force.
Air wing command was usually placed in the hands of an individual who had completed a tour as squadron commander of an attack or fighter unit. The CAG was typically a better than average pilot with a solid record of performance, and more than likely he was a pretty fair politician. By another definition, he'd survived in a profession unforgiving of error.
On his second Vietnam tour, CDR James B. Stockdale was the commander of Air Wing 16 onboard the USS ORISKANY. He had led the successful strike off the TICONDEROGA against the petroleum storage facility at Vinh on August 4, 1964. On one mission, he had the canopy blown off his aircraft and had to ditch in the Gulf of Tonkin where he was rescued. Then on September 9, 1965 flying an A4E Skyhawk, he led another strike mission over North Vietnam.
A major strike had been scheduled against the Thanh Hoa ("Dragon Jaw") bridge, and the weather was so critical there was a question whether to launch. Finally the decision was to launch. Halfway through, weather reconnaissance reported the weather in the target area was zero, and Stockdale had no choice but to send the aircraft on secondary targets. Stockdale and his wingman, CDR Wynn Foster, circled the Gulf of Tonkin while another strike element departed to look for a SAM site at their secondary target. Had anything been found, Wynn and Stockdale were to join them.
After fifteen minutes or so, the other group came up empty. The group made the decision to hit a secondary target, a railroad facility near the city of Thanh Hoa.
CDR Stockdale's aircraft was hit by flak and he ejected, landing in a village. His wingman saw the parachute go down, but could not see what was happening to Stockdale on the ground. On a low pass, Foster saw that the villagers were brutally beating Stockdale. There was nothing he could do. The village was an unauthorized target. Throughout the rest of the war, Foster carried the guilt of being unable to do something to help CDR Stockdale.
James Stockdale was captured by the Vietnamese and taken to Hanoi, where he spent the next seven and one-half years as a prisoner of war. He had briefed his pilots during the period he was CAG on the ORISKANY that the Code of Conduct would apply to anyone captured. There had been some dispute about the validity of the Code in Vietnam, an undeclared war.
American POWs who had flown with Stockdale had no doubt as to what was expected of them as prisoners. The knowledge, however, was a two-edged sword--on one hand, the captives were glad to understand the guidelines. On the other, when they "broke" (which inevitable they did), immense guilt and shame ensued. Eventually, as they communicated with one another, everyone understood that they had only to do their best.
It was not possible to resist utterly and survive. A few who cooperated with the enemy "above and beyond" what was considered appropriate, received special treatment from their guards in return. These men were despised by other POWs who were doing their best to adhere to the Code of Conduct. Upon his return, Jim Stockdale accused two POWs of mutiny. Official charges were never brought against these men, or any others similarly accused.
During his captivity, Stockdale was considered to be a troublemaker by the Vietnamese. As a senior officer, Stockdale developed a policy of behavior for the POWs called "BACK US." The policy provided guidance on such things as propaganda broadcasts, bowing to guards, and unity, thwarting the "obedience" the Vietnamese tried to extract from the American POWs. The POWs were shuffled from one camp to another, many times based on "unsatisfactory" behavior; many were held long periods in solitary confinement; many were tortured in "interrogation" sessions.
In early 1969, one of the POWs became ill and was in great pain at a camp known as Alcatraz, located some ten blocks from the famed Hoa Lo (Hanoi Hilton). The man was receiving no medical care, and fellow prisoners put the pressure on. What ensued might be called a prison riot. The efforts did bring a doctor to the ill POW's cell, although the doctor did nothing to ease his pain. The next morning, Stockdale organized a forty-eight hour fast to demand medical attention for the ailing officer. The next evening each prisoner was interrogated and on the morning of January 27, Stockdale was taken away to another prison center.
Finally, on February 12, 1973, Jim Stockdale was released from prisoner of war camps and sent home. In all, 591 Americans were released.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It's time we brought our men home.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors).
JAMES BOND STOCKDALE Captain - United States Navy Shot Down: September 9, 1965 Released: February 12, 1973
Captain Stockdale was born in Abingdon, Illinois in 1923. He was prominent in scholarship, music, and athletics as high school student and at Knox and Monmouth Colleges. In 1943 he entered the Naval Academy and graduated in 1946. After a three year tour on destroyers he began his flight training. After squadron and test pilot tours he spent two years at Stanford University where he earned a Masters of Arts degree in International Relations.
After commanding VF 51 in Southeast Aisa, in 1965 he assumed command of Carrier Air Wing 16 aboard the USS Oriskany. On September 9 he was shot down on a combat mission over Vietnam. Now at home, still in the Navy and with the rank of Rear Admiral, he resides with his wife, Sybil. They have four sons: James, 23; Sidney, 20; Stanford, 14; and Taylor, 12.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: Ten years ago I toured the Old Yuma Territorial Prison with my two eldest sons, ages 12 and 8. Their boyish reactions to the filthy cells used for solitary confinement were predictable. A blend of wonderment and horror crossed their faces as they peered in at the leg irons in the tiny, windowless concrete boxes. I assured the boys that the days of old Western desperadoes, as well as jails like these were gone forever.
Little did I know within a few years I would find myself in an old French-built isolated cell block in Hanoi. This jail we called Alcatraz. I was one of eleven Americans living in tiny windowless boxes (complete with leg irons) finding out first hand the capabilities of the human spirit in such a situation. Pedantic arguments of international politics were wasted on us. We had a war to fight and were committed to fighting it from lonely concrete boxes. Our very fiber and sinew were the only weapons at our disposal. Each man's values from his own private sources, provided the strength enabling him to maintain his sense of purpose and dedication. They placed unity above self. Self indulgence was a luxury that could not be afforded.
Each member of our "Alcatraz gang" fought his war well from a filthy cell. All but one of us, Ron Storz, came home alive. Ron was a tiger to the end. For us he will always remain a symbol of courage, fidelity, and dedication.
==================== James Stockdale retired from the United States Navy as a Vice Admiral. He and his wife Sybil reside in California.
Medal of Honor
STOCKDALE, JAMES E.
Rank and organization: Rear Admiral (then Captain), U.S. Navy.
Place and date: Hoa Lo prison, Hanoi, North Vietnam, 4 September 1969.
Entered service at: Abingdon, Ill.
Born: 23 December 1923, Abingdon, Ill.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while senior naval officer in the Prisoner of War camps North Vietnam. Recognized by his captors as the leader of the Prisoners of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation, Rear Adm. Stockdale was singled out for interrogation and attendant torture after he was detected in a covert communications attempt. Sensing the start of another purge, and aware that his earlier efforts at self disfiguration to dissuade his captors from exploiting him for propaganda purposes had resulted in cruel and agonizing punishment, Rear Adm. Stockdale resolved to make himself a symbol of resistance regardless of personaI sacrifice.
He 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 in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War. By his heroic action, at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country. Rear Adm. Stockdale's valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 679-05 IMMEDIATE RELEASE Jul 05, 2005 Media Contact: (703)697-5131 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
Department of the Navy Announces the Death of Retired Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale
Retired Navy Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, Medal of Honor recipient, former Viet Nam prisoner of war (POW), naval aviator and test pilot, academic, and American hero died today, July 5, 2005, at his home in Coronado, Calif. He was 81 years old and had been battling Alzheimer's disease.
Born Dec. 23, 1923 in Abingdon, Ill., and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1947, he is best remembered for his extraordinary leadership as the senior naval officer held in captivity during the Vietnam War. As commanding officer of Carrier Air Group Sixteen flying from the aircraft carrier the USS Oriskany, he was shot down while leading a mission Sept. 9, 1965.
During his 7«-year imprisonment, he was tortured numerous times, forced to wear vise-like heavy leg irons for two years and spent four years in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, he organized the prisoner culture in defiance of regulations forbidding prisoner communication and improvised a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior. Codified in the acronym, BACK U.S. (Unity over Self), these rules gave prisoners a sense of hope, which many credited with giving them the strength to endure their ordeal.
Upon his release in 1973, Stockdale's extraordinary heroism became widely known and he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976. A portion of his 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."
"Vice Adm. Jim Stockdale's legendary leadership and heroic service to the cause of freedom has been an inspiration to our nation," said Secretary of the Navy Gordon England. "His courage and life stand as timeless examples of the power of faith and the strength of the human spirit. Our thoughts are with his devoted family. America and our Navy are eternally grateful and will always remember him."
Upon his retirement from naval service, the secretary of the Navy established the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership presented annually in both Pacific and Atlantic Fleets. Stockdale held 26 combat awards including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Star Medals. He is a member of the Navy's Carrier Hall of Fame, The National Aviation Hall of Fame and an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He held 11 honorary doctoral degrees.
"Our Navy is saddened by the loss of Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, a giant among heroes and a patriarch of ethical leadership," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark. "Adm. Stockdale challenged the human limits of moral courage, physical endurance and intellectual bravery, emerging victorious as a legendary beacon for all to follow. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sybil, his devoted partner in love and life, and the rest of the Stockdale family."
Stockdale will be honored at a memorial service on board the USS Ronald Reagan in his hometown of Coronado, Calif. The service will take place Saturday, July 16. He will be buried with full honors at the U.S. Naval Academy Saturday, July 23. He is survived by his beloved wife Sybil of Coronado, Calif., and his four sons: James of Beaver, Pa.; Sidney of Albuquerque, N.M.; Stanford of Denver, Colo.; Taylor of Claremont, Calif.; and eight grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions should be made to:
U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, 291 Wood Rd., Beach Hall, Annapolis, Md., 21402, telephone: (410) 295-4116.
Monmouth College Fund, 700 E. Broadway, Monmouth, Ill., 61462, telephone: (309) 457-2316/17
Stockdale's biography and additional photos are located on the following Web site: http://www.admiralstockdale.com .
Note to media:
For more information concerning the memorial service in San Diego, Calif., contact Capt. Jacquie Yost at (619) 532-1430.
For information concerning funeral services at the U.S. Naval Academy, contact Cdr. Rod Gibbons at (410) 293-1521.
Remembering James Stockdale: His Destiny Made All the Difference
PAUL GALANTI TIMES-DISPATCH GUEST COLUMNIST Jul 7, 2005
A truly great man died Tuesday.
In September, 1965, when Cdr. Jim Stockdale was shot down over North Vietnam, my squadron commanding officer, Cdr. Tex Birdwell -- one of the toughest men I'd ever known, who'd worked with Stockdale at the Navy Test Pilot School -- said, "Jim'll do all right, he's the toughest guy I know." Commander Bill Franke, a contemporary of Stockdale's when shot down, was the smartest human being I'd ever known. He served on the test pilot faculty with Stockdale. Franke told me, "Jim is the smartest human being I've ever known." Those two endorsements say a lot about Jim Stockdale -- a very tough guy who led others with his intellect......
=============================== NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 035-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE Jan 12, 2006
New Destroyer Honors Vietnam War POW and Medal of Honor Recipient
The Navy's newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer will be named in honor of Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale (1923-2005), the legendary leader of American prisoners of war (POWs) during the Vietnam War.
Stockdale was the highest-ranking naval officer ever held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. His plane was shot down Sept. 9, 1965, while flying combat missions over North Vietnam. In recognition of his leadership and sacrifice he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976. Stockdale spent more than seven years in captivity at prisons in North Vietnam, including time at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton." Four years of those years were spent in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, Stockdale is credited with organizing a set of rules to govern the behavior of fellow prisoners of war and for helping to develop a code for prisoners to communicate with each other that included tapping on cell walls.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Stockdale received 26 combat medals and awards, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Stars. He was also named to the Aircraft Carrier Hall of Fame, National Aviation Hall of Fame, and was an honorary member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
His wife, Sybil, helped lead the effort to bring attention to the suffering of American POWs and to bring them home. The Stockdales have four sons, James, Sidney, Stanford and Taylor. More information on Stockdale is available at http://www.admiralstockdale.us .
The USS Stockdale will be a Flight IIA variant of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and will incorporate a helicopter hanger facility into the original design. The ship can carry two SH-60B/R Light Airborne Multipurpose System MK III helicopters.
Guided-missile destroyers operate independently and in conjunction with carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious groups and replenishment groups. More information on the U.S. Navys destroyers is available at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact.asp .
===================================================== From: Stephens LCDR Douglas E Sent: Thursday, June 29, 2006 11:20 AM To: 'firstname.lastname@example.org' Subject: Biographies on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action
As noted on your web site, corrections to biographies need to be forwarded. Here are corrections to VADM Stockdale's bio:
-- He had 202 missions when he was shot down, not 175.
-- Charges brought on by VADM Stockdale towards the POWs who were accused of mutiny were indeed charged but then-Secretary of the Navy John Warner dropped the charges "In the best interests of the Navy."
-- The Admiral developed "BACK-US" which stood for:
- Never BOW in public
- Stay off the AIR
- Never admit to CRIMES
- Don't KISS them good-bye (Never thank them for anything)
- "US" stood for Unity over Self (Not United States)
-- The Admiral loved Philosophy but he did not have, nor work towards, a PhD in Philosophy.
-- He had the highest academic standing at the US Naval Academy and, therefore, was selected to receive the class diplomas from Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.
-- He earned his Master's in International Relations from Stanford, not Engineering.
-- Admiral Stockdale also had 10 Air Medals that he earned in combat.
- He earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, 3 Distinguished Service Medals, 4 Silver Stars, The Legion of Merit with Combat "V," 10 Air Medals, 2 Bronze Stars with Combat "V" and 2 Purple Hearts.
-- He is a member of the Carrier Aviation Hall of Fame.
-- He is the only 3-star officer in the history of the Navy to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor and wear aviator wings.
I hope this helps in remembering this great man.
LCDR Doug Stephens, MSC, USN Director for Administration 3D DENBN/USNDC Okinawa UNIT 38450
On Thursday, August 30, 2007 the new main entrance gate to Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, CA will be formally dedicated, honoring VAdm James B. Stockdale ("CAG").
This impressive new $12.4 million gate complex is elaborate, with five lanes leading into the base to accomodate 12,000 vehicles and 36,000 personnel daily. It is to be formally known as the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Gate. Adjacent to a massive flagpole just insde will be a large boulder with an afixed bas-relief bronze plaque honoring "CAG" with emphasis on his leadership as a POW and his Medal of Honor. Leading in from the gate complex is a long, wide boulevard to be named Stockdale Road.
NEW YORK TIMES
SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW
Limits of Endurance
Defiant, by Alvin Townley
By LINDA ROBINSON
JAN. 31, 2014
Alvin Townley, the author of books about naval aviation
and Eagle Scouts, has written a gripping account of the "Alcatraz Eleven,"
a group of American prisoners of war in North Vietnam who formed a tough core of heroic resisters despite brutal and relentless
efforts to break them and convert them into fodder for the Communist propaganda machine. Readers of even passing acquaintance
with the Vietnam War will most likely know of Jeremiah Denton's televised 1966 interview - one of the first glimpses of the life of
United States military pilots who had been shot down and captured. American viewers watched in horror and puzzlement as Denton,
an emaciated, hunched figure dressed in gray prison garb, defiantly telegraphed the word t-o-r-t-u-r-e by blinking out the letters in
Morse code. His brave act was followed by yet more torture, and some time later Vietnamese authorities bundled him along with 10
other men out of the infamous Hanoi Hilton, as Hoa Lo prison in the North Vietnamese capital was known (and where John McCain,
probably the most famous P.O.W. of the war, would be held). The destination of the Eleven was an even filthier hellhole a few miles
away, which they nicknamed Alcatraz....