James Bond Stockdale
James Bond Stockdale was born on December 23, 1923, in Abingdon, Illinois, the 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, Maryland.
In August 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 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, Stockdale 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 also on philosophy. His best known work is In Love and 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 prisoners of war. 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 nineteen 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 U.S. 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, Maryland.
Compatriot Stockdale was a life member of the Illinois SAR. His SAR National number is 110583 and his Illinois Society number is 5765. His SAR patriot ancestor was Captain James Elliot, who served as a soldier and officer of the Rockbridge County Militia in 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 SAR Compatriot Medal of Honor recipient, Major Robert H. Dunlap. In September 2008, the Navy accepted delivery of the, (DDG-106), a guided missile destroyer ship.