CMDR JAMES B. STOCKDALE
Senior US Prisoner
Hoa Lo prison
Hanoi, North Vietnam
9 Sept 1965 thru 4 Sept 1969
As senior US officer in the Prisoner of War camps of North Vietnam Stockdale was singled out for exceptionally brutal treatment.
Cmdr. Stockdale was flying his A-4 over North Vietnam, when he was hit by hostile fire and forced to eject. He landed with severe injuries to his left leg, his kneecap smashed and his left shoulder dislocated.
Cmdr. Stockdale was taken prisoner and taken to the infamous Hoa Lo Prison – The Hanoi Hilton.
While in captivity he spearheaded prisoner resistance that facilitated getting the names of prisoners back to US authorities and led the famous propaganda film that featured a contrite Cmdr. Jerry Denton, confessing to his crimes while blinking Morse code for “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” and signed confessions citing co-conspirators with names like Lt. Clark Kent, and Commander Bruce Wayne.
James Stockdale was placed in an untenable position. He not only had to try to survive himself, but he also had responsibility for all the other POWs at Hoa Lo Prison. To make things worse, Stockdale was the recognized leader in the Prisoners’ of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation.
He fulfilled his duty and encouraged and lead his men with extreme valor in the face of unequaled brutality and mental torment. His men honored him by resisting to the very limits of their humanity.
Radm James D. Stockdale passed on July 5, 2005, after suffering from Alzheimer’s. In 2009, the surviving former POWs who served under him commissioned the USS Stockdale, a guided missile carrier that bears the motto “Return with honor.”