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. Navy’s destroyers is available at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact.asp .