Segments in this Video

James Stockdale: Introduction (01:18)


Stockdale fired the first shots of the Vietnam War and flew over 200 combat missions. He retired from the military, became a college president, published several works, and ran for vice president.

Stockdale's Early Years (01:58)

Stockdale, an only child, was born in Illinois in 1923. He engaged in several extracurricular activities and was slated to attend the Naval Academy at an early age. He married Sybil Bailey and attended flight school after graduating from the Academy.

Early Military Career (02:06)

Stockdale toured the Mediterranean aboard an aircraft carrier and decided to attend test pilot school at Patuxent River. He entered Stanford University as a naval officer and was introduced to the philosophies of Epictetus.

Conflict in Vietnam (03:18)

Stockdale returned to active duty as VF-51 Executive Officer and was promoted to Air Group Commander. He and his air group were ordered to Vietnam and flew secret missions over Laos. DESOTO patrols resulted in frequent skirmishes.

Starting a War (01:55)

The U.S.S. Maddox, accompanied by the U.S.S. Turner Joy returned to DESOTO patrols. President Lyndon Johnson received word of an attack and ordered reprisals. Stockdale led attacks on oil storage tanks in Vinh, firing the first shots of the Vietnam War.

Vietnam War (02:31)

Stockdale believed he fired the first shots under false pretenses. Pilots flew under difficult rules of engagement. Stockdale signed up for a second tour of duty and became wing commander. In December 1965, Stockdale was shot down, captured, and beat.

Prisoner of War (02:20)

Stockdale arrived at the "Hanoi Hilton" as the highest ranking officer. He decided his mission was to "re-found Western Civilization" in the prison.

Prison Resistance (03:57)

Stockdale was one of three American prisoners held in "the big wallow" section of Hoa Loa Prison. He helped create a new code of conduct for prisoners and establish a microcosm of Western Civilization.

Enduring Hoa Loa Prison (01:48)

Guards put Stockdale and other military leaders in solitary confinement. He introduced a tap code so the prisoners could communicate. Stockdale's resistance convinced the guards that the American prisoners would not submit and the beatings stopped.

After Vietnam (01:33)

The Vietnam POWs returned home heroes. Stockdale received the Medal of Honor, retired from the military, published several works, served as a college president, ran for vice president, and returned to Standford as a professor.

Credits: Legends of Air Power: James Stockdale (00:29)

Credits: Legends of Air Power: James Stockdale

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Legends of Air Power: James Stockdale

Part of the Series : Legends of Air Power
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James Stockdale spent his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam defying orders and doing everything in his power to stay true to his country. Stockdale remains one of the most highly decorated officers in the United States Navy, leading the U.S air squadron in the Gulf of Tonkin and earning 26 personal combat decorations, including four Silver Star medals. When his A-4 SkyRaider was hit by anti-aircraft fire, he was forced to eject from the aircraft and was taken prisoner upon landing. Stockdale spent the next seven years as a P.O.W., doing everything from beating himself up to avoid being paraded in public, to slitting his own wrists to show he would rather die than talk. Released in 1973, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1976.

Length: 24 minutes

Item#: BVL129040

ISBN: 978-1-64023-489-5

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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