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USS Stockdale (DDG 106)
Vice Admiral Stockdale is the only three- or four-star officer in Naval history to wear both aviator wings and the Congressional Medal of Honor. The wings, the three stars above and the Celeste blue octagon represent these achievements. The octagon recalls both the Medal of Honor and the Aegis-class capabilities of the DDG-106. The laurel wreath conveys honor and achievement.
Supporters: Saltirewise behind the shield, a cutlass and a Naval officer’s sword point down proper, representing the officers and crew of DDG-106.
Seal: The coat of arms as described above rests on a white field enclosed within a dark blue collar, which is edged on the outside with gold rope. Inscribed in gold letters are the words “USS STOCKDALE” at the top and “DDG 106” below.
Motto: The motto “Return With Honor” is inscribed in gold on a dark blue scroll garnished in gold.
On September 9, 1965, Commander Stockdale launched his A-4E Skyhawk off the flight deck of the USS ORISKANY, not knowing it would be his final mission flying over North Vietnam. Upon approaching his target, his plane was riddled with anti-aircraft fire that set his engine aflame within seconds. With no way to maneuver, Stockdale had no choice but to punch out from the aircraft, and he watched as his plane slammed into a rice paddy and exploded in a ball of fire. Recalling the incident years later, Stockdale said, "As I ejected from the plane I broke a bone in my back, but that was only the beginning. I landed in the streets of a small village. A thundering herd was coming down on me. They were going to defend the honor of their town. It was the quarterback sack of the century."
They tore off his clothes and beat him mercilessly. Stockdale suffered a broken leg and a paralyzed arm in the scuffle. A military policeman took Stockdale into custody as a prisoner of war, making him the highest ranking naval officer to be held as a POW in Vietnam.
Stockdale was taken to Hoa Lo Prison - the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" - where he spent the next seven and a half years under brutal conditions. He was physically tortured no fewer than fifteen times with beatings, whippings, and a form of rope torture that caused near-asphyxiation. For four years, he was kept in solitary confinement in total darkness. For two years, he was chained in heavy, abrasive leg irons. In violation of the Geneva Convention, he was also starved, denied medical care, and deprived of letters from home.
Through it all, Stockdale's captors offered a promise of better treatment if he would admit that the United States was engaging in criminal behavior against the Vietnamese people. Stockdale refused. He drew strength from principles of stoic philosophy, which teach that a man should accept that which he cannot change, and focus his efforts on that which he can control: his actions and his emotions. Stockdale took these teachings to heart. As the senior officer in the camp, Stockdale was an exemplary leader. He developed a system of covert communication amongst the prisoners that promoted resistance to their captors, unit cohesion and morale. Unable to identify how the prisoners communicated, the prisoners increased punishments against Stockdale, but he continued to fight back by all means available.
When Stockdale was told that he was going to be paraded in front of foreign journalists, he slashed his scalp with a razor and beat his face with a wooden stool. He correctly reasoned that his captors would not dare display a prisoner who appeared to have been beaten. When he learned that his fellow prisoners were dying under torture, he slashed his wrists to show their captors that he preferred death to submission. Stockdale literally gambled with his life - and he won. Convinced of Stockdale's resolve, the Communists ceased trying to extract bogus confessions from him. The torture of American prisoners ended. Upon his release in 1973, Stockdale's extraordinary heroism became widely known, and he received the Congressional Medal of Honor in the nation's bicentennial year. With 26 personal combat decorations, he was one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the Navy. His awards include four Silver Star medals in addition to the Medal of Honor.
After serving as the President of the Naval War College, Stockdale retired from the Navy in 1978 and embarked on a distinguished academic career. Stockdale served a term as President of the Citadel and fifteen years as a Senior Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. In 1992 he ran for office as the vice presidential candidate of the Reform Party with presidential candidate Ross Perot. Though unsuccessful, his campaign was marked by the same integrity and dignity he epitomized throughout his career. Admiral Stockdale and his wife lived peacefully on Coronado Island until his death in 2005.
UNIT 100219 BOX 1
FPO AP 96678