Archive for the ‘prisoner of war’ Category

U.S. Navy Hero, Medal of Honor Man, POW Honored

November 3, 2008

By Naval Academy Public Affairs

The U.S. Naval Academy dedicated a bronze statue of former Vietnam prisoner of war and Medal of Honor recipient Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, Oct. 31, with the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable David C. Winter as keynote speaker.

“It would be difficult to imagine a better example of leadership, courage and moral excellence than the example set by Vice Adm. James Stockdale,” said Winter.

Stockdale, a native of Abingdon, Ill., graduated from the Naval Academy in 1947. On Sept. 9, 1965, Stockdale was the commanding officer of Carrier Air Group Commander 16 (CAG-16). He catapulted from the deck of USS Oriskany (CV/CVA-34) for a strike mission over North Vietnam. While returning from the target area, Stockdale’s A-4 Skyhawk was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He ejected, breaking a bone in his back, and upon landing in a small village, he badly dislocated his knee. His injuries went untreated and eventually left him with a fused knee joint and a very distinctive gait.

Stockdale was held in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where he spent seven years as the highest ranking naval officer and leader of American resistance against North Vietnamese attempts to use prisoners for propaganda purposes. Despite being kept in solitary confinement for four years, in leg irons for two years, physically tortured more than 15 times, denied medical care, and malnourished, Stockdale organized a system of communication and developed a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior.

“Admiral Stockdale was a great leader who built others up and never put them down,” said Ross Perot, a friend of Stockdale and a Class of 1953 Naval Academy graduate who donated the statue.

Stockdale was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Gerald Ford in 1976. A highly decorated naval officer, he wore 26 personal combat decorations, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts, and four Silver Star medals in addition to the Medal of Honor.

James Stockdale Formal Portait.jpg

“Nobody wins the Medal of Honor. They earn it. He earned it the hard way,” said Perot, who selected Stockdale as his running mate during the 1992 presidential campaign. “He earned the Medal of Honor for his leadership by example and setting high standards for all the others who served with him in prison.”

Stockdale retired from the Navy in 1978 after serving as the president of the Naval War College. In 1979, the Secretary of the Navy established the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership, presented annually in both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets.

In 1998, the Secretary of the Navy authorized the founding of the Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy, later renamed the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, with a mission “to promote and enhance the ethical development of current and future military leaders through education, research and reflection.”

Stockdale, a member of the Navy’s Carrier Hall of Fame, was the only vice admiral in the history of the Navy to wear both aviator wings and the Medal of Honor. In 2001, he was awarded the Naval Academy Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Award.

“If Admiral Stockdale were here with us today, I believe that it would give him immense pride in seeing this gathering, and knowing that this statue will play a role in guiding and inspiring future leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps,” said Winter.

Stockdale passed away in July 2005 and was laid to rest at the Naval Academy Cemetery. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. William Crowe and then Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen delivered the eulogies. In May of this year, USS Stockdale (DDG 106) was christened in his honor.

Stockdale at sea during the war in Vietnam

Admiral Stockdale’s Medal of Honor Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while senior naval officer in the Prisoner of War camps of North Vietnam. Recognized by his captors as the leader in the Prisoners’ of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation, Rear Adm. Stockdale was singled out for interrogation and attendant torture after he was detected in a covert communications attempt. Sensing the start of another purge, and aware that his earlier efforts at self-disfiguration to dissuade his captors from exploiting him for propaganda purposes had resulted in cruel and agonizing punishment, Rear Adm. Stockdale resolved to make himself a symbol of resistance regardless of personal sacrifice. He deliberately inflicted a near-mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War. By his heroic action, at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country. Rear Adm. Stockdale’s valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Related:
What Kind Of Men Were With John McCain In The Hanoi Hilton? Men of Character….

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Vietnam Vet looks Back

February 9, 2008
By Rick Maze – Staff writer
Saturday Feb 9, 2008

As he faces the 35th anniversary of his release from a prisoner of war camp in Vietnam, Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, says he is humbled by the attention he continues to receive.

The anniversary comes Feb. 12, a day Johnson said he will spend collecting Valentines from school children to be delivered to wounded war veterans. There also will be a dedication of a memorial named for Johnson, a 29-year Air Force veteran, in a Dallas suburb.

Shot down over Vietnam in 1966 on his second tour of duty, Johnson spent seven years as a prisoner of war, including 42 months of solitary confinement. He suffered injuries that included a broken back, dislocated left shoulder and a broken right arm.

Talking of the day in 1973 when he was freed, Johnson said in an interview on Friday that he and other POWs — who had carefully memorized the names of hundreds of other prisoners in case anyone got out — were not sure they were ever coming home.

“It was a date we all waited for over there,” Johnson said. “The Vietnamese tried to make us think they weren’t going to let us out, right up to the last minute. It wasn’t until we saw those airplanes land to pick us up that we knew it was for real.

“Most of us had a hard time going from Vietnamese to U.S control,” he said, talking of breaking protocol by hugging another colonel when it was clear they were being released.

Johnson also recalls that there were four or five nurses on each of the airplanes sent to carry them back to the U.S.

“They were the first American girls we had seen, in seven years for me, and they wore short skirts for us,” he recalled with a laugh.

“We really didn’t relax until we got out over the water headed to the Philippines because we knew then we were home free,” he said. He also recalled the “thrill” of landing at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. “I don’t think there was a dry eye,” he said.

Another memory of the release was receiving dental care for the first time in seven years, repairing and replacing a mouth of broken teeth. The work, he said, was great.

“I go to the dentist today and those fillings are still in my teeth,” he said.

Johnson, who joined the Air Force at age 20 and flew 62 combat missions during the Korean War, remained in the service. He said he could have retired but “flying was in my blood. I wanted to fly again.”

After surgery to repair a damaged hand, Johnson ended up re-qualifying to fly F-4 Phantoms, the type of aircraft in which he was shot down on his 25th combat mission over Vietnam. He went on to several command assignments, including serving four years as wing commander of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead Air Force Base, Fla., which recently named its new fitness center for him.

Johnson’s autobiography, “Captive Warriors,” talks about his experience in solitary confinement and about some of the other prisoners held along with him.

Johnson, now 77, was elected to Congress in 1991 to represent a Texas congressional district that includes part of Dallas.

He is running for re-election to a ninth term and said he has no plans to retire.

McCain Captures the Immagination in New Hampshire

January 7, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 7, 2008

Senator John McCain is relaxed, confident and “on top of his game” in New Hampshire.

With the opening of the polls in New Hampshire just hours away, the veteran U.S. Senator, presidential campaigner, war hero and former prisoner of war, McCain’s hopes and dreams never seemed brighter.

McCain beat George W. Bush in New Hampshire by 18 points in 2000, but this is a different year with different issues. In fact, the issues today favor McCain and his experience even more than in 2000.

“It’s mostly the same old team on board, but it’s a different set of circumstances,” he said.

“We’re in two wars. And we face the threat of radical Islamic extremism. We are in a little bit of a different environment.”

McCain has little in the way of personal wealth and other financial resources. But he is not afraid of going after Mr. Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts who has little foreign policy experience and has spent well over $10 million in his own personal wealth on his quest for the presidency.

When pressed by Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” Sunday to comment upon Mr. Romney, his opponent, Senator McCain said:

“I think he’s a, a good man, a good family man….”

“He [Romney] has changed his positions on almost every major issue. That is a fact. I could chronicle it for you. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good person. I—look, we’re in a political campaign here, and, and we have—I want to debate this, this campaign on the issues, not on personalities. And that’s the important thing. And I think when I say that to the people at town hall meetings, they say, ‘Good, let’s hear the issues. Let’s not hear whether there’s any personal animosity or not between the candidates.’ They don’t care about that. That’s not what determines their futures.”

On terrorism and finding Osama bin Laden, Senator McCain said:

“I’ll get Osama bin Laden. I’ll get him even if I have to follow him to the gates of hell.”

“I’ll get him.”

“But understand, if we go in, we could very well destabilize Pakistan, perhaps bring about the overthrow of President Musharraf.”

Senator McCain, it would seem, is on a roll. But we won’t know for sure until the voters of new Hampshire decide.

And that is why politics captures our interest.

Related:
Hillary and Mitt: Sliding Down the Polls (and the pole)

Today’s New York Times on McCain:
Retracing Steps, McCain Is Feeling Rejuvenated

Mr. Russert’s “Meet the Press” interview with Senator McCain:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22487036

McCain Resurects Vietnam POW Experience With Video

August 31, 2007

By Carl Campanile
The New York Post

August 31, 2007 — Trying to revive his presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain released a video yesterday touting his storied military service – including extensive footage of him as a badly injured Vietnam POW being interrogated by his captors.

The opening of the film shows grainy footage of a gaunt, 31-year-old McCain sitting up in a body cast.

“What is your name?” a Viet Cong officer asks.

“McCain,” he answers, puffing on a cigarette.

McCain, a Navy pilot, was captured in October 1967 after his plane was shot down near Hanoi while on a bombing mission. He ejected and landed in a lake, breaking both arms.

A narrator’s voice talks about McCain’s leadership. “Most certainly, it is a matter of the heart. The heart to have humility. The heart to never surrender,” the narrator says.

Of the top-tier candidates in either party, McCain is the only one to have served in the military.

Later in the video, McCain says Islamic extremism will be the struggle of the 21st century. “I, with considerable ego, say I’m the best prepared and qualified to meet this challenge,” he says.

The video also includes interviews with McCain’s mom and two colonels he served with.

“I’m the luckiest guy I’ve ever known,” McCain says.

Related:

Vietnam veteran McCain back from the dead … again

McCain: Last Man Standing
(February 8, 2008)