As recounted in the citation for his Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor, he mutilated himself to stay out of propaganda photographs. Later, he managed to slash his wrists, coming close enough to death to convince his captors that he would not give in. The Navy said the torture of other prisoners then abated.
In prison, Adm. Stockdale recalled these words of Epictetus: “Lameness is an impediment to the leg but not to the will.”
Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England said in a statement last night that Adm. Stockdale’s “courage and life stand as timeless examples of the power of faith and the strength of the human spirit.”
Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale (December 23, 1923 â€“ July 5, 2005) was one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the United States Navy. He was the highest ranking naval officer held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Stockdale led the U.S. air squadron during the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident. He was awarded 26 personal combat decorations, including the Medal of Honor and four Silver Stars.