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JAMES STOCKDALE, R.I.P.

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 5, 2005 10:02 PM

Retired Vice Adm. James Stockdale has died. He was a war hero. Medal of Honor recipient. Patriot. From AP:

During the Vietnam War, he was a Navy fighter pilot based on the USS Oriskany and flew 201 missions before he was shot down on Sept. 9, 1965. He became the highest-ranking naval officer captured during the war, the Navy said.

He endured more than 7 1/2 years as a prisoner, spending four of them in solitary confinement, before his release in 1973. He was tortured repeatedly, according to the Navy.

Stockdale received 26 combat decorations, including the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest medal for valor, in 1976… He retired from the military in 1979. Survivors include his wife, Sybil, and four sons.

More background here. Adm. Stockdale’s MOH citation:

Rank and organization: Rear Admiral (then Captain), U.S. Navy. Place and date: Hoa Lo prison, Hanoi, North Vietnam, 4 September 1969. Entered service at: Abingdon, Ill. Born: 23 December 1923, Abingdon, Ill..

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.

One of the “bravest of the brave.” R.I.P.

Update: Jeff Quinton adds more details, including veteran political strategist Ed Rollins’ admonishment to all those who mock Adm. Stockdale’s performance in the 1992 vice presidential debate that they should be required to read the MOH citation. Ditto that.

Brainster’s Blog recalls Dennis Miller’s terrific defense of Stockdale after the debate:

I remember realizing that this Dennis Miller guy was somebody to watch when he blasted those mocking Admiral Stockdale:

“Now I know (Stockdale’s name has) become a buzzword in this culture for doddering old man, but let’s look at the record, folks. The guy was the first guy in and the last guy out of Vietnam, a war that many Americans, including our present President, did not want to dirty their hands with.

The reason he had to turn his hearing aid on at that debate is because those f***ing animals knocked his eardrums out when he wouldn’t spill his guts. He teaches philosophy at Stanford University, he’s a brilliant, sensitive, courageous man. And yet he committed the one unpardonable sin in our culture: he was bad on television.

“Somewhere out there Paddy Chayefsky must be laughing his ass off. …”

Update: Here’s the NY Times obit. Reader Sean O’Brien notes…

Note how this is a “warts and all” portrait. Yuck. The author doesn’t have the decency to simply state that Stockdale was perhaps best remembered as the vice-presidential candidate on a third-party presidential ticket that drew 19% of the vote. Given how much unflattering information the Times leaves out of coverage of its friends, it’s hard to defend this article.

If they’re going to take a swipe at a dead man, perhaps they could note:

1) Kerry fundraiser Peter Yarrow was a child sex offender.
2) Al Sharpton’s history every time he comes out of the woodwork.
3) Ronnie White’s bar failure.

The list goes on and on.

Posted in: Al Sharpton,R.I.P.