Vice Admiral Stockdale was awarded the Nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, in recognition of his extraordinary heroism, conspicuous gallantry, and unparalleled leadership as senior Naval Officer held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam from 1966 - 1973.This gate is dedicated to Admiral Stockdale: fighter pilot, Naval Officer, and great American hero.
As commanding officer of Carrier Air Group Sixteen flying from the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, he was shot down over enemy territory on Sept. 9, 1966.
During his seven and one half year imprisonment, he was tortured numerous times, forced to wear heavy vise-like leg irons, and kept in solitary confinement for four years.
Despite the brutal treatment, he continuously defied his captors and exercised the highest degree of leadership by organizing and leading his fellow POWs. He improvised a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior centered on the tenets, "Unity before Self" and "Home with Honor". Admiral Stockdale always led by example, and his valor and dynamic leadership provided the POWs the faith and strength to endure their ordeal.
For his exceptional heroism, Vice Admiral Stockdale was awarded the Medal of Honor. In part, his citation reads: "Stockdale deliberately inflicted a near fatal wound to convince his captors he would willingly give up his life rather than
capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated their employment of excessive harassment and torture of all prisoners of war."
Vice Admiral Stockdale was one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the United States Navy. In addition to his Medal of Honor, he was awarded 26 combat decorations including three Distinguished Service Medals, four Silver Stars, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Purple Hearts.