Vice Admiral James Stockdale died yesterday in his home in Coronado, CA. If you don't know who Admiral Stockdale is, you should. He was a true American hero and patriot. He was at the head of his class at the United States Naval Academy. During the Vietnam War, he was the first pilot to begin bombing after the Tonkin Gulf incident. He was also the first POW captured in North Vietnam, and during his captivity he showed true heroism and valor. He refused to participate in propaganda broadcasts against his country, and when charged to do so he disfigured himself with a stool in order to sabotage the broadcast. When further threatened with retribution, he attempted suicide and the NVA became convinced of his devotion to his fellow captives and eased up on their treatment of POWs. Throughout his time as a POW, he was a shining example of true patriotism.
I'm pretty much bawling as I write this. Stockdale is and was one of my heroes, and even though he was eighty-one years old and that age death isn't so shocking, I'm incredibly distraught that America should lose one of their foremost heroes in the times we are living in... Stockdale was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Gerald Ford. He later was Ross Perot's running mate in the 1992 election, and famously inquired in the Vice Presidential debate, "Who am I? Why am I here? I'm not a politician!" Stockdale's autobiography, co-written with his wife Sybil (who led the fight back home to free the POWs), "In Love and War" is one of the most beautiful, amazing books I have ever read.
If you are religiously inclined, please throw a prayer or two in the direction of the departed Admiral. And if you're not, please just reflect on our loss of an amazingly patriotic, kind-hearted, man with a beautiful soul and an unbreakable love of the country in which we live.
"Brian May, Freddie will."