21 April 2009

USS Stockdale (DDG 106) commissioned

ZUI this article from the San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune:
The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest guided-missile destroyer Saturday in a ceremony honoring Coronado's own Vice Adm. James Stockdale, the ship's namesake.

Four thousand folding chairs stood on the dock at the Naval Base Ventura County near Oxnard, in front of a gray behemoth there to be christened the USS Stockdale, in remembrance of one of the Navy's most highly decorated officers.

Most of those seats were filled before the hour-long ceremony began under a bright, cloudless sky at 11 a.m. Attendees reserved their loudest applause for the dozens of veterans and prisoners of war on hand, a group that included four Medal of Honor recipients.


One of Stockdale's granddaughters drew cheers when she uttered the ceremonial words: “Officers and crew of the USS Stockdale, man our ship and bring her to life.”

With that, a parade of white-uniformed sailors sprinted single-file onboard the destroyer, which will soon head back to San Diego, where it arrived in late March after being built in Maine. Within moments, the sailors were all positioned at points on the ship, hands clasped behind their backs.

Smoke erupted from the ship and four planes zoomed overhead as a horn blew. The ceremony concluded with a private tour of the ship for the veterans and prisoners of war who attended with wives and guests.


Stockdale died at age 81 at home in Coronado in 2005, surrounded by his wife, Sybil, and four grown sons. A fighter pilot who flew 201 carrier-based missions, he was the highest-ranking naval officer captured during the Vietnam War, spending 7½ grueling years in captivity after being shot down.

Stockdale received the Medal of Honor in 1976. His 26 combat decorations include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Stars.

USS Stockdale (DDG 106) is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, and is the third Navy ship to bear that name. (The first USS Stockdale was a side-wheel steamer which served in the Civil War; the second, DE 399, was named in honour of Ensign Lewis S Stockdale, who died at Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941.)

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Rear Admiral (then Captain), US Navy; prisoner of war, North Vietnam

Born: 23 December 1923, Abingdon, Illinois
Died: 5 July 2005, Coronado, California

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.

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