The country, the Navy, the Stockdale family, especially his beloved wife, Sybil, and those of us who were POWs in North Vietnam suffered a terrible loss with the passing on 5 July of Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale. Husband, father, patriot, mentor, author, and dear friend, he touched our lives profoundly. Distinguished graduate of the Naval Academy, Medal of Honor recipient, courageous warrior, brilliant leader, almost bigger than life, he never stopped inspiring us. It is difficult to accept that he is gone. We recognize how fortunate we are that he came our way.
The POW experience was a realtime laboratory on leadership. Led by Admiral Stockdale's example, we prisoners lived and struggled to return with honor. He inspired each of us to lead in the most bizarre and painful of circumstances where to accept the mantle of leader meant certain suffering. But accept it we did.
I first encountered Jim Stockdale many years ago, and he changed my life.