The role of the Navy spouse often is legitimately touted as a vital component to a sailor’s success. For most, it is a matter of “keeping the home fires burning” under less-than-ideal conditions, raising children and running the home alone while his or her sailor is far away serving the nation in other ways.
One Navy spouse did those things for nearly eight continuous years while her husband was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. That in itself gives one pause, evoking both sympathy and admiration. But, like her husband—who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous leadership as a POW—Sybil Stockdale went “above and beyond” in her support of her husband and her family, as well as the families of the many others who endured captivity during those very trying times.
On 9 September 1965, while flying from USS Oriskany (CV-34) on a mission over North Vietnam, James B. Stockdale’s A-4 Skyhawk was hit by enemy fire, forcing him to eject. So began his stay as a prisoner of war in the Hoa Lo prison—better known to Americans as the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.”