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James B. Stockdale papers

Identifier: MSC-085

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, meeting minutes, speeches, newspaper articles, lectures, audio and video tape recordings, articles, and photographs relating to James B. Stockdale’s academic and naval careers from 1965 through 2005. The bulk of this collection documents his correspondence and work at the Naval War College, specifically his administrative and educational roles.

Prominent correspondents include Professor Joseph G. Brennan (1910-2004), Admirals Carlisle Trost (1930-), Thomas Hayward (1924-), James Holloway III (1922-), Julien J. LeBourgeois (1923-2012), and Senators John Chafee (1922-1999), Sam Nunn (1938-), and John Tower (1925-1991). The majority of the correspondence relates to his professional work and responsibilities.

Along with Stockdale’s published and unpublished writings on moral leadership, his prisoner of war experiences, and the mind in captivity, there are several articles by other academics and writers contained in this collection. Significant speeches from 1965-1993, which includes his time as president of the Naval War College, are in the collection. His speeches on values, leadership, and his prisoner of war experiences were in high demand.

Of particular interest within this collection are two volumes of lectures for the popular course entitled Foundations of Moral Obligation team-taught by Stockdale and Brennan. A summary of his captivity in a North Vietnamese prison from 9 September 1965 to 12 February 1973 is also of high significance. Additionally, this collection contains Stockdale’s funeral and services of commemoration.

This collection was arranged into related subjects and the type of the content instead of chronological order.


  • 1965-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1975-1983


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.

Biographical note

Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale (1923-2005), USN was born on 23 December 1923 in Abingdon, Illinois. He attended Knox College and Monmouth College before entering the U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1947. Due to World War II, he graduated in 1946 in the accelerated course and was commissioned an ensign.

Following graduation, he served on USS Carmick (DMS-33), USS Thompson (DMS-38), USS Charles H. Roan (DD-853), and USS PCS 1392. Stockdale underwent flight training at several air stations in Florida and received his wings in 1950. He went on to further training and joined Air Antisubmarine Squadron Twenty-Seven in 1951. In 1951, he had landing signal officer training in Pensacola, Florida, and returned to his squadron after completing the course.

In 1954, he underwent test pilot training at Patuxent River, Maryland and remained on staff as an instructor. He joined Fighter Squadron Two Hundred Eleven and in 1959 became executive officer of Fighter Squadron Twenty-Four. He was the first pilot to fly one thousand hours in an F-8 Crusader.

The years 1960 to 1962 found him at Stanford University, where he studied for a master’s degree in International Relations. There he took a philosophy course with Professor Rhinelander that would have a profound impact on his life. After receiving his M.A., he joined Fighter Squadron Fifty-One in USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14), where he served as commanding officer. In 1964, he joined the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) and Air Wing Twelve. The following year he took command of Carrier Air Wing Sixteen off the coast of Vietnam. On 9 September 1965, his plane was shot down over North Vietnam and he was taken prisoner. He was the highest ranking military officer imprisoned. Incarcerated in Hoalo Prison, he endured seven and a half years of captivity and was released on 12 February 1973. Stockdale relied on his military background and his study of philosophy to help him through these long and difficult years. He received the Navy’s John Paul Jones Award for inspirational leadership.

In January 1974, he took command of Antisubmarine Warfare Wing, Pacific, followed by two years in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as director of strategy, plans, and policy. In 1977, as a vice admiral, he assumed the presidency of the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. There he taught a course in Foundations of Moral Obligation, with Professor Joseph G. Brennan (1910-2004), formerly chairman of the Philosophy Department at Barnard College. This was one of the most popular elective courses at the college and remained part of the electives program.

In September 1979, Stockdale retired from the U.S. Navy and became president of The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina. After a stormy period when his proposed reforms did not win the support of the Board of Trustees, he resigned in 1981 and accepted an appointment as Senior Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He remained there until he moved to Coronado, California. In 1992, he accepted the vice presidential slot as an independent candidate with Ross Perot as president. Perot garnered 19% of the vote, but he did not carry any state.

VADM Stockdale died on 5 July 2005 at his home in Coronado, California. He left his wife, Sybil (1924-2015), and sons: James, Sidney, Stanford, and Taylor and eight grandchildren.

James and Sybil Stockdale co-authored In Love and War: The Story of a Family’s Ordeal and Sacrifice during the Vietnam Years, published by the Naval Institute Press in 1990. He also wrote Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot; Military Ethics: Reflections on Principles—the Profession of Arms, Military Leadership, Ethical Practices, War and Morality, Educating the Citizen Soldier; A Vietnam Experience: Ten Years of Reflection; and The Ethics of Citizenship.

His twenty-six medals include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts, four Silver Stars, and the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award.

In 2008, the USS Stockdale (DDG-106) was christened in Bath, Maine, by Admiral Stockdale’s widow, Sybil. The Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyer was commissioned on 18 April 2009 at Port Hueneme and is homeported in San Diego.

In 2007, the main gate at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado was named after Stockdale, as was the headquarters building for the Pacific Fleet’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School at the air station. In 2008, a statue of Stockdale was placed in Luce Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy, where the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership is located. The Loews Annapolis Hotel has a suite named in his honor as it was where Perot announced his candidacy for president.

Chronology of Naval Service note

Born 23 December in Abingdon, Illinois
Graduated from U.S. Naval Academy
USS Carmick (DMS-33), Assistant Gunnery Officer; USS Thompson (DMS-38), Assistant Engineer
USS Charles H. Roan (DD-854), Communications Officer
USS PCS 1392, Executive Officer
Naval Aviator
Air Antisubmarine Squadron Twenty-Seven
NAAS, Corry Field, Pensacola, F.L., Carrier Qualification Training
Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, M.D., Test Pilot Training
Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, M.D., Instructor
Fighter Squadron Two Hundred Eleven, Maintenance and Operatinos Offiver
M.A. Stanford University
USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14), Fighter Squadron Fifty-One, Executive Officer and Commanding Officer
USS Oriskany (CVA-34), Carrier Air Wing Twelve, Operations Officer
USS Oriskany (CVA-34), Carrier Air Wing Sixteen, Commanding Officer
Prisoner of War, Hoalo Prison, North Vietnam
Antisubmarine Warfare Wing, Pacific, Commanding Officer
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Strategy, Plans and Policy Division, Director
President, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
Retired from naval service
President, The Citadel, Charleston, S.C.
Stanford University, Palo Alto, C.A., Senior Research Fellow
Independent Candidate for Vice President of the United States
Died 5 July in Coronado, C.A.


4.2 Linear Feet (10 archival boxes)


Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale (1923-2005) was a highly decorated naval aviator who spent nearly eight years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. He was the fortieth President of the Naval War College and after his retirement from the navy he served as President of The Citadel, Charleston, S.C and was an independent candidate for Vice President of the U.S. in 1992. This collection includes correspondence, photographs, newspaper articles, speeches, and writings relating to Stockdale’s naval and academic careers.


This collection is arranged into the following subjects:

  • Box 1: Ceremonies and Recognitions
  • Boxes 1-5: Correspondence
  • Boxes 5-6: Memoranda, meeting minutes, and reports
  • Box 6: Personal items, Posthumous
  • Boxes 6-7: Publications
  • Boxes 7-8: Speeches
  • Box 9: Teaching and classes

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited by the Naval War College President’s Office in November 1996. Posthumous materials were added by CDR Porter Halyburton, USN in 2005.

Related Materials

  • Presidents records, RG 28. Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
  • Joseph G. Brennan papers, MSC 134, Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed and described by Evelyn M. Cherpak in 2010. In 2018, Brittany Fox, NHC intern, converted its register into a DACS compliant finding aid and removed papers from 3-ring binders.

This finding aid supersedes the “Register of the papers of James B. Stockdale, Manuscript Register Series No. 40.”

Guide to the James B. Stockdale papers1965-2005 (bulk 1975-1983)
Finding aid prepared by Brittany Fox, NHC Intern
March 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US