On this day in 1923, James Stockdale was born in Abingdon, Illinois. He became one of the most decorated naval officers in U.S. history, but is sadly remembered for his time as Ross Perot’s vice-presidential running mate in 1992.
As a navy pilot, Stockdale was shot down over North Vietnam and was a prisoner of war for seven and half years. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1976, promoted to vice admiral and retired as President of the Naval War College in 1979. Stockdale then served as president of The Citadel, a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a board member of the Rockford Institute.
The man was a badass and had sacrificed more for his country than any American politician this side of John McCain. It was a true shame that he linked himself to Perot’s disjointed 1992 campaign. Stockdale was informed a week before the vice-presidential debate that he would be included (remember, third party candidates rarely are allowed to participate) and Perot did not discuss any issues with him beforehand. Against Al Gore and Dan Quayle, neither of whom is considered to be strong debaters, Stockdale came across as elderly and confused.
Stockdale passed away in 2005. Among many honors, the U.S. Navy has since named a destroyer after him and erected a statue of him at Naval Academy in Annapolis.