Vice-Admiral James Bond Stockdale was a Navy Commander who survived 2,621 days in captivity during the Vietnam War.
In 1965, during a routine bombing mission over North Vietnam, Stockdale's plane was shot down, leading to his capture and imprisonment in the infamous Hoa Lo prison -- better known as the "Hanoi Hilton." It was the beginning of a grueling ordeal that would last until the end of the war.
Despite brutal and relentless torture, Stockdale risked his life by relaying information back to his wife Sybil in the U.S. Together, they worked with the CIA to help build a covert communications system that remained a government secret until 2015. Over the remainder of his captivity, Stockdale was able to organize a large number of his fellow POWs, leveraging their skills and coordinating their efforts in order to transmit vital intelligence back to the U.S. government.
In 1973, after the war ended, Stockdale was released and sent back to the U.S., where he was reunited with Sybil. He was subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor and became one of the most highly decorated Navy officers in U.S. history. In 1992, he ran for the Vice Presidency of the United States, on the independent ticket with H. Ross Perot.
Vice-Admiral Stockdale died peacefully in his home in 2005 and was buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery.