Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Military

Champion For Vietnam POWs Dies At 90

Sybil Stockdale views the commemorative plaque affixed to a boulder in remembrance of her husband, retired Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale.
U.S. Navy
Sybil Stockdale views the commemorative plaque affixed to a boulder in remembrance of her husband, retired Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale.

A memorial service is being planned in Coronado for Sybil Stockdale, who led a group of wives of war prisoners during the Vietnam conflict while her husband was imprisoned in Hanoi, the Navy announced Tuesday.

The Navy described Stockdale, who died Saturday at the age of 90, as the driving force behind a national movement to end the torture and mistreatment of American POWs in Vietnam.

Her husband, James Bond Stockdale, was shot down over North Vietnam in September 1965 and assumed command of U.S. prisoners at the camp that became known as the Hanoi Hilton.

When it became clear that the prisoners were being mistreated, Sybil Stockdale organized the wives to force the U.S. government to publicly acknowledge their suffering. She appeared on television numerous times to address the plight of the POWs and regularly met with President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

During that time, she also worked with the CIA to send secret messages to her husband. After the war, she received a Navy award for distinguished public service.

She followed her husband, who retired as an admiral, to Northern California, where he took a position at the Hoover Institution. She volunteered at Stanford University Hospital at the time.

James Stockdale also ran for vice president, on a ticket with Ross Perot, and they received 19 percent of the vote. The couple retired to Coronado in 1995.

Her husband died in 2005 and their son, Stanford, died last year. She is survived by sons Jim Stockdale of Beaver, Pennsylvania; Sid Stockdale of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Taylor Stockdale of Claremont, along with eight grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at Spreckels Park, at Orange Avenue and Seventh Street in Coronado. She will be buried next to her husband at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.