Watching documentary about torture of Admiral James Stockdale and his leadership
of the American POWs in the Hanoi Hilton. Its amazing what he was able to accomplish and the torture they underwent. For instance he couldnt see the other prisoners — but there was enough of a slit under the door that he could see the toe of another prisoner across the hall, and that prisoner had been trained in a form of cryptography. Over a period of many days, seeing nothing other than the mans big toe tapping in morse code Stockdale learned a secret spy language. He could then use that in letters to his wife who then passed the letters on to the CIA who learned of the horrible torture, where the Americans should bomb, etc.
Stockdale was an amazing man - in the book "Good To Great" the author coined the terms "the Stockdale Paradox" because of his leadership.
His full name was James Bond Stockdale, which I just think is cool, he won the Medal of Honor, and the USS Stockdale is of course named after him, which he was alive to see. He wrote several books including one of my favorites called "thoughts of a philosophical fighter pilot."
He was a POW for 7.5 YEARS....and per Wiki: "As the senior naval officer, he was one of the primary organizers of prisoner resistance. Tortured routinely and denied medical attention for the severely damaged leg he suffered during capture, Stockdale created and enforced a code of conduct for all prisoners which governed torture, secret communications, and behavior. In the summer of 1969, he was locked in leg irons in a bath stall and routinely tortured and beaten. When told by his captors that he was to be paraded in public, Stockdale slit his scalp with a razor to purposely disfigure himself so that his captors could not use him as propaganda. When they covered his head with a hat, he beat himself with a stool until his face was swollen beyond recognition. When Stockdale was discovered with information that could implicate his friends' so-called "black activities", he slit his wrists so they could not torture him into confession.
People think of him as being dimwitted because of the vice-presidential debate, when he didnt have his hearing aid on, but comedian Dennis Miller fired back on that, saying that his name had "become a buzzword in this culture for doddering old man, but let's look at the record, folks. The guy was the first guy in and the last guy out of Vietnam, a war that many Americans, including your new President, chose not to dirty their hands with. He had to turn his hearing aid on at that debate because those animals knocked his eardrums out when he wouldn't spill his guts. He teaches philosophy at Stanford University, he's a brilliant, sensitive, courageous man. And yet he committed the one unpardonable sin in our culture: he was bad on television."
Anyway, I'm pretty amazed by this man - he ended up being an Admiral, head of the Naval War College, taught philosophy at Stanford. The book I mentioned, thoughts of a philosophical fighter pilot, is deeply rooted in stoic philosophy, I highly recommend it if that subject interests you....the summary, if it might interest someone, is: "Thoughts on issues of character, leadership, integrity, personal and public virtue, and ethics, the selections in this volume converge around the central theme of how man can rise with dignity to prevail in the face of adversity"
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