|Name||Sybil Bailey Stockdale|
, , United States
|| November 25, 1924
|Contributor||The Sunset Provision|
|Last Modified||The Sunset Provision|
Aug 03, 2012 11:47pm
|Info||Wife of Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale. Her husband was one of the United States' most honored and storied military veterans in the post-WWII era. He was present at the fictional August 4, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin event, spent 7-1/2 years under torture as a POW in North Vietnam, later headed The Citadel, and eventually ran for Vice-President of the United States with Ross Perot heading the ticket. Mrs. Stockdale helped publicize the mistreatment of US prisoners by North Vietnam. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College. |
When Sybil Stockdale's husband James was shot down in 1965 over North Vietnam, the US government had a "keep-quiet" policy, asking relatives of POWs to not raise a fuss about mistreatment of prisoners. The official reason was that the prisoners were not being tortured, but bad publicity might result in worse treatment.
Over the next several years, Sybil found herself more and more disenchanted with the pretense that prisoners like her husband were treated fairly; James had been tortured, had inflicted serious wounds on himself to convince his captors they couldn't break or use him, and had spent years in solitary confinement.
In the summer of 1968, Sybil along with other members of a San Diego POW / MIA support group decided to go national, and formed the National League of Families of American Prisoners Missing in Southeast Asia. Sybil was the first national coordinator.
Within a year she was sitting in the office of the Secretary Of Defense Melvin Laird discussing policy. The Nixon Administration had ended the "keep quiet" policy and allegations of torture of US prisoners became fully public, with Sybil a forceful spokeswoman.
Sybil co-wrote a book with her husband James, who also wrote a number of books on his own. In Love and War: the Story of a Family's Ordeal and Sacrifice During the Vietnam War was the most popular book written by either of the Stockdales.
In it, James and Sybil wrote alternating chapters describing their experiences of the Vietnam war, James as a POW, Sybil as the wife of a POW, cutting through Washington red tape and publicizing the plight of American POWs in Vietnam.