Major E. writes from Baghdad:
I do not know if you heard the broadcasts, but I was interviewed separately by Buzz Patterson and Melanie Morgan and on each I managed to get a plug in for Power Line. I think you can also access the broadcasts at Rightalk.com, a main sponsor for the entire “Voices of Soldiers” project. It has been a breath of fresh air to have people from the media who want the people on the ground to tell their own story, rather than the big media storylines that I am convinced are predetermined by “network central.”
Looking forward to flying out to Qatar tomorrow for a conference, and then on to DC. I miss my wife!
I believe that Major E. will be meeting up with his wife in Washington and conferring at the Pentagon for a few weeks before he returns to Iraq. Major E. has also forwarded us his remembrance of Admiral Stockdale:
I was sad to read of the passing of a truly great American patriot–Admiral Stockdale. I remember that as a service academy cadet, I studied his example from years in captivity during the Vietnam War. Stockdale is still used as the model for resistance efforts when captured, based on his heroism and defiance of the North Vietnamese while he spent years in captivity.
Ask any soldier, sailor, airman or marine to name the person who best personifies the Servicemember’s Code of Conduct, and he or she will likely say “Stockdale.” As John McCain was just quoted, “There are many of us who performed far better (in captivity) than we otherwise would have because of his leadership and example.”
While Stockdale was captive in Vietnam, as if normal captivity were not bad enough, he was also the highest ranking POW at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” POW camp in downtown Hanoi. This meant additional, extended torture sessions because the Vietnamese regularly sought to break the highest ranking prisoners in an attempt to undermine our chain-of-command and create division between captured American servicemembers.
He spent a total of seven-and-a-half years in confinement, four of those in solitary confinement. The Vietnamese were desparate to break the chain of command. Admiral Stockdale, however, resisted to the point of disfiguring himself and, on another occasion, cutting his wrists and passing out in his own blood so that he could not be filmed or exploited for propaganda purposes.
When I traveled to Vietnam several years ago, I visited the Hanoi Hilton, called the Hoa Lo prison, and saw Admiral Stockdale’s photo displayed along with other prominent American POW’s such as John McCain and Pete Peterson. Having studied his example then seeing Stockdale’s photo in the prison made me swallow hard thinking of what he endured in the very same place.
Several years prior, though, I had an even more memorable experience involving the admiral when I met him unexpectedly at a restaurant near President Nixon’s Library in Yorba Linda, California on the day of the presidential funeral in 1994. I was in dress uniform standing in line around lunch time and asked the grey-haired couple in front of me how the line was moving.
The gentleman turned to answer my question, and to this day I do not remember what struck me first: his piercing blue eyes or the blue Medal of Honor worn around his neck. “Oh, it should be about 15 minutes,” he politely replied. I realized it was him.
I was stunned and could not utter a single syllable. His wife started to smile at me, surely having seen before the phenomenon of a young military man, speechless, meeting her husband. He smoothly started to pick up the conversation until I gathered myself, sort of, and interuppted him a moment later.
“Admiral Stockdale, sir, it is an honor to meet you.”
“Well, thank you, lieutenant, same to you.”
He introduced me to his wife and invited me to join them for lunch. He was such a man of integrity and honor, wrapped in utter humility as well as love and respect for his wife. Unfortuantely, I never spoke to him after that but to this day, lunch with Admiral and Mrs. Stockdale ranks as one of the inspirational highlights of my military career.
Lord willing, my wife and I are expecting our first child, a boy, in
October. As a future parent, I hope to raise a son who will understand and exhibit the qualities of faith, honor, and integrity. I hope and pray he will resist the pressures to idolize pop stars, Hollywood types, and athletes. Instead, I hope he chooses to learn the definition of character and the meaning of service from the example of Admiral James Stockdale.
Thank you, Power Line, for paying respects to this outstanding military officer and truly great American role model.
Camp Victory, Baghdad