Special Notice: 22a15
Dear Golden Eagles,
It is with deep sorrow that I inform you of the passing of Mrs. Sybil Stockdale, spouse of VADM James Stockdale on Saturday, 10 October 2015. Born in November 1924, she will always be fondly remembered as a part of our Naval Aviation history. The wife of an American Vietnam War Navy pilot who became a prisoner of war, she worked tirelessly as the co-founder and National Coordinator of the National League of Families, a nonprofit organization that worked on behalf of American Vietnam-era Missing in Action and Prisoner of War Families. As quoted from her obituary:
"By her courageous and determined actions, Mrs. Stockdale performed an outstanding public and humanitarian service for captured and missing military members of all services, their families and the American people. Her actions and her indomitable spirit in the face of many adversities contributed immeasurably to the successful safe return of American prisoners, gave hope, support and solace to their families in a time of need and reflected the finest traditions of the Naval service and of the United States of America."
She leaves behind three sons: Jim Stockdale of Beaver, PA; Sid Stockdale of Albuquerque, NM; and Taylor Stockdale of Claremont, CA.
A memorial service will be held for Sybil at Spreckels Park in Coronado, CA beginning at 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 14. She will be buried beside Jim on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD at a later date.
Condolence letters may be sent to:
545 A Avenue
Coronado CA 92118-1917
All of Naval Aviation joins in mourning the loss of a true patriot and Navy wife. We will continue to celebrate her legacy and strive to live up to the heroic example she set for us all.
I have also enclosed a personal note below I received from Ms. Barbara Woodbury, a close friend of Mrs. Stockdale's, which I believe captures the outstanding legacy she leaves behind.
VADM Mike Shoemaker, USN
SYBIL STOCKDALE 11/25/1924 - 10/10/2015
Sybil has left us. She has gone on to be with Jim and their son Stan.
She was valiant to the end...as stoic as the love of her life, VADM James Bond Stockdale, Vietnam POW who was tortured for 7 1/2 years.
My heart aches to lose my friend. There are no words...
Much has been and will continue to be written about beautiful and elegant Sybil...national treasure...heroine...gentle warrior...first lady of POW spouses...woman of Sparta... tower of strength... stoic... mentor...relentless defender of better treatment for our POW's who were living hell on earth in the prisons of Vietnam...great Patriot, grace under fire...and much more.
Jim and Sybil's story is an inspiration to all who knew them. Our Navy SEAL's survival school is named for VADM James B. Stockdale. He saved many lives, and together they touched so many lives.
The USS Stockdale crew would come to serenade Sybil before they deployed. SEALs have offered to hang her Christmas lights. Marine warriors have long been inspired by Jim's writings. Our Navy and Marine teams have never forgotten them.
On a personal note, Sybil had an inner strength, a serenity that provided a calm amidst the storm, and an unequaled zest for life to the last moment. She was an extraordinary wife, mom and grandmother, with a touch of wonderful mischief, great humor, was a uniter, a teacher, an author, a movie buff and an extraordinary friend.
You always felt better for having been in her arc.
She and her fellow POW wives endured a pain that only they could know. They have stayed bonded all these years, meeting with and visiting Syb regularly.
Sybil's surrogate daughter and special friend, Evelyn Beltran, cared for both Sybil and Jim for many years. Syb and Evelyn made me laugh with their mischief and antics. It was no wonder that Sybil kept her zest for life. She was game for everything, and Evelyn enthusiastically ensured she was always up to doing whatever she wanted to do. Sybil called the shots...and did whatever she wanted to do.
Wheelchair bound for many years, Sybil's Parkinson's could not defeat her amazing spirit. She never complained. She just carried on as if it was not an impediment.
Even in the last few weeks, she attended events to remember the 50th Anniversary of the POW's homecoming.
Our Navy also honored Sybil by naming the coveted "Ombudsman of the Year" award for her...an award for Navy spouses who contribute so much to our Navy families, especially during deployment. Over 500 attended the awards ceremony and made her know 'we will never forget'. She listened intently. Her Parkinson's muscles would not let her speak or smile at the time...but later, at lunch at the Brewery, she was all smiles.
Years ago, Sybil and Jim wrote a book "In Love and War", later a movie, about Jim's hell in the Hanoi Hilton, and the hell Syb lived here at home...working with the CIA, the POW wives and others to get better treatment for those imprisoned and ultimately, their release. I remember sitting between Sybil and Jim and watching their film, in total awe of their sacrifice...and remembering what ordinary Americans are called to do to defend America and our freedoms.
Interestingly, Jim's middle name was Bond, and he and Sybil had a bond and a love that most of us can only dream of. So very few of us will ever know the depth of their bond.
Sybil has been a beautiful mentor and inspiration for me and for so many. I, for one, will never forget the sacrifices Sybil, Jim and their sons Jimmy, Sid, Stan and Taylor have made for all Americans.
As the POWs always signed off every tap code while imprisoned..."GBU" Sybil and Jim. You are forever in our hearts...
PS. The following speech delivered by a warrior a few years ago. I received it from a Marine a few years ago and share it now because it exemplifies Sybil Bond Stockdale...
"In a novel based on history, Steven Pressfield captured poignantly just how important families were and, I believe, are today. Facing an invading Persian army under King
Xerxes, a coalition of Greek states sent a small force to buy time by defending the pass at Thermopylae and were led by 300 special, selected Spartans. The mission was desperate and death for the 300 certain.
Before he left to lead them, the Spartan King, Leonidas, explained to one of the Spartan wives how he had selected the 300 from an entire army famed for its professionalism, courage and dedication to duty. "I chose them not for their valor, lady, but for that of their women. Greece stands now upon her most perilous hour, if she saves herself, it will not be at the gates.
Death alone awaits us and our allies there but later in battles yet to come by land and sea. "Then Greece, if the gods will it, will preserve herself. Do you understand this, lady?
Well, now, listen, when the battle is over, when the 300 have gone to death, then all Greece will look to the Spartans to see how they bear it. But who, lady, will the Spartans look to? To you. To you and the other wives and mothers, sisters and daughters of the fallen. "If they behold your hearts riven and broken with grief, they too will break and Greece will break with them. But if you bear up, dry eyed, not alone enduring your loss but seizing it with contempt for its agony and embracing it as the honor that it is in truth, then Sparta will stand and all Greece will stand behind her."
"Why have I nominated you, lady, to bear up beneath this most terrible of trials, you and your sisters of the 300? Because you can."
To all who wear no uniform but give so much, sacrifice so willingly and serve as such an example to our nation and each other, my thanks." ******