Stockdale Leadership Connect Namesake to Legacy with Help from a former POW

Story Number: NNS150918-17Release Date: 9/18/2015 1:34:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Phil Ladouceur, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Members the wardroom and chief petty officer's mess of the guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106) attended an event featuring a presentation from a former prisoner of war (POW), Sept. 17.

The event was organized by Cmdr. Sean Grunwell, commanding officer of Stockdale, as a way of creating a first-hand connection between the ship's leadership and the ship's legacy. The featured speaker was retired Capt. Charlie Plumb, who spent nearly six years as a POW during the Vietnam War.
"In an operational Navy that constantly deploys, it's always good to look back at those who served before us," said Grunwell. "I think it was best to hear it from those who have a real connection with those events that shaped the ship's namesake."

Stockdale was commissioned April 18, 2009 and is named for Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, a naval aviator, the highest ranking naval officer held as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, and a former vice presidential candidate.

Plumb knew Stockdale while held captive in North Vietnam.

"Each of you has within you, as a part of your DNA, a legacy of leadership that each of you uses every day, a legacy from James Bond Stockdale," said Plumb.

Other speakers included Alvin Townley, author of the book "Defiant," and former Ambassador Richard Capen, who worked with many POW families while Deputy Secretary of Defense and Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs.

They helped provide context for the Plumb's first-hand account.

Townley framed the experience of the POW by describing how they found a sense of purpose by redefining what it meant to be a prisoner.

"Nobody ever thinks you're going to fight a war from a prison cell," said Townley. "But that was what Stockdale and a core group of resistors decided they would do."

For Senior Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician Mike Marriott, the chance to hear a first-hand account was so unique and worthwhile that he took a break from leave to attend.

"Those like Plumb, who have experienced history first-hand, are a national treasure," said Marriott. "You read it in text books, you can see it in a movie, but you don't really know what really happened. This is first-hand experience. It's something that when they're gone, it's lost."

"We have a tremendous crew and a wonderful chief's mess and wardroom, who understand the legacy they've been entrusted with and really take that to heart," said Grunwell after the event.

Stockdale, along with USS William P. Lawrence, also named for a POW, will hold a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) ceremony at Naval Base San Diego, Sept. 18, in recognition of National POW/MIA Day.

According to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, more than 83,000 Americans are missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the 1991 Gulf War. Hundreds of Defense Department men and women, both military and civilian, work in organizations around the world as part of department's personnel recovery and personnel accounting communities. They are all dedicated to the single mission of finding and bringing our missing personnel home.

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