The annual Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale Award recognizes commanding officers who demonstrate inspirational leadership both professionally and personally while also contributing to the improvement of leadership in the Navy.
The Navy announced Cmdr. Ronald H. Rumfelt, from U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Cmdr. Steven C. Lawrence, from U.S. Pacific Fleet as the recipients of the 2021 James Bond Stockdale Award for inspirational leadership.
The announcement came in NAVADMIN 221/21, released Oct. 7.
The annual award recognizes commanding officers who demonstrate inspirational leadership both professionally and personally while also contributing to the improvement of leadership in the Navy. It is peer-driven, as only those who are eligible for the award themselves are allowed to nominate others for consideration.
Rumfelt is the former CO of the Jacksonville, Fla. based "Mad Foxes" of Patrol Squadron Five (VP-5), which he led from May 17, 2019, to May 22, 2021. A former enlisted Sailor and California native, Rumfelt attained the rank of Aviation Electronics’ Technician 2nd Class. A graduate of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at San Diego State University, he was commissioned on Dec. 21, 2002, joining the patrol community as Naval Aviator. He is currently the Aviation Commander Assignment Officer at Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tenn.
Lawrence graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned on May 25, 2001. He is currently in command of the Guam-based fast-attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723). During his career, he has done four submarine tours at sea in both fast-attack and ballistic-missile submarines. Lawrence has also served in the Defense Liaison Division in Washington, D.C., on the U.S. Fleet Forces Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board and as a member of the Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Staff.
First awarded in 1980, the award is named for the late Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale, a Naval Academy graduate and naval aviator. On Sept. 9, 1965, Stockdale was commander of Carrier Air Group 16, flying from the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CV-34). A veteran of over 200 combat missions at the time, Stockdale's A-4E Skyhawk was hit by enemy fire over North Vietnam. Forced to eject, he landed in a small village and was captured.
A prisoner for eight years, Stockdale was the highest-ranking naval officer among the Americans held captive in North Vietnamese prisons. Leading by example, Stockdale resisted his captors from the start, establishing a culture of defiance among the POW's. He worked against heavy odds to find ways to communicate with other prisoners, continually working to give his fellow captives all hope.
His efforts to promote resistance led to him and ten other senior POWs being separated from the rest to break down the American chain of command among prisoners. Frequently tortured, Stockdale spent two years in heavy leg irons and a total of four years in isolation. He did not waver. He led the POWs' culture of defiance, found ways to communicate and govern prisoner behavior, giving them all hope.
His inspirational leadership continued throughout captivity until his release in February 1973. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976 and served as president of the Naval War College from October 1977 until August 1979.
Stockdale articulated five roles for a leader: moralist, jurist, teacher, steward and philosopher.
Eligible for the award are active duty Navy commanders and below who are serving in command of a single ship, submarine, aviation squadron, SEAL team, naval special warfare squadron, SEAL delivery vehicle team, special boat team, explosive ordnance disposal mobile unit, mobile diving and salvage unit, or Navy special clearance team.
This year's selection board was presented with nine finalists, from which the two winners were selected. The other seven finalists deserve special mention:
Pacific Fleet finalists:
CDR Michael S. McGuire, Commanding Officer, USS Key West (SSN 722)
CDR Robert C. Watts, Commanding Officer, USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53)
CDR Matthew D. Gleason, Commanding Officer, USS Comstock (LSD 45)
CDR Ryan T. Mattson, Commanding Officer, Electronic Attack Squadron One Three One (VAQ-131)
U.S. Fleet Forces finalists:
CDR David W. Fassel, Commanding Officer, USS Newport News (SSN 750)
CDR Christopher M. Norris, Commanding Officer, USS James E. Williams (DDG 95)
CDR Richard B. Litchfield, Commanding Officer, USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116)
CDR Clinton A. Cornell, Commanding Officer, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two (EODMU 2)