Dick Stratton was born in 1931 in Quincy, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard in January 1947, and served as a Mortar Squad Leader with the 211th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) until he received an honorable discharge on August 18, 1948. After graduating from Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in History, he entered the U.S. Navy Aviation Officer Candidate Program on June 15, 1955, was commissioned an Ensign on November 16, 1955, and was designated a Naval Aviator on March 1, 1957. His first assignment was as a Flight Instructor and Line Division Officer with ATU-203 and ATU-213 at NAS Chase Field, Texas, from April 1957 to September 1958, followed by service as an FJ-4 Fury and A4D-2/A4D-2N Skyhawk pilot with VA-94 at NAS Alameda, California, from October 1958 to August 1962. During this time, Lt Stratton made two Western Pacific deployments with CVG-9 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CVA-61) from February to August 1960 and from August 1961 to March 1962. He then received an assignment to complete his master's degree in International Relations at Stanford University from September 1962 to June 1964, followed by service as an Aide and Flag Lieutenant for the Deputy Director of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff (JSTPS) at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, from July 1964 to January 1966. LCDR Stratton next attended A-4 Replacement Air Group training with VA-125 at NAS Lemoore, California, from February to May 1966, and then served as an A-4E pilot and Maintenance Officer with VA-192 at NAS Lemoore and deployed to Southeast Asia with CVW-19 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) from June 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on January 5, 1967. After spending 2,251 days in captivity, CDR Stratton was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Naval Hospital Oaknoll in Oakland, California, and then served as Executive Officer in the Trident Program with Lockheed Missiles and Space Company at the Navy Plant Representative Office in Sunnyvale, California, from April 1973 to November 1975. Capt Stratton next served as Commanding Officer of Navy Recruiting District New York in East Meadow, Long Island, from December 1975 to April 1977, followed by service as Commander of Navy Recruiting Area Five, Great Lakes, in North Chicago, Illinois, from May 1977 to June 1979. He then served as Deputy for Operations at the U.S. Naval Academy from July 1979 to November 1981, before serving as Director of the Naval Academy Preparatory School at NETC Newport, Rhode Island, from December 1981 until his retirement from the Navy on July 1, 1986. After retiring from the Navy, Dick practiced as a clinical social worker from 1987 to 2001, specializing in psychological trauma and addictions. He also served as President of NAM-POWs from 1983 to 1985, and was Chairman of the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Prisoners of War from 1989 to 1995.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. In January 1967, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.