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Old 01-24-2022, 01:38 PM
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Post The Second-Oldest Active Ship in the US Navy Is Still Hostage in North Korea

The Second-Oldest Active Ship in the US Navy Is Still Hostage in North Korea
By: Blake Stilwell - News (Old story but still remembered by many).

Between 1966 and 1969, the United States was increasingly engaged in South Vietnam, but a few thousands miles away, U.S. troops were still fighting in the previous war. On the Korean Peninsula, North Korea was becoming increasingly bold, firing on American soldiers.

Sporadic engagements with the North had occurred along the DMZ since the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. This time was different, however, as North Korean attacks began to involve thousands of U.S. troops. It was the closest North and South Korea came to another Korean War.

With U.S. military strength redeployed to Vietnam, North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung wanted to become such an annoyance that the United States would give up protecting South Korea. North Korea ambushed American units along the border and even infiltrated South Korea in an attempt to kill the president of South Korea at the Blue House, the presidential residence.

Then, on Jan. 23, 1968, North Korea seized the USS Pueblo, an unarmed U.S. Navy surveillance ship operating in international waters. North Korean gunboats, torpedo boats and MiG-21 fighters chased down the Pueblo, killing one sailor and capturing 82 others. The officers and crew of the Pueblo were held and tortured for 11 months. They underwent physical and mental therapy after their release.

Kim Il-Sung's plan completely backfired. Not only did the capture of the Pueblo draw international ire for the North Korean regime, the American military increased its presence on the Korean Peninsula.

As his administration attempted to negotiate for the release of the Pueblo crew, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent six aircraft carriers to Korea, along with massive reserve reinforcements and sent $100 million in military aid to upgrade South Korea's armed forces. But Johnson wanted to avoid another war in Korea, as the U.S. military was stretched thin in Vietnam and elsewhere.

Just days after the Pueblo was captured, the massive Tet Offensive began. North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong soldiers launched a series of coordinated attacks all over South Vietnam. Most of the assaults on American and South Vietnamese positions either failed or were retaken quickly, but communist holdouts would linger for months after. The city of Hue would not be recaptured until March 1968.

The United States admitted the Pueblo intruded into North Korean territory, but only to secure the release of the Pueblo sailors. After their release in December 1968 and to this day, the U.S. government still maintains the ship was in international waters.

In 2017, President Donald Trump added North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. The move allowed surviving Pueblo sailors and the families of the deceased to sue North Korea under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. They were awarded $2.3 billion in 2021, the largest amount awarded in a state-sponsored terrorism case -- but no one knows how they will actually receive compensation.

The USS Pueblo, first launched in 1945, is still commissioned as an active ship in the U.S. Navy. The only older ship is the Revolutionary War-era USS Constitution. The Pueblo is currently moored on the Taedong River in Pyongyang, part of North Korea's Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

About this writer: -- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

a. On January 23, 1968, North Korea captured the USS Pueblo, an unarmed US Navy intelligence vessel, in international waters. The North Koreans held the 83 man crew hostage for 11 torturous months.

b. The United States, maintaining that the “Pueblo” had been in international waters, began a military buildup in the area. It also initiated negotiations that resulted in an agreement that secured the release of the 82 surviving crewmen (one died from wounds suffered during the capture) on December 23, 1968.

c. (CNN) A US federal court has awarded $2.3 billion in damages to several crew members of the USS Pueblo and their surviving families, more than 50 years after North Korea seized the American naval vessel and took its crew hostage.

d. Was the Pueblo a spy ship?

Pueblo was a small spy ship fitted with electronic equipment designed to eavesdrop on North Korean and Soviet communications. On January 11, 1968, Pueblo set out of Sasebo, Japan, for an intelligence-gathering mission off of North Korea's east coast.
The crew and captain of the U.S. intelligence gathering ship Pueblo are released after 11 months imprisonment by the government of North Korea. The ship, and its 83-man crew, was seized by North Korean warships on January 23 and charged with intruding into North Korean waters.

The seizure infuriated U.S. President Lyndon Johnson. Later, he claimed that he strongly suspected (although it could not be proven) that the incident with the Pueblo, coming just a few days before the communist Tet Offensive in South Vietnam, was a coordinated diversion. At the time, however, Johnson did little. The Tet Offensive, which began just a week after the ship was taken by North Korea, exploded on the front pages and televisions of America and seemed to paralyze the Johnson administration. To deal with the Pueblo incident, the United States urged the U.N.’s Security Council to condemn the action and pressured the Soviet Union to negotiate with the North Koreans for the ship’s release.

It was 11 long months before the Pueblo‘s men were freed. Both captain and crew were horribly treated and later recounted their torture at the hands of the North Koreans. With no help in sight, Captain Lloyd Bucher reluctantly signed a document confessing that the ship was spying on North Korea. With this propaganda victory in hand, the North Koreans released the prisoners and also returned the body of one crewman who died in captivity. Some Americans criticized Johnson for not taking decisive retaliatory action against North Korea; others argued that he should have used every diplomatic means at his disposal to secure a quick release for the crew. In any case, the event was another blow to Johnson and America’s Cold War foreign policy.

Personal note: I was in from 63-75 and I recall the incident told to us our superiors. During our Nam tours - we'd always be aware of the ship they held - and about the guys that were being held & tortured. We wanted revenge - we want to hurt those Cong real bad.
We wondered how it would take to get them back. We all had lost many friends and relatives during the NAM war - my school buds and my little brother & my wife brother from AO. There are many more who've died from various illness's including Agent Orange and Asbestos. To date many of the guys that were on the ships have suffered from those elements as well many other chemicals.
Uncle Sam knows this - but isn't really making it easy to get compensation - lots of red tape goes on and on until validated - Big Brother only takes care of their own political endeavor's. Draft dodgers were many - like Trump. If you've never served or been in a war - how can you make such reticules claims - flat feet my ass. Money always buys a way out - pay the doctor's to write up a medical history - that will get them out serving. Big bucks can do that.
I'll tell you one thing anyone & everyone that ever served - did it with honor - and for their country & their buddy's.
They will always have my respect - and all the wounded will come before anybody - or anything else!
They are our Brother's and they are like any of our family members - you want the very best for them - at any cost!

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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