another embarrassment that our government has let happen with no action taken. I
don't think Trump would stand back and do nothing but I'm not sure exactly what
he would do which scares me.
Commanding Officer Lloyd Pete Bucher
The USS Liberty
wasn't the only ship with lost history for 50 years. This means most Americans
about 60 years old never heard of either.
This week marks the 50th
anniversary of when the USS Pueblo was captured by
-- and the
is seizing on the opportunity to aggrandize the U.S. Navy ship’s capture as a
amid escalating tensions.
Noth Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) salutes as he
walks in front of the USS Pueblo, a
navy technical research ship captured by North Korean forces in 1968, outside
' prior to a fireworks display marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war
armistice agreement, in
on July 27, 2013.
-- Fifty years after it was seized by
, the USS
Pueblo is the only U.S. Navy ship held captive by a
foreign government. And though mostly forgotten in the
, the "Pueblo Incident" for
remains a potent symbol of military success.
The spy ship, attacked and captured 50 years ago this week, sits in the frozen
Potong River on the edge of the sprawling "Victorious Fatherland Liberation
War Museum" complex in central Pyongyang, where thousands of North Koreans
are brought each day to hear the North's version of how their country, against
all odds, defeated the Americans in the 1950-53 Korean War and has been fighting
off the hostile Goliath ever since.
Amid an escalating flow of rhetorical attacks on
for allegedly trying to sour North-South relations ahead of next month's Winter
's state-run media have played up the anniversary as a milestone in the
country's continuing struggle against the
, now over leader Kim Jong Un's development of nuclear weapons and
intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In a story commemorating the anniversary, North Korea's official news agency
quoted a naval officer as saying the ship is a symbol of how the United States
will suffer a "crushing defeat" if it infringes on the country's sovereignty. It said a student
visiting the ship felt the "pleasant sensation of a victor" as he
looked at photos of the American crew.
The ship has been extensively refitted to heighten its dramatic impact. As Jang
Un Hye, a military guide who has been assigned to the museum for the past two
years, leads the way through the vessel, she points to bullet holes and
shrapnel marks that have been freshly painted a bright red. She looks down with
satisfaction at a crumpled American flag kept in a glass case on the bridge and
waves her hand at copies of confessions hanging on the wall and placed atop
metal tables that she says were handwritten by the
's captain and crew.
claims the ship entered its
territorial waters when it was attacked and Jang stands by a map near the ship's
communication room that she says shows a dozen or so incursions made by the
before its capture.
The ship's other visuals are mostly intended to underscore the American
There are grainy black-and-white photos of the captain signing a confession and
of crewmembers walking across the Demilitarized Zone after their release nearly
a year later. The
's cramped mess hall is used to show a short propaganda video.
The Pueblo was ill-equipped for the fight it got on Jan. 23, 1968. One
sailor was killed when the ship was strafed by machine gun fire and boarded.
The 82 survivors were taken prisoner.
The North Koreans released propaganda photos and videos that showed a number of
sailors raising the middle finger
to the camera as a
sign of protest. They told their captors, who were unfamiliar with the gesture,
that it was a "Hawaiian good luck sign."
Coming at the height of the Cold
War, its capture escalated quickly and threatened to become a serious military
sent carriers to the
Sea of Japan
and demanded the captives be released.
, for its part, forced members of the crew, who say they were beaten frequently,
to make public confessions.
The incident came to an end on Dec. 21, 1968, when Maj. Gen. Gilbert H.
Woodward, the chief
negotiator, signed a statement acknowledging that the
had "illegally intruded into the territorial waters of
He disavowed that before and
afterward. On the official tours of the
today, however, that's not part of the narrative.
Lloyd Pete Bucher attended a
reunion in 1987 that was held at the Hotel Washington around the corner from
the White House. I sat with Pete into the wee hours of the morning. He was very
graphic when discussing the torture his crew was subjected to for almost a year.
Following the rescue of Pete and his crew and subsequent to his being
discharged, he began a regimen of drinking and drinking and drinking. He was
able to kick the booze and took up a hobby, painting. Included below is a
collage of his works. A talented guy who loved the military and finally his own
freedom from the dreams that tormented him for years.