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January 23, 1968

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
40 years ago today.

January 23, 1968
USS Pueblo captured
On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, is
engaged in a routine surveillance of the North Korean coast when it
is intercepted by North Korean patrol boats. According to U.S.
reports, the Pueblo was in international waters almost 16 miles from
shore, but the North Koreans turned their guns on the lightly armed
vessel and demanded its surrender. The Americans attempted to
escape, and the North Koreans opened fire, wounding the commander
and two others. With capture inevitable, the Americans stalled for
time, destroying the classified information aboard while taking
further fire. Several more crew members were wounded.
Finally, the Pueblo was boarded and taken to Wonson. There, the 83-
man crew was bound and blindfolded and transported to Pyongyang,
where they were charged with spying within North Korea's 12-mile
territorial limit and imprisoned. It was the biggest crisis in two
years of increased tension and minor skirmishes between the United
States and North Korea.
The United States maintained that the Pueblo had been in
international waters and demanded the release of the captive
sailors. With the Tet Offensive raging 2,000 miles to the south in
Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson ordered no direct retaliation, but
the United States began a military buildup in the area. North Korean
authorities, meanwhile, coerced a confession and apology out of
Pueblo commander Bucher, in which he stated, "I will never again be
a party to any disgraceful act of aggression of this type." The rest
of the crew also signed a confession under threat of torture.
The prisoners were then taken to a second compound in the
countryside near Pyongyang, where they were forced to study
propaganda materials and beaten for straying from the compound's
strict rules. In August, the North Koreans staged a phony news
conference in which the prisoners were to praise their humane
treatment, but the Americans thwarted the Koreans by inserting
innuendoes and sarcastic language into their statements. Some
prisoners also rebelled in photo shoots by casually sticking out
their middle finger; a gesture that their captors didn't understand.
Later, the North Koreans caught on and beat the Americans for a week.
On December 23, 1968, exactly 11 months after the Pueblo's capture,
U.S. and North Korean negotiators reached a settlement to resolve
the crisis. Under the settlement's terms, the United States admitted
the ship's intrusion into North Korean territory, apologized for the
action, and pledged to cease any future such action. That day, the
surviving 82 crewmen walked one by one across the "Bridge of No
Return" at Panmunjon to freedom in South Korea. They were hailed as
heroes and returned home to the United States in time for Christmas.
Incidents between North Korea and the United States continued in
1969, and in April 1969 a North Korean MiG fighter shot down a U.S.
Navy intelligence aircraft, killing all 31 men aboard. In 1970,
quiet returned to the demilitarized zone.

post #2 of 3
Because Bucher had also commanded the "special weapons" depot at Fort Campbell, KY (a Naval installation within an Army post), the Navy immediately moved all of the special weapons to another location. At least that's what legend states. The storage site would later (in 1983) become the first home to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Group, the predecessor to the unit that is featured in the book/movie "Blackhawk Down". We were still using those bunkers for our operations and staff HQ as late as 1995.
post #3 of 3
Odd, and shows how busy and sequestered we were. During the shoot down of the 121, I was serving with a few (sister) squadrons that flew VQ stuff.

This is the first I even heard of it. :
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