1968: The USS Pueblo Incident

USS Pueblo

I have always been interested in history ever since I was a young boy reading books at the public library in Oglesby, Illinois.

I would go on to minor in history at Eureka College (1985-1987) and later, when I came to Korea I really got to experience history covering Korean War Commemoration events as well as writing about other events like the 25th anniversary of the 1976 Panmunjom Ax Murder Incident. 

Looking back, I would have to say that it was 1968 when I really became aware of history and what was happening around the world. There’s no doubt about, 1968 was a historical watershed year from the war in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy to the Democratic Convention in Chicago and Apollo 8’s flyby of the moon on Christmas Eve. 

And then there was the USS Pueblo Incident. 

It was forty years ago today that the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea after she had allegedly strayed into North Korean territorial waters. For the next eleven months the crew would be held captive until being released on December 23. 

I vaguely remember hearing about this on the news back in January of 1968; then again with the Vietnam War and the Tet Offensive in the early part of the year, it might have been hard for a ten-year-old to fully grasp what was happening in another Asian country halfway around the world.  

However, it would be a few more years before I knew more about the incident. Thanks to a made-for-TV movie of the incident staring Hal Holbrook as Cmdr. Lloyd Boucher many people also learned of the incident and the “Hawaiian Good Luck Sign” the crew members flashed whenever propaganda photos were taken of them in captivity. 

What I have always found interesting about the Pueblo incident was that right before she was captured, North Korean commandos attacked the Blue House in Seoul in an attempt to assassinate South Korean President Park Chung-hee. Additionally, the ship which is a tourist attraction in Pyongyang is still listed as a commissioned ship by the U.S. Navy. 

My own personal connection with the incident, albeit a journalism one, occurred in the summer of 2000 when I wrote an article about the Joint Security Area (JSA) and the Bridge of No Return where Korean War POW’s were repatriated across as well as members of the USS Pueblo (both of which were mentioned in that article and another one I would write two years later). 

And a few years later, my interest in the incident was renewed when I reviewed The Pueblo Incident: A Spy Ship and the Failure of American Foreign Policy by Mitchell Lerner for my weekly book review for the Korea Times. I thought the book was okay in that the author wanted to explore the Soviet Union connection with the Pueblo incident. 

Perhaps one day the USS Pueblo will be allowed to return home again.

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3 Responses to “1968: The USS Pueblo Incident”

  1. William Hobbs October 31, 2008 at 9:24 pm # Reply

    Where can I rent or buy a copy of the made for TV movie, “The Pueblo”?

  2. Ronald Roy Wallace August 29, 2009 at 4:13 pm # Reply

    We were operating off the coast of North VietNam, we on board the U S S America knew of the pueblo being attack, but our orders were to render no assistance to the U S S Pueblo, we could have stopped the capture, what is happening to our country?

  3. Deene Ann Ford November 7, 2009 at 2:14 am # Reply

    I worked as a maid in a small motel on Carmel Beach. It had just about 20 rooms. The nice man knew the ladies that owned it and that it had an upper scale clientele. I was there for three months to be close to my husband at Fort Ord. An author was working on a book about the USS Pueblo. The captain’s wife walked by and visted the nice ladies who owned the motel.

    I was told to never disturb his work which of course I did not. His wife joined him for Thanksgiving. When we left he told the ladies to give me a generous tip which they mailed to me. As a newlywed and at Christmas it was gold to me and to this day I like to leave something for the motel maids.

    I have finished raising my children and now thoroughly enjoy reading history. I am searching for this author. I have Googled and cannot find him. I thought his name was Mark Rascovich.

    Are you familiar with this name?

    Thank you

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