Families of PUEBLO crew
When America's newspapers went to press for the January 23, 1968 morning edition there was a headline and a short article from the Associated Press (AP) on the front page of most:
Korean Reds Capture U.S. Boat with 83 Men: Situation ‘Grave’ -Rusk
“North Korean patrol boats captures a U.S. Navy intelligence ship late Monday off the North Korean coast - an incident the White House described today as ‘a very serious situation.’” (Associated Press)
(The article did not mention the ship's name. The time in the US was 12 hours behind that of Korea. The North Korean attack and seizure happened on Tuesday Jan 23, 1968 Korean Time.)
The Casualty Assistance Officer
Not many families knew their sons or husbands were on an intelligence collection ship or that the ship was anywhere near Korea. The Navy wives in Japan were perhaps the first know the sad news of PUEBLO's capture. In the US the families there would get the news later in the form of an official US Navy telegram informing them of the attack and capture. A short time later they received a visit from a Navy Casualty Assistance Officer. This officer would become the family's contact with the Navy. He would often bring news of their husband or son before it appeared in any news media. It was also the CAO's job, besides providing comfort, to assist the families in anyway he could. For a crewman's wife in the US it meant making sure she had access to her husbands monthly pay check. For the wives and children of crewmembers in Japan this meant helping arrange transportation back to the US.
If the crewmember was found to have been killed in action or died in captivity the officer would assist the man's wife or parents in filing for survivors benefits.
As the PUEBLO INCIDENT dragged on the families received very little official correspondence from the Navy or US Government. Their Congressman or US Senator's office became an important link in helping them to find out "what was going on." The politican would inquire of the Navy or State Dept about progress in freeing the crew. A inquiry to the US State Dept. by Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts yielded this typical response. State to Senator Brooke
In early March the US Navy sent a letter to the families of all PUEBLO crewmembers.
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the PUEBLO Incident
(provided by Harry Iredale)
When the PUEBLO crew were released from North Korea on December 23, 1968 the US Navy paid for the transportation to San Diego. The San Diego Chamber of Commerce arranged for hotel accomodations for all family members so they could welcome their men home at Mirimar Naval Air Station on Christmas Eve.