by Skip Schumacher, Operations Officer USS PUEBLO (AGER-2)
The USS PUEBLO, which was captured by the North Koreans in 1968, was the first U.S. Navy ship to be hi-jacked on the high seas by a foreign military force in over 150 years. To date, the capture has resulted in no reprisals against the North Koreans; no military action was taken at the time, or at any later date. This lack of military response guarantees the Pueblo’s place in history as a watershed event in our national conscience.
This website is designed to assist both the casual viewer and the serious researcher in understanding the facts of the Incident, and to critically analyze those decisions that placed the ship in harms way and then failed to adequately support it. For most, simply learning the facts as told by the crew (and some others) will suffice. For more serious researchers, the intriguing questions and issues (of which there are many) are still unanswered, even today.
For instance, to understand the context of its mission, one simply has to be aware of the fate of the USS LIBERTY, a much larger ship on a similar mission, which was badly damaged by the Israelis a mere seven months before the Pueblo itself was hi-jacked. The Liberty lost 34 men during their battle (the Pueblo lost one), but managed to keep their ship afloat and meekly make it back to port. The late Captain McGonagle received the Congressional Medal of Honor (quite quietly in a non-publicized ceremony) for his heroic efforts to save his ship; the Captain of the Pueblo, Commander Pete Bucher, led his crew through 11 months of spirited resistance during their captivity at the hands of the North Koreans and was rewarded with an official recommendation for a Courts Martial. Just exactly how did the Navy absorb the experiences of the Liberty and use that knowledge to more fully protect the Pueblo? What revised procedures did the Defense Department institute take to protect its valuable assets? How did the courage, determination and heroics of Captain McGonagle differ from those exhibited by Commander Bucher? All mostly unanswered questions, but well worthy of further research and study, lest it happen again (which it has!)
Further, the Pueblo Incident itself illuminates a period when many forces were combining to create radical changes. The Incident occurred entirely during 1968, a period now viewed as the transition year between the idealistic optimism of the early Sixties and the disillusionment of the Seventies. The Incident contains elements of all the conflicting forces which were driving our world involvement at the time: our commitment to emerging third world nations, our commitment to contain the growth of communism, and an appraisal of the level of our national commitment to the role of world policeman.
We've tried to incorporate both the very mundane facts of the PUEBLO and the program in which it was involved, but still leave room for commentaries and side commentaries that inform the larger picture. So, as you use this site you can do so on several levels simply view the summary level within each section, or drill down into the finer detail levels. It's all there. Finally, this is an evolving process. We have more materials to add and we're always interested in unearthing more facts. We encourage those who have insights or actual experiences that relate to the Pueblo Incident, from any perspective, to come forth and share their knowledge with us.
Copyright © 2012 USS PUEBLO Veteran's Association. All rights reserved.
USS PUEBLO in Puget Sound, WA during
trials in 1967. Please click on the photo of PUEBLO for a large size version
(official US Navy photo)