By lex, on December 31st, 2008
The USS Pueblo was a signals intelligence ship captured by the North Koreans on 23 January 1968 by forces of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea while operating in international waters. Her CO surrendered the ship after the loss of one sailor killed and ten wounded, but – significantly, to those in the sea service – without having fired a shot in return.
Her crew was tortured and starved for 11 months before their captain signed a confession of wrong-doing: While the NORKS had failed to beat CDR Lloyd Blucher into personal submission, they finally gained his “acquiescence” – they missed the near-homonym “pee-on” in his non-idiomatic use of the phrase “we paean the North Korean state” – by threatening to shoot one of his crewman. They were released to walk across the “Bridge of No Return,” after which the confession was retracted by the US government.
Almost forty years later, a trial judge in New York has awarded $68 million to members of her crew:
The judge, Henry H. Kennedy Jr. of Federal District Court, issued the judgment against North Korea on Tuesday.
North Korea did not respond to the lawsuit, which accused it of kidnapping, imprisonment and torture. Four former crewmen of the Pueblo filed the suit in 2006.
Good luck collecting on that.
Forty years later Pueblo – still in US commission – sits pier side at Pyongyang, North Korea, a tourist attraction and “paean” to the Kim dynasty. Which is another story entirely.
I’ve always thought that scuttling her at that pier would make a wonderful graduation exercise for a SEAL class. It’s probably a good thing I’m not in charge.