It’s a story about a series of the grandest and bravest hoaxes by U.S. soldiers held in extremely hostile enemy prisons. Coloradans, especially those from the city of Pueblo, the namesake of the ship, have not forgotten.
Spurred by its members from Pueblo, the Colorado state legislature passed a resolution on Monday asking the U.S. government to ask North Korea to return the U.S.S. Pueblo to the U.S. The spyship was captured, probably illegally, in 1968 with Capt. Lloyd Bucher and his crew, with the loss of one crewman’s life in the capture skirmish.
North Korea (more formally known as the Peoples Republic of Korea or PRK) held Bucher and his crew eleven months in that tragic year of 1968. The crew were tortured, but PRK finally agreed to release them in December.
During their capture the crew had signed hoax confessions that, while wildly embarrassing to the PRK, got the crew in hot water when they returned to the U.S.
Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub officially and formally approves of any legislative action honoring the captain and crew of the Pueblo, and would like to see the ship returned.
Earlier stories on the Pueblo and its capture:
- “Remember the Pueblo . . . and the great hoaxes of 1968“
- “40th Anniversary: Capture of the USS Pueblo“
- “Penetration however slight: More on a good and noble hoax“
- “A Fine, Patriotic Hoax“
Southern Colorado House and Senate members recognize the bravery of the crew.
By PATRICK MALONE
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
DENVER — Colorado lawmakers on Monday recognized the USS Pueblo and the bravery of its crew with a joint resolution.
Sponsored by Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, and Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, the joint resolution also received support from Reps. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, Ed Vigil, D-Alamosa, Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Sen. Ken Kester, R-Las Animas.
On Jan. 23, 1968, the North Koreans seized the USS Pueblo while it conducted an intelligence mission in international waters. The crew surrendered without a fight. It was armed with just two machine guns.
One man was killed and others were wounded in the attack.
The crew of the USS Pueblo was held for 11 months, and North Korea still holds the ship. It is on display in a museum in Pyongyang. “It’s important to those that served and continue to serve that a country like North Korea would hold this ship,” McFadyen said. “We would like our ship back.”
Pace shared McFadyen’s vitriol over the fate of the ship.
“It’s with great consternation that (the USS Pueblo) is used as a propaganda tool,” he said. “As a country, we have to demand that the USS Pueblo be returned to the U.S.”
Pace acknowledged Pueblo’s “proud military history,” citing the four natives who’ve received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
At the time of the USS Pueblo’s capture, Puebloans rallied for the namesake ship and its 82 crew members.
Before the crew’s release, the skipper’s wife, Rose Bucher, was flown to Pueblo and honored by citizens. In 1969, her husband, Cmdr. Lloyd Bucher, visited to a hero’s welcome, much grander than the one the Navy afforded him after the crew’s release.
The crew has held several reunions, some in Pueblo.
The joint resolution recognizing the USS Pueblo, which passed unanimously, was introduced as part of Military Appreciation Day at the Legislature.
It will be sent to President Barack Obama, Gov. Bill Ritter and key members of Congress, including Colorado’s delegation.