SPECIAL TO SEGAZINE
Wayne Anderson, a young seaman from Waycross, was among the crew of the USS Pueblo, a spy ship seized off North Korea’s east coast in the late 1960s, who spent 11 months in captivity as a prisoner of war.
Now the ship has been placed on display as North Korea’s greatest cold war prize.
Many of the crew who served on the vessel want to bring the Pueblo home.
Throughout its history, they argue, the Navy’s motto has been “don’t give up the ship.”
The Pueblo, in fact, is still listed as a commissioned U.S. Navy vessel, the only one being held by a foreign nation.
But with relations generally fluctuating in a narrow band between bad to dangerously bad, the United States has made little effort to get it back. At times, outsiders weren’t even sure where North Korea was keeping the ship or what it planned to do with it.
Requests for interviews with the captain of one of the North Korean ships involved in the attack were denied, and officials here have been tight lipped about their plans. The Pueblo incident is a painful reminder of miscalculation and confusion, as well as the unresolved hostilities that continue to keep the two countries in what seems to be a permanent state of distrust and preparation for another clash, despite the truce that ended the 1950-1953 war.
With a fresh coat of paint and a new home along the Pothong River, the USS Pueblo is expected to be unveiled this week as the centerpiece of a renovated war museum to commemorate what North Korea calls “Victory Day,” the 60th anniversary this Saturday of the signing of the armistice that ended hostilities in the Korean War.
Its government hopes the Pueblo will serve as a potent symbol of how the country has stood up to the great power of the United States, once in an all-out ground war and now with its push to develop the nuclear weapons and sophisticated missiles it needs to threaten the U.S. mainland.