Senate calls for return of USS Pueblo from North Korea

3 Aug

In this Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, photo, a North Korean military security guard keeps watch over the USS Pueblo in Pyongyang, North Korea. The Pueblo, an American spy ship, was attacked and captured by North Korea 50 years ago this week. The iconic spy ship, on display in Pyongyang, is the only commissioned US Navy ship held by a foreign government. (AP Photo/Eric Talmadge)
Even as North Korea has become more cooperative, the Colorado Senate sent a reminder that Americans also want the USS Pueblo returned as part of any improved relations between the two nations.
The Senate passed its memorial on a unanimous voice vote Wednesday — which was the final day of the 2018 session.
State lawmakers repeatedly have passed resolutions calling for the Navy ship’s return, but Wednesday’s vote came at at time when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be making conciliatory gestures towards the U.S.
The USS Pueblo was a small spy ship that was sailing off the coast of North Korea in January 1968, monitoring radio signals. The ship, with an 80-member crew, was packed with top secret National Security Agency eavesdropping and coding equipment.
On Jan. 23, the lone ship was surrounded and attacked by North Korean patrol boats. One crewman was killed, others wounded, and all were taken prisoner for 11 months. The crew was frequently beaten and tortured before being released on Dec. 23 of that year.
North Korea, however, kept the small Navy ship as a war trophy and it serves as an anti-American museum today.
Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, endorsed the memorial and said, “With its passage, we seek justice not just for American prisoners and the crew of the Pueblo, but for the tens of thousands of Koreans held captive in North Korea’s obscene prison camps.”
proper@chieftain.com

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