Quotes from Congressmen



"My remarks are aimed at the lack of adequate planning and the lack of adequate contingency planning for the protection of such a vessel on such an important mission. I start with the assumption these missions are highly important to the national security of the United States. We must continue, and I trust that we will. However, I do raise the question whether or not

we should have a 12.3-knot ship handling this critical responsibility.


I question whether our plans for air cover, and our contingency planning, were sufficient to meet the kind of circumstances that arose. I raise the question whether we had adequate protection afforded ships that were on this mission by other naval vessels.

I hope and trust that the obviously inadequate contingency planning for these missions has now been corrected.


The point is very simply this: If we had had sufficient contingency planning to prevent the seizure of the men and the ship, it would not have happened. But once the ship and the men had been seized, our Nation's options were very, very limited. So my criticism of the administration and of the Defense Department is aimed at their insufficient [timing] and their inadequate contingency planning to prevent the seizure of the men and the ship."


Congressman Gerald Ford of Michigan



"The world shall know that America is proud of the crew of the Pueblo and distressed over their plight and the plight of American honor, respect, and security."


Congressman Harrison



"…We went through all the motions of a bluff. We sent the U.S.S. Enterprise, one of the mightiest warships in the world, steaming toward North Korea. We called out part of the National Guard. Our Ivy League diplomats and all the appropriate administration officials made all the appropriate noises in the appropriate diplomatic language. It was quite possibly the biggest threat the United States had made since the War of 1812.


If we had threatened the Soviet Union or the Red Chinese in such terms, there would have been little doubt that we meant what we were saying. But I guess that the North Koreans and the world just did not believe that the big, powerful United States of America would turn the muscle on North Korea. And the bluff fell flat on its face. Then we stuck our four aces in our pocket and let the North Koreans keep the pot. The penny ante gambler beat the billionaire without even openers…..


The U.S. chickened out. It is that simple. When the crew of the Pueblo is finally. returned home-and I pray they will be returned soon-we will have to admit to them that we could not take the pressure…


Now that the time for force has long since passed, let us take any steps necessary to effect the return of those men. We keep hearing about secret negotiations between the United States and North Korea, but I have difficulty understanding what is being negotiated. They hold all the cards now, and we are going to have to get the crew returned on their terms."


Congressman Hosmer



"Mr. Speaker, I want to join with all Members of this body in assuring the families of the men of the Pueblo and telling to the world that the Pueblo and its men shall not be forgotten.

I assure the Members of this House that your Committee on Armed Services, the committee you have charged with, overseeing the military affairs, has not forgotten the Pueblo


….some time ago, I had a meeting with the Secretary of Defense, and following our discussion of the subject, arrangements were made for the families of the men of the Pueblo to travel on a "space available" basis on military aircraft. This was done. This was very important, as some of them were changing their residences following the capture of the ship by the North Koreans.


This very week we will bring to the floor of the House a bill to provide hostile-fire pay for the crew of the Pueblo. That will be coming up this week, if I can get the floor. This bill will be retroactive to January, the month in which the ship was captured. The men will continue to be credited with this additional. pay until the month after their return from North Korea.


I might also point out that under a bill passed late last year by our committee, Public Law 90-122, the dependents of men captured or in a missing status or unable to take part in the savings deposit program provided by armed services personnel overseas will be taking part in this even if the men have not previously made deposits to the program. The dependents of the Pueblo crew members are now in this program which pays interest rates up to 10-percent a year. My reports are they are very grateful, but that is the least we can do.


We in the Committee on Armed Services, Mr. Speaker, continue to be concerned about the welfare of the men of the Pueblo and about their safe return. As a matter of fact, as Members of the House know, negotiations are being carried on diplomatically. These are delicate negotiations, and it would not be proper for me to comment on them now…


The U.S.S. Pueblo was in international waters in the Sea of Japan when she was surrounded by North Korean patrol boats and boarded by an armed party. The ship was 25 miles from the nearest

point of the North Korean mainland. All of the information I have received from the Defense Department confirms this. The boarding of this ship was an act of the most outrageous piracy committed by these savages known as the North Koreans. There were 83 men aboard the Pueblo when she was captured-six officers, 75 enlisted men, and two civilians. Since that time one of these brave Americans, Duane Daniel Hodges, has died.

We shall never forget the Pueblo—and we shall not forget the North Koreans."


Congressman Mendell Rivers of South Carolina



"Mr. Speaker, every American share the resentment and the sense of outrage generated by North Korea's seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo and its crew. Every American experiences the sense of frustration brought about by the long delay in effecting the release of the crew members. Every patriotic and able-bodied American male would gladly take up arms and march to bring about that release by force if it were possible.


Unfortunately, the unpleasant but hard facts are that it is not immediately possible. An attack on North Korea would almost surely result in the execution of all 82 surviving crew members. Since the safety of the men must be and will be our first consideration we are limited in our rescue attempts in dealing with a nation which has shown no regard for international rules regarding. the humane treatment of prisoners. It is humiliating to this country to be forced to rely on diplomatic steps with their interminable delays when every instinct cries out for the launching of a rescue attempt in force.


The families of the imprisoned men, united in their anguish, grieve for their loved ones, and they wonder, as must the men themselves, why a mighty nation such as this should be powerless to pluck the men from their prison.


We are not dealing with a civilized nation which abides by accepted rules of conduct, however. We are dealing with a nation which has not hesitated to send assassins to attempt to kill the president of a neighboring state. It is a nation which would not hesitate to execute prisoners in the event of an attack, a nation which indeed has taken those prisoners only by reason of its willingness to violate internationally accepted codes of conduct.

Our Government, sharing as it does the feelings of the people, bears the burden of responsibility. for preserving the lives of the crew members as far as it is possible to do so. With this responsibility a foremost consideration, this Nation will take every possible step to bring about their release at the earliest possible moment."


Congressman Van Deerlin



"…What do we find now about the Pueblo? Our Government has accepted the intolerable, and Is acting as if it were inevitable. After a brief period of hand-wringing, our State Department has settled down into a nit of defeatism, puny protest, and wishy-washy talkathons with the North Koreans.


It is tragic that 82 Americans--one of the crew died from wounds at North Korean hands, three others were wounded are still being held by a 10th-rate power. I have been in almost daily contact with the State Department over their efforts to rescue the men and return the ship. It was discouraging to have them admit the other day that they do not know with certainty where the men of the ship are even located at the present time.


We all witnessed the frustrating display of confusion in the days following the January 23 seizure. Our State Department ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, flapping in circles. First it was claimed that were were in international waters. Then It was hinted that we might not have been. Then the United Nations, that fangless international watchdog, was called in, and produced, nothing but its customary quota of meaningless debate.


In a belated show of force, and in effort to douse the question of how the ship was allowed to be vulnerable, Secretary of Defense McNamara sent units of the Pacific Fleet into nearby waters. The insincerity of this effort was unmasked on February 13, when Navy pilot Lt. Joseph P. Dunn was shot down by Red Chinese MiG's 5 miles off the coast of the Island of Hainan. When the skipper of one of our aircraft carriers asked permission to rescue Dunn, It was denied and the Navy now lists him as missing in action…


It is heartrending for parents, wives, relatives, and children of the courageous Americans who. serve in our Armed Forces to realize that their Government seems not to care for the lives and wellbeing of all of our servicemen today. It is outrageous that Uncle Sam has become a modern Gulliver, tied down by Lilliputian foreign governments who burn our flags, destroy our missions, kill, and kidnap our citizens with impunity. They cannot help but ask how it is possible that President Johnson could send 30,000 American troops into the Dominican Republic to settle a domestic dispute there, but could not send a single plane into North Korea to turn back a piratical seizure of our own ship, manned by our own men.

The Pueblo is a symptom of a grave national illness. Fortunately, it is reversible. The public this year will [sic] have the opportunity to restore the strong pulse of America. And their slogan might well be: remember the Pueblo."


Congressman Wilson


(All from the Congressional Record, July 22, 1968)




Prepared by Harry Iredale


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