Rep. William J. Scherle
William Scherle, a congressman from Iowa
during our captivity, brought our plight to Congress's attention everyday it
was in session
the crew had been held captive for six months. For sixty minutes each day, Bill
Scherle and other congressional members
speak about the Incident for the Congressional Record to keep the issue in the
minds of "those who could do
something about it."
Captain Bucher, in a
letter to The Daily Nonpareil editor stating "His persistence and dogged
determination to ensure that those who served
Pueblo were not forgotten
significantly contributed to our eventual return." "Through his work,
Pueblo crewmen were able to accrue
many of the benefits
to returning Vietnam
POWS...[and] to gain deserved recognition through issuance of medals for
heroism under fire and devotion to duty."
On the 182nd day of
our captivity (eve of the sixth month anniversary of capture), Congressman Scherle reserved time
Congress to REMEMBER THE PUEBLO.
One congresswoman and over 80 congressmen
spoke on this occasion
"....pay tribute to the members of the crew of the U.S.S. Pueblo in acknowledgement
of their patriotic resolve, bravery,
Patience..." (Mr. Shriver of Kansas, Congressional Record - House, H7182,
July, 22, 1968)
Congressman Scherle opened the session with these remarks:
"Mr. Speaker we have chosen today for the special order
because tomorrow marks 6 months that the 82 brave men of the Pueblo
crew have remained captive in North Korean prisons.
"On January 23,
1968, In a brazen and aggressive act, the North Korean
Government seized the U.S.S. Pueblo in International waters. It confiscated
the ship and Imprisoned her crew.
"One crew member is dead as a result of injuries inflicted at the
time of the ship's capture. We lament the loss of Seaman Duane Hodges of
Creswell, Oreg. The North Koreans have thus far
refused to return this brave American to his family.
"I am pleased that so many Members of this body, from both sides
of the aisle, have indicated their desire to take part In the discussion
today concerning the Pueblo
and her crew.
"Not only Members of Congress, but other Americans, have shown
concern that the U.S.S. Pueblo and her crew axe not to be forgotten.
Americans in all parts of our country have shown that they remember the Pueblo
and her crew.
"The Pueblo, Colo.
Chamber of Commerce is distributing bumper stickers which read "Remember
"In San Diego, Calif., Marcee Rethwish, a 14-year-old girl, dipped into her savings
account for $41 and sold "support our GI's'' buttons. She raised enough
money to rent Balboa Park's
Organ Pavilion where 800 people knelt in prayer for the crew members.
"In Uniontown, Pa.,
a flame honoring the Pueblo
crew has been lit.
"On Independence Day, the flag was flown at half mast in the city of
"I could go on and on with stories of patriotic citizens trying to
keep the memory of the Pueblo
alive. I have received hundreds of letters from all over this country urging
me to keep reminding our Government that the Pueblo
crew is still being held in Communist prisons....
"Today we remember the men of the Pueblo,
we hail their valor, and we look forward to the day when they will be
released. The great outpouring of concern is evidenced by the many members of
Congress who have joined in this special order today.
has not forgotten the Pueblo,
nor will it ever forget these men who have fulfilled their obligation to us.
It is now our responsibility to fulfill our responsibility to them.
"We believe that President Johnson, as commander in chief, the
Defense Department, and the State Department should include in their list of
top priority considerations the prompt and safe return of the Pueblo
and her crew.
Congressman Scherle opens "Remember the Pueblo"
Record, July 22, 1968)
Article in Congressmen Scherle's Newsletter
CREW WELCOMED HOME
Last week Commander Lloyd Bucher, Commanding Officer of the USS Pueblo,
called our office in Washington
to invite my wife, Jane, and me to fly to San
Diego, California , to be guests of the officers and crew. A
private party had, been planned for the crew by the "Remember the Pueblo"
Committee, and among, those present were actors John Wayne, Pat Boone, and
Phil Crosby. The entire crew was present except for the men who were unable
to attend because of sickness and injuries inflicted by the North Koreans.
The highlight of the evening was the of the ship's plaques to each of
the crew. I was deeply honored to be included as recipient of one of the
plaques bearing the emblem of the captured ship. Inscribed on the plaque,
which now hangs in my Washington
office, is a citation which reads, "From the officers and crew of the
USS Pueblo with deepest appreciation".
We had an opportunity to visit with many of the crew members, both at
the reception and in Commander Bucher's home, where we spent Sunday afternoon
watching the Super Bowl game. I was impressed by the deep devotion which
Commander Bucher showed to his men and their devotion to him.
Many of the crew members mentioned Electronics Mate Clifford Nolte of Washington,
Iowa, and his strong
support of his native State while imprisoned. Jane and I had an opportunity
to visit with Clifford about Iowa
and how glad he was to be back in this country.
It was obvious from visiting with the crew members that they all endured
physical and psychological hardships. One crew member spoke of being confined
in a small cell which had a light burning constantly, 24 hours a day. Another
told of being forced to watch a shipmate being brutally beaten. The physical
appearance of many of the crew members had been drastically altered. This was
most apparent by the way their old civilian clothes hung on their bodies.
Malnutrition was apparent, scars were visible, and some had broken jaws and
other physical handicaps. Much remains to be told.
As I flew back to Washington,
I thought about the sufferings that these men had endured and how so many in
our country take their own citizenship lightly. Our freedom, in the long run,
is purchased at a high price of suffering and sacrifice.
The crew of the Apollo C was hailed throughout the world for their
brave flight around the moon which lasted only 7 days. Their emotional
appreciation of the planet Earth and home in America
made everyone thankful of the place in which we live. Yet few people
comprehend the courage and fortitude of those 82 Americans who spent almost a
year behind the Bamboo Curtain of North
Korea, subjected to the most cruel forms of harassment and torture. For this I
salute the crew of the USS Pueblo.
It is essential that Americans learn an important lesson from the
capture of the Pueblo.
The enemy we face is a brutal one; and in our dealings with him, we must be
certain that our defenses are prepared and that ships such as the Pueblo will
not again be permitted to enter hostile waters without adequate air and sea
"CONGRESSMAN BILL SCHERLE REPORTS FROM WASHINGTON TO THE 7TH DISTRICT OF
IOWA", Wednesday January 22, 1969)
Bill Scherle has attended Pueblo
reunions, including the 30th Pueblo Reunion in San Diego,
CA in 1998.
As of October 1998,
he was still speaking to school and civic organizations about the Pueblo Incident.
(B. J. Balm, The
Daily Nonpareil, October 26, 1998)
Bill Scherle passed away August 27, 2003
Prepared by Harry Iredale
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