The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina on November 2, 1969 · 141
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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina · 141

Charlotte, North Carolina
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 2, 1969
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of as ng K tnd 50 of net be les try the But it itry felt the told for up ton !ling y in A ' A ''''Sr':lY'' rnrr'rrr? r ' 4r:: ' 1 ' ' rk''''''r'r rrr1rrs ' '41 r'rrNr) r f ' I '::ri 11 rAr 1 ' I --4 It THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER Evaa ley Nvinbis-or 2 196t 23 t ! - - - - - --- : : I - w'A''':'--r:::''':::7j':ir-F-:!"::-'::--i':-:--::::Nsx::Ei'::A:i:I - t!-:!fi::::-:::-:?:::!:--:-lt '--':k::':::-:::-v::-':':::--::'::: : : -:' - :--- -:$ ':':' :' "' y: 1 l' - :-:::::: -:: -:!'::?-':-::-:::'t:'::::i::::::-z::':::-:'i:-:::::::-'''':--? :''::-:-::?'::' :'- :c--::'0' I :::-4:h:::i :: -:-::'!:-: :?-: t ' 11 A C ii:: ::: :::0-j:i:1: : :-:::: z ?:::!::7)::::!:: :i' 0 :':': iiii--i:ii' ' :4 ' :gp:1 '-: 0' i:! i 'i'':-:' : - :il :lcr::i ::: ': :: : : : : :' ' L ':r:'::' :I:i : :'::: :':-::: : : :i- '':' :j:': : :J-: : ' ::H:' '::- :'i : ':::: ::: t 0 S S 1 ic-kii''''' : : : : : : : :: :- - : ' -' - : '4'446' ' ''''' : ‘k : ': : :: I 0 fHi ''' :::: : i''': :: i:::l '' : ':: : ' ''' : '' ' i : l ' -1 : :::1" ' r :g:''''' ': I -' ::: '' l''' 1 1 lig ::: :4' 1 i1114-47 ' l'f14 4: : '' i:: : : :: : : : 4 '' 11: ' : ‘ '4 : ': : ' ? : 11 ':'' : '::: :'::: The Bridge it-'::'::v:-::-: z :r:!!- ---4'i -i-:---:- -:- :-- 1 : ?: lin: ' ' A c ' '' : - ! '1 ' ' : :- :: "i 51") '"' ::s-- 1 : : : ' :::i:' ft 46:044 s !L 4 To Freedom h :::: : ::4: : 1 : : : 1: :: of 'A - : : - oe 1 ' f'4 - - """ 'v''' - ' - ' ' as ' ":144:':' aos41 ' i 's:l:::!' 'II 11' :'::-'' :I "el : 4: i - - p:t: ng As they crossed the 1)ri(Ige (if no red- i11:::V -4:0 le - IC 11 I turn the l'oe1)1() crew'men I()oke :::::: : :::-:::: : :::--: -:: K straight ahad The North Koreans i7:: tnd had warned them not to look back and t :: i:: - 50 not to gesttire - : - : 8 of 1 :- : : : : : 1 - - -: - nt- - v - - - '::- - - - -- - ult ----- -: -- net 1 - : :: - - - :s : 1)0 I : : les 1 :' - --: :- -:: - ilty t tile :-:::-:: :!- :::::i: " But : :-: : i 1 : - : - : :: : : -'' - - ' - ""- - - " — Ittli Across The Bridge To Freedom As they crossed the bridge of no return the Pueblo crewmen looked straight ahead The North Koreans had warned them not to look back and not to gesture Room Daddy At the news conference there were only eight or 10 North Koreans The only questions were whether the men were happy to be going home The men gave all the right answers "We just didn't want to mess it up" said Schumacher Later that night the guards came and took the men individually from their rooms one every 15 minutes That didn't surprise Schumacher They were always thking someone out of a room day or night When no one came back he began to be suspicious Then his turn came lie was taken to a room stripped and given new clothing: a heavy jacket pants and an under jacket all gray Then the men were gathered and put aboard four buses This time there were no blindfolds Instead each prisoner was given a pack of filter-tip cigarettes and a sack of hard candy Then the buses left for a railroad station 20 minutes away Breaking Camp Left behind were all the letters and pictures from home and a few meager souvenirs— buttons and the like that they had picked up around the play yard Schumacher recalls Bucher had also written "Communism sucks- on the underside of his table Aboard the train each man had a wooden bunk and a blanket "I asked God to make everything go right and thanked him for making this day possible" said Schumacher After six hours the train reached Kaesong and the men were put on buses for the two hour ride to Panmunjom The North Koreans took back the candy and cigarettes The men were told they would be released in inverse order of rank except for the commander who would go first to verify Hodge's body lint at Panmunjom an officer told them something had gone wrong with the negotiations And there in sight of freedom they waited and wondered Con Pak as usual was mad lie had one more trick to play before this 29th and final meeting in the little hut Over the Pueblo was to finish At 9 am Gen Woodward be gan to read the statement born of a Washington housewife "The position of the United States Government with regard to the Pueblo as consistently expressed in the negotiations at Panmunjom and in public has been that the ship was not engaged in illegal activity that there is no convincing evidence that the ship at any time intruded into the territorial waters claimed by North Korea and that we could not apologize for actions which we did not believe took place The document which I am going to sign was prepared by the North Koreans and is at variance with the above position but my signature will not and cannot alter the facts I will sign the document to free the crew and only to free the crew" America's Apology Then he signed "To the Government of Democratic People's Republic of Korea" the document began "The Government of the United States of America acknowledging the validity of the confessions of the crew of the USS Pueblo and of the documents of evidence produced by the representatives of the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the effect that the ship which was seized by the self-defence (sic) measures of the naval vessels of the Korean People's Army in the territorial waters of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on January 23 1968 had illegally intruded into the territorial waters of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on many occasions and conducted espionage activities of spying out important military and state secrets of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea shoulders full responsibility and solemnly apologizes for the grave acts of espionage committed by the US ship against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea after having intruded into the territorial waters of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and gives firm assurance that no US ships will intrude again in future into the territorial waters of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea "Meanwhile the Government of the United States of America earnestly requests the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to deal leniently wit h the former crew members of the USS Pueblo confiscated by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea taking into consideration the fact that these crew members have confessed honestly to their crimes and petitioned the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for leniency "Simultaneously with the signing of this document the undersigned acknowledges receipt of 82 former crew members of the Pueblo and one corpse "On behalf of the Government of ths United States of America "Gilbert H Woodward "Major General United States Army" That seemed to have been that But at the moment of release Pak said America's preannouncement had violated the agreement terms "I am withdrawing my agreement" he said There was no violation Woodward said It was his understanding that if one country said something beforehand the other could make any answering statement it wanted "It was a violation" said Pak "and I'm going to release the men at 11:30 instead of a m" It was 1A'oodward thought h 1 1: iii: -ii tra to 1 t7171 T-w 4 : r 1111 :111 f ' 0 Who's Accountable Who's They were not yet home but they were out The Navy quickly issued them clothing In Seoul they paused long enough for the skipper to bold a press conference—a real one this time—at which he began to fill in the blanks Ile praised his crew "Those guys were simply tremendous" Ile denied any intrusions and defended his actions "I never doubted in my mind that the United States government ever considered that I had disobeyed wilfully intentionally or unintentionally the instructions I had received" Then they boarded two C-I41 Star lifter transports to begin the long voyage kick over the Pacific they had crossed in their ship more than a year before THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER Pak's last kick in the butt For two and a half hours the men of the Pueblo waited in their buses The North Koreans played them a tape of one of Bucher's statements An officer said North and South Korea should be reunited just as they were going to be reunited with their families They were told how to cross over the line: no talking no running no looking back no gestures If any one violated the rules they would be taken back to North Korea At the bridge of No Return they took Bucher off the bus He went to an ambulance where Hodge's body lay in a plain wooden box The North Koreans removed the lid and the windings from the body and asked Bucher to identify it "That's Hodges" he said Photographers took pictures Then they put the coffin back in the ambulance and drove it across the bridge Hodges was the first one home Bucher was ordered to stand at attention at a podium surrounded by doves at the end of the bridge Out strode Gen Pak who harangued the American 'ETU then obscure sailors but now "As far as the US Navy and the nation are concerned now these men acted honorably" said Rear Adm Edwin M Rosenberg in charge of getting the men home And Lloyd Bucher he said was a "hero among heroes" In the holiday mood of the nation none spoke otherwise Home at Last On Christmas Eve the planes landed at the Miramar Naval Air Station at Coronado Calif just across the bay from San Diego They were back in port A band struck up "The Lonely Bull" Families and friends hurrit(1 to greet them Tears Embraces A glance to see that It was really true Another hug J) Evaa ley Nviebor 2 196t 23 for 30 minutes while he shivered in the cold Then an interpreter gave him a 30-second translation Across the Bridge Finally shortly before noon on Dec 23 11 months to the day and almost the hour after it had all begun the men began to walk across Bucher going first At 30 second intervals the men left the buses North Koeans lined both sides of the walkway and some stood at the far end of the bridge McLintock thought of giving a finger salute but didn't Schumacher thought only of the rules he was to follow As he passed the last guard he broke into a run ran up to an American MP and kissed him "At last" he said to himself A few days before GUM-ices' watch had stopped at 12:05 and he decided not to rewind it because he thought that was when they would be released He crossed the bridge of No Return at noon Murphy was the last to come over and then it was ended Whatever else he had done Lloyd Bucher had brought his men baek N a To Blame? Then an honor guard of sailors carried out the casket of Duane Hodges Trumpeters played "The Navy Hymn" An honor guard fired three rounds into the air Bucher after embracing Hodges's mother bowed his head Then a gray hearse drove liodges's body away from his shipmates They saluted Time had changed them and the lives they had left behind There was so much to catch up on So Nixon was elected? Who won the World Series? What kind of year had it been back home? Ralph Reed who at 132 was 08 pounds underweight just wanted to eat But he figured he'd been too fat anyway and planned to stop at 165 Was It k

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