Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President on the Release of the Crew of the U.S.S. Pueblo.

December 22, 1968

I AM deeply gratified that after a long 11 months of totally unjustified detention by the North Koreans, the crew of the U.S.S. Pueblo have been freed. They should be reunited with their families in time for Christmas and I am happy for them that their time of ordeal ends on a note of joy.

I want to pay tribute also to the patience and courage of these relatives while their husbands, fathers, and sons were held by the North Koreans.

The negotiations at Panmunjom were cruelly drawn out and I am grateful for the understanding which the Pueblo families showed through the long and painful period during which their Government has sought to free the crew.

I must express my deep sorrow over the death of one crew member, Seaman Duane D. Hodges, who was killed while endeavoring to carry out his duties during the seizure of the ship.

I also want to thank our negotiator at Panmunjom, Maj. Gen. Gilbert H. Woodward. He carried out his difficult and successful assignment with distinction and has preserved the integrity of the United States while obtaining the release of the men of the Pueblo.

Note: The statement was released at the request of the President by Acting Press Secretary Wyatt Thomas Johnson, Jr., who stated that the president had just been informed that the 82 surviving crew members of the Pueblo and the body of one deceased member had been turned over to American authorities at Panmunjom.

For the President's Christmas message to members of the crew, see Item 643.

The electronic intelligence ship pueblo and its 83-man crew were seized on January 23, 1968, in the Sea of Japan by North Korean patrol boats and taken prisoner to the port of Wonsan.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President on the Release of the Crew of the U.S.S. Pueblo. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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