Still At War

North Korea has been in the news a lot lately… executing a high ranking official, executing Christians, and capturing an American Korean War vet on a tourist visa in North Korea. It’s best to remember we have been at war with North Korea since 1950. The above book is about the USS Pueblo — attacked and captured by North Korea in 1968. The book is excerpted by Politico here… it can be purchased above.

In the early hours of his second day in prison, Pete Bucher decided to kill himself.

He was a physical and emotional wreck. Repeated beatings had left him pissing blood. Sleep was nearly impossible; his arms, legs, back, sides and chest bore so many painful bruises that it was difficult even to lie down. Lingering nausea erased any desire for food.

A profound sense of shame tormented him. He had signed a false espionage confession only after the North Korean communists had repeatedly beaten him, subjected him to a mock execution, forced him to view a hideously tortured and mutilated South Korean captive, and threatened to shoot his sailors one by one before his eyes, starting with the youngest. Yet he berated himself for caving in too quickly to the North Korean colonel who ran the prison, whom the crewmen nicknamed “Super C.” He should’ve held out longer, absorbed more kicks and punches and karate blows. Why hadn’t he called the communists’ bluff when they brought the Pueblo’s fireman, Howard Bland, to the interrogation room? Maybe they wouldn’t have shot the young seaman after all.

It had all happened so fast—still was happening fast. Shortly after confessing, Bucher was forced to appear at a staged press conference during which North Korean “journalists” hissed at him and angrily demanded details of how he’d spied on their country. Exhausted, deeply depressed and reading from a prepared script, the captain robotically confirmed every allegation.

There was no telling what the North Koreans would try to extract next. So far they’d been content merely to use him as a mouthpiece for obvious propaganda. What if they wanted more? His mind was a treasure chest of military secrets: details of U.S. naval war plans, submarine operations, undersea surveillance techniques and agent landings. Could the communists pry open that mental lockbox with the diabolical levers of pain and fear? The truth was that they probably could.

Snow flurries thrummed against the window of his threadbare room. The ceiling light burned around the clock. Despair and loneliness plagued him. By now, he figured, the communists probably had pumped all the classified information they could out of Lt. Steve Harris, who supervised the specially trained technicians who ran the ship’s eavesdropping equipment, and shot him. Other crewmen might be dead from wounds suffered during the attack or beatings in prison.

Suicide was contrary to Bucher’s life-loving nature and staunch Catholicism, but he felt he had no choice. He sensed he already was close to a breaking point from all of the beatings and intimidation; more concentrated forms of pain probably would cause him to fall apart completely. He feared torture much more than death, and killing himself quickly seemed a lot better than letting Super C’s thugs do it slowly. The last thing he wanted was to be reduced to a shattered wretch babbling his country’s secrets in exchange for even a brief respite from the torturer’s dreadful tools.

There’s a lot more at the link above.

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