Cdr. Lloyd Mark Bucher died at 8:35 pm on January 28, 2004. He was laid to rest on February 3 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery with full military honors. 25 members of the Pueblo crew attended, as did many of his former shipmates in submarines.
Pete is now "On Eternal Patrol."
(Pictured Below: Members of the Crew of the USS Pueblo gathered to say goodbye to the Skipper)
For the Record…
This Free, On-line Book is a Series of "Incident Reports" and Analysis of the Efforts of Rose Bucher to Keep the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) and the Plight of its Captain and Crew Before the American Public.
By Allen Polk Hemphill
Dedication: This project is dedicated to my lovely wife, Jean, and to Rose Bucher, each of whom became a Tigress on this issue and then promptly became the shy homemaker each was before the incident. During the fateful year of 1968, Jean made more than 50 public speeches although scared to death of speaking. She never wavered when faced with threats to my career, never tired, never questioned. She absolutely knew that Pete would have come to her aid had our roles been reversed – and she has never regretted our decisions for a second. Rose stayed strong, never wavered, never questioned. These were strong women who rose briefly and did what they knew they must do…and then again became the quiet wives they had been before.
The seizure on the high seas of the U.S.S. Pueblo (AGER-2), by the North Koreans on January 23, 1968, was covered by live TV as were few events in recent history. Seldom have events so riveted the attention of the American public, been more dissected by Naval officers, or been more faithfully covered by the media. There have been a score of books, hundreds of articles, and pounds of testimony before both Congressional Committees and a U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry.
There is still much to write about because time compression of the events left out many events and slighted many facts.
I acted as the personal spokesman for Rose Bucher, wife of the Pueblo Commanding Officer, and I wrote some of Cdr. L.M. Bucher’s speeches when he returned. I stepped into these roles as a friend of the family and a former shipmate of Cdr. Bucher, not as a knowledgeable expert on public relations. I operated under a personal agreement with the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) that if I would act as a personal representative of the family and not as a spokesman for the U.S. Navy, CNO would ensure that the Navy would not give me direction.
Many who followed the saga closely, both during the year-long captivity and torture of the Pueblo crew and during the Court of Inquiry into the subject, still do not fully understand or properly appreciate many parts of the odyssey.
It was not the fault of the press. At the beginning of the Court of Inquiry, Cdr. Bucher was offered his choice of methods of testifying, and he chose to put it all on the table at one time. As a consequence, and with a near-photographic memory Cdr. Bucher testified for almost six hours on the first day – a devastating amount of information for a headline-oriented press to properly convey. During the first coffee break a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter came to me and said, "Can you get the Commander to testify slowly over the entire month? Every five minutes is a headline story, but I already have twenty headlines and I can only run one. What am I going to do with all the rest of the testimony he does this day?"
He couldn't get the information to the public, regardless of how good a reporter he was.
The purpose of this book is to round out many of the untold or seldom told stories, to add perspective, and to consider information that has subsequently become available.
Why am I qualified to write this book? Because I lived the events described herein. I also have a reference library of hundreds of hours of tapes and hundreds of pounds of testimony and photographs. Having honed my writing skills by publishing more than 1,000 newspaper columns, I decided it would be easier to write this book myself than to have someone else write my personal analysis of the story. This is my personal account, and, while the story is that of Capt. Bucher, Rose Bucher, and the crew of the USS Pueblo, this is what happened back in America as seen through my eyes.
This is a project in progress. Many names must still be researched, and therefore some are misspelled. My apologies. I intend to "revise and extend my remarks" as necessary.
More chapters will be added as time and research permits. Revisions will be made as errors are discovered.
To understand the Pueblo saga, it is necessary to understand something about attack submariners. They are selected for aggressiveness, expected to assume deaths in the 25% range during wartime (higher than the U.S. Marines), and they serve without any control over their personal actions during danger – they are fully dependent upon their Commanding Officer's expertise. Further, submariners seldom receive a Purple Heart, except posthumously, because when a submarine is struck, there is seldom a single survivor.
There is therefore a tendency for enlisted submariners to trust, and in some cases even worship, their highly competent officers – and to thoroughly detest their incompetent officers. By the same token, officers depend on the expertise of their enlisted men, because one slip by a member of the team means instant death for everyone. Understandably, submarine officers are close to their enlisted men. This relationship is unique – not that a somewhat similar relationship may not exist among other groups, but submariners, because of their high death rate and dependence on each other, have a bond that is quantitatively and qualitatively different.
Submarines are loners. Until recently, communication with submerged submarines was completely unreliable, so submarines on patrol were basically on their own for weeks at a time. Until very recent times, submarines could not determine the identity of another submarine, therefore all underwater contacts were considered to be enemy – something that must immediately be attacked. Additionally, surface warships could not, until recently, identify submerged submarines, and therefore tended to immediately attack any submerged submarines as an enemy.
The result was one crew against the world. Submarine officers were very paternalistic toward their crews, and those officers developed the leadership qualities that made their crews treat the submarine officers very differently than would normally be expected in military organizations.
This may explain the relationship between Cdr. L. M. Bucher and I, and the relationship between the commander and his crew during the attack on the Pueblo, the internment, and the Court of Inquiry.
You will see that this special relationship colored, and even drove, events as they unfolded.
It was a bizarre experience: frustrating, embarrassing, tiring, educating. I didn’t know then that the events of the next few months would cost me my naval career. Perspective must be maintained – nothing that happened to my career, or that of others could match the impact of one minute of the time spent being tortured by each of the officers and crew…and I fully understand that. Nothing could match a single minute of the anguish of the family of each missing crewmember. My career, and probably that of others, was simply "collateral damage."
Still, we had to do what we did. We felt that doing nothing would have been worse. Rose Bucher, Jean and I sat at our kitchen table at the end of the first week, and had a very brief discussion. From the way the events of the first week were proceeding it was apparent that if Jean and I continued, my career was over. The entire discussion lasted fewer than five seconds.
This series of "Incident Reports" would not have been possible without the constant support and diary-keeping of my wife, Jean, and the constant support of Rose Bucher. Both of these women performed magnificently during a very difficult year and have been supportive of all efforts to set the record straight since that year.
I am deeply indebted to Pete Bucher, the officers and the crew who have invited me to attend their many reunions and to share the celebrations of their survival. The officers and crew of the Pueblo are heroes. Bucher is a true hero, and if you don’t believe me, take the word of John Wayne…about whom more in due course..
I owe a LOT to Malcolm Howard, who edited these Incident Reports, and my sincere appreciation to Timothy Berners-Lee who began this World Wide Web Revolution which is the vehicle by which I can communicate this message.
My book begins by clicking on the button marked "First Week" on the left.
On May 2, 2009, in a ceremony held at the Mt. Soledad Cross, the Alumni of Boys Town placed a plaque in Pete's memory. These photographs memorialize that event.
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