Pueblo: 40 years ago, capture dragged crew's families through nearly a year of unbearable agony

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American Forces Network radio chattered in the background as Pat Kell fed and dressed her four children in Japan the morning of Jan. 23, 1968. A month earlier, her husband – Chief Petty Officer James Kell – volunteered for a secret mission aboard a World War II cargo ship newly refitted with communications gear. The vessel deployed from Yokosuka, Japan, after a voyage from San Diego.

Through the broadcast buzz, Pat Kell thought she heard the name of her husband's ship: Pueblo.

That can't be right, she thought. None of the crew members' families had known where the ship was going. In fact, few in the Navy had heard of the operation.
Pat Kell and the other crewmen's spouses would learn the sketchy details first from the media, not the Navy: The Pueblo was a spy ship. North Korean navy boats seized it in international waters near that nation's coast. One sailor was killed during the incident and 82 shipmates were taken prisoner by the communist regime.

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