40 years after capture, USS Pueblo crew reunites

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Ralph McClintock expected only a three-week mission when he boarded the USS Pueblo in January 1968.

Instead, he and his shipmates became pawns in a Cold War sideshow when North Korea captured the Navy spy ship and imprisoned its 82 crew members. Some still suffer the physical effects of torture or malnutrition they suffered in 11 months of captivity.

McClintock is proud of his service as a 24-year-old communications technician and the bonds he made with his crew mates, but that pride is tinged with bitterness.

"We were treated as heroes when we got back, but what the Navy, the institution of the Navy really wanted, in my opinion, is the Pueblo to have sunk," McClintock said at his Jericho home. "When we came back, the Navy now has to look at itself and they don't like to look at themselves."

On Wednesday, 40 of the 69 surviving crew members will gather in neighboring Essex for a four-day reunion featuring exhibits and speeches by experts on U.S.-Korean relations.

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