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"We survived by being together." (Audio interview, 43:12).

   Richard J. Rogala
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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Pueblo
Service Location: Japan; North Korea
Rank: Storekeeper Third Class
POW: Yes
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Enlisting in the Navy Reserves in 1966, Storekeeper Third Class Richard Rogala had no idea that he would eventually find himself in the center of one of the Cold War’s major incidents. Assigned to the deck crew of the USS Pueblo, he worked on ship maintenance; he was unaware that the main role of the Pueblo was intelligence gathering. Captured by the North Koreans in January 1968, he, along with the rest of the Pueblo crew, spent the next eleven months in captivity before US officials negotiated their release. Subsisting on a diet of turnips, rice, and bread, he lost 40 pounds; he credits his youth (he was twenty-one at the time he was captured) and the camaraderie of his crew for his survival.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (82 min.)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Patrolling off the coast of North Korea, about fifteen miles from land; being surrounded by North Korean torpedo boats and airplanes; being fired upon; one sailor injured during attack; not understanding that the USS Pueblo was an intelligence gathering ship until they were attacked and captured; no history of this kind of incident. (04:39) Being captured; led off ship in blindfolds; brainwashing; getting no news; government efforts to negotiate their release; eighty-three Navy personnel in captivity. (06:07) Keeping morale up by talking to one another; being beaten in response to report in newsmagazine about the situation; interrogations; successful negotiation for their release; transfer back to San Diego; eating the best meal of his life. (06:28)

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  October 26, 2011
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