USS James E. Kyes and the USS Pueblo Incident

Between August 19, 1967 and the middle of January 1968, the Kyes
spent every month receiving combat pay for being in the waters off
the coast of Vietnam. With only a couple of brief "R&R" stops for
replenishment of food and arms, this was our longest stay in the
combat zone. Because of this we were granted R&R in Australia
and were steaming south for several days (January 20-23, 1968
best recollection).

When the USS Pueblo AGER-2
was boarded and captured on January 23, 1968, the USS James E. Kyes
DD787 was ordered to head to the Sea of Japan to assist other ships
of the 7th Fleet with taking back the Pueblo.

At Flank speed we headed away from Australia and toward the Sea of
Japan. Upon arrival in the Sea of Japan we were met by two aircraft
carriers, the USS Enterprise and USS Kearsarge and each of their escorts
of a cruiser and several more destroyers.

The USS James E. Kyes was the "Flagship" of the destroyer fleet because
we had the Captain on board. Because of this and our armament, we were
assigned to be the Tow Ship to bring the Pueblo out of Wonsan Harbor.
We maintained our position as the closest ship to the Pueblo and we could
see the Pueblo through our binoculars. My job was to chart our position
accurately for the several weeks that we sat like a buoy bouncing in the
just under hurricane weather at -40 degree temperatures.

Eventually we got the word that President Lyndon B. Johnson was going to
abandon our men and ship in North Korea. The men onboard the Kyes were
shocked and angry as we headed back to the Tonkin Golf.

Contributed by Dan Dale RM3, USS James E. Kyes DD-787

My recollections of the Pueblo Incident.

My remembrances are a bit different and a bit less romantic than Dan Dale's.
Desron 23 had just left the Gulf of Tonkin headed for Long Beach via Japan and
had formed up with the USS Kearsarge (CV-33).

We were steaming at normal cruise speed headed north up the East coast of
Hinan Island headed to Japan before heading home to Long Beach. I wasn't on
watch at the time and remember that our speed increased dramatically. I
thought nothing of it at first because I figured we were probably changing
stations in the screen around the Kearsarge (CV-33).

I don't remember if it was scuttlebutt or a sustained speed that made me
curious but I went to CIC to see what was going on. Well it wasn't clear at
the time but we had been ordered to full speed and rumors were flying. Well,
after a period of time we were told about the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) and that the
USS Constellation (CV-64) and her Desron were also headed to the Sea Of Japan
and to prepare charts of North Korea and the Sea of Japan. Needless to say
adrenalin was high.

When we arrived in the Sea of Japan we were assigned a 10 mile circle in the
central Part of the Sea of Japan and were told to track all shipping. We would
steam north and south for a while then east and west for a while. It was a
rather boring month at sea. We were told if the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) were to be
recovered that The Kyes (DD-787) would likely be assigned to go in and bring her
out because Captain Rollins had experience on that type of ship. I never heard
any reports of being able to see to see the Pueblo and seriously doubt that we
would have steamed into North Korean waters (12 miles) close enough to see her
and I would venture to say if we had we would have been fired on by North Korea
for violating her waters.

It was a sad time in our Naval history when one of our own was taken without a fight.

Well, that is my story and I am sticking to it.

John E Landers (Annie)
RD2 Watch Supervisor Starboard section CIC