Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The REAL West Side Story

"Time for a game changer. We owe to the one sailor from the Pueblo, and the thirty-one from Deep Sea 129 who lost their lives at the hands of the Norks. Most of all however, we owe it to ourselves."

Yes, I have said this before. The movie West Side Story is one of my all time favorites. A modern day Romeo and Juliet. And the gangs. The Sharks and the Jets. Again, a modern version of the feud between the Montague and Capulet clans. As much I liked both Romeo and Juliet as well as West Side Story, they are both fiction. What is happening right now on the western side of the Pacific is anything but fiction. This is our west side story.

The other day, I went through some of the history on how Korea got to where it is today. I also addressed one of the darker days in the history of the United States Navy - the day the USS Pueblo was illegally captured by North Korea. But there is more. There is another dark day for the United States Naval Security Group, compliments of the North Koreans.

Less than four full months after the crew of the USS Pueblo was released by the North Koreans, the "game" stepped up a notch. On the 15th of April 1969, an EC-121 aircraft took off from NAS Atsugi Japan. Its mission was to conduct routine surveillance on Western Soviet and North Korean activity. No big deal - we did it to the Russians and they did it to us. The EC-121 would take off, get on station over international waters, loiter for a few hours, and then head back to base.

Just like with the Pueblo, the North Koreans were either ignorant or confused on two things with how the Cold War "game" was played. First, know where international waters are. And if for some reason a ship or airplane accidentally stray into North Korean waters, give a warning. Second, you don't shoot down a plane or capture a ship. That is an act of war.

But that is exactly what the North Koreans did to the EC-121, call sign Deep Sea 129. They sent up a MIG to blast this unarmed surveillance plane right out of the sky. Eight officers and twenty-three enlisted were lost. The response of the United States to this provocation? Same as it was to the Pueblo being captured. Nothing.

Both the Pueblo and the Deep Sea 129 strike home close to me. Both were staffed by cryptologists from the Naval Security Group. It strikes home to me not only because I am an American - I am also a retired cryptologist from the Naval Security Group. The loss of the Deep Sea 129 was the largest loss of American life during the Cold War.

Do the Pueblo and the Deep Sea 129 incidents cloud my judgement on how we should handle the current North Korean situation? You bet your sweet behind they do! Do I want revenge? No - justice. The price for taking innocent American lives, pirating and retaining a United States commissioned ship, and kidnapping and torturing her crew is simple -  regime change and disarmament. And when I say disarmament, I mean the whole enchilada. Nukes and everything.

After World War II, Japan decided it no longer wanted a blue water navy. Nor did the world want them to have one. So Japan has a SDF (Self Defense Force). That is it. Korea also has shown it is not mature enough to have a military like it has now. It has enough munitions (not nuclear) pointed at Seoul to level that very large city in less than a day. Millions could die. 

That is today's West Side Story. I am tired of the stork dance. I am tired of the games. I am tired of the almost daily threats. Most of all, I am tired of these guys. Time for a game changer. We owe to the one sailor from the Pueblo, and the thirty-one from Deep Sea 129 who lost their lives at the hands of the Norks. Most of all however, we owe it to ourselves.  

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