U.S. Navy Veteran Steven Jay Robin spent a year in a North Korean prison after his ship, the USS. Pueblo, was seized by the North Korean Navy in 1968.
Far away from war, Robin adopted Gulfport as his home.
Robin passed in 2008, but on Saturday, April 10, he was memorialized with a plaque in Veterans Park at 5350 31st Ave. S.
“Steven had to muster up a special type of courage,” said Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson. “The experience of being taken prisoner is beyond my capability to understand.”
The idea to honor Robin in Veterans Park came when Mike J. Liles, a friend of the veteran, emailed the City of Gulfport inquiring about a memorial.
Gulfport Councilmember Michael Fridovich, a Vietnam veteran, pushed for a permanent plaque.
On Saturday, along with city officials and councilmembers Fridovich, Christine Brown, April Thanos and Paul Ray, one of Robin’s crewmates, Richard Rogala, shared stories of their experience.
“We ate turnip soup everyday and worked in the fields,” Rogala said. “In between the occasional beatings, we’d be told how great North Korea is.”
Rogala is passionate about retrieving the USS Pueblo from North Korea. The ship is currently serving as a Pyongyang museum piece on North Korean soil.
After a year, the crew was freed, and soon bombarded by the press. According to his family, however, Robin never spoke much about his experience.
“The feeling of being free is more than one can describe,” Rogala said.