December 19, 1972 – When the North Vietnamese walked out on the Paris Peace talks on December 13, 1972, then President Nixon told Hanoi to get back to the table “or else.” When they refused, he ordered Operation Linebacker II, a massive bombing campaign of the densely populated areas between Hanoi and the port city of Haiphong to commence on December 18. On December 19th, the Vietnamese call the acts “barbaric” and “insane” and condemnation reigned down on Nixon from around the world calling this the “Christmas Bombing” and deliberately targets civilians. Over the next 11 days, the U.S. dropped over 20,000 tons of bombs in 1700 missions. Approximately 1600 Vietnamese civilians were killed in the largest bombing attack since World War II. On December 26, the North Vietnamese indicated they were willing to return to negotiations, and on December 29, President Nixon ordered the raids stopped. The talks resumed on January 2 and The Paris Peace Accords were finally signed on January 27, 1973. By the time the bombing stopped, 43 Americans were killed with another 49 taken prisoner.
Walk softly and carry a big stick.
December 16, 1965 – General Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam, sends Defense Secretary McNamara a request for additional troops. At this point there were nearly 200,000 soldiers in Vietnam and Westmoreland states that he will need and additional 243,000 by 1966 and 600,000 by the end of 1967. His vision was never fully realized, but U.S. involvement would max at 540,000 by 1969. Most of them drafted.
Any wonder why they protested in the streets? Ever wonder what would have happened if they drafted for Iraq and Afgahnastan?
May 25, 1961 in a speach to joint Houses of Congress, JFK proposes sending a man to the moon: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out,
of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish… ..This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts.”
On May 20, 1969 the real battle of Hamburger Hill ended after 10 days. Although heavily fortified by the North Vietnamese, the hill was of little strategic value but the American command ordered a direct assault. The battle would involve about 1,800 men, and ten batteries of artillery. The Air Force flew 272 support sorties dropping 450 tons of bombs and 69 tons of napalm. The hill would be abandoned June 5th. The stupidity of the battle enraged Americans.
Filed under 1960s, Vietnam
May 19, 1962 – At a pre-birthday party for President Kennedy held at Madison Square Garden in New York, Marilyn Monroe gave her famous rendition of Happy Birthday. With 15,000 in attendance, Monroe’s sultry and seductive vocal was upstaged only by her dress. So tight she had to be sewn into it, it was flesh-colored appearing almost sheer with over 2500 rhinestones. She sparkled and exuded sexuality. Allegedly, she wore nothing underneath.
It was to be Marilyn’s last public appearance. She would be found dead two and half months later. Rumors persist that she and Kennedy had had an affair.
Filed under 1960s, Kennedy
May 18, 1968 Apollo 10, the last of the Apollo missions that did not land on the moon, launched on its 8 day voyage. It was basically a dry run of all systems that would be used in the moon landing of the Apollo 11 mission. Its success ensured that the United States would beat the Soviet Union and win the Race to the Moon.
May 16, 1966 – Chairman Mao and the Communist Party of China issue the May 16th Notice signally the beginning of the The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. “Those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have snuck into the Party, the government, the army, and various spheres of culture are a bunch of counter-revolutionary revisionists. Once conditions are ripe, they will seize political power and turn the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Some of them we have already seen through; others we have not.” Commonly refered to as the Cultural Revolution, millions of people were persecuted in the violent factional struggles that ensued across the country, and suffered a wide range of abuses including torture, rape, imprisonment, sustained harassment, and seizure of property. A large segment of the population was forcibly displaced and historical, cultural and religious sites were ransacked. China became isolated from the world and images that escaped instilled fear and bewilderment in the west.