Hostage rescue mission ends in disaster
On April 24, 1980, an ill-fated military operation to rescue the 52 American hostages held in Tehran ends with eight U.S. servicemen dead and no hostages rescued.
With the Iran Hostage Crisis stretching into its sixth month and all diplomatic appeals to the Iranian government ending in failure, President Jimmy Carter ordered the military mission as a last ditch attempt to save the hostages. During the operation, three of eight helicopters failed, crippling the crucial airborne plans. The mission was then canceled at the staging area in Iran, but during the withdrawal one of the retreating helicopters collided with one of six C-130 transport planes, killing eight soldiers and injuring five. The next day, a somber Jimmy Carter gave a press conference in which he took full responsibility for the tragedy. The hostages were not released for another 270 days.
“Hostage rescue mission ends in disaster.” 2008. The History Channel website. 24 Apr 2008, 11:58 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4948.
1519 – Envoys of Montezuma II attended the first Easter mass in Central America.
1547 – Charles V’s troops defeated the Protestant League of Schmalkalden at the battle of Muhlburg.
1800 – The Library of Congress was established with a $5,000 allocation.
1877 – Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire.
1884 – Otto von Bismarck cabled Cape Town that South Africa was now a German colony.
1898 – Spain declared war on the U.S., rejecting America’s ultimatum for Spain to withdraw from Cuba.
1915 – During World War I, the Ottoman Turkish Empire began the mass deportation of Armenians.
1916 – Irish nationalist launched the Easter Rebellion against British occupation forces. They were overtaken several days later.
1948 – The Berlin airlift began to relieve the surrounded city.
1961 – U.S. President Kennedy accepted “sole responsibility” following Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
1968 – Leftist students took over several campus buildings at Columbia University.
1970 – The People’s Republic of China launched its first satellite.
1981 – The IBM Personal Computer was introduced.
1989 – Thousands of students began striking in Beijing.
1990 – The space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, FL. It was carrying the $1.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope.
1997 – The U.S. Senate ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. The global treaty banned the development, production, storage and use of chemical weapons.
General Orders No. 100 issued
The Union army issues General Orders No. 100, which provided a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with Confederate prisoners and civilians. The code was borrowed by many European nations, and its influence can be seen on the Geneva Convention.
The orders were the brainchild of Francis Lieber, a Prussian immigrant whose three sons had served during the Civil War. One son was mortally wounded while fighting for the Confederacy at the Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1862. Lieber’s other two sons fought for the Union. Lieber was a scholar of international law who took a keen interest in the treatment of combatants and civilians. He wrote many essays and newspaper articles on the subject early in the war, and he advised General Henry Halleck, general-in-chief of the Union armies, on how to treat guerilla fighters captured by Federal forces.
Halleck appointed a committee of four generals and Lieber to draft rules of combat for the Civil War. The final document consisted of 157 articles written almost entirely by Lieber. The orders established policies for, among other things, the treatment of prisoners, exchanges, and flags of truce. There was no document like it in the world at the time, and other countries soon adopted the code. It became the standard for international military law, and the Germans adopted it by 1870. Lieber’s concepts are still very influential today.
“General Orders No. 100 issued.” 2008. The History Channel website. 24 Apr 2008, 11:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2183.
The Bandung Conference concludes
The Afro-Asian Conference–popularly known as the Bandung Conference because it was held in Bandung, Indonesia–comes to a close on this day. During the conference, representatives from 29 “non-aligned” nations in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East met to condemn colonialism, decry racism, and express their reservations about the growing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The United States government was generally appalled by the Bandung Conference. Although invited to do so, it refused to send an unofficial observer to the meetings. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was already on record as equating neutralism in the fight against communism as close to a mortal sin. For the United States, the issue was black and white: join America in the fight against communism or risk being considered a potential enemy. This unfortunate policy brought the United States into numerous conflicts with nations of the underdeveloped world who were struggling to find a middle road in the Cold War conflict.
“The Bandung Conference concludes.” 2008. The History Channel website. 24 Apr 2008, 11:52 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2647.
Westmoreland makes controversial remarks
At a news conference in Washington, Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. commander in South Vietnam, causes controversy by saying that the enemy had “gained support in the United States that gives him hope that he can win politically that which he cannot win militarily.” Though he said that, “Ninety-five percent of the people were behind the United States effort in Vietnam,” he asserted that the American soldiers in Vietnam were “dismayed, and so am I, by recent unpatriotic acts at home.” This criticism of the antiwar movement was not received well by many in and out of the antiwar movement, who believed it was both their right and responsibility to speak out against the war.
“Westmoreland makes controversial remarks.” 2008. The History Channel website. 24 Apr 2008, 11:56 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1803.