Archive for August 7th, 2008

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08

Rabbit While Hiking

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07
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-7-08: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

The United States Congress overwhelming approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon B. Johnson nearly unlimited powers to oppose “communist aggression” in Southeast Asia. The resolution marked the beginning of an expanded military role for the United States in the Cold War battlefields of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

The Johnson administration went on to use the resolution as a pretext to begin heavy bombing of North Vietnam in early 1965 and to introduce U.S. combat troops in March 1965. Thus began a nearly eight-year war in which over 58,000 U.S. troops died. In a wider sense, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution can be considered America’s Cold War policy toward all of Southeast Asia at the time. The resolution was also another example of the American government’s less than candid discussion of “national security” matters during the Cold War. Unspoken during the Congressional debate over the resolution was the fact that the commanders of the U.S. destroyers could not state with absolute accuracy that their ships had actually been attacked on the night of August 4, nor was any mention made of the fact that the U.S. destroyers had been assisting South Vietnamese commandos in their attacks on North Vietnamese military installations. By the late 1960s, the tangle of government deceptions and lies began to unravel as public confidence in both Johnson and the American military effort in Vietnam began to erode.

“Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Aug 2008, 12:55 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2752.

 

On This Day

1782 – George Washington created the Order of the Purple Heart.

1914 – Germany invaded France.

1934 – The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling striking down the government’s attempt to ban the controversial James Joyce novel “Ulysses.”

1947 – The balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki, which had carried a six-man crew 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean, crashed into a reef in a Polynesian archipelago.

1959 – The U.S. launched Explorer 6, which sent back a picture of the Earth.

1960 – The Cuban Catholic Church condemned the rise of communism in Cuba. Fidel Castro then banned all religious TV and radio broadcasts.

1974 – French stuntman Philippe Petit walked a tightrope strung between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center.

1998 – The U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were bombed killing 224 people and injuring over 5,500. Osama bin Laden was later indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury in connection with the attacks.

2003 – In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would run for the office of governor.

 

U.S. forces invade Guadalcanal

On this day in 1942, the U.S. 1st Marine Division begins Operation Watchtower, the first U.S. offensive of the war, by landing on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands.

On July 6, 1942, the Japanese landed on Guadalcanal Island and began constructing an airfield there. Operation Watchtower was the codename for the U.S. plan to invade Guadalcanal and the surrounding islands. During the attack, American troops landed on five islands within the Solomon chain. Although the invasion came as a complete surprise to the Japanese (bad weather had grounded their scouting aircraft), the landings on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tananbogo met much initial opposition from the Japanese defenders.

But the Americans who landed on Guadalcanal met little resistance-at least at first. More than 11,000 Marines had landed, and 24 hours had passed, before the Japanese manning the garrison there knew of the attack. The U.S. forces quickly took their main objective, the airfield, and the outnumbered Japanese troops retreated, but not for long. Reinforcements were brought in, and fierce hand-to-hand jungle fighting ensued. “I have never heard or read of this kind of fighting,” wrote one American major general on the scene. “These people refuse to surrender.”

The Americans were at a particular disadvantage, being assaulted from both the sea and air. But the U.S. Navy was able to reinforce its troops to a greater extent, and by February 1943, the Japanese had retreated on secret orders of their emperor (so secret, the Americans did not even know it had taken place until they began happening upon abandoned positions, empty boats, and discarded supplies). In total, the Japanese had lost more than 25,000 men, compared with a loss of 1,600 by the Americans. Each side lost 24 warships.

The first Medal of Honor given to a Marine was awarded to Sgt. John Basilone for his fighting during Operation Watchtower. According to the recommendation for his medal, he “contributed materially to the defeat and virtually the annihilation of a Japanese regiment.”

“U.S. forces invade Guadalcanal.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Aug 2008, 01:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6543.

North Vietnam and People’s Republic of China sign aid agreement

The North Vietnamese newspaper Nhan Dan reports that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has signed a new agreement to give Hanoi an undisclosed amount of aid in the form of an outright grant.

Chinese support to the Communists in Vietnam had begun with their backing of the Vietminh in their war against the French. After the French were defeated, the PRC continued its support of the Hanoi regime. In April 1965, the PRC signed a formal agreement with Hanoi providing for the introduction of Chinese air defense, engineering, and railroad troops into North Vietnam to help maintain and expand lines of communication within North Vietnam. China later claimed that 320,000 of its troops served in North Vietnam during the period 1965 to 1971 and that 1,000 died there. It is estimated that the PRC provided over three-quarters of the total military aid given to North Vietnam during the war.

“North Vietnam and People’s Republic of China sign aid agreement.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Aug 2008, 12:59 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1250.

Bush orders Operation Desert Shield

On this day in 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush orders the organization of Operation Desert Shield in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2. The order prepared American troops to become part of an international coalition in the war against Iraq that would be launched as Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. To support Operation Desert Shield, Bush authorized a dramatic increase in U.S. troops and resources in the Persian Gulf.

“Bush orders Operation Desert Shield .” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Aug 2008, 12:58 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=50718.




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