Today in U.S. military history: 1995 – the closest we ever came to nuclear war

Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. Christopher Bunda, who died on this day in 2004 when his boat capsized during a patrol on the Tigris River in Iraq. Bunda, 29, of Bremer, Wash. was assigned to 2d Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Regiment and was one of four U.S. soldiers joining the Iraqi police during a river patrol. During the search for Bunda and the Iraqi policemen — the other three Americans made it to shore safely — an OH-58D Kiowa helicopter hit a power line and crashed into the river, killing 1st Lt. Adam G. Mooney and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Patrick D. Dorff.

1787: Former Continental Army captain Daniel Shays leads a group of 2,000 American rebels on a raid against the Springfield (Mass.) armory, hoping to obtain rifles. 1,200 militia meet Shays’ force, turning the attackers away by firing grapeshot into their ranks and killing four. Shays is tried and sentenced to be hanged, but the veteran of the Boston, Bunker Hill, Lexington, and Saratoga battles – who was wounded during the war and served five years without pay – is pardoned and given a pension instead.

1856: Marines and seamen from the sloop-of-war USS Decatur land at Seattle to protect settlers from an Indian attack. The Battle of Seattle lasted seven hours and the Indians suffered severe casualties, while only two settlers died.

1939: In a basement of New York City’s Columbia University, scientists split the uranium atom for the first time. This newly discovered fission reaction will be harnessed and turned into atomic weapons in six years.

1946: (Featured image) In the skies over Florida’s Pinecastle Army Airfield (now the site of Orlando International Airport), Bell Aircraft Corporation’s first XS-1 supersonic research plane, 46-062, cuts loose from its B-29 mothership for the craft’s initial flight. In October of the following year, Capt. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager will push 46-062 — now named Glamorous Glennis — past the sound barrier.

A Bell XS-1 riding a modified B-29 Superfortress drop ship. (Bell Aircraft Corporation image)

1960: A MIM-23 Hawk missile shoots down a MGR-1 Honest John nuclear-capable missile during tests, the first time a missile “kills” a ballistic missile. The Hawk is the predecessor to today’s Patriot missile system.

1995: Although the Cold War is over, Russia and the United States are the closest the two nations will come to all-out nuclear war when a Norwegian scientific research rocket launch makes Russian missile defense radar officials think that a U.S. submarine may have launched a nuclear Trident missile.

The Russian military goes on full alert in preparation for war and an armed nuclear briefcase sits in front of Russian President Boris Yeltsin – just one step away from mutually assured destruction. Fortunately, radar shows the rocket traveling away from Russian airspace after a few minutes and the Russians stand down.

[Originally published at]

Author: Chris Carter

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