Year
1959
Month Day
July 08

First Americans killed in South Vietnam

Maj. Dale R. Buis and Master Sgt. Chester M. Ovnand become the first Americans killed in the American phase of the Vietnam War when guerrillas strike a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) compound in Bien Hoa, 20 miles northeast of Saigon. The group had arrived in South Vietnam on November 1, 1955, to provide military assistance. The organization consisted of U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps personnel who provided advice and assistance to the Ministry of Defense, Joint General Staff, corps and division commanders, training centers, and province and district headquarters.

READ MORE: Vietnam War Timeline

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ALSO ON THIS DAY

Liberty Bell tolls to announce Declaration of Independence

On July 8, 1776, a 2,000-pound copper-and-tin bell now known as the “Liberty Bell” rings out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Four days ...read more

North Korea’s “Great Leader” dies

Kim Il-Sung, the communist dictator of North Korea since 1948, dies of a heart attack at the age of 82. In the 1930s, Kim fought against the Japanese occupation of Korea and was singled out by Soviet authorities, who sent him to the USSR for military and political training. He ...read more

MacArthur named Korean commander

The day after the U.N. Security Council recommended that all U.N. forces in Korea be placed under the command of the U.S. military, General Douglas MacArthur is appointed head of the United Nations Command by President Harry S. Truman. MacArthur, the son of a top-ranking army ...read more

Commodore Perry sails into Tokyo Bay

Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, representing the U.S. government, sails into Tokyo Bay, Japan, with a squadron of four vessels. For a time, Japanese officials refused to speak with Perry, but under threat of attack by the superior American ships they accepted letters from ...read more

Paris celebrates 2,000th birthday

On July 8, 1951, Paris, the capital city of France, celebrates turning 2,000 years old. In fact, a few more candles would’ve technically been required on the birthday cake, as the City of Lights was most likely founded around 250 B.C. The history of Paris can be traced back to a ...read more

German general’s diary reveals Hitler’s plans for Russia

On July 8, 1941, upon the German army’s invasion of Pskov, 180 miles from Leningrad, Russia, the chief of the German army general staff, General Franz Halder, records in his diary Hitler’s plans for Moscow and Leningrad: “To dispose fully of their population, which otherwise we ...read more

Ernest Hemingway wounded on the Italian front

On July 8, 1918, Ernest Hemingway, an 18-year-old ambulance driver for the American Red Cross, is struck by a mortar shell while serving on the Italian front, along the Piave delta, in World War I. A native of Oak Park, Illinois, Hemingway was working as a reporter for the ...read more

Soapy Smith killed in Skagway, Alaska

A disgruntled city engineer in Skagway, Alaska, murders “Soapy” Smith, one of the most notorious con men in the history of the West. Born in Georgia in 1860, Jefferson Randolph Smith went west while still a young man, finding work as a cowboy in Texas. Smith eventually tired of ...read more

A spiteful son kills four in a fit of rage

Rose Booher, her son Fred, and two hired workers are all shot to death on a secluded farm in Mannville, Alberta, Canada, while the rest of the Booher family is away. Although nothing appeared to be stolen from the house and few clues were found, authorities determined that a ...read more

Colonel Castillo Armas takes power in Guatemala

Col. Carlos Castillo Armas is elected president of the junta that overthrew the administration of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in late June 1954. The election of Castillo Armas was the culmination of U.S. efforts to remove Arbenz and save Guatemala from what American ...read more