Skip to main content
Year
1945
Month Day
September 26

First U.S. soldier killed during Vietnam's August Revolution

Lt. Col. Peter Dewey, a U.S. Army officer with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Vietnam, is shot and killed in Saigon. Dewey was the head of a seven-man team sent to Vietnam to search for missing American pilots and to gather information on the situation in the country after the surrender of the Japanese.

According to the provisions of the Potsdam Conference, the British were assigned the responsibility of disarming Japanese soldiers south of the 16th parallel. However, with the surrender of the Japanese, Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh declared themselves the rightful government of Vietnam. This angered the French colonial officials and the remaining French soldiers who had been disarmed and imprisoned by the Japanese. They urged British Maj. Gen. Douglas D. Gracey to help them regain control. Gracey, not fond of the Viet Minh or their cause, rearmed 1,400 French soldiers to help his troops maintain order. 

The next day these forces ousted the Viet Minh from the offices that they had only recently occupied. Dewey’s sympathies lay with the Viet Minh, many of whom were nationalists who did not want a return to French colonial rule. The American officer was an outspoken man who soon angered Gracey, eventually resulting in the British general ordering him to leave Indochina. On the way to the airport, accompanied by another OSS officer, Capt. Henry Bluechel, Dewey refused to stop at a roadblock manned by three Viet Minh soldiers. He yelled back at them in French and they opened fire, killing Dewey instantly. Bluechel was unhurt and escaped on foot. It was later determined that the Viet Minh had fired on Dewey thinking he was French. He would prove to be the first of nearly 59,000 Americans killed in Vietnam.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Francis Drake circumnavigates the globe

English seaman Francis Drake returns to Plymouth, England, in the Golden Hind, becoming the first British navigator to sail the earth. On December 13, 1577, Drake set out from England with five ships on a mission to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the New World. ...read more

Shannon Lucid returns to Earth

U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid returns to Earth in the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis following six months in orbit aboard the Russian space station Mir. On March 23, 1996, Lucid transferred to Mir from the same space shuttle for a planned five-month stay. A biochemist, Lucid shared ...read more

“West Side Story” opens on Broadway

On September 26, 1957, West Side Story, composed by Leonard Bernstein, opens at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. For the groundbreaking musical, Bernstein provided a propulsive and rhapsodic score that many celebrate as his greatest achievement as a composer. However, even ...read more

Kennedy and Nixon square off in first televised presidential debate

For the first time in U.S. history, a debate between major party presidential candidates is shown on television. The presidential hopefuls, John F. Kennedy, a Democratic senator of Massachusetts, and Richard M. Nixon, the vice president of the United States, met in a Chicago ...read more

Meuse-Argonne offensive opens

At 5:30 on the morning of September 26, 1918, after a six-hour-long bombardment over the previous night, more than 700 Allied tanks, followed closely by infantry troops, advance against German positions in the Argonne Forest and along the Meuse River. Building on the success of ...read more

Four 20-game winners

On September 26, 1971, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer wins his 20th game of the year, becoming the fourth Orioles pitcher to win 20 games in the 1971 season. This made the 1971 Orioles pitching staff the first since that of the 1920 Chicago White Sox to field four 20-game ...read more

The famous frontiersman Daniel Boone dies in Missouri

On September 26, 1820 the pioneering frontiersman Daniel Boone dies quietly in his sleep at his son’s home near present-day Defiance, Missouri. The indefatigable voyager was 86. Boone was born in 1734 to Quaker parents living in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Following a squabble ...read more

T.S. Eliot is born

Poet T.S. Eliot is born in St. Louis, Missouri, on September 26, 1888.  Eliot’s distinguished family tree included an ancestor who arrived in Boston in 1670 and another who founded Washington University in St. Louis. Eliot’s father was a businessman, and his mother was involved ...read more

“The Brady Bunch” premieres

On September 26, 1969, American television audiences hear the soon-to-be-famous opening lyrics “Here’s the story of a lovely lady. Who was bringing up three very lovely girls…” as The Brady Bunch, a sitcom that will become an icon of American pop culture, airs for the first time. ...read more

Mistrial declared in Phil Spector murder case

Music producer Phil Spector’s trial for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson ends in a mistrial when the jury cannot come to a unanimous verdict. On February 3, 2003, police responded to a 911 call and found the 40-year-old Clarkson dead of a gunshot wound to the mouth in the ...read more

Work begins at company that designs first mass-produced car radios

On September 26, 1928, work begins at Chicago’s new Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. (The company had officially incorporated the day before.) In 1930, Galvin would introduce the Motorola radio, the first mass-produced commercial car radio. (The name had two parts: “motor” ...read more

Allies slaughtered by Germans in Arnhem

On September 26, 1944, Operation Market Garden, a plan to seize bridges in the Dutch town of Arnhem, fails, as thousands of British and Polish troops are killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. British Gen. Bernard Montgomery conceived an operation to take control of bridges that ...read more