Year
1970

Operations continue in Cambodia

A force of 10,000 South Vietnamese troops, supported by 200 U.S. advisers, aircraft and logistical elements, attack into what was known as the “Parrot’s Beak,” the area of Cambodia that projects into South Vietnam above the Mekong Delta. The South Vietnamese reached the town of Takeo in a 20-mile thrust. This action was part of the ongoing operation ordered by President Richard Nixon in April. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces launched a limited “incursion” into Cambodia that included 13 major ground operations to clear North Vietnamese sanctuaries 20 miles inside the Cambodian border in both the “Parrot’s Beak” and the densely vegetated “Fishhook” area (across the border from South Vietnam, 70 miles from Saigon). Some 50,000 South Vietnamese soldiers and 30,000 U.S. troops were involved, making it the largest operation of the war since Operation Junction City in 1967.

In the United States, news of the incursion set off a wave of antiwar demonstrations, including one at Kent State University that resulted in the killing of four students by Army National Guard troops. Another protest at Jackson State in Mississippi resulted in the shooting of two students when police opened fire on a women’s dormitory. The incursion also angered many in Congress who felt that Nixon was illegally widening the scope of the war; this resulted in a series of congressional resolutions and legislative initiatives that would severely limit the executive power of the president.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Televised Watergate hearings begin

In Washington, D.C., the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, begins televised hearings on the escalating Watergate scandal. One week later, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special ...read more

Heyerdahl sails papyrus boat

On May 17, 1970, Norwegian ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl and a multinational crew set out from Morocco across the Atlantic Ocean in Ra II, a papyrus sailing craft modeled after ancient Egyptian sailing vessels. Heyerdahl was attempting to prove his theory that Mediterranean ...read more

Brown v. Board of Ed is decided

In a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court hands down an unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that racial segregation in public educational facilities is unconstitutional. The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance ...read more

Henri Barbusse is born

Henri Barbusse, author of Le Feu (Under Fire), the prize-winning, best-selling novel based on his service during World War I, is born on this day in 1873 in AsniÈres, France. As a young man before the war, Barbusse became a member of Paris’s literary and artistic circles as a ...read more

Islanders win fourth consecutive Stanley Cup

On May 17, 1983, the New York Islanders win their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup, sweeping the Edmonton Oilers four games to none with a 4-2 win at home on New York’s Long Island. After struggling in their inaugural season as an expansion team in 1972-73, losing 60 games and ...read more

Andrew Johnson marries Eliza McCardle

On this day in 1827, future President Andrew Johnson marries a shy, quiet, 16-year-old daughter of a shoemaker named Eliza McCardle. He was 18 years old. Johnson met Eliza while looking for a job as a tailor in Greeneville, Tennessee. The couple married in Warrenton, Tennessee, ...read more

Geronimo flees Arizona reservation

For the second time in two years, the Apache chief Geronimo breaks out of an Arizona reservation, sparking panic among Arizona settlers. A famous medicine man and the leader of the Chiricahua Apache, Geronimo achieved national fame by being the last American Indian to surrender ...read more

Fire engulfs Honduras prison

A fire in an overcrowded Honduras prison kills 103 people on this day in 1994. An overheated refrigerator motor sparked the horrible blaze that raced through the outdated jail. Only a year earlier, a gang fight at the same prison had left nearly 70 people dead. The prison, in ...read more

LAPD raid leaves six SLA members dead

In Los Angeles, California, police surround a home in Compton where the leaders of the terrorist group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) are hiding out. The SLA had kidnapped Patricia Hearst, of the fabulously wealthy Hearst family publishing empire, months earlier, ...read more