Updated:
Original:
Year
1972
Month Day
October 12

Racial violence breaks out aboard U.S. Navy ships

On this day, racial violence flares aboard U.S. Navy ships. Forty six sailors are injured in a race riot involving more than 100 sailors on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk enroute to her station in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam. The incident broke out when a black sailor was summoned for questioning regarding an altercation that took place during the crew’s liberty in Subic Bay (in the Philippines). The sailor refused to make a statement and he and his friends started a brawl that resulted in sixty sailors being injured during the fighting. Eventually 26 men, all black, were charged with assault and rioting and were ordered to appear before a court-martial in San Diego.

Four days later, a group of about 12 black sailors aboard the USS Hassayampa, a fleet oiler docked at Subic Bay, told ship’s officers that they would not sail with the ship when the ship put to sea. The group demanded the return of money that allegedly had been stolen from the wallet of one of the group. The ship’s leadership failed to act quickly enough to defuse the situation and later that day, a group of seven white sailors were set upon by the group and beaten. It took the arrival of a Marine detachment to restore order. Six black sailors were charged with assault and rioting.

These incidents indicated the depth of the racial problems in the Navy. All of the services had experienced similar problems earlier, but the Navy had lagged behind the others in addressing the issues that contributed to the racial tensions that erupted on the Kitty Hawk and the Hassayampa. Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., Chief of Naval Operations, instituted new race relations programs and made significant changes to Naval Regulations to address many of the very real issues raised by the black sailors regarding racial injustice in the Navy.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

USS Cole attacked by terrorists

At 12:15 p.m. local time, a motorized rubber dinghy loaded with explosives blows a 40-by-40-foot hole in the port side of the USS Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer that was refueling at Aden, Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed and 38 wounded in the attack, which was carried out by ...read more

The origin of Oktoberfest

Bavarian Crown Prince Louis, later King Louis I of Bavaria, marries Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to attend the festivities, held on the fields in front of the city gates. These famous public fields were named ...read more

USSR leads the space race

The Soviet Union launches Voskhod 1 into orbit around Earth, with cosmonauts Vladamir Komarov, Konstantin Feoktistov, and Boris Yegorov aboard. Voskhod 1 was the first spacecraft to carry a multi-person crew, and the two-day mission was also the first flight performed without ...read more

Terrorists kill 202 in Bali

On this day in 2002, three bombings shatter the peace in the town of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali. The blasts, the work of militant Islamist terrorists, left 202 people dead and more than 200 others injured, many with severe burns. The attacks shocked residents and those ...read more

Columbus reaches the New World

After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights a Bahamian island, believing he has reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempt to find a ...read more

The victim of an anti-gay assault dies

University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard dies after a vicious attack by two anti-gay bigots. After meeting Shepard in a Laramie, Wyoming, gay bar, The Fireside Lounge, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney lured him to the parking lot, where he was savagely attacked and ...read more

Robert E. Lee dies

General Robert Edward Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, dies peacefully at his home in Lexington, Virginia. He was 63 years old. Lee was born to Henry Lee and Ann Carter Lee at Stratford Hall, Virginia, in 1807. His father served in the American ...read more

British nurse Edith Cavell executed

On the morning of October 12, 1915, the 49-year-old British nurse Edith Cavell is executed by a German firing squad in Brussels, Belgium. Before World War I began in 1914, Cavell served for a number of years as the matron of a nurse’s training school in Brussels. After the city ...read more