Year
1972

Weekly casualty figures contain no U.S. fatalities

On this day, weekly casualty figures are released that contain no U.S. fatalities for the first time since March 1965. There were several reasons for this. President Nixon’s troop withdrawal program, first initiated in the fall of 1969, had continued unabated even through the height of the fighting during the 1972 North Vietnamese “Easter Offensive.” By this time in the war, there were less than 40,000 U.S. troops left in South Vietnam. Of this total, only a small number, mostly advisors, were involved in ground combat. In addition, it appeared that the North Vietnamese offensive, which had been blunted by the South Vietnamese with the aid of massive U.S. airpower, was finally winding down; there had been a general lull in ground fighting for the sixth straight day. South Vietnamese losses continued to be high since they had assumed the responsibility for fighting the ground battle in the absence of U.S. combat troops.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

William the Conqueror invades England

Claiming his right to the English throne, William, duke of Normandy, invades England at Pevensey on Britain’s southeast coast. His subsequent defeat of King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings marked the beginning of a new era in British history. William was the illegitimate son ...read more

Estonia sinks

On this day in 1994, 852 people die in one of the worst maritime disasters of the century when the Estonia, a large car-and-passenger ferry, sinks in the Baltic Sea. The German-built ship was traveling on an overnight cruise from Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, to ...read more

Pompey the Great assassinated

Upon landing in Egypt, Roman general and politician Pompey is murdered on the orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt. During his long career, Pompey the Great displayed exceptional military talents on the battlefield. He fought in Africa and Spain, quelled the slave revolt of Spartacus, ...read more

Marcos dies in exile

Former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos, whose corrupt regime spanned 20 years, dies in exile in Hawaii three years after being driven from his country by a popular front led by Corazon Aquino. Elected in 1966, Marcos declared martial law in 1972 in response to leftist ...read more

Cabrillo encounters California

Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sails into present-day San Diego Bay during the course of his explorations of the northwest shores of Mexico on behalf of Spain. It was the first known European encounter with California. At San Diego, Cabrillo landed at Point Loma ...read more

Ted Williams becomes last player to hit .400

On this day in 1941, the Boston Red Sox’s Ted Williams plays a double-header against the Philadelphia Athletics on the last day of the regular season and gets six hits in eight trips to the plate, to boost his batting average to .406 and become the first player since Bill Terry ...read more

Battle for Thuong Duc begins

A battle begins for the Special Forces camp at Thuong Duc, situated between Da Nang and the Laotian border. The communists briefly captured the base before being driven out by air and artillery strikes. They then besieged the base, which was only lifted after a relief column, ...read more

President Johnson honors American soldier

On this day in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was coming under increasing criticism for sending American men to fight and die in Vietnam, bestows the Congressional Medal of Honor on Sgt. David Dolby, a member of the Army’s 1st Cavalry. On May 21, 1966, the 21-year-old ...read more

Cabrillo discovers San Diego Bay

On this day in 1542, the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovers San Diego Bay while searching for the Strait of Anian, a mythical all-water route across North America. Cabrillo was not the first to search for a water passage across the North American continent, and he ...read more

Miles Davis dies

On September 28, 1991, jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis dies in a California hospital at the age of 65. In an era when a pop star like Madonna is labeled a “chameleon” merely for risking an occasional change in clothing and hairstyle, our vocabulary may no longer be adequate to ...read more

Flu epidemic hits Philadelphia

On this day in 1918, a Liberty Loan parade in Philadelphia prompts a huge outbreak of the flu epidemic in the city. By the time the epidemic ended, an estimated 30 million people were dead worldwide. Influenza is a highly contagious virus that attacks the respiratory system and ...read more

A cult leader kills one of his followers

Roch Theriault fatally wounds Solange Boislard in Ontario, Canada. Theriault, the leader of the most bizarre and violent cult in Canadian history, often physically abused his followers. Obsessed with anatomy and medicine, Theriault performed crude intestinal surgery on Boislard ...read more

Union generals blamed for Chickamauga defeat

Union Generals Alexander M. McCook and Thomas Crittenden lose their commands and are ordered to Indianapolis, Indiana, to face a court of inquiry following the Federal defeat at the battle of Chickamauga in Georgia. Eight days before, the Union Army of the Cumberland, commanded ...read more

Auto inventor Charles Duryea dies

On September 28, 1938, inventor Charles Duryea dies in Philadelphia at the age of 76. Duryea and his brother Frank designed and built one of the first functioning “gasoline buggies,” or gas-powered automobiles, in the United States. For most of his life, however, Charles insisted ...read more