13 August 2007

An interesting day in History

Approximately 46yrs ago today August 13th, 1961 the East German Army began the building of something that became one of the symbols in the Cold War. The Berlin Wall.
A place where tanks and army troopers faced each other. A place where Presidents used to build their foreign policy creditenials

I am a child of the tail end of the Cold War. The time period when Jimmy Carter failed with Detente and saw Ronald Reagan bring his challenge to the Soviet Empire and one of the classic speeches he gave during his presidency.

A time when it was assumed that if the balloon goes up the first people to fight was the Berlin Brigades. The fear mongering movies about nuclear war during the 80's always assumed that it was going to be a riot in East Berlin which would of been the reason that the masses of Soviet armor would cross the frontier. Either that or the East Germans and their puppet masters the Soviets would close off all access and NATO would have to cross the border to re-open access to the city of Berlin.

I also remember hearing about plenty of spy stories being told in Berlin of trying to spirit people out or people in to the city. Then as I got older, reading of the horrible stories of those East Berliners who were shot dead by the guards as they tried to scale the wall. It was always assumed in the West that it was an order of the border guards and the Stasi (the East German Secret Police) were to kill those attempting to defect.
Well it has come out yet again in Europe that it was an order and someone digging thru some of the unshredded Stasi files a written order authorizing the killing of defectors. So now there are politicians trying to decide if there should be criminal proceedings against those members of the border guards and the Stasi.

Thinking about this day in history makes me think about some of the other things that happened today.

  • 1521-Tenochtitlan falls to the Spanish under conquistador Hernan Cortez

  • 1913- Stainless Steel is invented by Harry Brearley

  • 1937-The battle of Shang-hi begins between the Nationalist Chinese and Japanese

  • 1940-The Luftwaffe begins to use the newly captured airfields on the coast of France to bomb RAF airfields as the opening round of the Battle of Britain

  • 1953- The USS Mississippi (EAG-128, ex-BB-41) conducts the first shipboard launching of a surface to air missile against an aerial target drone. She fired a Terrier SAM against an F6F target drone.

  • 1963-USS Gen. R. M. Blatchford (T-AP-153), returns to Brooklyn Naval Yard after serving overseas for 2.5yrs in support of UN and US operations. While under the UN flag she carried 40,000 troops to Morocco, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia for peace-keeping operations.

  • 1990- The first two of eight super fast cargo sea lift ships, the USS Altair (T-AKR-291) and USS Capella (T-AKR-293) begin on-loading heavy lift cargo to head to the Saudi port of Jubail during Operation Desert Shield. These ships and their sisters are capable of 27 knots or approximately 31MPH and are being loaded with elements of a US Army brigade. Not all of these ships will make the 8700 mile trip to the Arabian peninsula. One will break down in the North Atlantic and lead to it being towed to a Spanish port, with its cargo being loaded onto other Military Sea lift Command ships.



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