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1966: Exploration and settlement; wars; government; civil rights; statistics.

Steadily escalating participation in the Vietnamese war resulted in 5008 U.S. troop deaths and 30,093 wounded in 1966, bringing total casualties since Jan. 1, 1961, to 6664 killed and 37,738 wounded. By the end of the year, the U.S. had almost 400,000 troops in Southeast Asia. Among the antiwar demonstrations were the International Days of Protest (Mar. 25-27), during which parades and rallies were held in seven U.S. and seven foreign cities. The proposed budget for fiscal 1967 set expenditures at $112,800,000,000, with a predicted deficit of $1,800,000,000, the smallest in seven years. Congress turned down the administration's proposed civil rights bill, largely because of its open housing provisions, but it did pass measures giving the government a major role in determining automobile and highway safety standards, in attacking urban decay, and in controlling air and water pollution. Notables who died this year included Christian A. Herter, secretary of state under Pres. Eisenhower from 1959 to 1961, Dec. 30, at 71; and Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific fleet during World War II, Feb. 20, at 80.

Jan. 17

Robert C. Weaver was unanimously confirmed as secretary of the newly created Department of Housing and Urban Development. He was the first black to hold a Cabinet position.

Jan. 17

A military aircraft collision involving a U.S. B-52 bomber and a KC-135 jet tanker over Spain's Mediterranean coast killed seven of the 11 men aboard the planes. The B-52 was refueling. Four hydrogen bombs fell from the B-52, three on land. The fourth bomb was recovered from the Mediterranean Sea on Apr. 7.

Jan. 29-31

The worst blizzard in 70 years struck an area stretching from North Carolina to New England, killing 165 people.

Jan. 31

Pres. Johnson announced resumption of bombing raids on North Vietnam. They had been suspended on Dec. 24. The bombing had been halted in hope of furthering negotiations, but no move toward peace had been made by North Vietnam.

Feb. 8

The Declaration of Honolulu, which formulated major U.S. and South Vietnamese political and military policy in South Vietnam and stressed economic and social reform, was issued following a threeday conference in Hawaii between Pres. Johnson and Premier Nguyen Cao Ky of South Vietnam.

Feb. 21

The first air strike against North Vietnam since the Jan. 31 resumption of bombing was made against a training center at the old French military base at Dien Bien Phu.

Feb. 22

Operation White Wing, a month-long search and destroy mission by more than 20,000 U.S., South Vietnamese, and South Korean troops in Quang Ngai Province in South Vietnam, ended after enemy resistance collapsed. Communist troop deaths were reported at 1130.

Mar. 2

U.S. troop strength in Vietnam was reported by Sec. of Defense Robert S. McNamara to have reached 215,000. Another 20,000 U.S. troops were said to be on the way.

Mar. 7

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court.

Mar. 10

A Green Beret camp was overrun by about 2000 North Vietnamese troops after a 72-hour siege. About 200 U.S. and South Vietnamese troops were killed or captured at the Special Forces base in the Ashau Valley.

Mar. 25

Poll taxes were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on grounds that they represented an economic barrier to voting.

Apr. 12

B-52 strategic bombers were used for the first time on targets in North Vietnam.

Apr. 23

North Vietnamese aircraft for the first time attacked U.S. aircraft flying over North Vietnam.

May 1

The first intentional shelling of Cambodian targets occurred when U.S. artillery fired on forces attacking U.S. troops operating along the Caibac R.

May 15

In an antiwar demonstration in Washington, D.C., more than 10,000 persons picketed the White House. At a rally at the Washington Monument, 63,000 voters' pledges to vote only for antiwar candidates were displayed.

May 30

In the heaviest air raids on North Vietnam to date, more than 300 U.S. planes bombed targets. On May 31 an important North Vietnamese arsenal was virtually destroyed by U.S. bombers.

June 1-2

The White House Conference on Civil Rights, attended by 2400 persons, adopted resolutions urging Congress to pass the administration's proposed civil rights bill. The conference also asked for more effective enforcement of existing civil rights laws, more federal support for establishing civilian review boards to hear charges of police brutality, and more protection by the FBI in racially troubled areas. Floyd McKissick, national director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), termed the conference a hoax. Stokely Carmichael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), refused to attend.

June 3-13

A major battle was fought in Kontum province, in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. No figures on U.S. casualties were announced.

June 6

James Meredith was shot and wounded while on a lone march from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., to encourage black voter registration. On June 26 groups from across the country joined with Meredith to complete the march, which was highlighted by a debate between Martin Luther King, Jr., the leading advocate of nonviolence, and Stokely Carmichael and Floyd McKissick, militant advocates of political confrontation.

June 11

U.S. troop strength in Vietnam would be increased by 18,000 within 45 days, Sec. of Defense McNamara reported, bringing total troop strength to 285,000. U.S. dead since Jan. 1 were placed at 2100.

June 13

In the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the provision in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution against self-incrimination applied to police interrogation of a criminal suspect. Among other guidelines, the Court specified that suspects must be told they have the right to have a lawyer present while being questioned and that, if suspects choose to make a confession without a lawyer and are subsequently put on trial, the prosecution must prove that the defendants understood their rights when they confessed.

June 29

Hanoi and Haiphong were bombed for the first time in the Vietnam War. Oil storage and loading installations, highways, railroads, bridges, and ships were attacked. Approximately two-thirds of North Vietnam's oil supply was destroyed within a week.

July 14

Eight student nurses were murdered in Chicago in what was called the crime of the century. A ninth nurse escaped by rolling under a bed. On July 26 Richard Speck, 24, was indicted for the crimes. He was convicted Apr. 15, 1967.

July 30

The demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North and South Vietnam was bombed by U.S. planes for the first time.

Aug. 1

In what was called the Texas tower massacre, Charles J. Whitman, 25, barricaded himself in a tower at the University of Texas at Austin, Tex., and shot and killed 13 and wounded 31 before police killed him. Earlier he had killed his wife and mother.

Aug. 4

The highest monthly draft call since the Korean War, 46,200 for October, was announced by the Defense Department.

Aug. 6

Demonstrations against the Vietnam War were held across the country on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. In Washington, D.C., pickets demonstrated in front of the White House and the church where Pres. Johnson's daughter Luci was being married. In New York City 5000 marched to Times Square. On Aug. 9, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, 200 demonstrators attempted a sit-in at the New York office of the Dow Chemical Company, a manufacturer of napalm.

Sept. 18-24

U.S. weekly casualties in the Vietnam War hit a record 970: 142 killed, 825 wounded, 3 missing. During the same period South Vietnamese losses were 98 killed, 280 wounded, 71 missing.

Sept. 23

Aerial defoliation of areas immediately south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam had begun, the U.S. military command announced, to deprive infiltrating North Vietnamese of protective cover.

Oct. 5

The conviction of Jack Ruby for the 1963 murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, alleged assassin of Pres. John F. Kennedy, was reversed by the Texas Court of Appeals on the grounds of improperly submitted evidence.

Oct. 13

The heaviest air strike on North Vietnam to date was made by 173 U.S. bombers. The next day 175 bombers renewed the raid. On Oct. 15 it was announced that 403 U.S. planes and three helicopters had been lost over North Vietnam since Feb. 7, 1965.

Oct. 15

A bill creating the Department of Transportation, the 12th Cabinet department, was signed by Pres. Johnson.

Oct. 17

Pres. Johnson began a 17-day Far East tour. The 26,000-mile trip included stops in Samoa, New Zealand, and Australia before the president attended a seven-nation conference in the Philippines on Vietnam. After a stop at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, he visited Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea, returning to the U.S. on Nov. 2.

Oct. 18

Twelve firemen were killed in New York City and nine more were injured in a fire that destroyed an old commercial building. It was the worst disaster in the fire department's 100-year history.

Oct. 26

A fire at sea on the U.S. carrier Oriskany, in the Gulf of Tonkin, killed 43 men and injured 16.

Nov. 8

In congressional elections the Republicans gained three Senate seats and 47 House seats, but the Democrats still held a 64-36 Senate majority and a 248-187 House majority. One of the new Republican senators was Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts, the first black elected to the Senate since Reconstruction.
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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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