Mar-1: Capital Attacks and Bikini Bombs

March 1st is marked by two attacks on the US Capitol, an attack on the Saudi Embassy in Sudan that killed the US Ambassador and the detonation of Castle Bravo – the first United States test of a dry fuel hydrogen bomb.

1954

independentistas power_grant1_08SShooting in House of Representatives Castle Bravo

From Wikipedia: Four Puerto Rican nationalists shot 30 rounds from semi-automatic pistols from the Ladies’ Gallery (a balcony for visitors) of the House of Representatives chamber in the United States Capitol. They wanted to highlight their desire for Puerto Rican independence from US rule.

houseThe nationalists, identified as Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cordero, and Irving Flores Rodríguez, unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and began shooting at the 240 Representatives of the 83rd Congress, who were debating an immigration bill. Five Representatives were wounded, one seriously, but all recovered. The assailants were arrested, tried and convicted in federal court, and given long sentences, effectively life imprisonment.

In 1978 and 1979, they were pardoned by President Jimmy Carter; all four returned to Puerto Rico.

Castle Bravo Detonation

That very same day, Castle Bravo was detonated at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

From Wikipedia: Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States (and just under one-third the energy of the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful device ever detonated), with a yield of 15 megatons of TNT. That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of 4 to 8 megatons (6 Mt predicted),combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radioactive contamination ever caused by the United States.

Fallout from the detonation—intended to be a secret test—fell on residents of Rongelap and Utirik atolls and spread around the world. The islanders were not evacuated until three days later and suffered radiation sickness. They were returned to the islands three years later but were removed again when their island was found to be unsafe.The crew of the Japanese fishing vessel Daigo Fukuryū Maru (“Lucky Dragon No. 5”), was also contaminated by fallout, killing one crew member. The blast created an international reaction about atmospheric thermonuclear testing.

As a result of the extensive fallout, Nevil Shute wrote the novel On the Beach which was released in 1957 and became a major film in 1959 (trailer below). The novel is about a war that released so much radioactive fallout that all the life in the Northern Hemisphere disappeared, while the Southern Hemisphere awaited a similar fate. However the American government voiced a criticism of this general premise, that there was a threat of extinction from nuclear war because they did not, nor have they ever, had enough nuclear weapons to cause human extinction.

1971

Weather_Underground_logoWeatherman Detonate Bomb in Capitol Men’s Room

The radical left organization known as the Weathermen or Weather Underground, which began at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society detonated a bomb in a men’s room in the Capitol “in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos”.

1973

sudanBlack September Storms Saudi Embassy in Khartoum, Kills US Ambassador

Months after the deadly massacre at the Munich Olympics, Black September struck again storming the Saudi Arabian embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, taking a number of diplomats hostage who were attending in honor of Deputy U.S. Ambassador George Curtis Moore.  The terrorists demanded the release of Palestinian militants in Israel, Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan and West Germany’s Bader-Meinhoff gang among others.

George Moore and Cleo Noel Jr. Posing with Their WivesThe U.S. and Sudan rejected their demands and Ambassador Cleo Noel, Deputy Ambassador Moore and a Belgian diplomat were killed.  (Noel and Moore are pictured left with their wives).  The gunmen eventually surrendered to Sudanese authorities and were sentenced to life in prison which was commuted to 7-years to be served in Egypt.  Three of the gunmen disappeared once in Cairo but the remainder served their full term.

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