On this day in 1981, Minutes after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as the 40th president of the United States, the 52 U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Teheran, Iran, are released, ending the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis.
On this day in 1968, the battle for the Marine base at Khe Sanh begins. The siege would go on to last 66 days.
On this day in 1968, Operating in the two northern most military regions, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) launches two major operations. In the first operation, conducted by the 1st Cavalry Division in Quang Tri and Thua Thien provinces, south of the DMZ, “First Team” units launched Operation Jeb Stuart. This operation was a large-scale reinforcement of the Marines in the area and focused on clearing enemy Base Areas 101 and 114. Jeb Stuart was terminated on March 31 with enemy casualties listed at 3,268; U.S. casualties were 291 killed in action and 1,735 wounded. On the same day that Jeb Stuart was launched, other 1st Cavalry units launched Operation Pershing II in the coastal lowlands in Binh Dinh Province. This operation, designed to clear enemy forces from the area, lasted until February 29.
On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, is engaged in a routine surveillance of the North Korean coast when it is intercepted by North Korean patrol boats. According to U.S. reports, the Pueblo was in international waters almost 16 miles from shore, but the North Koreans turned their guns on the lightly armed vessel and demanded its surrender. The Americans attempted to escape, and the North Koreans opened fire, wounding the commander and two others. With capture inevitable, the Americans stalled for time, destroying the classified information aboard while taking further fire. Several more crew members were wounded.
On this day in 1943, German Gen. Friedrich von Paulus, commander in chief of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, urgently requests permission from Adolf Hitler to surrender his position there, but Hitler refuses.
On this day in 1968, The Israeli submarine Dakar, carrying 69 sailors, disappears.
On this day in 1970, U.S. Navy Lt. Everett Alvarez Jr. spends his 2,000th day in captivity in Southeast Asia. First taken prisoner when his plane was shot down on August 5, 1964, he became the longest-held POW in U.S. history. Alvarez was downed over Hon Gai during the first bombing raids against North Vietnam in retaliation for the disputed attack on U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.