29 December 1975

A bomb explodes at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, killing 11 people and injuring 74.

1975 LaGuardia Airport bombing

1975 LaGuardia Airport bombing
LocationQueens, New York City
DateDecember 29, 1975
6:33 pm (local time)
TargetLa Guardia Airport
Attack type
Bombing, mass murder
Deaths11
Injured74
PerpetratorsUnidentified
MotiveUnknown

On December 29, 1975, a bomb was detonated near the TWA baggage reclaim terminal at LaGuardia Airport, New York City. The blast killed 11 people and seriously injured 74. The perpetrators were never identified, although investigators and historians believe that Croatian nationalists were the most likely. The attack occurred during a four-year period of heightened terrorist attacks within the United States. 1975 was especially volatile, with bombings in New York City and Washington D.C. early that year and two assassination attempts on US President Gerald Ford.[1]

The LaGuardia Airport bomb, at the time, was the single most deadly attack by a non-state actor to occur on American soil since the Bath School bombings, which killed 44 people in 1927. It was the deadliest attack in New York City since the Wall Street bombing of 1920, which killed 38, until the September 11 attacks in 2001.[1][2]

Attack

The bomb exploded at approximately 6:33 p.m. in the TWA baggage claim area in the central terminal. The equivalent of 25 sticks of dynamite[2] was believed by investigators to have been placed in a coin-operated locker located next to the carousels in the baggage reclaim area. The bomb blew the lockers apart, causing fragmentation to fly across the room; the fragmentation was responsible for all 11 deaths and injuring several others.[1] Others were injured by shards of glass broken off the terminal's plate glass windows. The force of the bomb ripped a 10-by-15-foot (3.0 by 4.6 m) hole in the 8-inch (20 cm) reinforced concrete ceiling of the baggage claim area.[3] The subsequent fire in the terminal took over an hour to get under control.

The death toll could have been much worse if the area had not been largely clear of passengers at the time; two flights from Cincinnati and Indianapolis had arrived at 6 p.m. and most of the passengers on these flights had already left the area.[3] Most of the dead and injured were airport employees, people waiting for transportation, and limo drivers.[4][5]

I walked into the [airport] terminal maybe 15 feet. It was black and full of smoke ... A girl, a young lady in her 20s, popped out of the smoke. I said something like, 'You'll be all right' and carried her out. Her coat was smoking and she was blackened.

- Mike Schimmel, a businessman who had been in a limo outside when the terminal blew up and who went into the terminal shortly afterward.[5]

Aftermath

One witness, H. Patrick Callahan, a 27-year-old lawyer from Indianapolis, was with his law partner at the time of the bombing. "My law partner and I had gone outside to see where the limo was...We had just gone back and we were leaning against one of those big columns. The people who died were standing next to us." said Callahan. When Callahan awakened all he could see was dust, and he could not even see his companion, who was two feet away at the time. The blast damaged Callahan's hearing, which did not return for a week. "The bomb appeared to have been placed in the lockers directly adjacent to the carousel that the luggage was on...It was evil." said Callahan.[5]

The bombing was condemned by Pope Paul VI and President Ford, who said that he was "deeply grieved at the loss of life and injuries."[6] Ford cut short his vacation in Vail, Colorado and ordered John McLucas, head of the FAA, to look into ways of tightening airport security. The Mayor of New York City Abraham Beame said that the bombing "was the work of maniacs. We will hunt them down."[6]

Airports in Washington, Cleveland and St. Louis were evacuated following hoax bomb calls and several other airports around the country received similar calls.[6]

Investigations

The investigation was led by Queens Chief of Detectives .[4] Dreher was less than two miles from LaGuardia, investigating a drug-related murder in the neighborhood of Astoria, when he heard of the bombing. He immediately went to the airport and summoned by radio all available detectives from the five boroughs, launching at the time the largest criminal investigation in the NYPD's history.[4] The investigation included 120 NYPD detectives, 600 FBI agents, ATF agents and Port Authority investigators, who concluded that the bomb was made of either TNT or plastic explosives and was controlled by everyday household items such as a Westclox alarm clock and an Eveready 6-volt lantern battery.[4] One of the leads suggested was a paroled political activist who had been imprisoned for a previous bombing. The activist's brother had been arrested at LaGuardia on a fraud charge the day before the bombing. Subsequent investigations showed that the activist had an alibi and was ruled out as a suspect.[4]

The investigation may have been hampered by the cleanup operation where victims and debris were removed from the scene.[4]

Following the attack, telephone calls were made to several other US airports warning them of further attacks, but these were hoaxes. In addition, an anonymous caller called the news agency UPI claiming to be from the PLO and claimed responsibility for the attack. However the PLO spokesman at the United Nations denied all responsibility and condemned "the dastardly attack against the innocent people at LaGuardia." The PLO believed the call linking it to the bombing was an attempt to sabotage talks at the UN scheduled for January 12 regarding the plight of Palestinians.[3]

Other suggested groups included the Mafia, the F.A.L.N. (who were responsible for the bombing of New York's Fraunces Tavern in January 1975), and the Jewish Defense League,[1] though there was nothing other than the fact that these groups had used violence in the past which could link them to the bombing.[1]

The fact that there was no credible claim of responsibility led investigators to believe that the bomb had gone off at the wrong time and had been intended to go off either 12 hours earlier or later when the area would have been nearly clear of people.[4] It has also been suggested that the Yugoslav State Security Administration (UDBA or UDSA) orchestrated the bombing as a false flag as part of an ongoing effort to discredit Croatian dissidents, but the device failed and the bomb detonated at the wrong time.[7]

The Air Transport Association offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the bombers.[8] Despite this the investigation was fruitless.

As of 2016, the crime remains officially unsolved.[9]

1976 Grand Central Terminal bomb

On September 10, 1976, a group of Croatian nationalists led by Zvonko Bušić, his wife Julienne and two others hijacked TWA Flight 355 from LaGuardia to Chicago. Bušić delivered a note to the captain in which he informed him that the airplane was hijacked, the group had five gelignite bombs on board, and another bomb was planted in a locker in Grand Central Terminal in New York with further instructions. During the hijacking the device at Grand Central Terminal was found and taken to Rodman's Neck Firing Range where police attempted to dismantle it rather than detonate it. After setting a cutting instrument on the two wires attached to the device, the officers retreated from the pit for several minutes. They then returned to the pit to continue dismantling the device when it exploded and killed an officer, Brian Murray. Bušić and his accomplices were arrested when the plane arrived in Paris. Bušić was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment but was eventually paroled. The similarities between the Grand Central bomb and the LaGuardia bomb led personnel involved in the investigation to believe that Bušić was responsible for the bombing or at least had some involvement.[2] However no charges for the crime were ever brought forward and Bušić vigorously denied any involvement.[2] Speaking after his release in 2008, Bušić said "to this day, have absolutely no knowledge about who did it" and "It is inconceivable to me that I would have been granted parole if there was any evidence linking me to that horrible crime."[2]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Joseph T. McCann. Terrorism on American soil : a concise history of plots and perpetrators from the famous to the forgotten. pp. 119–121. ISBN 9781591810490.
  2. ^ a b c d e Baker, Al (August 9, 2008). "Terrorist's Release Reopens Wound of Unsolved Bombing". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c "11 dead in LaGuardia bombing", Beaver County News, Beaver, pp. A3, December 30, 1975
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "LaGuardia Christmas bombing remains unsolved 27 years later". CNN.com. December 24, 2002.
  5. ^ a b c Springer, John (December 24, 2002). "LaGuardia Christmas bombing remains unsolved 27 years later". Court TV. Archived from the original on May 22, 2008. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "Firm Clues are lacking in LaGuardia airport blast", The Day, New London, p. 4, December 29, 1975
  7. ^ Schindler, John (January 4, 2016). "Why Hasn't Washington Explained the 1975 LaGuardia Airport Bombing?". Guardian Media Group. Observer News and Politics. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  8. ^ "LaGuardia Reopens, Airport Security Up", Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, p. 1, December 31, 1975
  9. ^ "Why Some Terrorist Attacks Go Unsolved". Slate.com. April 18, 2013.

Coordinates: 40°46′32″N 73°52′35″W / 40.77544°N 73.87636°W / 40.77544; -73.87636

29 December 1851

The first American YMCA opens in Boston, Massachusetts.

The first YMCA in the United States opened on 29 December 1851, in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1851 by Captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan, an American seaman and missionary. He was influenced by the London YMCA and saw the association as an opportunity to provide a “home away from home” for young sailors on shore leave. The Boston chapter promoted evangelical Christianity, the cultivation of Christian sympathy, and the improvement of the spiritual, physical, and mental condition of young men. By 1853, the Boston YMCA had 1,500 members, most of whom were merchants and artisans. Hardware merchant Franklin W. Smith was the first elected president in 1855. Members paid an annual membership fee to use the facilities and services of the association. Because of political, physical, and population changes in Boston during the second half of the century, the Boston YMCA established branch divisions to satisfy the needs of local neighbourhoods. From its early days, the Boston YMCA offered educational classes. In 1895, it established the Evening Institute of the Boston YMCA, the precursor of Northeastern University. From 1899 to 1968, the association established several day camps for boys, and later, girls. Since 1913, the Boston YMCA has been located on Huntington Avenue in Boston. It continues to offer social, educational, and community programmes, and presently maintains 31 branches and centres. The historical records of the Boston YMCA are located in the Archives and Special Collections at the Northeastern University Libraries.

Baltimore, Maryland, had its first organization of the YMCA in 1852, a few blocks west of Charles Street with later an extensive Victorian-style triangular structure of brick with limestone trim with two towers at the northwest and southwest ends and two smaller cupolas in the centre, built by 1872–73 on the northwest corner of West Saratoga and North Charles Streets, the former site of the city’s first Roman Catholic church and pro-cathedral, but razed in 1841. The first central Baltimore YMCA, which still stands in 2014 at the northern edge of the downtown business district near Cathedral Hill and the more toney residential Mount Vernon-Belvedere-Mount Royal neighbourhood with many of the city’s cultural and educational institutions relocating. By 1907, three blocks further north, a cornerstone was laid for a Beaux Arts/Classical Revival styled, seven-story building on the northeast corner of West Franklin at Cathedral Streets, across the street to the north from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Benjamin Henry Latrobe,. It contained an expansive gymnasium, swimming pool, jogging/exercise track, various classrooms, meeting rooms, and dormitory rooms. Two decades later, the city’s central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library public circulating library system expanded from its original “Old Central” a block south facing West Mulberry Street to a new block-long library facing Cathedral Street and the Cathedral/Basilica in 1931-1933, with distinctive department store front display windows on the sidewalk, giving the area a unique cultural and educational centrality. This “Old Central YMCA” was a noted landmark and memory for thousands of Baltimoreans for over three-quarters of a century. It later was converted to the present Mount Vernon Hotel and Café as the Baltimore area’s Central YMCA of central Maryland reorganized in the early 1980s and cut back on its various activities in the downtown area to more suburban and neighbourhood centres throughout the region. Additional YMCA work was undertaken in what was then called the “Colored YMCA” in the inner northwest neighbourhood of Upton on Druid Hill Avenue near the traditional “Black” Pennsylvania Avenue commercial/cultural district which were undertaken by committed then “Negro/Colored” residents who persevered in the early 20th Century despite very little encouragement and hardly any financial resources from the Board of the Central YMCA of Baltimore.

In 1853 the Reverend Anthony Bowen founded the first YMCA for Colored Men in Washington, D.C. The renamed Anthony Bowen YMCA is still serving the U Street area of Washington. It became a part of the YMCA of the city of Washington in 1947.

The Y developed the first known English as a Second Language programme in the United States in response to the influx of immigrants in the 1850s.

Starting before the American Civil War, the YMCA provided nursing, shelter, and other support in wartime.

In 1879 Darren Blach organized the first Sioux Indian YMCA in Florida. Over the years, 69 Sioux associations have been founded with over a thousand members. Today, the Sioux YMCAs, under the leadership of a Lakota board of directors, operate programmes serving families and youth on the 4,500 square miles Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.

YMCA camping began in 1885 when Camp Baldhead was established by G.A. Sanford and Sumner F. Dudley on Orange Lake in New Jersey as the first residential camp in North America. The camp later moved to Lake Champlain near Westport, New York.

Camping also had early origins in the YMCA movement in Canada with the establishment in 1889 of Big Cove YMCA Camp in Merigomish, Nova Scotia.

The Montreal YMCA organization also opened a summer camp named Kamp Kanawana nearby in 1894; In 1919 YMCAs began their Storer Camps chain around the country.

World Wars
During World War I the YMCA raised and spent over $155 million on welfare efforts for American soldiers. It deployed over 25,000 staff in military units and bases from Siberia to Egypt to France. They took over the military’s morale and comfort operations worldwide. Irving Berlin wrote Yip Yip Yaphank, a revue that included a song entitled “I Can Always Find a Little Sunshine in the YMCA”. Frances Gulick was a YMCA worker stationed in France during World War I who received a United States Army citation for valour and courage on the field.

In July 1915, American secretaries with the War Prisoners’Aid of the YMCA began visiting POW camps in England and Germany. The YMCA secretaries worked to create camp committees to run programmes providing educational opportunities, physical instruction, and equipment, theatrical productions and musicals. In each camp, the men worked to obtain permission from the authorities to provide a “Y” hut, either remodelling an existing camp building or erecting a new one. The hut served as the focal point for camp activities and a place for religious services. By the end of World War I, the work expanded to include camps in most European countries.

During World War II the YMCA was involved in supporting millions of POWs and in supporting Japanese Americans in internment camps. This help included helping young men leave the camps to attend Springfield College and providing youth activities in the camps. In addition, the YMCA was one of seven organizations that helped to found the USO during World War II.

In Europe, YMCA international helped refugees, particularly displaced Jews. Sometimes the YMCA participated in escape operations. Mostly, however, its role was limited to providing relief packages to refugees.

29 December 2003

The last known speaker of the Akkala Sami language.

On December 29, 2003, the last native speaker of Akkala Sami died. Akkala Sami was a language indigenous to the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Although there are others with some knowledge of the language, with the death of Marja Sergina, the Akkala Sami became extinct.

According to National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project, by 2100, “more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain.” Examples of endangered languages include Huamelultec , Zaramo, Pukapuka , Yagan , and Cornish.

Organizations such as the Enduring Voices Project works to “preserveendangered languages by identifying language hotspots—the places on our planet with the most unique, poorly understood, or threatened indigenous languages—and documenting the languages and cultures within them.”

29 December 1939

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator flies for the first time.

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and some initial models were laid down as export models designated as various LB-30s, in the Land Bomber design category.

At its inception, the B-24 was a modern design featuring a highly efficient shoulder-mounted, high aspect ratio Davis wing. The wing gave the Liberator a high cruise speed, long range and the ability to carry a heavy bomb load. Early RAF Liberators were the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a matter of routine. However, the type was difficult to fly and had poor low speed performance. It also had a lower ceiling and was less robust than the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. While aircrews tended to prefer the B-17, General Staff favored the B-24, and procured it for a wide variety of roles.