Cool Things That Happened on my Birthday

If you google your birthday (just put the date in the search field) you’ll find out tons of cool stuff. For example I share a birthday with:

One of the founding members of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson (6-20-1942)

Alcoholic, brawling ladies man Errol Flynn (6-20-1909)

King Sigismund III Vasa of Poland (6-20-1566)

Betty Washington (6-20-1733, sister of George Washington)

WW II hero and Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy (6-20-1924)

The actor John Goodman (6-20-1952), who uttered that great line from the great movie The Big Lebowski: “I don’t roll on Shabbas.”

The actress Nicole Kidman (6-20-1967)

And the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl IV MVP quarterback Len Dawson (6-20-1935)

As for interesting events that happened on June 20:

1214 the University of Oxford received its charter

1791 King Louis XVI of France and his family fled to Varennes during the French Revolution

1840 Samuel Morse received a patent for the telegraph

1862 Barbu Catargiu, the Prime Minister of Romania is assassinated

1893 Lizzie Borden is acquitted for the murders of her father and stepmother

1948 Toast of the Town, which later becomes The Ed Sullivan Show, debuts on television

1963 the “red telephone” is established between the U.S. and Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis

1979 ABC news reporter Bill Stewart is shot and killed by one of the soldiers of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The shooting is caught on tape, sparking an international outcry against the brutal regime.

But my two personal favorite events are:

The 18-1/2 minute gap 

The recorded conversation between then-President Richard Nixon and his Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman that became the infamous 18-1/2 minute gap of missing tape took place on June 20, 1972.

While most likely discussing nefarious deeds (although I’d still take Nixon any day over the likes of George W. Bush!) according to “The gap is part of a recording made June 20, 1972, in the old Executive Office Building as Nixon chatted with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman. News of the erasure, late the following year, eroded Nixon’s credibility at a time when his presidency was unraveling over the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate.

Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, testified that she was transcribing the tape when a phone rang. She said she must have pushed the wrong button and left her foot on a pedal, accidentally recording over part of the original conversation.

A panel of experts set up in the 1970s by federal judge John Sirica, who presided over the Watergate criminal trials, concluded that the erasures were done in at least five — and perhaps as many as nine — separate and contiguous segments. The panel never figured out what was erased.”

The Hughes Glomar Explorer Sets Sail 

Millionaire playboy. Brilliant inventor. Insane germophobe. These are just a few of the endearing terms that come to mind when I think of the late Howard Hughes. On June 20, 1974 the 619-foot Hughes Glomar Explorer set sail. Its CIA-backed mission: raise a Soviet nuclear sub that sank in 17,000 feet of water in the Pacific Ocean.

According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS): “The Soviet Golf-II Class ballistic missile submarine sank on April 11, 1968, approximately 750 miles northwest of Hawaii. Naval intelligence at Pearl Harbor had tracked the submarine and learned of its fate through underwater listening devices. After months of futile searching by Soviet vessels, it became apparent that only the US knew the location of the sunken submarine.

Oceanographers have long known that parts of the Pacific sea floor at depths between 14,000 ft. and 17,000 ft. are carpeted with so-called manganese nodules, potato-size chunks of manganese mixed with iron, nickel, cobalt and other useful metals. In the 1970s, Howard Hughes used the Deep Ocean Mining Project [DOMP] to search for nodules as a cover for building the ship Glomar Explorer. Global Marine supervised construction of the Glomar Explorer, at a cost in excess of $200 million dollars, and operated it from 1973 to 1975 under contract to the US government.

Glomar Explorer went to sea on June 20, 1974, found the sub, and began to bring a portion of it to the surface. The Soviets watched the “deep-sea mining” operation with interest, but did not attempt to thwart it. An accident during the lifting operation caused the fragile hulk to break apart, resulting in the loss of a critical portion of the submarine, its nuclear missiles and crypto codes. However, according to other accounts, material recovered included three nuclear missiles, two nuclear torpedoes, the ship’s code machine, and various code books.”

The above-mentioned accident was a result of the construction of the Glomar Explorer. The ship had two massive, robotic, claw-like arms that were extended from the bottom of the vessel to the Soviet submarine. The two claws slipped beneath the sub, scooped it up and while raising it to the surface the sub buckled from the force and pressure of the lifting operation and broke into two pieces. One half tumbled back down to the ocean floor while the other part was recovered.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: