Friday, October 28, 2011
You don't need a parachute to skydive, you need one to do it twice.
On this day in 1962 President Kennedy announced the blockade of Cuba after the discovery of Soviet missile silos being installed. The blockade was to halt the Soviets from transferring nuclear warheads to Cuba, thus putting the threat 90 miles away from Florida. Kennedy accused the Soviets of subterfuge and challenged Cuba to remove the weapons or face further consequences. In a back room deal with the Soviets Kennedy was able to avert the crisis by agreeing to remove American missiles from Turkey in exchange for the removal of the missiles from Cuba, but not until after a standoff the nearly started a nuclear holocaust.
On this day in 1797 Andre-Jacques Garnerin became the first parachutist when he severed the tethering to his balloon some 3,000 feet above Paris. The idea of the parachute wasn't a new one, as Leonardo da Vinci conceived of an invention to slow the fall of a person from a high height. But Garnerin was the first person to try, and survive using the device. He ended up dying 26 years later in a balloon accident while trying out a new parachute.
Everyone is familiar with the concept of self sacrifice, and the term "falling on a grenade" has taken a new meaning in the dating world, but on this day in 1965 a young soldier took it sad new level. 18 year old PFC Milton Lee Olive III sacrificed his own life by falling on an enemy grenade to save the lives of at least 4 of his fellow soldiers while on a patrol in Vietnam. He absorbed the full blast of the explosion and died immediately. He was given the posthumous medal of honor and has a few landmarks in his hometown of Chicago named after him.