This Day in History
February 1: the Execution of Nguyen Van Lem, Marshalls–Gilberts raids, and other events of the date
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February 1: the Execution of Nguyen Van Lem, Marshalls–Gilberts raids, and other events of the date


A number of important events have taken place on February 1 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them

1942 – Second World War: Pacific Theater: Marshalls–Gilberts raids

The Marshalls–Gilberts raids were tactical airstrikes and naval artillery attacks by a United States Navy aircraft carrier and other warship forces against Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) garrisons in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands on February 1, 1942. The Japanese garrisons were under the overall command of Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the 4th Fleet. Japanese aircraft in the islands belonged to the IJN's 24th Air Flotilla under Rear Admiral EijiGotō. The U.S. warship forces were under the overall command of Vice Admiral William Halsey, Jr.

The raids were carried out by two separate U.S. carrier task forces. Aircraft from Task Force 17 (TF 17), commanded by Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher and centered on the carrier USS Yorktown, attacked Jaluit, Mili, and Makin (Butaritari) islands. The Yorktown aircraft inflicted moderate damage to the Japanese naval installations on the islands and destroyed three aircraft. Seven Yorktown aircraft were lost, (4 TBD Devastators, 3 SBD Dauntlesses) as well as a SOC Seagull floatplane from the USS Salt Lake City one of TF 17's cruisers.

On one hand, these raids proved the superiority of the American air force in the Pacific Theater of the Second World War over Japanese, while on the other hands had just little long-term strategic impact on the situation at the Theater. 

1968 – Vietnam War: War Crimes: the Execution of Nguyen Van Lem

Nguyen Van Lem ( 1931 or 1932 – February 1, 1968), who is also known as Bay Lop, was a member of the Viet Cong – the force that opposed the American invasion in Vietnam. He was summarily executed in Saigon during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, when Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces launched a massive surprise attack.

He was brought to Brigadier General Nguyen Ngoc Loan who then executed him. The event was witnessed and recorded by Vo Suu, a cameraman for NBC, and Eddie Adams, an Associated Press photographer. 

The photo and film became two famous images in contemporary American journalism. Since the Vietnam War was basically the first that American society could watch on TV 24/7, the photograph and footage were broadcast worldwide, galvanizing the anti-war movement.  Adams' photo of the event won him the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography. Tragically, Lem'swife, Lop, learned about her husband's death when she was given a newspaper with the photo on the front page. 

As for the executor, Brigadier General Nguyen Ngoc, he emigrated to the U.S. right after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and lived there till his death in 1998 at the age of 67. 

1996 - Communications Decency Act passed by Congress

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) was the first notable attempt by the United States Congress to regulate pornographic material on the internet. In 1997, in the landmark case of Reno v. ACLU, the United States Supreme Court struck the anti-indecency provisions of the Act.

The Act was Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It was introduced to the Senate Committee of Commerce, Science, and Transportation by Senators James Exon (D-NE) and Slade Gorton (R-WA) in 1995. The amendment that became the CDA was added to the Telecommunications Act in the Senate by an 81–18 vote on June 15, 1995.

Passed by Congress on February 1, 1996, and signed by President Bill Clinton on February 8, 1996, the CDA imposed criminal sanctions on anyone who knowingly (A) uses an interactive computer service to send to a specific person or persons under 18 years of age, or (B) uses any interactive computer service to display in a manner available to a person under 18 years of age, any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs.

It further criminalized the transmission of materials that were "obscene or indecent" to persons known to be under 18. 

These are the most notable events in the U.S. history that occurred on February 1, at least in our view.

Author: USA Really