This Day in History
February 13: the Beginning of the Battle of Chipyong-ni, the Amiriyah shelter bombing, and other events of the date
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February 13: the Beginning of the Battle of Chipyong-ni, the Amiriyah shelter bombing, and other events of the date


A number of important events have taken place on February 13 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.

1951 – Korean War: the Battle of Chipyong-ni

This war is often rightly referred to as the forgotten war, thus, the Battle of Chipyong-ni has also been forgotten. Thus, we would like to speak about it today’s edition of our history series.

The Battle of Chipyong-ni, also known as the Battle of Dipingli, was a decisive battle in the Korean War that took place from February 13-15, 1951 between American and French units of the US 23rd Infantry Regiment and various units of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army around the village of Chipyong-ni, present-day Jipyeong-ri. 

The battle resulted in a United Nations Command victory. Along with the Third Battle of Wonju, it has also been called "the Gettysburg of the Korean War," and represents the high-water mark of the Chinese incursion into Korea. Due to the ferocity of the Chinese attack and the heroism of the defenders, the battle has also been called "one of the greatest regimental defense actions in military history." 

On the UN side of the conflict there were 51 killed, 250 wounded, and 42 missing. The Chinese suffered approximately 1,000 killed and 2,000 wounded. The battle offered an incredible morale boost to the Eighth Army, which had until then seen the Chinese as an invincible juggernaut. Soon afterwards, Operation Killer was launched, followed by Operation Ripper. The Chinese, who had hopes of driving the UN forces to the sea, were themselves driven back. Eventually, this led to the start of peace negotiations in July 1951.

1961 – Coso Artifact is found

The Coso artifact was discovered on February 13, 1961, by Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell while they were prospecting for geodes near the town of Olancha, California. A spark plug found encased in a lump of hard clay or rock, it was long claimed as an example of an out-of-place artifact. It has been identified as as a 1920s-era Champion spark plug.

A spark plug encased in a 500,000-year-old "geode" would represent a substantial scientific and historical anomaly, as spark plugs were invented in the 19th century. Critics say that the stone matrix containing the artifact is not a geode, but concretion that can be explained by natural processes that can take place over decades or even years.

On April 12, 2018, Pierre Stromberg was contacted by the family of one of the co-discoverers of the artifact. Offered an opportunity to physically inspect it, Stromberg accepted and also arranged for the artifact to be inspected by a geologist from the University of Washington’s Earth and Space Science department. The inspections confirmed the previous conclusion that the artifact was a 1920s-era Champion spark plug.

1991 – Gulf War: Amiriyah shelter bombing

The Amiriyah shelter bombing was an aerial attack that killed at least 408 civilians on February 13, 1991 during the Persian Gulf War, when an air-raid shelter ("Public Shelter No. 25"), in the Amiriyah neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq, was destroyed by the U.S. Air Force with two laser-guided "smart bombs.”

The shelter was used in the Iran–Iraq War and the Persian Gulf War by hundreds of civilians. According to the U.S. military, the shelter at Amiriyah had been targeted because it fit the profile of a military command center; electronic signals from the locality had been reported as coming from the site, and spy satellites had observed people and vehicles moving in and out of the shelter. 

A number of foreign governments responded to the mass killing at Amiriyah with mourning, outrage, and calls for investigations. Jordan declared three days of mourning. Algerian and Sudanese governing parties condemned the "paroxysm of terror and barbarism" and the "hideous, bloody massacre" respectively. Jordan and Spain called for an international inquiry into the bombing, and Spain urged the U.S. to move its attacks away from Iraq itself, and concentrate instead on occupied Kuwait. 

These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on February 13, at least in our view.

Author: Eric Zuesse