February 18: First of fourteen shots in the Teapot series is detonated, the Wah Mee massacre, and other events of the date
A number of important events have taken place on February 18 in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1955 – Operation Teapot: the First of fourteen shots in the Teapot series is detonated
Operation Teapot was a series of fourteen nuclear test explosions conducted at the Nevada Test Site in the first half of 1955.
It was preceded by Operation Castle, and followed by Operation Wigwam. Wigwam was, administratively, a part of Teapot, but it is usually treated as a class of its own. The aims of the operation were to establish military tactics for ground forces on a nuclear battlefield and to improve the nuclear weapons used for strategic delivery.
On this date in 1955, the Teapot test shot Wasp was successfully detonated at the Nevada Test Site with a yield of 1.2 kilotons. Wasp was the first of fourteen shots in the Teapot series. During the shot, ground forces took part in Exercise Desert Rock VI which included armored task force Razor moving to within 3,000 ft. of ground zero, under the still-forming mushroom cloud.
1983 – The Wah Mee massacre
The Wah Mee massacre was a multiple homicide that occurred on February 18, 1983, in which Kwan Fai "Willie" Mak, Wai-Chiu Tony Ng, and Benjamin Ng gunned down fourteen people in the Wah Mee gambling club at the Louisa Hotel in Chinatown-International District, Seattle. Thirteen of their victims lost their lives, but one survived to testify against the three in the high-profile trial. It is the deadliest mass murder in Washington state history.
The club's regulars included many wealthy restaurant owners, several of whom were among the victims. Security at the club was based in part on a system of passing through multiple successive doors, which had been used in similar Chinatown gambling dens for generations, and had usually been quite effective. Mak and his accomplices defeated the system only because they were known and trusted by the people at the club.
Their presumed intent was to leave no witnesses since club patrons could have readily identified them — as the one survivor, Wai Y. Chin, did. Mak had been planning the robbery for weeks, and he enlisted Benjamin Ng, and later Tony Ng. In the aftermath, the doors to the club were padlocked shut until a fire destroyed much of the Louisa Hotel in 2013. The building continued to house businesses and a small number of residents until the fire.
On February 24, 1983, Benjamin Ng and Willie Mak were charged with thirteen counts of aggravated first-degree murder. Ng was represented by Seattle defense lawyer John Henry Browne. Mak was represented by the associated counsel for the accused, lawyer Jim Robinson.
The state was represented by William Downing and Robert Lasnik. Tony Ng became the third suspect, charged in absentia on March 30, 1983 with thirteen counts of aggravated first-degree murder. In August 1983, Benjamin Ng was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Two months later, Willie Mak was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
2001 - FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested for spying for the Soviet Union (and Russia)
Robert Philip Hanssen (born April 18, 1944) is a former FBI agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States from 1979 to 2001. His espionage was described by the Department of Justice as "possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history."
Hanssen was arrested on February 18, 2001, at Foxstone Park near his home in Vienna, Virginia after leaving a package of classified materials at a dead drop site. He was charged with selling U.S. intelligence documents to the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia for more than $1.4 million in cash and diamonds over a 22-year period.
To avoid the death penalty, he pleaded guilty to 14 counts of espionage and one of conspiracy to commit espionage. He was sentenced to 15 life terms without the possibility of parole.
These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on February 18, at least in our view.