Wednesday’s History: December 16
Today, December 16, in history includes planes colliding over New York City, a major earthquake hitting the Mississippi River Valley and Battle of the Bulge beginning, according to history.com.
In 1811, an 8.6 magnitude earthquake shook the Mississippi River Valley near New Madrid, Mo. The New Madrid Fault System states include Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Parts of the Mississippi Valley were raised and lowered by 15 feet, and the river even flowed in reverse. Tremors were felt on the eastern coast of the U.S., and some caused church bells to ring. From winter to spring, more earthquakes and aftershocks continued and a few were 8.0 or higher.
In 1944, the Germans' last major offense attack in World War II was named Operation Mist or Ardennes Offensive and Battle of the Bulge. It was an attempt to move the Allied front line to northwestern Belgium from northern France. It was called Battle of the Bulge because German soldiers surrounded the Ardennes forest with a "bulge."
It was an early and foggy morning attack with 250,000 German soldiers compared to 80,000 Americans. In this three-week attack, Germans were able to get in American camps by using English-speaking commandos and stole U.S. uniforms and vehicles and sabotaged communications, which caused suspicion throughout American camps and troops.
At the end of WWII, from historian Stephen Ambrose, "of 600,000 GIs involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 captured and 40,000 were wounded."
In 1960 on a snowy morning in New York City, a United DC-8 from Chicago heading to Idlewild Airport (now JFK International Airport) in southern Queens was in a holding pattern as a TWA Super Constellation was going to LaGuardia Airport in northern Queens.
The pilot of the United plane miscalculated its location pattern and came into the TWA flight path, killing 128 passengers. One passenger, Stephen Blatz, 11, died the following day of injuries from the crash.
The TWA aircraft fell onto a military airfield on Staten Island. The United plane, with a partial right wing and missing its right engine, came down in a neighborhood in Brooklyn. Six people on the ground died.
It was 72 hours after the crash before all the fires were extinguished.