Monday, September 20, 2010

Barbados Military History Part 10 operation "Urgent Fury" Rescue Mission to Grenada

Grenada was lead to Independence from the United Kingdom by Sir Eric Gairy in 1974. His term in office coincided with much civil strife. The political environment was highly charged and though Gairy claimed victory in the 1976 election the opposition did not accept the results as legitimate. In the late 1970's a new movement called the New Jewel Movement began planning to overthrow the government and began military training outside of Grenada. On March 12 1979 while Gairy was out of the country Maurice Bishop and his deputy was Bernard Conrad launched an armed revolution and overthrew the government, establishing the People's Revolutionary Government.


Soon after seizing power they established diplomatic relations with Libya and Cuba and an assortment of Communist Eastern European  nations.

 Grenada began construction of a 10,000 foot international airport with the help of Cuba. There was speculation that this airfield could be used to land military fighters and transports, threatening South America and the southern United States. There was also worry about the large number of weapons flowing into Grenada. One shipment in 1979 contained 3400 rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition. In 1983 Maurice Bishop began to realize Cuba and the other Communist countries were going to use and had in fact began to use Grenada as a launching pad to subvert the rest of the Caribbean Islands.  His deputy realizing that he was wavering had him placed under house arrest.

On hearing this a crowd marched to Bishops house had him released and took him into the town to speak to the people. Coard seeing this sent some armoured cars to disperse the crowds and dispose of Bishop. Bishop was killed and many of his supporters slaughtered.

A curfew was imposed and the Grenadines not knowing what was going on feared for their lives.Meanwhile on the 21st of October 1983 there was a meeting of the OECS Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. the meeting was held in Barbados and the decision was taken to ask the United States of America to take military action. it was also agreed that Caribbean forces would accompany the Americans. These Forces included the Barbados Defence Force

President Regan agreed and the 7th fleet was diverted from the Atlantic to take action. Early in the morning of the 25th of October 198 the attack on Grenada was launched from Barbados. History repeated itself as Barbados was always the launching pad for attacks on other islands. With such a massive force the assault was over in a few days, much to the relief of the Grenadians. A great threat was removed from the Caribbean and Grenada returned to a democratic government.



October 25 is a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day, to commemorate this event. Additionally, on 29 May 2009, the Point Salines International Airport was officially renamed in honour of the slain revolutionary leader Maurice Bishop by the Government of Grenada



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