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U.S. Army history from the year you were born

  • 1970: Koza riot in Okinawa, Japan

    Army strength: 1.32 million people (0.64% of U.S. population)

    A drunken soldier on the night of Dec. 20, 1970, crashed into an Okinawan pedestrian and, after checking on him, the soldier attempted to get back into his car. But an angry crowd surrounded him, and the Koza riot began and continued into the next day: Thousands of Okinawans were pitted against 700 soldiers.

  • 1971: Women recruitment is up

    Army strength: 1.12 million people (0.54% of U.S. population)

    At the beginning of the 1970s, women were recruited to the U.S. Army in larger numbers. The jump was due to the end of the draft, the conclusion of the Vietnam War, and notable strides in the feminist movement.

  • 1972: Withdrawals begin from Vietnam

    Army strength: 810,960 people (0.39% of U.S. population)

    Between 1969 and 1972, more than 500,000 American servicemen—336,000 of whom were Army personnel—were redeployed in 12 increments from the Republic of Vietnam. The final five of those withdrawals happened in 1972.

  • 1973: Withdrawal from Vietnam concludes

    Army strength: 800,973 people (0.38% of U.S. population)

    In Operation Homecoming Feb. 12, 1973, the release of 591 American prisoners of war was initiated. Final troops withdrew from Vietnam March 29 of the same year, marking America's first defeat—and longest war.

  • 1974: Tensions rise

    Army strength: 783,330 people (0.37% of U.S. population)

    In the wake of an unpopular war and rising tensions, discontent between races spiked throughout 1974 and Army barracks became undisciplined. The Army reduced its size and began refining its recruiting process.

  • 1975: Mandatory defensive weapons training for women

    Army strength: 784,333 people (0.36% of U.S. population)

    The Army enacted mandatory defensive weapons training for women members of the Army in 1975. The Women's Army Corps, begun in 1942, also provided women with more opportunities.

  • 1976: Operation Paul Bunyan

    Army strength: 779,417 people (0.36% of U.S. population)

    Two soldiers in 1976 were axed to death in the Korean demilitarized zone. In retaliation, U.S. soldiers enacted Operation Paul Bunyan, in which they hacked down an old tree the murdered soldiers had been there to remove. The action showed force and intimidated North Koreans, who quickly took the blame for the murders.

  • 1977: Army admits to 27 germ warfare tests conducted on public property

    Army strength: 782,246 people (0.36% of U.S. population)

    In a scathing Washington Post report March 9, 1977, the U.S. Army admitted to 239 open-air, secret “germ warfare tests” between 1949 and 1969, including 27 conducted on public property. The newly disclosed locations where the Army tests toxins included Washington D.C.'s Greyhound bus terminal and National Airport, two tunnels along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and at various sports in New York City, San Francisco, and in Florida's Key West and Panama City.

  • 1978: Jonestown Massacre

    Army strength: 771,624 people (0.35% of U.S. population)

    On Nov. 18, 1978, in Jonestown, Guyana, 918 followers of Pentecostal cult leader Jim Jones died—some by willingly drinking fruit punch dosed with cyanide, others (mostly children) by forced syringes of the lethal cocktail, and others by gunfire (dispensed by Jones' guards) when they tried to flee into the nearby jungle. More than 300 children died in the shocking group suicide, which the Army was sent in to clean up.

  • 1979: Faulty pilot ejection controls found

    Army strength: 758,852 people (0.34% of U.S. population)

    U.S. Army helicopter injuries were reviewed in 1979 for safety issues. It was found that there wasn't any way for the pilots to eject in time. Almost 300 crashes were recorded between 1979 and 1985.

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