Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Today, October 25th, the Caribbean nation of Grenada celebrates Thanksgiving Day – a national holiday commemorating the US-led invasion of their country, code-named “Urgent Fury.”

My first visit to Grenada occurred on the 10th anniversary of that invasion.  As Assistant Air Attaché in Venezuela, I was also diplomatically accredited to several Caribbean island nations, including Grenada.  Because of this posting, my wife, Sandi, and I were invited to represent the US military at a diplomatic reception at the Prime Minister’s residence commemorating the event.  During that evening – and the remaining days of our visit – Sandi and I fell in love with Grenada and its people.

For the past several years, I have been fortunate to return to Grenada often, as American Airlines flies there from our Miami base.  During the short drive to and from our layover hotel (located in the True Blue area just to the southeast of the airport), our crew van passes several points of interest that hearken back to October 25, 1983 and Operation Urgent Fury.

Each time I return to Grenada, I can’t help but imagine what that morning would have been like.  I look around today’s Maurice Bishop International Airport and my mind re-creates the various Cuban-built antiaircraft artillery positions that ringed the airfield back then.  As my 737 taxis out onto the runway, my mind congers up lumbering C-141 transports disgorging paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division – both of whom faced the intense (and unexpected) AAA and small arms fire aimed at them that morning.   Finally, as our aircraft reaches the end of the runway and lines up for takeoff, my eyes scan the horizon – looking at the same waters that took the lives of four Navy SEALs earlier that day.

It’s somehow comforting to know that Grenada celebrates this day with a national holiday – it’s good to know that they remember.  However, given that the median age in Grenada is a little over 28 years, almost half of Grenada’s current population had not yet been born on that October morning in 1983.  In fact, most of the young Grenadians with whom I’ve spoken during my recent stays, are unaware of the details of the invasion.  Then again, the same can be said of Americans today… most of us are only vaguely aware of the events which led to our intervention.  Given its short duration, the foul-ups that occurred, and especially when compared with our on-going and long-lasting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Grenada and Urgent Fury seem a mere historical footnote.

Today, it’s hard to imagine that this lovely island was once the scene of intense combat that lasted several days, but it’s fitting that we remember this day.  In that spirit, I therefore wish all of us a Happy Thanksgiving Day!


For a quick and informative read about the events that morning, I’d recommend this excerpt from Rick Atkinson’s best-selling novel, “The Long Gray Line.”