On this day in Caribbean history, October 25, 1983, the Invasion of Grenada was a United States led invasion that resulted in a U.S. victory within a matter of weeks. Codenamed Operation Urgent Fury, it was triggered by the house arrest on October 12, 1983 and murder of the leader of the coup which had brought a revolutionary government to power for the preceding four years. The invasion resulted in the appointment of an interim government, followed by democratic elections in 1984.

Grenada gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1974. The leftist New Jewel Movement seized power in a coup in 1979, suspending the constitution. After a 1983 internal power struggle ended with the deposition and murder of revolutionary prime minister Maurice Bishop.

The U.S. Army’s Rapid Deployment Force, U.S. Marines, U.S. Army Delta Force, and U.S. Navy SEALs and other combined forces constituted the 7,600 troops from the United States, Jamaica, and members of the Regional Security System (RSS) defeated Grenadian resistance after a low-altitude airborne assault by the 75th Rangers on Point Salines Airport on the southern end of the island, and a Marine helicopter and amphibious landing occurred on the northern end at Pearl’s Airfield shortly afterward. The military government of Hudson Austin was deposed and replaced by a government appointed by Governor-General Paul Scoon until elections were held in 1984.

The date of the invasion is now a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day. The Point Salines International Airport was renamed in honor of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop on the 65th anniversary of his birth on 29 May 2009. Hundreds of Grenadians turned out to commemorate the historical event. Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and close friend of Bishop gave the key note speech and referred to the renaming as an act of the Grenadian people coming home to themselves. He also hoped that it will help bring closure to a chapter of denial in Grenada’s history. The invasion also highlighted problematic issues with communication and coordination between the different branches of the United States military when operating together as a joint force, contributing to investigations and sweeping changes in the form of the Goldwater-Nichols Act and other reorganizations.

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