Military & Terrorist Attacks in Honduras

Terrorist/Military Attacks on Tegucigalpa (1979-1989)

– see Chronology of Attacks Below –


The United States Pentagon determines when a service member is ‘officially’ exposed to combat (Hostile Fire or Imminently Danger) conditions through statutes, rules, regulations, and proof of this appears on orders, as HFP/IDP or documented on Leave and Earnings Statement’s (LES); all based on Unit Commanders recommendations. The President has the ultimate and final responsibility in determining when and if troops are deployed into these situations.  A service member’s (SM) orders or copies of an LES and DD 214 help determine eligibility for membership acceptance to various organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Combat = Campaign or Expedition awards, Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger pay and/or the issuance of Valor Awards and Purple Hearts, for example, to service members deployed into the theater of operation and their combat support elements.

Hostile Fire Pay (HFP) is defined by the U.S. Army and DOD as, when certified by appropriate commander, a service member is:

1) Subjected to hostile fire or explosion of a hostile mine; or
2) On duty in an area in close proximity to a hostile fire incident and the member is in danger of being exposed to the same dangers actually experienced by other Service Members subjected to hostile fire or explosion of hostile mines; or
3) Killed, injured, or wounded by hostile fire, explosion of a hostile mine, or any other hostile action.

During the beginning of the Vietnam conflict (1963 & 1965), DOD changed its rules governing HFP, loosening the restriction allowing for all SM in a designated area (Vietnam) to receive combat honors (HFP) if other SM’s were fired upon resulting in HFP status for the entire group or country.   In 1965, DOD made a drastic change to combat pay allowing for zonal qualification (Uniform Services Pay Act of 1963, DOD Instruction 1340.6 November 21, 1963 & [Commander in Chief for the Pacific request deleting many restriction May 1965 in Gould & Horowitz History of Combat Pay Institute for Defense Analysis, August 2011 p. 33]).  The Zonal qualification extended to SM’s deployed to combat support units based in other countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and Laos.  For example, a SM assigned to a radar station in Thailand received combat pay, recognition and entitlements and never was subjected to hostile fire or imminent danger.  If a SM was assigned to a specific area (Vietnam) they would automatically receive combat pay (HFP) weather or not they were in Imminent Danger or subjected to Hostile Fire.  This zonal qualification lead to a new form of combat pay in 1983 called Imminent Danger pay (IDP) after the Beirut Marine Barracks Bombing and attacks began in Central America-the beginning of global terrorism.

In 1983, DOD added Imminent Danger Pay (IDP) as a qualifying combat status, defining IDP as when a SM is “subject to the threat of physical harm or imminent danger on the basis of civil insurrection, civil war, terrorism, or wartime conditions.”  A Service Member can be assigned to an IDP area and not be subjected to hostile fire or explosive devise and still receive combat honors and recognition based on the threat alone.  This occurs on a regular basis today (before May 31, 2014) in some 54 designated combat zones around the world.

In Honduras, unit commanders could not certify subjection to hostile fire or explosive device since many of the combat missions in or from Honduras were not authorized.  The Executive Branch and the Pentagon did not have Congressional approval to put military members in harms way and therefore could not publicly admit they were in harms way, hence no awards or recognition and no entitlements or benefits for the veterans and families.  No Gold Stars!

Congress specifically outlawed this from happening.  The Executive Branch and the Pentagon could not have designated Honduras an IDP area because Congress would have objected since they were attempting to restrict activities in Honduras and Nicaragua.  Under no circumstances would Congress have authorized payments of HFP/IDP to troops who were not supposed to be equipped for combat or in a country under siege (Honduras) and martial law during a period when these missions were prohibited by that same Congress.  The War Powers Resolution requires the President to “…notify, consult, and participate with the Congress in decisions of whether the United States should go to war or should deploy its forces in a manner that war is likely.” Section 4 of the resolution directs the President to “submit a report to Congress within 48 hours after U.S. forces have been introduced—into a foreign nation’s territory, airspace, or waters, while equipped for combat.” (50 U.S.C. 1542-3). This requirement was not fulfilled by the Executive Branch when U.S. military forces were deployed to Honduras while equipped for combat as some member’s orders clearly state. The Boland Amendments also attempted to restrict many of the Executive Branch’s actions in Central America.

Today (especially before May 31, 2014), many SM’s deployed to Greece, Philippines, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other locations receive IDP and not a single gun shot or explosion has occurred in years in these countries, yet they still receive combat pay, lifelong recognition and lifelong entitlements.  In fact, in some of these countries, SM’s receive combat pay while living with their spouses and children in a ‘combat zone.’  Moreover, in some ‘combat zones’ DOD has constructed schools for the American children while they live in a so-called combat zone and are receiving combat recognition & pay, Combat Zone Tax Relief and honors.  Being deployed to a combat zone today can mean additional income, tax savings and other financial benefits of up to $6,000 to $8,000 a month depending on location and rank of the SM.  Current policy indicates, the Pentagon in many circumstances, appears to be utilizing modern combat pay as a ‘recruitment and retention’ tool; not using it for its original intended purpose of recognizing the ‘hazards and hardships’ of actual combat.

The questions become; 1) was Honduras an Imminent Danger Area, 2) were some U.S. troops subjected to Hostile Fire, and 3) was this a Low-Intensity Conflict?

The following is a partial list of known incidents of hostile activity showing the Imminent Danger present in Honduras during the Central America War; important military, terrorist and other events that occurred in and around Honduras during the war.  During the war, at least 70 U.S. troops were killed and many dozens more were wounded by hostile actions in Honduras.  At least twenty-nine Purple Hearts were awarded by DOD.  At least one SM received Hostile Fire pay.  Two Prisoner of War Medals were awarded.  More than 300 U.S. military members were killed during the Central America War.

If two Prisoner of War Medals, numerous Purple Hearts were awarded and Hostile Fire pay issued during an operation; a campaign or expeditionary medal should be authorized!


July 20, 1979  Shortly after the fall of the Somoza dictatorship on July 19, 1979, it is feared that Soviet communism will soon be at the U.S.  southern border (Kokomo Tribune OP/ED Communism on doorstep July 20, 1979).

July 22, 1979 Two carloads of armed ex-Somoza guardsmen attack a meeting of newly formed Sandinista Junta cabinet members in Managua at Hotel Camino Real.  15 minute gun battle (LA Times Gunmen attack Nicaragua hotel of Junta, Sandinistas July 23, 1979).

July 30, 1979 Tachito Somoza, Anastasio Somoza’s son, is reported to be “in neighboring Honduras attempting to organize an army there” (Des Moines Register Ex-Nicaragua guard head reportedly plans invasion July 30, 1979).

July 30, 1979 Nicaraguan Sandinista Interior Minister Tomas Borge requests military aid from the U.S. Carter administration to help defend its newly formed post-Somoza governing Junta (Akron Beacon Nicaragua seeks U.S. military assistance July 30, 1979 p. A3).

August 7, 1979  1,500 ex-Somoza guardsmen are reportedly regrouping and organizing in Honduras for an alleged counteroffensive (LA Times Remnants in Honduras: Nicaraguan Guardsmen, Bedraggled, Broke, Bitter August 8, 1979).

September 10, 1979  Honduran military officials report that Nicaraguan Sandinista troops fired on a Honduran customs post wounding 2 truck drivers.  Nicaragua denied the attack.  The article reports that relations between left and right governments in C.A. have been tense ( Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester, NY] Honduras rushes troops to Nicaraguan border September 12, 1979).  Honduras military rushes an estimated 600 troops to the border of Nicaragua in response (Santa Cruz Sentinel Border clash September 12, 1979).

September 12, 1979  The U.S. State Department informed a House subcommittee that the “U.S. would be encouraging a takeover of Nicaragua by Marxist, pro-Cuban forces if it refuses aid to the troubled Central America nation” (Detroit Free Press Aid to Nicaragua defended September 12, 1979).

October 1, 1979 DOD backdates its HFP for U.S. troops serving in El Salvador to the beginning of the month when the first U.S. troops were wounded in El Salvador.

October 15, 1979  Shootings were reported in Army barracks in Chalatenango & Sonsonate.  One Army Captain was killed.  Army barracks in four major capitols were seized after protests against Army shootings of civilians.  El Salvador President Carlos Humberto Romero was ousted in a military coup by Army leftists rebels in San Salvador who then installed a three man Junta lead by Col. Adolfo Arnoldo Najano (Courier Journal [KY] Army coup is reported in El Salvador October 16, 1979).

October 17, 1979  Two U.S. Marine guards were shot and wounded at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador.  First U.S. troops wounded in El Salvador.

November 7, 1979  Nicaraguan Interior Minister Tomas Borge reported that 60 ex-Somoza guardsmen invaded Nicaragua from Honduras the “majority was annihilated by Sandinista troops.”  Borge also stated that the Honduran attache in Managua was involved (Indianapolis Star Somoza Backers ‘Annihilated‘ November 8, 1979).  “Relations between the leftist Sandinista government and Honduras’ rightest military regime have been strained for weeks after Nicaraguan charges that Honduran warplanes violated its airspace” (St. Louis Post Dispatch Reports Nicaraguan Raid By Supporters Of Somoza November 8, 1979).

November 5 -10, 1979  Nicaragua installs anti-aircraft weapons along its border with Honduras, reinforces troops and warns the Honduran military regime “to halt alleged airspace violations by Honduran planes.”  Third warning in five days by Borge. Honduras denied the allegations and countered that Nicaraguan Sandinista troops had often trespassed into Honduras (Arizona Republic Honduras warned by Nicaragua November 12, 1979).

February 12, 1980  Sandinista (FSLN) members kidnapped American businessman Martin Guardien in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

March 1980  Carter administration officials reported the U.S. is rushing military aid and advisers to Honduras to quell the spread of violence from its C.A. neighbors.  “State and Defense department officials, in congressional testimony last week, also asked for military aid-but not advisers-to help El Salvador’s army fight left-and right-wing terrorism.”  Mobile Training Teams were dispatched to Honduras and not El Salvador.  John Bushnell, deputy assistant Secretary of State, made clear the two military aid programs to Honduras and El Salvador “are related” ( Arizona Republic U.S. rushing military aid to Honduras March 31, 1980 & The Washington Star U.S. is rushing Arms to Honduras March 31, 1980 p. A12).

April 4, 1980 U.S. citizen and Texaco Executive, Arnie Quiroz is kidnapped by unknown assailants in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

April 15, 1980 A caravan of the National Party of Honduras members are attacked by communist agitators in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

May 14, 1980  A mass killing of civilians fleeing El Salvador across a border river with Honduras kills 350 to 500 civilians is reported in El Tiempo Tegucigalpa, Honduras (Florida Today Salvadoran deaths reported June 7, 1980 p. 12A).

August 15, 1980  Leftists rebels took 12 hostages at the Organization of American States (OAS)  in Tegucigalpa in protest of the alleged genocide by Honduran Army against Salvadoran civilians fleeing El Salvador in May.  600 Salvadoran civilians were allegedly killed crossing a river near Guatita,  El Salvador into Honduras.  The OAS is responsible for supervising the demilitarized zone of 1.8 miles on both sides of the border which began in 1970 after the 1969 ‘soccer war’ ( Pittsburg Press Terrorists Holding 12 At OAS In Honduras August 16, 1980).

October 30, 1980 Unknown assailants attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, with firearms.

December 7, 1980 U.S. citizen and Goodyear executive Clifford Bevens was kidnapping and eventually executed near Guatemala City, Guatemala.

December 17, 1980 U.S. citizen and businessman Thomas Bracken was murder by terrorists in the streets of San Salvador, El Salvador.

February 2, 1981 Guerrillas firebombed the ESSO Standard Oil Compound, a subsidiary of EXXON Corporation, near San Salvador, El Salvador killing two people.

March 9, 1981 President Reagan signs a “Presidential Finding” authorizing covert activities against Nicaragua and the Sandinistas.

April 19, 1981 Nicaraguan border patrols capture two Honduran soldiers inside Nicaragua who were there to collect intelligence (Nicaragua v. U.S., International Court of Justice April 9, 1984 CASE CONSERNING MILITARY AND PARAMILITARY ACTIVITIES IN AND AGAINST NICARAGUA).

September 16, 1981 Mennonite Missionary John David Troyer of Michigan was shot and killed by unknown assailants in Palama, Guatemala. February 13, 1982 American Catholic missionary Brother James Alfred Miller, 37, is murdered in Guatemala.

September 23, 1981 Two U.S. military members were wounded during a “terrorist” attack in Tegucigalpa, Honduras while riding in a U.S. Embassy vehicle carrying a group of U.S. Military Advisors. First U.S. military casualties in Honduras (New York Times 2 U.S. Military Advisers are shot in Honduras in a terrorist attack September 24, 1981).

October 7, 1981 Operation Falcon’s View begins, joint naval exercise with U.S. and Honduras. First “official” report of U.S. troops in Honduras (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

December 1, 1981 President Reagan signs a “Presidential Finding” authorizing CIA to “Support and conduct (military and) paramilitary operations against…Nicaragua.” (Presidential Finding, White House, December 1, 1981; partially declassified)(Nicaragua v. U.S., ICJ 1984).

December 1, 1981 A U.S. Marine Security Guard was fired upon while in his vehicle in San Salvador, El Salvador, The Popular Liberation Forces claimed responsibilities.

December 14, 1981 CIA-trained mercenaries (Contras) attacked the Nicaraguan town of San Carlos in Zelaya Norte province, kidnapped 12 persons, took them back to a base camp in Honduras and killed them (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

December 15-30, 1981 CIA backed mercenary forces (Contras) attacked additional targets inside Nicaragua always returning to base camps in Honduras (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

December 20-25, 1981 CIA trained Miskito Indian commandos raided several villages inside Nicaragua. Operation Red Christmas was meant to force other Miskito Indians to leave Nicaragua for Honduras to join other Nicaraguan defectors (Contras) (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

January 2, 1982 A CIA backed force of 60 men attacked the town of Raiti, Nicaragua killing four civilians. Another force of 45 CIA backed mercenaries attacked Limbaica, stole two boats, engines, fuel and weapons and burned a bridge at Alammikamba (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

January 4, 1982 President Reagan signs National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) #17 authorizing “increase military assistance to El Salvador and Honduras…provide military training for indigenous units and leaders in and out of country…enhance U.S. and host country intelligence capabilities and sharing…encourage cooperative efforts to defeat externally-supported insurgency” and to “support democratic forces in Nicaragua.”

January 24, 1982  “A leftist movement is growing in Honduras…” and “Salvadoran troops often cross the border in pursuit of Salvadoran guerrillas.  In addition, former Somoza National guard soldiers who fled to Honduras after the Nicaraguan dictator’s fall are said to be preparing a counter-revolution and have been issuing war communique’s on their actions against Nicaragua.”  This article implies the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution never ended and is being energized from Honduran based Nicaraguan exiles ( Akron Beacon Journal PARADE MAGAZINE Can Central America Be A Vietnam by Tad Szulc January 24, 1982 p. 12 & 13).

January 29, 1982 President Reagan signs NSDD #21 authorizing base improvements and construction in Honduras.

February 5, 1982 Forty mercenaries (Contras) based in Honduras attacked the Nicaraguan border post at Las Brisas in Nueva Segovia province killing three Nicaraguan guards. Later in February similar attacks occurred at border posts in El Espino and El Zacaton (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

March 14, 1982 A CIA-trained and equipped demolition team crossed into Nicaragua from Honduras and blew up two vital bridges at Rio Negro in Chinandega and Ocotal in Nueva Segovia (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

April 4, 1982 Three squadrons of the Honduran army from the border area of El Guasaule, in full army uniforms crossed into Nicaragua near Somitillo, kidnapped 21 peasants and took them back to Choluteca, Honduras (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

April 5, 1982 Armed assailants with automatic weapons attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

April 26, 1982 A mercenary force (Contras) of 100 men armed with grenades, mortars and machine guns attacked the Nicaraguan border post at Los Planes in Nueva Segovia province killing four persons and wounding many others. The same day another mercenary force killed four farm workers, a woman and a child in El Recreo, Jinotega province (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

July 4, 1982 Two hundred mercenaries (Contras), armed with U.S.-made M-16 and M-79 Grenade launchers attacked the Nicaraguan village of Seven Benk killing 15 Nicaraguans.  The fight lasted three days (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

July 16, 1982 An 80-man mercenary force (Contras) raided the village of San Fernando in Nueva Segovia killing one villager and kidnapping three peasants before withdrawing to Honduras (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

July 24, 1982 A 100 man mercenary force (Contras) equipped with modern U.S. weapons crossed into Nicaragua from Honduras and attacked the village of San Francisco del Norte, Chinandega province killing 14 villagers wounding four and kidnapping 8 others taking them back to Honduras. Three more Nicaraguans were killed pursuing the mercenaries (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

July 25, 1982 A “Combined Deployment” of U.S. and Honduran troops began. U.S. aircraft, military vehicles, communication equipment and troops were flown into Honduras from U.S. military bases in Panama. A permanent military base was established at Durzuna, near the Nicaraguan border where most of the U.S. military equipment remained for use by the mercenaries (Contras) attacking Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

November 4, 1982 Members of the Lorenzo Zelaya Revolutionary Front (LZFR) bombed and targeted four Honduran Government buildings in Tegicigalpa, Honduras.

November 5, 1982 The New York Times publishes the article titled Not-So-Secret War in Honduras.

November 6, 1982 Members of the Lorenzo Zelaya Revolutionary Front (LZFR) bombed and targeted the Polymer Corporation and the United Fruit Company based in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, both U.S. owned and operated firms.

November 13, 1982 Unknown assailants bombed and targeted U.S. citizens at the offices of Air Florida in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

December 13, 1982 Contra forces attacked a Nicaraguan Sandinista government police frontier post in Honduras.

December 30, 1982 Five columns of mercenaries (Contras), each consisting of 125 Miskito Indians, crossed into Nicaragua from Honduras heading towards Puerto Cabezas, a strategic seaport on the Nicaraguan Atlantic Coast, to capture and hold the port (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

January 16, 1983 Mercenaries (Contras) firing 60 mm mortars attacked a truck filled with coffee pickers in Namasli, Nueva Segovia killing two children and wounding eight adults (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

January 21 – February 10 1983 Operation Ahuas Tara I commences in Honduras involving 1,600 U.S. troops and some 4,000 Honduran troops.

March 26, 1983 Nicaraguan Sandinista government troops attacked a Honduran Military patrol in Nacaome, Honduras with automatic and other military weapons killing several Honduran troops.

March 28, 1983 Leftist guerrillas of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador attack a Honduran Military unit in Nacaome, Honduras.

April 25, 1983 Contra units attacked Nicaraguan Sandinista government forces in Las Canas, Honduras.

May 17, 1983 Unknown assailants assassinated General German Luis Sanchez Paredes of the Honduran 105th Infantry Brigade in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

May 25, 1983 Navy Seal, Lt. Commander Albert Schaufelberger, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Military Advisory Group, was shot and killed in his car in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Popular Liberation Forces is believed to be responsible. First U.S. troop killed in El Salvador. Story makes the cover of Newsweek magazine.

June 5, 1983 A force of 600 Contras crossed from Honduras into the region of El Porvenir near Jalap, Nicaragua, using the Honduran Army for protective fire, killing 20 Nicaraguans during the insurrection (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

June 21, 1983 Two U.S. journalists with the Los Angeles Times and U.S. News and World Report were killed in Honduras by Sandinista troops from Nicaragua who planted a mine under a bridge (RPG and automatic weapons) (State Department LETHAL 1975-1985).

July 28, 1983 President Reagan signs NSDD #100 enhancing “U.S. Military Activity and Assistance for the Central American Region” and authorizing Ahuas Tara II to begin in early August within Honduras.

August 23, 1983 Members of (LZRF) assassinate a bodyguard and chauffeur of Honduran President Suazo Cordova in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

August 25, 1983 Members of the Cinchoneros Popular Liberation Movement bombed and targeted America citizens at Standard Fruit Company in La Cieba, Honduras.

August 28, 1983 Contra forces attacked Nicaraguan Sandinista forces in La Zompapers, Honduras.

September 3, 1983 Mercenaries (Contras) from Honduras attacked El Guayo, Matagalpa province in Nicaragua, kidnapping 18 peasants and burned their homes. All 18 were found with their throats cut (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

September 3, 1983 Members of the Morazanist Front for the Liberation of Honduras (FMLH) attacked a Honduran military unit in Piedras Azules, Honduras.

September 8, 1983 Two Cessna aircraft bombed the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua. Nicaragua destroying passenger facilities. One of the planes was shot down and contained documents proving it belonged to a U.S. based CIA contract firm. On the same day CIA trained saboteurs (Contras) blew up oil storage and pipeline facilities at Puerto Sandino on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

September 11, 1983 Leftist guerrillas of the (FMLN) from El Salvador attacked Honduran forces in Enterios Mountains, Honduras.

September 18, 1983 Leftist guerrillas of the (FMLN) from El Salvador again attacked Honduran forces in Enterios Mountains and also Catacamas, Honduras.

Fall 1983 to mid 1984; President Reagan authorized CIA to mine the harbors in the Gulf of Fonseca between, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador (Los Angeles Times 5 Mar 1985).

Fall 1983, the Council on Foreign Relations published a Foreign Affairs document titled At War with Nicaragua “The Reagan Administration is at War with Nicaragua.” By Richard H. Ullman

October 1, 1983 Contra Forces attacked Nicaraguan Sandinista government forces in La Zompapera, Honduras.

October 2, 1983 U.S.-directed mercenaries attacked oil storage facilities at Benjamin Zeledon on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast causing the loss of 324,000 gallons of fuel (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

October 3, 1983 The Nicaraguan Army shot down a military airplane that was transporting military supplies to the Contras in Los Cedros north of Rio Blanco inside Nicaragua. The aircraft was a Douglas DC-3C that took off from El Aguacate, Honduras. Three were captured and confessed to be ex-army officers of the Somoza National Guard (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

October 10, 1983 A combined air and sea attack demolished five oil storage tanks in the port of Corinto, Nicaragua destroying 3.2 million gallons of fuel, injuring 112 persons and forcing the evacuation of more than 20,000 townspeople due to raging fires and explosions (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

October 14, 1983 CIA trained mercenary frogmen (Contras) set under-water explosive devices destroying storage facilities again at Puerto Sandino, Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

October 18, 1983 Some 400 mercenaries (Contras) attacked Pantasma, Jinotega inside Nicargua killing 47 persons including farm workers, engineers and architects. They also robbed a bank and destroyed ten tractors and trucks, a sawmill, agricultural warehouses and government offices (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

October 18, 1983 Unknown assailants attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

November 3, 1983 U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Thomas P. Petrucci is wounded by hostile fire on Tiger Island, Honduras in the Gulf of Fonseca between El Salvador and Nicaragua according to Pentagon papers and a Marine Corps investigation. Nine months later, on August 13, 1984 the report surfaces in newspapers. The report states that DOD reported to Congress in April (five months after the incident) that a Marine was shot by accident in Honduras last November “even though a Marine Corps investigation concluded that the victim was hit by hostile fire, according to Pentagon documents.” (The New York Times 14 Aug 1984).

November 6, 1983 Nicaraguan Sandinista Government forces attacked the village of Las Champas, Honduras.

November 26, 1983 The Sandinista Peoples Army claimed responsibility for kidnapping three Honduran Union workers in Minas de Cacanuya, Honduras.

December 20, 1983 Nine separate mercenary forces (Contras) – each consisting of approximately 400 men – invaded northern Nicaragua from Honduras. Battles ensued, 151 Nicaraguan’s were killed and 140 wounded (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

January – February 1984 More than 155 mercenary (Contra) attacks against Nicaragua troops resulted in 254 Nicaraguan deaths (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).  Nicaragua was also attacking Contra & Honduran forces in the same region.

January 7, 1984 The Chilean Embassy was bombed in Tegucigalpa, Honduras by unknown assailants. On this same day, 21 year old U.S. Army soldier David Seitz from Robesonia, PA is killed in Honduras by an apparent accident.

On January 11, 1984, U.S. Army helicopter pilot Jeff Schwab, flying over Nicaragua, near the Honduran border was shot down and subsequently killed by Nicaraguan Sandinista government troops. Two other U.S. service members in the helicopter escaped. Schwab was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously and is the only U.S. service member listed by the US Archives, Defense Causality Analysis System as killed in Honduras as a result of a “terrorist” attack.  Schawb’s Purple Heart reads “FOR WOUNDS RECEIVED IN ACTION IN HONDURAS ON 11 JANUARY 1984 WHICH RESULTED IN DEATH.”  (Copy of Jeff Schwab’s Purple Heart provided by his widow Karen Schwab, The Hutchison News 12 Jan 1984 p. 1). Nicaragua claims that Schwab was shot down over Nicaraguan air space (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

January 20, 1984 MSCP and Stanley-Vidmar design firms dispute over cabinet contracts with USG for “…two Navy vessels scheduled for imminent deployment to combat-ready duty stations (63 Comptroller General p 448).

February 3, 1984 Four aircraft of the push and pull type approached from Honduras and attacked a military unit of the Nicaraguan Army in the Manazanillo, Department of Chinandega. The airplanes withdrew back to Honduras after the attack (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

February 3, 1984 Four U.S. Army soldiers were killed and six others injured when their helicopter crashed in the mountains of Honduras (New York Times 4 Feb 1984).

February 1984 The ports of Corinto, Puerto Sandino and El Bluff were mined. Five foreign commercial vessels were damaged (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

February 15, 1984 A platoon of combat Military Policeman (MP) from Panama “equipped for combat” arrive at Palmerola Air Base, Honduras.  Combat equipped MP units from Panama are deployed to Honduras on a rotational basis from 1983 to 1990 for non-training purposes.  Most were sent to protect U.S. assets, bases, runways, radar stations, conduct occasional rescue missions, conduct convoy escorts and protect VIP’s.  These combat support missions required the MP’s to carry 45 caliber pistols, M16 and M60 machine guns with ammunition at all times.  Most of these U.S. assets are utilized to conduct the wars against Nicaragua and El Salvadoran leftist guerrillas from within Honduras.  Some examples include; planes take off from Palmerola and El Aguacate Honduras to conduct raids, surveillance, supply drops into Nicaragua and El Salvador.  Helicopters take off from these bases to inspect road building projects along the Nicaraguan border, prisoners captures in Nicaragua are brought back to El Aguacate and interrogated, radar stations provide intelligence data to Contra Forces and the El Salvadoran government and contra forces are trained here to better conduct the war.  In essence, the U.S. government orchestrated two civil wars from Honduras to help end communist expansion in Central America.

March 1984 More than 6,000 Contras invade Nicaragua. Boats from San Lorenzo, Honduras attacked Nicaraguan ports on ten occasions (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

March 7, 1984 Mercenaries (Contras) blew up a government owned fuel truck carrying 8,000 gallons of propane gas as it entered Nicaragua at Playas Somotos (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

March 26, 1984 A coordinated attack and bombings at five different Honduran government complexes in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa took place. The Cinchoneros Popular Liberation Movement and others claimed responsibility.

April 1, 1984 Exercise Grenadero I commences involving 3,500 U.S. troops.

April 9, 1984 Nicaragua files its case against the U.S. with the International Court of Justice (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

April 10, 1984 Unknown assailants bombed the El Salvadoran Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

April 12, 1984 A USG Official claimed that American advisors based in El Salvador “had occasionally engaged in combat missions and targeted or bombed guerrilla positions.” (New York Times 12 April 1984).

May 9, 1984 The U.S. Congress addresses growing concerns over American troop involvement in CA reconfirming the Constitutional obligations of the U.S. President when considering involving American troops in combat or imminent danger.  Reports to Congress were never submitted by President Reagan leading to the covert actions and secret deployments of U.S. combat equipped uniformed service members to Honduras ( U.S. Military Involvement in Hostilities in Central America: Markup Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Ninety-eight Congress, Second Session, on H. Res. 484, May 9, 1984).

May 15, 1984 El Salvador sent a battalion of 1,200 combat troops to Honduras to join U.S. during training exercises in Honduras near the El Salvadoran border. Leftist guerillas claim the U.S. exercises are a “cover for stepped-up U.S. involvement in the Salvadoran conflict.” (Wisconsin State Journal 15 May 1984 p. 4 s. 4).

June 10, 1984 Contra forces attacked a Nicaraguan Sandinista government unit at El Jocote, Honduras.

The Contra and Nicaraguan Sandinista government attacks and counterattacks continued in Honduras and Nicaragua for many years. The intensity came and went based on political and socio-economic conditions.

October 20, 1984 Four CIA employees were killed in a plane crash in El Salvador when the twin-engine aircraft they were flying went down under mysterious reasons (New York Times, 21 Oct 1984).

September 1, 1984 Two Americans were killed in a helicopter crash in Nicaragua. A Nicaraguan Contra pilot apparently flew the helicopter; the two Americans killed were Dana Herbert Parker, Jr. and James Perry Lowell, III (White House Situation Room Report, September 4, 1984), both were x-Special Forces and allegedly Alabama National Guardsmen.

December 13, 1984 Two U.S. Navy Special Operations members are killed in an explosion in a small Honduran village during an alleged demolition accident (The New York Times 14 Dec 1984).

January 22, 1985 A U.S. Air Force C-130A turboprop transport plane with 26 SM’s on board crashed off the northern coast of Honduras killing all 26. The Reserve members were assigned on a rotational basis to Panama and were on a mission to Honduras when it crashed at about 11 a.m. EST leaving from Howard AFB in Panama heading to a base at Trujillo, Honduras. Only 14 killed are reported.  The remains of the deceased were sent to Panama where the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and U.S. military performed an investigation.

January 26, 1985 to February 15 1985  An MP from the 534th MP Company at Ft. Clayton, Panama is assigned to provide twenty-four hour security to the United States Mortuary, 193D Infantry Brigade, Panama, “in support of the C-130 aircraft that crashed off the coast of Honduras.” (DA Form 638, Recommendation For Award, dated May 15, 1985).

April 18, 1985 Three combat planes of the Honduran air force attacked and sank a Nicaraguan coast guard boat 10 miles southwest of Cape Gracias a Dios in Nicaragua’s sovereign and jurisdictional waters killing one and leaving one missing (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

June 19, 1985 Four U.S. Marines Security Guards and two U.S. businessmen were killed in San Salvador, El Salvador by terrorists claiming to be members of the Central American Revolutionary Workers Party. The reported 6-10 terrorists were armed with automatic weapons and dressed in military uniforms. A total of 13 people were killed in the attack.

July 4, 1985 Nicaraguan Sandinista government units attacked at least three separate villages of El Jicaro, Alauco and Matapalo in Honduras.

August 7, 1985 Forty-seven persons were abducted from the river San Juan in Nicaragua and taken into Costa Rica including 29 U.S. citizens of the Organization Witnesses for Peace (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica, International Court of Justice).

September 13, 1985 Nicaraguan Sandinista military units attacked a Honduran police unit at El Espanolito, Honduras.

March14, 1986 Three detachments of Contras of approximately 60 men each made an incursion into Nicaragua near La Fraternidad. The Honduran Army gave supportive fire to the attack with mortars and riffles (Nicaragua v. U.S. ICJ 1984).

July 24, 1986 Nicaraguan Sandinista government forces bombed a private residence in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

August 19, 1986 FMLN forces from El Salvador attacked at least three separate villages in Cololaca, Valladilid and Tambla in Honduras.

October 5, 1986 A plane carrying U.S. citizen Eugene Hasenfus was shot down in Nicaragua while carrying supplies to the Contras. The Sandinistas captured Hasenfus. This report eventually led to the exposure of the U.S. involved covert operations in Honduras and the Iran-Contra affairs.

June 13, 1987 U.S. Army MP Staff Sargent Randall Harris was shot dead while on routine patrol at Palmerola Air Base, Honduras (State Department).

June 16, 1987 Contra forces attacked Nicaraguan Sandinista government forces in La Zompapera, Honduras.

July 16, 1987 A U.S. helicopter crashed and killed six America SM en route to rescue an accidentally wounded America troop near San Salvador. Among the killed was the deputy commander of the U.S. Military Group attached to the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador.

August 8, 1987 Unknown assailants bombed the China Palace & Discothèque, a popular U. S. Military destination in Comayagua, Honduras.

August 11, 1987 In depth details surface surrounding CIA and Special Forces involvement in El Salvador in an article by Frank Smyth published in The Village Voice. Documents released by The War College based in Carlisle, PA entitled “El Salvador: Observations and Experiences in Counterinsurgency” describe the use of Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol units lead by members of the Third Battalion 7 Special Forces Group based in Panama, assigned to Honduras.

January 14, 1988 A Honduran Death Squad assassinated Labor Union Leader Miguel Angel Pavon in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

February 12, 1988 Members of the (LZRF) bombed a check point at Palmerola (Soto Cano) Air Base, a U.S. and Honduran military base.

April 7, 1988 Unknown assailants bombed and attacked the U.S. State Department in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with automatic weapons.

July 17, 1988 Nine U.S. troops were attacked by the LZRF in San Pedro Sula, Honduras when an explosive devise was thrown under their vehicle and then fired automatic weapons at them (State Department).

October 15, 1988 The Patriotic Morazanista Front (FPM) assassinated U.S. Businessman Leo Mills in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

October 20, 1988 The FPM bombed the U.S. State Department Peace Corp office in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

December 9, 1988 At least three U.S. Army soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in northern Honduras three miles from La Ceiba. (The New York Times 9 Dec 1988).

February 1, 1989 A seven-vehicle convoy of U.S. and Honduran troops were fired upon by terrorists near Yoro Province, Honduras. No injuries were reported. (State Department). This may have happened at Soto Cano Air Base.

February 18, 1989 An Improvised Explosive Device was detonated against a U.S. troop transport contract bus targeting U.S. troops in Honduras. Three U.S. troops were injured (State Department).

February 24, 1989 The American owned and operated Standard Fruit Company was bombed in La Cieba, Honduras.

April 11, 1989 An 11-vehicle convoy of U.S. and Honduran troops was ambushed in the Yoro Province, Honduras near San Pedro Sula. Both U.S. troops and Honduran troops returned fire. No casualties were reported. The FPM claimed responsibility and said they killed one U.S. troop and wounded three or four others (State Department).

April 16, 1989 Unknown assailants bombed the U.S. State Department office in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

July 4 & 6, 1989 Honduran Death Squads assassinated two Labor Union Leaders in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

July 11, 1989 A report published by the USG states that:

“Approximately 1,100 U.S. military personnel have been present at Soto Cano Air Base-formerly Palmerola Air Base-since 1983 (1) to support U.S. training exercises and U.S. intelligence activities in Honduras, (2) to signal U.S. resolve to support its allies against Cuban/Nicaraguan threat, and (3) to assist the Honduran military in providing humanitarian aid and civic action to remote areas. Although opinion polls indicate that this U.S. presence has been well received by most Hondurans, it is also the source of unfavorable press and has attracted occasional terrorist acts.” (GAO/NSIAD-89-170 U.S. Assistance in Central America, Government Accounting Office Ch. 2, p. 24 July 11, 1989).

July 13, 1989 Seven U.S. Military Policemen of the 549th MP Co, from Panama, based in Honduras were injured, four seriously, in a grenade attack in La Cieba, Honduras. The FPM claimed responsibility and claim to have killed one U.S. soldier and injured at least 20 U.S. troops in the past year during five attacks (State Department).  The soldiers names are Lt. Soto, Rob Engberts, Ken McCord, SSG Ford, SSG Nelson, SPC Wallenfang, SPC Barge & PFC Posey.  No Purple Hearts were awarded!

November 14, 1989 Unknown assailants bombed the Honduran Army Joint High Command in Comayagua, Honduras.

March 31, 1990 A bus carrying 28 U.S. troops was attacked by gunmen near Amarteca, Honduras. Seven were wounded (State Department).

June 29, 1990 The official end to the Contra War between U.S. backed Contras and the Soviet/Cuban baked Sandinista Nicaraguan government is detailed in this article which states that 30,000 Nicaraguans were killed during the war (The New York Times 29 Jun 1990).

January 2, 1991 Lolotique – Of the 22 U.S. military members killed in El Salvador during the war at least 7 were based in Honduras including LTC David Pickett, CWO4 Daniel Scott and SP4 Earnest Dawson who were killed by the communists near Lolotique, El Salvador on the return leg of a round-trip flight from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras to San Salvador, El Salvador when they were shot down.  Scott was killed while piloting the helicopter.  LTC Pickett and then PFC Dawson survived the crash, captured by the enemy and later executed as wounded Prisoners of War.  LTC Pickett was awarded the POW Medal in 2003.  SP4 Dawson and his family have yet to be honored with the POW award.

May 21, 1995 CBS 60 Minutes airs the segment titled The Pentagon Turned its Back on Them convincing Congressman Robert K. Dornan (R-California) to push legislation through Congress until President Clinton signed the 1996 Defense Authorization Act awarding combat medals to U.S. troops who were killed, wounded and served in El Salvador.

May 6, 1996 U.S. Troops who participated in the El Salvadoran civil war conflict finally receive honors and medals (recognition) in a ceremony held in Washington D.C.  21 SM were killed in El Salvador where 5,000 U.S. troops served from 1981 to 1992. President Clinton signed the 1996 Defense Authorization Act ordering the Pentagon to issue Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals to all troops who served in El Salvador from January 1981 to February 1992. (Washington Post, Public Honors for Secret Combat 5 May 1996 p. 1).

Sources:  U.S. State Department, University of Maryland Global Terrorism Database (S.T.A.R.T.) program, International Court of Justice (Nicaragua v. United States 1984), Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC).

How can you help?

Please help us advocate for recognition as Veterans of this Low-Intensity Conflict by sending a letter to your U.S. Congress or Senate representative in support of our mission by asking Congress to issue an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal to all U.S. troops who served in Honduras from 1981 to 1992.  This will help the families of the killed and wounded, those veterans attempting to receive proper combat honors and recognition for their sacrifices during the decade that ended communism.  Support VFW Resolution 419 – Honduras!

All material compiled here is copyright protected by

Central America War (1979 – 1992)