On this day in 1986, the United States launched air strikes against Libya in retaliation for the Libyan sponsorship of terrorism against American troops and citizens. The raid, which began shortly before 7 p.m. EST (2 a.m., April 15 in Libya), involved more than 100 U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft, and was over within an hour. Five military targets and "terrorism centers" were hit, including the headquarters of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
I was a high school junior at the time, and I remember the news reporting the attacks that evening. I remember President Reagan addressing the nation on television, explaining why he had ordered the attacks. And I also remember a palpable sense of fear.
I was too young during the Vietnam War to remember any of it, and so this was the first US military operation that I remember happening in my lifetime (although I'm sure there were others beforehand). The next day in school, as my classmates and I discussed the bombing, our biggest worry was retaliation; we had to be assured by the adults in our midst that Libya didn't have missiles that could reach us. That made us feel a lot better; no one thought of terrorism as something that could or would reach our shores. (The world is somewhat different today.)