This timeline is meant to give readers an alternate way to explore the history of Bethel at War: a skeletal outline of 20th and early 21st century U.S. military history juxtaposed against Bethel’s development as an institution.

To skip ahead, click World War I, World War II, Vietnam War, or War on Terror.

(Key for alumni years: A = Academy, C = College, CAPS = College of Adult & Professional Studies, CAS = College of Arts & Sciences, GS = Graduate School, JC = Junior College, S = Seminary)

Before World War I


John Alexis Edgren

John Alexis Edgren (1839-1908)

King Wilhelm I of Prussia becomes the kaiser of the newly unified German Empire.

John Alexis Edgren founds a Swedish Baptist seminary in Chicago.


Edgren’s seminary briefly relocates to St. Paul, Minnesota, holding classes at the First Swedish Baptist Church.

Western powers gather in the German capital of Berlin to formalize the so-called Scramble for Africa.


Having also stopped at Stromsburg, Nebraska along the way, the Swedish Baptist Theological Seminary returns to Chicago.


The United States goes to war with Spain. The conflict divides the country, as does the ensuing debate over whether or not to annex the Philippines.


Germany provokes the First Moroccan Crisis, one of several war scares in the decade leading up to World War I.

Swedish-American Baptists found secondary schools in Minneapolis (Bethel Academy) and Seattle (Adelphia College).

Elim Baptist Church in Minneapolis, the first home of Bethel Academy

The first home of Bethel Academy: Elim Baptist Church in Minneapolis


Britain, France, and Russia form the Triple Entente, a loose alliance held together by mutual suspicion of Germany.

Bethel Academy moves to its new building in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul.


The University of Chicago cuts off financial support to its Swedish Department, starting a debate among Swedish Baptists that will eventually lead to their seminary returning to St. Paul.

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World War I


June 28 — The assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, sets off a European crisis.

Gavrilo Princip captured, moments after shooting Franz and Sophie Ferdinand

Police arrest Gavrilo Princip after he shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie – Wikimedia Commons

August 4 — Britain joins Russia and France in going to war against Germany and Austria-Hungary.

September 5 — Allied forces stop the German offensive just short of Paris – both sides begin to position themselves for prolonged trench warfare.

October 1 — The Swedish Baptist seminary opens the fall term at its new home in St. Paul, where it now shares a name (and soon, a campus) with Bethel Academy.


April 24 — A day before the Allies begin their disastrous campaign at Gallipoli, Turkish authorities arrest and execute 250 leading Armenians, beginning the first modern genocide.

May 7 — The German submarine U-20 sinks the British liner Lusitania, killing 1,195 — including 128 Americans.

Laying the cornerstone for the new Bethel Academy building, June 1915

June 21, 1915: Laying the cornerstone of Bethel Academy’s new building


February 21 — German artillery bombards French positions at Verdun, beginning the longest and bloodiest battle of WWI.

July 1 — Almost 20,000 British soldiers die on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

November 7 — President Woodrow Wilson narrowly wins reelection after running on the slogan, “He Kept Us out of War.”


February 1 — Germany announces that it will resume unrestricted submarine warfare.

April 6 — U.S. Congress declares war on Germany.

May 19 — Patriotic Day” at Bethel Academy: classes are canceled so that students and faculty can dig up the athletic field and plant potatoes and beans.

My heart goes out to the soldier in fetters;
Giving his life that the world might be better;
Bound by the spirit of “doing and dying;”
And trying to stop both the cursing and sighing.

But the heart that is larger than soldier’s or brother’s,
Is the heart that is found in the bosom of mothers;
What sons through the ages have suffered and borne
Is the smallest compared with a mother’s heart torn

— Anton Sjolund (A ’17, S ’18), May 1917

August 1 — Pope Benedict XV announces a seven-point plan for peace. While welcomed by Austria-Hungary, it is rejected by the German and American governments.

These months have been very busy, as you may well understand, in getting the conscript Army into a fair shape for the strenuous work in head of them. I expect that after I have been here [Camp Logan in Houston, Texas] the required time… I will leave for the Western Front and answer the charges of the Germans as to whether we Americans are really a bunch of ‘peace at any price men’. Probably that must be proven as yet but from the general trend of thought of the Officers the German pests are to have some hard knocks.

— Lt. Axel Belstrom (A ’14) – September 8, 1917

November 7 — The Marxist party known as the Bolsheviks seizes power in Petrograd and other Russian cities.


Lt. August L. Sundvall (d. 1918)

Lt. August L. Sundvall (1889-1918) – public domain

Unable to weather the financial strains of wartime, Adelphia College — Bethel Academy’s sister school in Seattle — closes.

January 8 — Woodrow Wilson announces his peace program, the “Fourteen Points.”

March 5 — Bethel Academy hangs its “Service Flag” for the first time; it bears one star for each former student serving in the military. By war’s end, there will be 88 stars — four in gold, representing those who had died or gone missing.

March 21 — German forces mount a new offensive that breaks through Allied lines on the Western Front.

April 20 — Lt. August Sundvall (A ’09) becomes the first Bethel alum to die in World War I.

How many more of our boys are to sacrifice their lives in this gigantic struggle for justice and freedom, the future alone can reveal. Lieut. Sundvall is the first.

— Henry Wingblade, Academy English teacher – May 1918

August 8 — American troops join Allied forces in the hundred-day offensive that will lead Germany to sue for peace.

It sure is good news that we get from the other side daily now, I only wish that I was there to help to chase that blamable Hun autocracy into the North sea.

— Pvt. Paul Larson (A ’16) – September 1, 1918

October 1 — The U.S. Army musters 142,000 young men at over 500 colleges and universities into the Student Army Training Corps (SATC). Bethel is relatively unaffected, since high school students and those studying for the ministry are exempt from required military service.

November 11 — An armistice ends the fighting on the Western Front.


January 18 — The same day that the Paris Peace Conference opens at Versailles, Olivia Johnson (A ’13), Bethel’s most famous victim of the “Spanish Flu,” dies while on furlough from her missionary work in the Philippines.

As citizens of America and the world we are looking with anxious interest across the waters to where our president sits among other leaders to establish an understanding of and respect for all international laws, and thus promote an international peace.

— Olive Martine (A ’19) – May 1919

June 28 — The German delegation signs the Treaty of Versailles, accepting the loss of territory, population, much of its military, and responsibility for the war — and agreeing to pay reparations to France and Belgium.


Detail from William Orpen, “The Signing of the Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 1919” – Imperial War Museum

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The Interwar Era


Bethel Academy and Seminary adopt the name “Bethel Institute.”


Having rejected the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the U.S. Senate ratifies a separate peace with Germany.

Bethel's chapel room in 1921

Bethel’s chapel, 1921


Benito Mussolini becomes prime minister of Italy.


Bethel Academy reaches its peak enrollment: 323.


“Black Friday” on Wall Street marks the beginning of the Great Depression.


Bethel Junior College tennis team in 1937

The tennis team at Bethel Junior College, 1937

Bethel Junior College is founded.


Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany, and Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated for the first of four terms as U.S. president.


After years of declining enrollment, Bethel Academy closes.

The Spanish Civil War begins.


Six years after seizing Manchuria, Japan invades China.

Japan is at war with China, all Nations are in a state of unrest and uneasiness. And we came through Armistice day without hearing any thoughts on peace and war expressed in chapel or other service on the campus.

Can we afford to be silent on these vital issues?

— Editorial in the November 1937 issue of The Clarion


…be it resolved that as a Swedish Baptist General Conference we reaffirm our position as being opposed to all wars of aggression, and state as our conviction that civilized nations should find it possible to settle their national and international problems through the medium of Christian diplomacy and arbitration. We further pray and hope that the leaders of our nation and of the world shall with increasing interest listen to His voice who still speaks to us in the unforgettable words: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

— Delegates of the Swedish Baptist General Conference – June 25, 1938

With British and French acquiescence, Germany annexes the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia.

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World War II


September 1 — Germany invades Poland.

September 12 — The fall semester starts at Bethel, as the Wehrmacht nears Warsaw.


June 22 — France signs an armistice with Germany, leaving Britain as the only Ally still fighting.

September 7 — The German bombing campaign against British cities (“The Blitz”) begins.

September 16 — The U.S. government enacts the Selective Training and Service of 1940, making possible the first peacetime draft in American history.

The conscription bill raises a question of supreme importance to every patriotic American. Will the draft help solve our problem? Will conscription insure peace? Or, will there be a precipice at the end of this preparedness stampede?

— Editorial in the October 15, 1940 issue of The Clarion


Laying the cornerstone for Bodien Hall at Bethel Junior College in June 1941

June 11, 1941: Laying the cornerstone of the junior college’s new women’s dormitory, Bodien Hall

June 22 — Germany invades the Soviet Union.

…we do not pray that the swastika may find a place over the Kremlin, nor that the square and sickle shall float over vanquished Berlin. We simply cannot wish for the victory of either side…. And we continue to pray that our own nation may retain its sanity to the extent that is necessary to keep out of an alliance with any nation which has proved an enemy to God and men.

— Editorial in The Standard, magazine of the Swedish Baptist General Conference – November 1, 1941

September — Bethel begins a new academic year with a new president, Henry C. Wingblade.

Japan bombed several of our warships and killed many men at Hawaii and Pearl Harbor, thus declaring war on U.S.A. God pity them and us all.

— Diary of G. Arvid Hagstrom, former president of Bethel – December 7, 1941

December 23 — Just over two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American garrison on Wake Island surrenders. Among those taken prisoner by the Japanese is Rodney Kephart (JC ’40).


It does sound somewhat ironical to wish each other a Happy New Year in the world of today, but we who love the Lord have a Christ who is not dependent upon circumstances. We have a joy and a happiness which does not flow from the passions of men or the currents of this world. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

— Henry Wingblade, January 1942

January 20 – At the Wannsee Conference, Nazi officials agree to the “Final Solution” of the “Jewish problem.”

April 1942 relocation order for Japanese-Americans in San Francisco

April 1942 military decree ordering the relocation of Japanese-Americans in San Francisco, California (U.S. National Archives). At least five former internees attended Bethel in 1943-1945: Paul Nagano, Eddie Shimatsu, Kiyoo Shimatsu, Frank Shindo, and Stanley Yamashita.

June 4 — The Battle of Midway marks the first significant American victory in the Pacific.

November 8 — American and other Allied forces land in North Africa.


The July 1942 Bethel Bulletin cover (the

“Victory Number” of the Bethel Bulletin

February 2 — German forces surrender at Stalingrad.

February 28 — The conclusion of “Bethel Loyalty Month,” which put patriotic language and imagery in service of raising funds for a new men’s dormitory.

July 24 — British and American bombers start a firestorm in the German city of Hamburg.

November 28 — Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin meet for the first time, in Tehran.

December 20 — Former Seminary students Signe Erikson and Louise Cummings Rounds, with nine other American Baptist missionaries, are beheaded by Japanese troops in the Philippines.


February 20 — Lt. Robert Wingblade (JC ’37), the son of Bethel professor A.J. Wingblade and nephew of school president Henry Wingblade, dies while attempting to pilot his Flying Fortress across the South Atlantic.

June — While Allied forces advance in Normandy, Bethel’s denomination begins to set up its own foreign mission board.

June 22 — Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt signs into law the Servicemen’s Adjustment Act. Better known as the “G.I. Bill,” its educational provisions will greatly expand access to higher education in this country and help push Bethel College to grow into a four-year institution.

1943 image of Lt. Del Kuehl (JC '39)

One of the “jumping chaplains” who ministered to American paratroopers: Lt. Del Kuehl (JC ’39, S ’48)

September 20 — Lt. Delbert Kuehl (JC ’39, S ’48), a chaplain with the 82nd Airborne, helps rescue 35 paratroopers wounded during the Allies’ disastrous Market Garden campaign.


Our unit has reached 300 days of actual combat which took us across Africa, in Sicily, at Salerno, the Volturno, approaches to Cassino and Anzio in Italy, and Holland, Germany and Belgium. I have preached the Gospel under many and peculiar Conditions. Now I walk all the day through the timber and hold services for small groups of men at their positions.

— Del Kuehl – January 26, 1945

May 8 – The war ends in Europe.

It was my privilage [sic] to visit the notorious Buchenwald Concentration Camp near Weimar. All the horrible atroscities [sic] that you have read about in the paper are not exaggerated. In fact they tell only a part of the truth.

— Chaplain Vern Slater (S ’41) – August 1945

August 15 —  Six days after the Soviet Union entered the war in the Pacific and the U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb (on the city of Nagasaki) Japan surrenders, ending World War II.

These are happy days. Everyone is rejoicing over the victory God has granted us over our enemy. But these days are also full of “how soon can I get home” worries. Now that we have won, the day of returning is surely much closer than a while ago.

— Ens. Charles Berg (JC ’44) – August 21, 1945

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The Early Cold War

Strange as it may seem none of these people wish to return to their homes. The principle [sic] reason is that they are afraid of the Russians. Most of the people here were in Concentration Camps during the Nazi Regime.

— Former Bethel student Vernon Olson, stationed at a Polish displaced person (DP) camp in Linz, Austria – October 21, 1945


Pres. Harry Truman offers military aid to anti-Communist governments in Greece and Turkey.

Bethel College becomes a four-year institution.


The Soviet Union begins its nearly year-long blockade of West Berlin, which is resupplied via an Anglo-American airlift.

German children greet American C-47 aircraft bearing food

German children greet American C-47 aircraft bearing food


The Soviet Union successfully tests its first atomic bomb.


North Korea invades the South. By the end of the year, American troops will also be in combat against Chinese forces.


An uneasy armistice ends the Korean War.


French colonial troops are forced to surrender to the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu — French Indochina breaks up into Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, which remains divided between the Communist North and the American-backed South.

Carl Lundquist begins his twenty-eight year presidency, the longest in Bethel’s history.

Carl Lundquist and Bethel students in the 1950s

New president Carl H. Lundquist with some Bethel College students – Bethel University Digital Library

The Geneva Convention, which brokered the French withdrawal from Indochina, was not signed by either the United States or South Vietnam. This allowed Ngo Dinh Diem to proclaim himself President of South Vietnam in lieu of holding the elections dictated by the Convention. Diem would be backed by the United States for the next nine years under the belief that if South Vietnam fell to communism, the rest of Asia would soon follow.


The staunchly Catholic Diem begins a multi-year campaign to stamp out Buddhist and communist dissent.


The Baptist General Conference Board of Education votes to undertake a long-rang planning study of Bethel College. Concerns over inadequate classroom space and student housing had been building since the rapid postwar expansion of student enrollment quickly swamped Bethel’s facilities.


Bethel College earns accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The attempt was Bethel’s second; an earlier try in 1951-52 had failed due to the high levels of debt used to fund physical plant expansion.


November —  John F. Kennedy, a WWII veteran, is elected to the American presidency. Kennedy becomes the second Catholic to run for the office (the first was Al Smith in 1928) and the first to win.

December — The Viet Cong insurgency is formally organized, uniting both communist and non-communist opponents of the Diem regime.

DuPont sign on the new Arden Hills property. President Lundquist had the sign removed to his office.

DuPont sign on the new Arden Hills property. President Lundquist had the sign removed to his office. – Bethel University Digital Library


Delegates to the Baptist General Conference Annual meeting in St. Paul vote to move the college campus from the Snelling Avenue location where it had resided since 1914.

Later that year, a 240-acre tract of land five miles north on Snelling was purchased for the new campus location. The land had been owned by the DuPont Chemical Company and used to store dynamite.


October — The Cuban Missile Crisis nearly provokes nuclear strikes between the two superpowers.


November 1 — Despite nine years of oppressive rule, Diem’s government fails to quash internal dissent. Fearing that Diem’s rule was more destabilizing to their interests than the alternative, the Kennedy administration gives tacit approval for a coup d’etat. Diem is killed.

November 22 — President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Lyndon Johnson is sworn into office aboard Air Force One.

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The Vietnam War

Arnold Wicklund breaks ground - Bethel University Digital Library

Arnold Wicklund breaks ground – Bethel University Digital Library


A groundbreaking ceremony is held for Bethel Seminary’s new Arden Hills campus.

Summer — Freedom Summer, a voter registration drive, saw white northerners — mostly ministers and young people — head south. Volunteers were often met with violence; at least seven people were murdered over the course of the project.

August 2 — Gulf of Tonkin incident. In a confused series of encounters, North Vietnamese torpedo boats attack the USS Maddox. A second attack allegedly occurred two days later, prompting President Johnson to seek a Congressional authorization of presidential war powers. Congress responded with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave Johnson “all necessary measures” to protect American forces.

November — After campaigning against the committed Republican Hawk Barry Goldwater, Johnson wins his first presidential election. Johnson promised not “to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”


February 2 — Viet Cong attack a U.S. military base at Pleiku, South Vietnam. Eight Americans are killed. In retaliation, president Johnson orders limited airstrikes on North Vietnam.

Operation Rolling Thunder - Wikimedia Commons

Operation Rolling Thunder – Wikimedia Commons

March — After a month of bombing, Johnson orders an escalation. Operation Rolling Thunder would eventually last over three years and result in 864,000 tons of ordinance being dropped on North Vietnam. In comparison, the Pacific theatre of operations during WWII used only 503,000 tones of ordinance.

March 8 — The first U.S. combat troops — Marines from the 9th Expeditionary Brigade — land at Danang. They join thousands of U.S. advisers already in the country.

March — The country’s first teach-in occurs at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.

April — President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law.

April 17 — First antiwar March on Washington occurs, drawing 25,000 protesters.

July 28 — Johnson authorizes a troop escalation. While Johnson had begun raising troop levels in Vietnam since 1964, their roles gradually morphed from base security and training to combat.

Bethel Seminary relocates to the new Arden Hills campus. It would be several years before the undergraduate college followed suit — funds were still lacking for the necessary buildings.

That same year, Reverend Al Glenn assumed the post of Campus Pastor — the college’s first of that title.


Martin Luther King Jr. comes out against the war, indicting the conflict as a disproportionate weight against the poor and an example of modern colonialism.


January 30 — Viet Cong insurgents attack thirty-six provincial capitals throughout Vietnam. The attacks — a complete surprise — are rebuffed but nevertheless inflict a devastating loss of morale on the American public; just prior to the Tet Offensive, the Johnson administration had been telling the public that victory in Vietnam was within reach.

March 16 — My Lai Massacre occurs in which U.S. troops killed about 400 Vietnamese civilians.

March 31 — Johnson announces an end to most bombing in Vietnam. He also announces that he will not seek reelection.


An embattled Johnson

April 4 — Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated.

June 5 — Robert Kennedy is assassinated.

August 28 — Protesters at the Chicago Democratic National Convention are attacked by a police riot, sparking brutal violence throughout the city. Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey wins the nomination to face the Republican challenger, Richard Nixon and independent candidate George Wallace.

Nelson Hall under construction - Bethel University Digital Library

Nelson Hall under construction – Bethel University Digital Library

Autumn — An anonymous $500,000 gift the prior year made possible the opening of the first residential dorm on the Arden Hills property. Initially referred to by students as “New Dorm,” the building would later be named Nelson Dormitory.

November — Nixon wins the presidency.


Spring — Nixon begins a secret bombing campaign against neighboring Cambodia. The goal of the operation is to destroy communist supply lines running through that country.

May — Peace negotiations between the North Vietnamese and the United States begin in Paris.

July — The president announces the “Nixon Doctrine,” a policy that allowed for the “Vietnamization” of the war and the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

August — U.S. troop levels in Vietnam plateau at 543,000. Combat deaths that year would total 11,780.

October 15 — Vietnam Moratorium sees two million protesters participate across the country. At Bethel, dean Virgil Olson noted that:

Opinions and feelings will vary regarding the interpretation of the United States’ involvement in Viet Nam. All of us, however, will agree that we want a speedy end to the war, and in this unity let us make Wednesday a day of genuine Christian concern for our nation and the world.

November — Five hundred thousand protesters march on Washington in opposition to the war.


April 30 — U.S. forces invade Cambodia, reinvigorating war protests.

May 4 — National Guard troops kill four student protesters at Kent State University.

Kent State Shootings

Kent State Shootings

December — Congress rescinds the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, stripping Nixon of his powers to unilaterally conduct the war.


June — The Pentagon Papers, a report on the escalation of the war commissioned by former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, are leaked to the press. The report reveals that the U.S. government purposefully escalated the war, even while claiming they sought a way out of the country.

Construction begins on the undergraduate portion of the new Arden Hills campus.

Student march to the new campus - Bethel University Digital Library

Student march to the new campus – Bethel University Digital Library


February — Nixon visits China.

May — The U.S. and Soviet Union sign the SALT treaty, limiting certain types of nuclear weapons.

June 17 — The Watergate complex headquarters of the Democratic National Committee is broken into. The resulting coverup and scandal will destroy a presidency.

Autumn — Bethel College holds its first semester of classes on the new campus. Students undertake a five mile march from the old campus to the new location in Arden Hills.

December — Nixon concludes the year with a massive bombing of Hanoi.



January 27 — A negotiated cease-fire takes effect. Per the terms of the Paris Peace Accords, all U.S. troops are to be withdrawn from the country within sixty days.

October — The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) begins an oil export embargo which seriously harms the U.S. economy. The embargo would worsen the economic conditions known as “stagflation” — a disheartening combination of high inflation, high unemployment, and low growth that characterized much of the rest of the decade.


August — Nixon resigns in disgrace amid the unraveling of the Watergate cover-up.


Spring — After a multi-year military build up, North Vietnam invades the south, collapsing the government and uniting the country. The American embassy in Saigon is evacuated via helicopter.

The fall of Saigon

The fall of Saigon

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The Late Cold War and the Nineties


November — Students in Tehran storm the U.S. embassy, taking over sixty Americans hostage. The hostages would be held for 444 days.


Soviet troops return from Afghanistan in 1979

Soviet troops return from Afghanistan in 1979

January — Soviet troops invade Afghanistan. The invasion came in response to Afghan attacks on the pro-Soviet government. In response, the U.S. boycotts the 1980 summer Olympic games, to be held in Moscow.

November — Ronald Reagan is elected.


Carl Lundquist departs the Bethel presidency. He is replaced by George Brushaber, dean of the college since 1974.


March — President Reagan labels the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”


Gorbachev - architect of glasnost and perestroika

Gorbachev – architect of glasnost and perestroika

March — Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union. His selection represents a generational shift in the party’s leadership.


April — A nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, suffers a massive meltdown. The resulting catastrophe arguably cripples the Soviet Union and contributes substantially to its dissolution three years later.

November — The Iran-Contra affair is uncovered. The Reagan administration had been selling weapons to Iran and funneling the proceeds from those sales to anti-communist guerrillas in Nicaragua.


June — Reagan tells Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”


December — Gorbachev announces to the United Nations that the Soviet Union will no longer intervene militarily in the affairs of Eastern European bloc states, opening the floodgates for the wave of national revolutions the following autumn.


February — Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan, bring nearly a decade of bloody fighting to a close. The Soviet-Afghan war is widely viewed as the “Soviet Vietnam.”

Autumn — A wave of mostly peaceful revolutions sweep Eastern Europe, resulting in the fall of communist parties in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia, among others.



August — Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invades neighboring Kuwait, prompting international outcry.

October — East and West Germany are reunified.


Missile defense over Baghdad

Missile defense over Baghdad

January — Aerial bombing of Iraq begins.

February — Coalition forces invade Kuwait, repelling Iraqi troops. The coalition stops short of a full invasion of Iraqi and withdraws, leaving Saddam Hussein in power.

December — After a coup to remove Gorbachev fails, President Boris Yeltsin assumes control of Soviet Union. Gorbachev is shouldered out of power, and the USSR is officially dissolved.


February — A car-bomb detonates in the basement garage of the World Trade Center in New York. The bomb fails to destroy the towers as intended, but kills six and wounds over one thousand people.

Downed Helicopter in Mogadishu

Downed Helicopter in Mogadishu

October 3–4 — Two U.S. special forces helicopters are shot down over the Somali capital, Mogadishu. In the ensuing battle, eighteen of the Americans sent to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Aidi were killed. The incident resulted in a substantial disengagement by the United States in the horn of Africa region.


Benson Great Hall and the Carl Lundquist Community Life Center are completed. The building project sparked controversy among students and faculty, who, among other things, argued that the new construction was an unnecessary expense that would close off the lake shoreline.


Jay Barnes becomes provost of Bethel College and Seminary.


USS Cole attack

USS Cole attack

August 7 — A series of bombings at US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya kills two hundred and twenty-four people. The obscure terrorist organization al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks, and its leader, Osama bin Laden was placed as a result on the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives list. In response to the bombings, president Clinton ordered cruise-missile attacks on targets in Sudan and Afghanistan.


October 12 — The USS Cole suffers substantial damage from a suicide attack while refueling at a Yemeni port. Although seventeen sailors died, president Clinton did not respond militarily to the attacks which are widely attributed to al-Qaeda.

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The War on Terror


September 11 — Terrorists hijack four commercial aircraft and attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing 2,977 Americans. The fourth plane crashes in Pennsylvania, having failed to reach its presumed target. Suspicion immediately falls upon al-Qaeda.


September 14 — The State Department, in a memo to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, demands custody of all known al-Qaeda operatives in the country. Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban, stalls.

Airstrikes on Tora Bora

Airstrikes on Tora Bora

October 7 — With negotiations for custody of Al-Qaeda members floundering, the U.S. begins aerial bombings focused on major cities and al-Qaeda training facilities. In support of Northern Alliance troops (a coalition of diverse Afghans opposed to the Taliban rule in that country), U.S. airstrikes quickly expand to supporting front-line operations.

October — The U.S. Senate passes a Joint Resolution, granting the president war powers and declaring it the policy of the U.S. government to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and replace his with a democratic government.

November 12 — The capital, Kabul, falls to Northern Alliance troops.

December — Osama bin Laden, suspected to be hiding in the mountainous region of Tora Bora, is pursued by U.S. special forces. The resulting engagement, known as the Battle of Tora Bora, saw airstrikes against al-Qaeda’s cave complexes. U.S. forces fail to capture bin Laden, who is thought to have slipped south across the Pakistan border.


Predator Drone

Predator Drone

American troops deploy to Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, and Georgia as part of a multi-pronged effort to combat terrorism throughout the year.

January — U.S. forces pursue rumors of Osama bin Laden into Indian-administered Kashmir.

November — The CIA begins a series of Predator drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Yemen.


February — Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks before a plenary session of the United Nations, claiming that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi authoritarian leader was working to obtain nuclear weapons.

Powell at the UN

Powell at the UN

January–April — Massive anti-war protests break out across the globe in opposition to a possible U.S. war with Iraq.

March — In spite of growing concerns that little evidence existed for Iraqi Weapons of Mass destruction, the United States abruptly advises U.N. personnel to leave Iraq and announces that diplomacy had failed; Bush also announced that a “coalition of the willing” would seek to rid Iraq of WMD.


Saddam Hussein is captured

March 20 — U.S. and coalition forces invade Iraq.

April 3-12 — Baghdad falls.

May — Bush delivers his “Mission Accomplished” speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.

August — NATO officially takes command of the war in Afghanistan.

Autumn — Attacks on western forces begin to increase in intensity and number, marking the beginnings of an insurgency.

December 13 — Saddam Hussein is captured whilst hiding in a foxhole in north-central Iraq.


Reflecting significant expansion over previous decades, Bethel College renames itself Bethel University. The institution had granted undergraduate, Masters, and seminary degrees, as well as a Doctorate of Education for several years.

January — The Loya Jirga (Grand Council) of Afghanistan approves the U.S.-imposed constitution.


Apache Helicopters

March — First Battle of Fallujah in Iraq.

April — News of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal begins to leak out from Iraq.

October 9 — In Afghanistan’s first post-invasion direct election, Hamid Karzai wins with 55.4% of the vote.


December — President Bush admits that the justification for going to war in Iraq was based on faulty intelligence.


December — Saddam Hussein is executed by hanging. His trial had begun several years earlier and was beset by controversies.


January — Amid worsening insurgent activity, Bush announces a troop surge which would bring nearly 20,000 new American soldiers to the country, largely to the region around Baghdad.

March — NATO-led Operation Achilles begins, seeking to clear Helmand Province of Taliban insurgents.


Jay Barnes

Jay Barnes

Bethel’s second-longest serving president, George Brushaber, retires. He is replaced in July by Jay Barnes who had served as provost since 1995.

Iraq is in a state of full-blown sectarian war.


December — Four American soldiers are killed in Iraq, making December the least-deadly month for Americans since the beginning of the war.

December — President Obama announces a troop surge in Afghanistan in response to escalating insurgent activity.


July — Wikileaks releases ninety thousand diplomatic cables relating to the war on terror.

August 18 — The last U.S. combat troops depart Iraq, marking an end of the official Iraq War.


June 18 — U.S. forces complete a security hand-off to Afghan forces.


June — Bethel at War project begins.

June–September — Sunni rebels under the ISIS Flag (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) capture Mosul.

October 26 — U.S. and British forces complete combat operations in Afghanistan.

U.K. troops lower the Union Jack at Camp Bastion

U.K. troops lower the Union Jack at Camp Bastion


ISIS captures Ramadi, a city on the outskirts of Baghdad.

American forces continue to support Afghan troops with airstrikes and Special Operations troops. At least 10,000 U.S. personnel remain in the country through at least the end of the year.

An Australian service light armored vehicle drives through Tangi Valley, Afghanistan, March 29. The terrain of Tangi Valley is notoriously rough, but the ASLAV maneuvers across it with ease, said Australian army Lt. McLeod Wood, a troop leader for 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Mentoring Task Force 2, Combined Team Uruzgan.

An Australian service light armored vehicle drives through Tangi Valley, Afghanistan

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