I mentioned this weird incident in a roundup post a few weeks back, and the National Interest asked me to write it up:
Friendly fire casualties were common in the Vietnam War. The unconventional nature of the conflict made for more than the occasional artillery mishap and engagements in dense vegetation often meant combatants had little opportunity to visually identify their targets before firing. As morale deteriorated late in the war, “fragging” incidents became common, with enlisted personnel turning upon their officers. And of course, relations between American and South Vietnamese forces were always strained.
Even in this context, however, one “friendly fire” incident stands out. On June 17, 1968, U.S. fighter jets apparently launched air-to-air missiles that struck a U.S. Navy heavy cruiser and a Royal Australian Navy guided-missile destroyer. How did this happen?