The 1960 Invasion of Great Swan Island

In 1960, the Swan Islands, approximately 95 miles from Honduras, were disputed territory, and the front lines of the Cold War. In a History Guy Short episode, the History Guy recalls how the CIA prevented a crisis by offering free beer. It is history that deserves to be remembered.

This is original content based on research by The History Guy. Images in the Public Domain are carefully selected and provide illustration. As images of actual events are sometimes not available, images of similar objects and events are used for illustration.

All events are portrayed in historical context and for educational purposes. No images or content are primarily intended to shock and disgust. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Non censuram.

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Script by THG

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  • A story with pirates and beer. Doesn’t get any better.

    Bruce CorsonBruce Corson2 цагийн өмнө
  • I want to see the movie. Maybe make it a musical.

    John MillerJohn MillerӨдрийн өмнө
  • AS ALWAYS THE HISTORY GUY, AN EXCELLENT VIDEO!!! Didn't know about the "invasion " of Swan Island. It's stories like this (and the one about Blossom Rock) that made me subscribe. Swan Island could ALMOST be another MARGARITAVILLE. Keep us informed THG. What ELSE is out there that the CIA is trying to keep under wraps? He'd be an old man by now, but, ask CIA agent Samuel Flagg if he had something to do with Swan Island. 🤔🤔😝😝🌞🌞✌✌✌✌

    Matthew PoplawskiMatthew Poplawski5 өдрийн өмнө
  • 8:38 "it could have revealed the planned Bay of Pigs invasion" Phew, that was a close one! Imagine if they had snooped around the island, it could have turned the invasion into a complete disaster!

    Desmond HawkinsDesmond Hawkins11 өдрийн өмнө
  • Looks like the CIA was trespassing on a Honduran island for years, broadcasting and meddling with Cuba. Telling the Cubans what they were supposed to think about their own government. Overthrow the Cuban government, like we did to every country in Central America.

    Amy RichardAmy RichardСарын өмнө
  • What? No word on the Eartha Kitt albums? Great story and glad it turned out ok. Thx for sharing it.

    CrazyLochaCrazyLochaСарын өмнө
  • "The liquor supply was exhausted, but the family jewels intact".... LOL!

    Joseph StevensJoseph StevensСарын өмнө
  • Loved the annual invasion for beer drinking.

    Craig WinCraig WinСарын өмнө
  • Once again, you bring us such an interesting snippet of history. Moral of the story: students are the same the world over. Free booze and they're happy. 🤣

    Carl BrownCarl BrownСарын өмнө
  • Great story and information. Love your videos

    Brenda SmothersBrenda SmothersСарын өмнө
  • Actually, the Navy has authority over radio allocations in the US before the FCC gets to divide up the remaining spectrum the military doesn't earmark for itself. So Radio Swan wasn't an actual pirate radio station (as is often claimed), but rather should be considered a clandestine one.

    Ernest SmithErnest SmithСарын өмнө
  • You Sir, deserve a thumbs up and a like. Keep up the good work!

    Void GeometryVoid GeometryСарын өмнө
  • I feel sorry for anyone that has to be stationed there for any amount of time.

    AdHocFutureAdHocFutureСарын өмнө
  • Only the History Guy would have this great and interesting information about an Island know as Swan Island and an important part in the Cold War. Grey job...

    Bryant SemenzaBryant SemenzaСарын өмнө
  • You might find the history of (US-owned) Wrangel Island much more interesting. Apologies in advance, but the only pirates in that particular story were the Bolsheviks.

    Karl NemoKarl NemoСарын өмнө
  • ".... forced HIM and the cignet......"

    Mike GoodmanMike GoodmanСарын өмнө
  • There's a screenplay somewhere in this story waiting to be written...

    A CA CСарын өмнө
  • I’ve been there, not much to see but it is pretty!

    Aaron MaysAaron MaysСарын өмнө
  • Another blunder...

    Beans BottomBeans BottomСарын өмнө
  • The story of Radio Swan/Radio Americas was before my time, but practically every one of us shortwave radio enthusiasts has read about it.

    Zendon buildsZendon buildsСарын өмнө
  • The CIA is an enemy of Americans.

    Tony ArcTony ArcСарын өмнө
  • "These kids are great!" Perchance the students traded some shrooms for the beer and rum.

    ignatiusdemonseedignatiusdemonseedСарын өмнө
  • Beer diplomacy... it gives a nice glow.

    ignatiusdemonseedignatiusdemonseedСарын өмнө
  • Been to swan island and provadencia. Looks like a place king Kong lived

    Russel MurrayRussel MurrayСарын өмнө
  • How many times has the CIA made them DOA & thrown them in the SEA ??

    Joel AtteberryJoel Atteberry2 сарын өмнө
  • Swandurans

    Joel AtteberryJoel Atteberry2 сарын өмнө
  • pirates are always part of any great story

    JimJim2 сарын өмнө
  • 4 Ads in 1 10min. Episode . MNthe is greedy out of control.

    Kimberly BurnhamKimberly Burnham3 сарын өмнө
  • An American court ruling on the sovereignty of disputed teritory is weird. Such cases should surely be heard by an international or impartial body!

    Anthony RyanAnthony Ryan3 сарын өмнө
  • Great to know the history of Swan Island. I'm a sailor, and have sailed past Swan Island several times, but never stopped. Maybe next time I will launch an "invasion" and see if the Hondurans will respond in kind w beer and rum! Friends who have anchored off Swan tell me that the young men stationed there were very happy to see them...they don't get many visitors. I wonder who they pissed off to get stationed on Swan Island? 😉 BTW, there was another "Voice of America" (wink) radio station installation in Southern Belize near Punta Gorda. Long decommissioned, but the site is still clearly visible in Google Earth. Used in the Guatemalan Civil War I suspect. Maybe another good history story.

    Curtis CollinsCurtis Collins3 сарын өмнө
  • As soon as he said there was a 50,000 watt radio station on a tiny little island, I knew something was up. You don't just throw one of those up in your back yard.

    Douglas GontzDouglas Gontz3 сарын өмнө
  • Viva Honduras. Viva mi pais Honduras. Las hislas del cisne son de nosotros 🇭🇳

    Imert SarmientoImert Sarmiento4 сарын өмнө
  • CIA

    a turtlea turtle4 сарын өмнө
  • We ceded the island 🏝 because it was getting expensive to supply the beer 🍻 annually to the students... cheap bastards.

    Si SeñorSi Señor5 сарын өмнө
  • Oh...wrong Swan Island. I thought you meant the Swan Island here in Portland, Or.

    malevolentDiarrheamalevolentDiarrhea5 сарын өмнө
  • This island belongs to the people of the Bay Islands, our ancestors came there from the Cayman Islands and we still maintain close ties.

    Oh KayOh Kay6 сарын өмнө
  • WHY ISN'T THIS A MOVIE? Write a script. Would make a perfect movie.

    Josh DrexlerJosh Drexler6 сарын өмнө
  • you should do a segment about the ohio-michigan war was over ( i think) who would get toledo

    david altmandavid altman6 сарын өмнө
  • yes son i remember defending great swan against a contingent of hondurian forces. nearly hurt myself handing them six packs. was awarded the malt-liquir cross for my part in that

    david altmandavid altman6 сарын өмнө
  • Moral of the story is you can win against the US by sitting on a dock and drinking beer.

    Jack LongstonJack Longston6 сарын өмнө
  • It's, ". . . forced HIM to join them," not, ". . . forced HE . . .," numbnuts!

    Jay HersheyJay Hershey7 сарын өмнө
  • Amusing, and well presented. Thanks for that. TBS

    The Black SwanThe Black Swan7 сарын өмнө
  • The FCC issued the ham's license with a KS prefix, so they did claim some authority. They didn't hae much information about station KKN50. located outside Washington DC and licensed to the Department of State.

    Timothy StockmanTimothy Stockman8 сарын өмнө
  • The bottle is mighter than the sword!

    Thomas LanguellThomas Languell9 сарын өмнө
  • How has this not been turned into a comedy film?

    Robert DevirgilioRobert Devirgilio9 сарын өмнө
  • “Invasion” 😂 😂

    Robert ScannellRobert Scannell9 сарын өмнө
  • History guy, what do you use to hang your awesome hats?

    Clyde McGoldrickClyde McGoldrick9 сарын өмнө
  • Story too funny LOL great job as always

    James SullivanJames Sullivan9 сарын өмнө
  • I freakin love this guy...he makes history so interesting

    brothers bricks mods and mocsbrothers bricks mods and mocs11 сарын өмнө
  • Once again THG hits a home run. I'd not heard of this but it is an interesting and informative video. Thank you HG! Stay safe.

    Stephen PhillipStephen PhillipЖилийн өмнө
  • Yeah ... that's the thing about History ... it's made by people ... .

    Bob SmithBob SmithЖилийн өмнө
  • Thank you for the great story

    Bob Holt12Bob Holt12Жилийн өмнө
  • It's funny how something as innocuous as a tiny island in the Gulf of Mexico had such a background...whoda thunk?!?

    Bruce SkinnerBruce SkinnerЖилийн өмнө
  • Peace is nice!

    Glen MartinGlen MartinЖилийн өмнө
  • I didn’t know about this island, good story

    Carlos RosarioCarlos RosarioЖилийн өмнө
  • I love this Guy he talks about history not politically correct jibberish

    Eric RotsingerEric RotsingerЖилийн өмнө
  • Man, this sounds as nutty, albeit more serious, as the Conch Republic in Key West. Both sound like they're straight out of an old Jimmy Buffet song.

    Sterling CrockettSterling CrockettЖилийн өмнө
  • Clearly, this was before the phrase "liquor before beer, never fear" was in common use.

    LOManLOManЖилийн өмнө
  • Do the Great Pig War of 1859 -- total casualties, one pig and a lot of Canadian pride.

    Scott AdlerScott AdlerЖилийн өмнө

    chip63uschip63usЖилийн өмнө
  • cia trash .

    chip63uschip63usЖилийн өмнө
  • Great, informative video, as always. I spent time on Great Swan island in the mid 90's. There was a Honduran naval detachment there - the primary mission seemed to be functioning as a basic training of sorts. The kids were conscripts and very young and were "learning by doing" as opposed to formal training. Nothing like a moody 14 year old with an automatic weapon I always say. No permanent residences - everybody there (including me) was living in military hooches. There were a few cows, which we had to shoo off the airstrip when our bi-weekly supply plane arrived. There was a "pirate cave" that we were shown - inaccessible at high tide but you could get in there. There were a couple of very nice beaches, strewn with awesome beach glass, the water was spectacular. Otherwise the shore was incredibly sharp rock of some kind that would cut right through flip-flops. Iguanas were huge, everywhere, and tasty. Giant land crabs. Dung beetles galore. No mosquitoes. Insanely fast ants. The old radio buildings were there, stripped of all furnishings, doors and windows, and riddled with bullet holes. Only radio twr left was a little 50' one for FAA. Coconut grove was still there, but not tended and is overgrown. I found several collapsed flimsy plywood shacks...they had been painted green and were built in the jungle next to the airstrip so they couldn't be seen. In them I found several types of brightly colored leaflets (presumably used for air-drops) all in Spanish, the contents of which I won't go into here. While we were there, a storm washed away our de-salinization gear (there is no fresh water on the islands) and things became unpleasant for a while. I read on Wiki that hurricane Mitch decimated both islands in the late 90s.Very interesting place indeed - thanks for the video- it filled in a lot of info I had never seen before.

    Jim WeemsJim WeemsЖилийн өмнө
  • The U.S. government should have never let the islands go!. They would have made a great drug interdiction base!!!.

    Trent SLVI sTrent SLVI sЖилийн өмнө
  • So the islands ended up being the Swan Song of a pirate radio station? LOL

    Dannan TavonaDannan TavonaЖилийн өмнө
  • Ha Haa, biggest babies on the Planet. Spoilt kids.

    Khan Arif MasudKhan Arif MasudЖилийн өмнө
  • Drunk college students: Hey, lets go claim an small island! Stumbles upon secret military base....

    calvinthedestroyercalvinthedestroyerЖилийн өмнө
  • Interesting, a little odd but all awesome!

    Shawn McAuliffeShawn McAuliffeЖилийн өмнө
  • Hello. Would like to see a storyline about the battle ship memorial park on mobile bay Alabama. Thnx. Keep up the good work. !!!

    Amanda KayAmanda KayЖилийн өмнө
  • Amazing story!

    Micke MikeMicke MikeЖилийн өмнө
  • Gave me a smile

    eric moyeseric moyesЖилийн өмнө
  • Ought to take it back

    Ralph ReaganRalph ReaganЖилийн өмнө
  • Cygnet? PIRATE? William Dampier? Western Australia?

    Trevor SchmidtTrevor SchmidtЖилийн өмнө
  • "Bay of Pigs," Right. How'd that work out for the US? ROTFL!

    Eagle GripEagle GripЖилийн өмнө
  • Is invading tiny islands no one has ever heard of an American plot to teach the world geography?

    Lee NeufeldLee NeufeldЖилийн өмнө
  • Well that descallated quickly, I mean that really got into hand!

    bub bubbub bubЖилийн өмнө
  • Google Hans island for a story nearly as funny as this between Canada and Denmark

    Glen ChapmanGlen ChapmanЖилийн өмнө

    Johnny SaintJohnny SaintЖилийн өмнө
  • 3:49 Natives who had immigrated from the Grand Caymans and Bahamas. So were they natives or immigrants?

    Pete SmythPete SmythЖилийн өмнө
  • I think you pictured the Honduran flag upside down.

    Caifan90211Caifan90211Жилийн өмнө
  • Thank you for the info about Swan Islands. My mom from Grand Csyman but spent much of her youth there, one of my favorite photos of her is with a donkey loaded with coconuts

    Gary JacksonGary JacksonЖилийн өмнө
  • I do love that the invasion became an annual event 😂 🍺 🎵

    skyway minicabsskyway minicabsЖилийн өмнө
  • How many of the students were female and pretty? Of course bored CIA guys would be happy to give them a party. :-)

    Stephen BrackinStephen BrackinЖилийн өмнө
  • Thanks history man. Tried to log into patreon w/o success. Ordered a cool sweat shirt instead🌞! Love your work👍

    Kristen SorensenKristen SorensenЖилийн өмнө
  • Thank goodness they didn’t find out about the Bay of Pigs invasions. Other wise it might have be a failure!! 😂

    Barry FieldsBarry FieldsЖилийн өмнө
  • So, in effect the student's actually only invaded the CIA's booze supply

    John PatzJohn PatzЖилийн өмнө
  • Those Honduran students has excellent taste in music :-)

    Graham ClaytonGraham ClaytonЖилийн өмнө
  • Hahaha... Captain Swan of the 'Cygnet'. Could not write this stuff in fiction!

    GaryNumeroUnoGaryNumeroUnoЖилийн өмнө
  • I would like to hear your version of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

    Wesley PaceWesley PaceЖилийн өмнө
  • "Castro Regime" bitch please...

    Juan jotabeJuan jotabeЖилийн өмнө
  • My dad made many trips to Swan Island in the 1960s, he worked for the weather service. He told lots of tales of his adventures. When flying out of Miami to Swan they had to take the long route to avoid being shot down from Castro. There was a Hut or bar the weathermen built and it was named (Swan Island W.I. Playboy Club)' Truly lots of Beer and Rum. Dad always said that Swan Island was paradise to him. I still enjoy looking at the many pictures he took.

    Heyward HartHeyward HartЖилийн өмнө
  • Is there a calendar of events you talk about, so I can have a "This Day in History" from the History Guy for my homeschooled children?

    Dane KapplerDane KapplerЖилийн өмнө
  • Ooh, do a video about... THE SEABEES!

    Golden DreamsGolden DreamsЖилийн өмнө
  • Sir, you have a star trek hand phaser in the background.... future history? I would be interested in your take on the history of the franchise.........

    Philip IngramPhilip IngramЖилийн өмнө
  • What a story!

    Harvey HerreraHarvey HerreraЖилийн өмнө
  • Again... USA, far away from their own borders making stuff that creates tensions.

    Bob OutélamaBob OutélamaЖилийн өмнө
  • Here have some firewater then leave us alone worked wonders for colonialism through the ages.

    g mang manЖилийн өмнө
  • History guy am truly in appreciation of your program I think so far you have been honest and Frank and I would sincerely recommend your program , it's great, thanks for your insights.

    Mickey HoneyghanMickey HoneyghanЖилийн өмнө
  • This is the most adorable spy story I've ever heard. CIA, "These kids are great" ... awwwwww! :D

    RedbeardianRedbeardianЖилийн өмнө
  • Great video, as always! Liked, subscribed, commented!

    Fox MacLeodFox MacLeodЖилийн өмнө
  • I could watch this stuff all day. 🤔

    GamerGuy51GamerGuy51Жилийн өмнө