Texas towns invaded by Army in Operation Last Dance
Feb. 15, 1999: Several bewildered Texas officials found themselves on the hot seat after their small rural towns were used for live-fire military exercises by the Night Stalkers, an elite group from the U.S. Army's Delta Force, in the unannounced Operation Last Dance
Despite the 30-minute warning given by police – printed notices posted to residents' doors that did not disclose any details – most residents were shaken up by the simulated bombing runs, hovering black helicopters in the night, firing of live ammunition and explosives very close to innocent bystanders.
In the town of Kingsville, one of eight helicopters hit a telephone pole, starting a fire and horrifying residents who saw it happen. Fire officials said they had no warning the exercise would take place.
Asked the purpose of the exercise, Tomas Sanchez, Kingsville's Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinator, speculated the exercise involved a scenario that required military action because local police could not deal with civilians effectively.
"Martial law has been declared through presidential powers and war powers act, and some citizens have refused to give up their weapons. They have taken over two of the buildings in Kingsville. The police cannot handle it. So you call these guys in. They show up and they zap everybody, take all the weapons, and let the local P.D. clean it up," described Sanchez of the scenario the Night Stalkers were likely given.