That time US troops called for air support from Grenada with a payphone

In October 1983, the Caribbean nation of Grenada experienced a series of bloody coups over the course of a week, threatening U.S. interests as well as U.S. citizens on the island. In a controversial move, President Ronald Reagan decided to launch Operation Urgent Fury, an invasion of the island nation — and the first real-world test of the all-volunteer force in combat.

The list of Urgent Fury mistakes is a long one, but one snafu was so huge it became legend.

The basic story is that a unit on the island was pinned down by Communist forces. Interoperability and communications were so bad, they were unable to call for support from U.S. forces over the radio.

So a member of the unit pulled out his credit card and made a long-distance call by commercial phone lines to their home base, which patched it through to the Urgent Fury command, who then passed the order down to the requested support.

Read more about Operation Urgent Fury and how a payphone came to the rescue here.