DEFCON Level August 18th, 1976: Operation Paul Bunyan
DEFCON 3 was reached on August 18th, 1976. The DEFCON level for United States forces stationed in South Korea were raised to DEFCON 3 throughout the duration of operation Paul Bunyan after two U.S. Military officers were killed by North Korean forces while the U.S. forces were asigned a task to cut down a poplar tree in the JSA, or joint security area.
Three days after the two U.S officers were killed Operation Paul Bunyan was launched where American forces went to Defcon 3, and American and South Korean forces cut the poplar tree down as a show of force. Although this incident came very close to starting a war, the alert level did not go lower than defcon 3 as North Korea ended up backing down after the show of force and admitted their guilt in the killing of the two officers.
Other nicknames for this incident are the "hatchet incident", the "tree trimming incident" and the "poplar tree incident".