Military History by Month
1914: As France begins mobilization of its army, Germany crosses into
neighboring Luxembourg and declares war against Russia.
1943: 177 B-24 Liberator bombers of the Ninth and (newly formed) Eighth
Air Forces depart Libya to conduct a low-level strike the Axis oil fields at
Ploiesti, Romania. A massive German air defense network inflicts heavy
casualties on the Americans, shooting down 53 B-24s and damaging another
55. One bomber manages to limp back to the Benghazi air field with an
incredible 365 bullet holes. Over 310 Americans are killed with over 200
captured or missing. Five raiders earn the Medals of Honor - the most ever
awarded for a single mission.
In the Solomon Islands, the Japanese destroyer Aragiri rams the motor
torpedo boat PT-109. Two sailors are killed by the nighttime collision.
Lieutenant 'unior • rade Jot - .
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swim over three miles to a nearby deserted island and are rescued days later.
The future president is awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine
Corps Medal for gallantry.
1944: Gen. George Patton's Third Army becomes operational and forms the
right flank of the Allied force sweeping across France.
In the Pacific Theater, Maj. Gen. Harry Schmidt declares the island of Tinian
secure after nine days of fighting. The "perfect amphibious operation"
surprises and wipes out the 9,000-man Japanese garrison at the cost of less
than 2,000 American casualties.
1945: Over 800 B-29 Superfortress bombers completely incinerate the
industrial town of Toyama, Japan.
1955: The famous U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft accidentally
makes its first-ever flight above Groom Lake (Area 51), Nevada. The first flight
was planned for August 4, but 70-knot surface winds unexpectedly turns --4 the
high-speed taxi test into a short flight.
1966: From an observation deck 28 floors above the University of Texas at
Austin, former Marine Charles Whitman opens fire on targets of opportunity,
killing 17 and wounding 31 people. His shooting spree goes on for 96 minutes
before Whitman is shot dead by police.
40 2005: A six-man Marine sniper team is attacked and overrun by Iraqi insurgents
near Haditha, Iraq. Days later, the Marines respond with Operation QUICK
STRIKE to find those responsible for the attack and clear the area of enemy
fighters in heavy urban combat.
1776: Although the Continental Congress voted to establish "the thirteen
united [sic] States of America" on July 2 and adopted Thomas Jefferson's draft
of the Declaration of Independence two days later, congressional delegates
sign the Declaration on this date. The most famous inscription belongs to John
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Hancock, the president of Congress, who is said to have declared, "There, I
guess King George will be able to read that without his spectacles," after
adding his rather substantial signature.
1862: The brass approves the plan by Maj. Jonathan Letterman, Medical
Director for the Army of the Potomac, to establish an ambulance corps.
Letterman is considered the "Father of Battlefield Medicine" for
revolutionizing the way casualties are handled; soldiers now had first aid
stations at the regimental level where they could be treated and triaged. Those
more seriously wounded could be sent - by ambulance - to field hospitals at
the division and corps level.
During the Peninsula Campaign, one out of every three Army of the Potomac
casualties would die prior to implementing Letterman's system. But after, just
2 percent of soldiers wounded Battle of Gettysburg died.
1909: After a successful demonstration for the military by Orville Wright, the
Army Signal Corps purchases a Wright Flyer for $30,000 (the equivalent of
$800,000 today). The two-seat "Signal Corps Airplane No. 1" will train
America's first military pilots at College Park, Md. and Fort Sam Houston in
San Antonio over the next two years - crashing several times - before it's
retirement. Today, the legendary aircraft hangs in the Smithsonian Institution's
National Air and Space Museum.
1934: Upon the death of German president Paul von Hindenberg, Chancellor
Adolf Hitler begins his "thousand-year Reich," assuming full dictatorial
powers as Reichsfiihrer. Also on this date, Hitler changes the military oath so
that the Wehrmacht swears allegiance to him instead of Germany.
1944: Convoy HX 300, the largest convoy of World War II, safely crosses
the Atlantic, bringing over 1 million tons of supplies to ports in the United
Kingdom. 32 escort vessels protected the 155 cargo ships, and the formation
spanned nine miles across and four miles long. Not a single ship was attacked
by a Gelman submarine.
1950: As the North Korean Army bears down on the American and UN forces
occupying the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, the 1st Provisional Marine
Brigade lands at Pusan and mans the Pusan Perimeter's left flank.
6, 1964: The destroyer USS Maddox (DD-731), supporting South Vietnamese
covert operations against the North in the Gulf of Tonkin, is attacked by three
North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin Within days, Congress
would pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, paving the way for full-scale
conflict in Vietnam.
1990: At 2 a.m., several divisions of the Iraqi military's elite Republican
Guards pour across the border into Kuwait, beginning a seven-month
occupation of the neighboring state. The United States will lead a 35-nation
coalition to liberate Kuwait in January.
48 1804: During the First Barbary War, Commodore Edward Preble's
Mediterranean Squadron begins his first bombardment of Tripoli Harbor.
Commanding a division of ships is Stephen Decatur, the youngest sailor ever
to be promoted to captain in U.S. Naval history. When Decatur's brother is
killed while boarding a Tripolitan gunboat, Decatur hands over command of
his ship and, along with a small crew, boards the enemy vessel and engages
the much-larger force in fierce hand-to-hand combat. When the captain
1943: As American, British, and Canadian troops drive across Sicily, Axis
forces begin evacuating the island. While visiting soldiers awaiting evacuation
at Nicosia, Gen. George S. Patton, commanding the Seventh Army, slaps a
soldier suffering from battle fatigue and orders him back to the front lines. Gen.
Dwight D. Eisenhower reprimands Patton for the incident and the legendary
general will not command another combat force for 11 months.
® 1950: Eight F4U-4B "Corsairs" of Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 214 take
off from the deck of USS Sicily (CVE-118) and attack enemy installations at
Chengu, marking the first Marine aviation sortie of the Korean War. During
World War II, the "Black Sheep" of VMF-214 destroyed hundreds of Japanese
aircraft, sank several vessels, and earned the Presidential Unit Citation under
Medal of Honor recipient and former "Flying Tiger" Maj. Greg "Pappy"
Boyington - the Marine Corps' top ace, with 28 aerial victories.
Congress initiates an involuntary recall of former enlisted soldiers, ordering
30,000 men to report for duty in September.
That same day in Southeast Asia, the first members of the U.S. Military
Assistance Advisory Group members arrive in Saigon. The 35-man group will
supervise the allocation of military aid to the French military in Vietnam, and
later act as military trainers.
A 1958: USS Nautilus ___ the world's first nuclear-powered submarine and the
U.S. Navy's sixth so-named vessel — becomes the first "ship" to cross the
1790: Congress approves Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton's proposal
to "build ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue," establishing the
Revenue Cutter Service — first of the predecessor services of the modern
1846: Sailors and Marines from the USS Congress capture Santa Barbara,
Calif. during the Mexican-American War.
1873: Lt. Col. George Custer and his 7th Cavalry Regiment engage the mighty
Sioux warriors, led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, for the first time. Three
years later, Custer and 200 of his troopers will perish when they clash again
with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at the Little Big Horn River.
1914: As Germany crosses into Belgium and declares war on the United
Kingdom, President Woodrow Wilson announces that the United States shall
1944: The Army Air Force conducts its first mission of the top-secret
program, Operation "Aphrodite." In theory, a pilot and co-pilot would fly the
specially modified B-17 "baby" bomber towards the objective before
parachuting from the aircraft, and another pilot in a nearby "mother ship"
would use a television feed and remote control would drive the B-17 into the
target. None of the flying bombs reached their targets - German V-1 rocket
bases - as control issues led to multiple fatal crashes.
1950: At the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, troops manning the
140-mile Pusan Perimeter halt the North Korean advance in the first major
engagement of the Korean War. During the battle, a Sikorsky R-5 helicopter
of the Air Force's 3rd Air Rescue Squadron evacuates PFC Claude C. Crest,
Jr., marking the first time a wounded soldier is medevaced from the
battlefield. Helicopters will fly out over 21,000 wounded troops by war's end.
1964: Less than 48 hours after North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the
USS Maddox, the destroyer USS Turner Joy detects what appears to be - on
radar - a small watercraft approaching the destroyer. For two-and-a-half hours,
Maddox and Turner Joy - accompanied by aircraft from USS Ticonderoga -fire
at the supposed targets.
In response, aircraft from the carriers Ticonderoga and Constellation attack
North Vietnamese patrol boat bases and the oil storage facility at Vinh. Within
days, Congress would pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, leading to full-scale
conflict in Vietnam.
1763: With Ottawa chief Pontiac laying siege to Fort Pitt (modem-day
Pittsburgh), a force marches to the frontier fort to break the siege, consisting
of Pennsylvania rangers and Scottish soldiers of the 42d Royal Highlanders -
the famed "Black Watch." Allied natives ambush the relief force at a creek
known as Bushy Run and a bloody two-day battle kicks off. Col. Henry
Bouquet's men emerge victorious, routing the Indians - although at high cost
to the Scottish/American troops - and lifting the siege at Fort Pitt.
Today's 111th Infantry Regiment traces its lineage to the Philadelphia
"Associators" militia regiment (formed by Benjamin Franklin) that manned
Fort Pitt. Each year at their "dining-in" banquet, an empty table setting is left
in honor of the commander of the Black Watch. At least twice in the last 200-
plus year tradition, the officer has been on hand to accept the honor.
1945: A lone B-29 bomber takes off from Tinian Island's North Field and
heads out for a six-hour flight to Japan. Once the Enola Gay is over its target
of Hiroshima, Col. Paul Tibbetts releases the bomb and dives to speed away
from the device's powerful shock wave. 43 seconds later, the world's first
atomic bomb detonates, killing between 80,000 and 140,000 Japanese
instantly, and severely wounding another 100,000.
Although the United States demonstrated they now possess the ability to
utterly annihilate entire cities, the Japanese government vows to fight on.
Another atomic bomb will have to fall before Japan is brought to its knees.
2011: An enemy rocket-propelled grenade hits a CH-47 Chinook helicopter
carrying a quick-reaction force of Navy SEALs flown in to augment a team of
Rangers trying to kill or capture a senior Taliban leader. The helicopter crashes
and all aboard are killed (33 passengers, five crew, and a working dog), making
it the deadliest incident for the U.S. military during Operation Enduring
Freedom. The helicopter crew consisted of pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 5 David R. Carter
(47, of Centennial, Colo.), Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett (24, of Tacoma, Wa.),
Specialist Spencer C. Duncan (21, of Olathe, Kan.), Staff Sgt. Patrick D.
Hamburger (30, of Grand Island, Neb.), and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan J.
Nichols (31 of Hays, Kan.).
The fallen SEALs include Petty Officers Darrick C. Benson (28, of Angwin,
Calif.), Christopher G. Campbell (36, of Jacksonville, N.C.), Matthew D.
Mason (37, of Kansas City, Mo.), Jesse D. Pittman (27, of Willits, Calif.),
Nicholas P. Spehar (24, of St. Paul, Minn.), Jon T. Tumilson (35, of Rockford,
Iowa), Aaron C. Vaughn (30, of Stuart, Fla.), and Jason R. Workman (32, of
Blanding, Utah); Chief Petty Officers Brian R. Bill (31, of Stamford, Conn.),
John W. Faas (31, of Minneapolis), Kevin A. Houston (35, of West
Hyannisport, Mass.), Stephen M. Mills (35, of Fort Worth, Texas), Heath M.
Robinson (34, of Detroit), and Robert J. Reeves (32, of Shreveport, La.); Senior
Chief Petty Officer Thomas A. Ratzlaff (34, of Green Forest, Ark.), Master
Chief Petty Officer Louis J. Langlais (44, of Santa Barbara, Calif.), and Lt.
Cmdr. Jonas B. Kelsall (32, of Shreveport, La.).
Three airmen accompanied the SEALs: Combat Controller Staff Sgt. Andrew
W. Harvell (26, of Long Beach, Calif.) along with Pararescuemen Tech. Sgt.
John W. Brown (33, of Tallahassee, Fla.) and Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe (28 of
York, Pa.). The five special warfare support personnel included CPO Nicholas
H. Null (30, of Washington, W.Va.), P01 Michael J. Strange (25, of
Philadelphia), SCPO Kraig M. Vickers (36, of Kokomo, Hawaii), P01 Jared
W. Day (28, of Taylorsville, Utah), P01 John Douangdara (25, of South Sioux
City, Neb.) and his dog "Bart."
Also aboard were seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter.
Today's post is in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer, who perished
on this date in 2002 from wounds received when his reconnaissance patrol ----
was ambushed in Khost, Afghanistan on July 27. The 28-year-old Special
Forces medic from Albequerque, N.M. had just earned the Soldier's Medal for
saving two wounded Afghan children from a minefield, and was serving with
Special Operations Command.
1782: General George Washington establishes the Badge of Military Merit,
America's first military decoration and perhaps the first-ever decoration
awarded to common soldiers. A purple heart, made from a cloth badge, was
issued for "instances of unusual gallantry in battle [...] extraordinary fidelity
and essential service." Today's Purple Heart medal, awarded to service
members killed or wounded in combat, traces its roots to Washington's Badge.
During World War II, the military ordered well over 1 million Purple Hearts
in anticipation of a grisly invasion of Japan that, thanks to the atomic bombs,
never happened. Purple Hearts awarded over the past 70-plus years into today
are still drawn from the WWII stockpile.
1794: When farmers in Pennsylvania rebel against the tax on alcohol to repay
war debts, President Washington invokes the Militia Act, calling up and
federalizing state militias to help enforce the law. The president himself rides
in front of the army, marking one of the only times a sitting U.S. president will
lead troops in the field.
1917: At Bazhoces, France, Sgt. William Shemin hops out of his trench and
crosses 150 yards of coverless, machinegun-swept ground to rescue fellow
soldiers on three occasions. Once enemy fire knocks out all of his
commissioned and senior non-commissioned officers, Shemin takes command
of the platoon and leads them until he is taken out of action by shrapnel and a
bullet to the head. He is originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross,
but 96 years later, the military upgrades to the Medal of Honor.
1942: The 1st Marine Division streams ashore on Japanese-held Guadalcanal
in what was the first major ground combat operation by U.S. forces in World
War II. On this day, Marines also land at - and quickly secure - Tulagi and
other islands and atolls in the British Solomons. The Marines will slug it out
with the Japanese defenders for six months before securing Guadalcanal,
using the captured islands as staging bases for the Allied campaign of island
hopping through the Solomons.
1964: Congress overwhelmingly passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,
enabling Pres. Lyndon Johnson to increase U.S. involvement in Vietnam - and
eventually leading to full-scale war.
-41 1990: Pres. George H.W. Bush announces the "wholly defensive" Operation
DESERT SHIELD following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, seeking to
prevent the Iraqi dictator from entering Saudi Arabia and seizing control of
most of the world's oil reserves. Two carrier battle groups are dispatched to the
area, as well as the deployment of Air Force F-15s and F-16s, and the military
buildup of over 500,000 troops begins.
1863: Following his defeat at Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee sends a letter
of resignation to Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Davis refuses.
1918: 100 years ago today, ten Allied divisions and hundreds of tanks attack
the Germans at Amiens, France, in the first battle of what will be known as the
Hundred Days Offensive - a series of engagements that drive the Germans out
of France and leads to the armistice. The Battle of Amiens signifies the end of
trench warfare and the first large-scale use of tanks in combat. The Allies catch
the German defenders by surprise and on this day alone, the Allies kill, wound,
or capture 30,000 German soldiers. By its conclusion, the offensive will
produce over two million Allied and German casualties.
1942: One day after hitting the beaches, Marines capture the unfinished
Japanese airfield on Guadalcanal - later completed and renamed Henderson
Field - and also secure the islands of Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo. That
evening, a Japanese naval force catches the Allied fleet by surprise and hands
the U.S. Navy one of its worst-ever defeats. Three American cruisers, one
Australian cruiser, and an American destroyer are sunk during the Battle of
Savo Island, or as it was nicknamed by veterans as the Battle of the Five
1944: As the Germans call off their offensive due to heavy armor losses
inflicted by Allied aircraft, the U.S. 15th Army Corps captures Le Mans,
France. South of Caen, the Canadians attempt to break through the German
lines south of Caen. During this engagement, a Tiger tank commanded by the
legendary SS-Hauptsturmfiihrer (captain) Micheal Wittinann's is destroyed,
killing Germany's top tank ace.
1945: Two days after an American atomic bomb devastates Hiroshima,
President Harry Truman informs Japan that they can expect additional nuclear
attacks if they do not surrender. Meanwhile, American land- and carrier-based
bombers continue to strike mainland Japan, and an opportunistic Soviet Union
declares war — invading Manchuria just past midnight the following day.
1946: Convair's B-36 Peacemaker - the world's first intercontinental bomber -
- makes its first flight. The B-36's massive 230-ft. wingspan makes it the largest of
any combat aircraft ever built, and the joint jet- and piston-powered aircraft
could deliver its nuclear payload 10,000 miles unrefueled. The Peacemaker's
tenure with Strategic Air Command only lasted until 1955, however, when it
was replaced with the B-52 Stratofortress bomber still in use today.
1945: The second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
1861: Confederate troops led by Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch and Maj.
Gen. Sterling Price's Missouri State Guard clash with the Union's "Army of
the West" in present-day Springfield, Mo.. The Confederates defeat the Army
of the West, killing its commander, Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon. The Union
retreats to Rolla, giving the Confederates control over southwest Missouri.
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Five soldiers earned the Medal of Honor at Wilson's Creek: Pvt. Nicholas
Bouquet of the 1st Iowa Infantry, Cpl. Lorenzo D. Immell of the 2d U.S.
Artillery, Maj. John M. Schofield of the 1st Missouri Infantry, 1st Lt. William
M. Wherry of the 3rd U.S. Reserve Missouri Infantry, and 1st Lt. Clay H.
Wood of the 11th U.S. Infantry.
'0 1864: As the 37,000-man Army of the Shenandoah approaches, led by newly
appointed General Phillip Sheridan, Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early
abandons his positions at Winchester, Va.. Sheridan will drive the
Confederates from the the Shenandoah Valley and destroy the crops,
rendering the strategic invasion route useless to the Southerners.
1918: Sgt. James I. Mestrovitch, an ethnic Serb who emigrated to the United
States in 1913, spots his wounded company commander lying in the middle of
a killzone 30 yards past friendly lines. Mestrovitch leaves the cover of a stone
wall and braves the machinegun and shell fire, throwing the officer on his back
and crawling to safety, where he administers first aid and saves the man's life.
For his actions, Sgt. Mestrovitch is awarded the Medal of Honor.
Mestrovitch will die from the Spanish flu just before the war ends, and a U.S.
battleship will carry his remains to his hometown of Durasevici.
1944: Although pockets of Japanese resistance remain on the island, Guam is
declared secure. The Marines and soldiers of the III Amphibious Corps take
8,000 casualties during the battle to retake Guam, killing over 18,000 of the
Japanese garrison force.
1945: Following the atomic strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and as
American warplanes continue to attack targets in Japan and Taiwan, the
Emperor of Japan informs his War Council that he will "bear the unbearable"
and agree to unconditional surrender. World War II will be over in a matter of
1967: President Lyndon B. Johnson authorizes the bombing of road and rail
targets in the Hanoi-Haiphong area. Throughout Operation "Rolling Thunder",
Washington prevented the military from targeting facilities that would
significantly benefit the war effort, such as attacking North Vietnamese
airfields or mining harbors.
1972: Soldiers of the 21st Infantry Regiment - the first American troops to
fight in Korea, and the last combat unit in Vietnam - departs for the United
States. Over 40,000 advisers and support personnel remain in country, but the
departure marks the end of dedicated combat personnel in Vietnam.
1945: While American planes continue hammering Japanese facilities,
Secretary of State James Byrnes rejects the Japanese War Council's surrender
terms, including the the Emperor would remain in power. The Allies' terms
dictate that the Japanese people themselves would determine their own form
of government and that the Emperor would be subject to the Supreme Allied
if 1949: President Harry Truman appoints Gen. Omar Bradley to the new position
of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bradley advises that the post-World
War II Army had been weakened to the point that it "could not fight its way
out of a paper bag," but the Truman administration does not implement his
recommendations. As a result, the United States military enters the Korean
War significantly understaffed and with outdated equipment.
9 1952: In western Korea, the First Marine Division takes Hill 122 subsequently
named "Bunker Hill" - and begins several days of bloody clashes with Chinese
troops. The Marines, supported by tanks and and air strikes, repel numerous
communist assaults and drive off the enemy. 48 of Col.
Walter F. Layer's men give their lives in defense of the hill, but inflict several
thousand Chinese casualties.
1965: When deadly race riots break out across Los Angeles, the California
National Guard deploys over 12,000 Guardsmen to the area to restore order.
1967: While on a patrol in South Vietnam's Quang Nam Province, Marine
Lance Cpl. Roy M. Wheat accidentally steps on an enemy "Bouncing Betty"
anti-personnel mine. When he hears the distinctive sound made by the
triggered fuze, Wheat throws himself over the mine's location and absorbs the
blast with his body. For his actions, Wheat is posthumously awarded the
Medal of Honor.
1812: Near Bermuda, the frigate USS Essex fires a devastating broadside at the
British sloop HMS Alert. In just eight minutes, Capt. John Porter has captured
the first warship of War of 1812. He permits Capt. T.L.P. Laugharne to sail to
Newfoundland to unload his crew, then surrender Alert to the Americans at
1918: Opha May Johnson takes the oath of enlistment, becoming the first
female to enlist in the Marine Corps. After boot camp, Pvt. Johnson and 300
other females take office jobs and assist nurses, freeing the men they replace
for front line duty.
1942: Maj. Gen. Eugene Raybold, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, authorizes the first construction projects for the Development of
Substitute Materials. Col. Leslie Groves, who will soon be named director,
feels the title would draw too much attention and renames it to the Manhattan
Project - the top-secret atomic weapons development program.
1952: During the Battle of Bunker Hill, Navy Corpsman John E. Kilmer
ignores intense mortar, artillery, and sniper fire, moving from one wounded
Marine to another and providing medical assistance. Although Kilmer himself
is wounded by an enemy mortar fragment, he pulls himself to the next
casualty. When an enemy barrage hammers his position, Kilmer covers the
Marine with his body, and is mortally wounded. For his selfless actions, he is
posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1961: At midnight, East German troops close off the streets between Soviet
and Western areas of Berlin. Crews begin tearing up the roads and installing
barricades on this day, which was called Stacheldrahtsonntag - Barbed Wire
Sunday. Soon, a "Berlin Wall" consisting of concrete walls, guard towers,
dogs, and anti-vehicular emplacements will surround the city, keeping
socialism in and democracy out.
1900: After fighting their way 80 miles from the port of Tientsin, an eightnation relief force (the United States, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, AustriaHungary, Germany, France, and Italy) arrives at the walls of Peking. A young
Marine private named Dan Daly earns his first of two Medals of Honor during
the battle by single-handedly holding off hundreds of Chinese soldiers.
Meanwhile, U.S. Army Cpl. Calvin P. Titus (depicted above, holding flag)
earns the Medal of Honor for volunteering to scale the city wall surrounding
Peking. The troops break the siege, href="https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1999/winter/boxerrebellion-l.html">effectively bringing an end to the Boxer Rebellion.
In our nation's history, only two Marines earned the Medal of Honor for two
seperate actions -- Dan Daly and Smedley Butler, both of whom fought at
Peking. 18-year-old captain (having just received a brevet promotion for valor
at Tientsin) Butler was wounded in this day's action, and would say that Daly
was "The fightin'est Marine I ever knew.
1942: While ferrying P-38 Lightning fighters from Maine to England, Maj.
John W. Weltman and 2nd Lt. Elza E. Shahan spot a German long-range
reconnaissance plane gathering weather data and spotting convoys for the Uboats below. The pilots shoot down the Fw-200 Condor (sharing the credit),
marking the first Army Air Force victory of World War II.
® 1945: The night before the United States accepts the surrender of Japan, 754
B-29s and 169 fighters take off from the Marinanas Islands for the last
-----. bombing raid of the war, targeting the towns of Kumagaya, Isesaki, and the
Akita-Aradi oil refinery.
1934: The Marines depart Haiti, ending the United States' 19-year occupation
of the Caribbean island.
1942: U.S. Navy destroyers finally manage to deliver the first load of supplies
to Marines on Guadalcanal, who have been coping with limited rations and
ammunition since landing nearly ten days ago.
Also on this day, Maj. Gen. Matthew Ridgway's 82d "All-American" Infantry
Division is redesignated as the 82d Airborne Division, becoming the first
airborne division in American military history. The division's first combat
jumps will take place in Sicily and Italy the following year.
1943: 35,000 American and Canadian troops conduct an amphibious landing
on the beaches of Kiska, Alaska - only to discover that the Japanese had
abandoned the island weeks ago.
--t In the Solomon Islands, 6,500 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division storm
ashore on Vella Lavella. The islands will be captured in just under a month.
1944: Well over 100,000 American and French troops land on the French
Riviera, easily driving the German defenders back and capturing several
strategic ports. The soldiers move so quickly across across France that the
supply trains can't keep up, and most of Southern France is liberated in four
On Cape Cavalaire's "Red Beach," Sgt. James P. Connor charges through a
defense network of mines, mortars, 20-mm flak guns, machineguns, and
snipers. When the German defenders take out both his platoon leader and
platoon sergeant are killed, Connor takes command, despite being wounded in
the landing. He personally eliminates two enemy snipers before being hit
again, then pushes his men forward through "almost impregnable mortar
concentrations." Connor and his platoon drive forward to their objective: a group of buildings
overlooking the beach that are home to several snipers and machinegun nests.
Wounded a third time, Connor is unable to continue, but still orders his men
from the prone position. Despite being reduced to one-third of their original
strength, the platoon flanks the enemy and takes the objective. Seven Germans
are killed, 40 captured, along with three machineguns. Sgt. Connor is awarded
the Medal of Honor.
German ace Helmut Lennartz, flying the Messerschmidt 262 "Schwalbe",
shoots down an American B-17 bomber - the first American warplane to be
claimed by a jet fighter.
" 1945: Emperor Hirohito, in his first-ever communication to the common
Japanese people, announces via radio that Japan has unconditionally
surrendered to the Allies. Not all of Japan is ready for the war to end,
however: after hearing the emperor's speech, Adm. Matome Ugaki climbs into
a dive bomber and conducts the last kamikaze raid of the war. The Japanese
military leadership attempts a coup, unsuccessfully storming the palace, and
will order submarines to continue the war. The Japanese Army also executes
scores of Allied prisoners. But on September 2, the deadliest war in human
history will officially come to an end on the deck of the battleship USS
1777: A force of militiamen from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and
Vermont - led by Gen. John Stark - clash with a detachment of British General
John Burgoyne's army in the Battle of Bennington (near present-day
Bennington, Vt.). The Americans rout the British, and the amount of supplies
captured during the engagement leads to Burgoyne's forthcoming defeat at
Saratoga - which convinces the French to join the war.
1780: Following his successful campaign in the south, Lord Cornwallis
engages Gen. Horatio Gates' force in Camden, S.C.. The Americans are
annihilated, taking nearly 2,000 casualties in just one hour. The infamous
cavalry commander Col. Banastre Tarleton wrote that "rout and slaughter
ensued in every quarter." Gates' defeat is so severe that the "Hero of Saratoga"
will never again command troops in battle.
1918: 600 miles north of Moscow, American troops (Along with British,
Australian, Canadian, and French allies) assist in capturing Archangel from
Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik forces. The war will end before the "Polar Bear
Brigade" can reach the rear of the German lines and some 200 Americans
never return from the little-known Russian expedition.
1940: Two years to the day after the first parachute jump, the Army stands up
the 101st "Screaming Eagles" Airborne Division, commanded by Gen. Lee -
the "Father of the U.S. Airborne." Lee declares that "the 101st has no history,
but it has a rendezvous with destiny." Lee, who commanded an infantry
company during World War I, drew up the plans for the airborne side of the
Normandy Invasion, but had to sit out the operation after having a heart
attack in February.
1942: Two years to the day after the first parachute jump, the Army stands up
the 101st "Screaming Eagles" Airborne Division, commanded by Gen. Lee the
"Father of the U.S. Airborne." Lee declares that "the 101st has no history, but
it has a rendezvous with destiny."
1950: 98 B-29 bombers drop 800 tons of bombs on enemy troops
concentrating near Waegwan, South Korea. This marks the largest use of
bombers against ground forces since the Normandy invasion.
1954: Following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu and the subsequent
partitioning of French Indochina into North and South Vietnam, the U.S.
Navy begins transporting hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and French
citizens fleeing the communist North to refugee centers in the South.
1960: After riding a balloon to an altitude of 102,800 feet, Capt. Joseph W.
Kittinger, Jr. (USAF) steps out of the gondola and begins a four-and-a-half
minute free-fall. Kittinger reached 714 miles per hour before his main chute
opened at 18,000 feet, setting records for speed and altitude on a parachute
jump that stand for 52 years until Felix Baumgartner's jump in 2012 (Kittinger
was his capsule communicator).
Kittinger served three tours in Vietnam, flying 483 combat missions in A-26
Invaders and F-4 Phantoms. Credited with shooting down an enemy MiG-21
before being shot down himself just four days before he was supposed to go
home. Kittinger, by then the commander of the 555th Fighter Squadron,
spends the next 11 months as a prisoner of war.
1972: U.S. fighter-bombers fly 664 air strikes against targets in North and
South Vietnam while B-52s fly 35 missions in the busiest day of the year for
American pilots and crew in Southeast Asia.
6 1861: The Departments of Northeastern Virginia, Washington, and
Shenandoah are merged into one outfit: the Army of the Potomac. Maj. Gen.
George B. McClellan, the only Union general with any victories under his belt
so far, will be its first commander.
1942: In the Marshall Islands, the submarines USS Argonaut and USS
Nautilus unload 211 Marine Raiders who board rubber boats and head for
Makin Island. Lt. Col. Evan Carlson's Raiders manage to make it ashore
despite heavy surf and engine troubles, succeeding in wiping out most of the
island's Japanese defenders, but fail to accomplish their objectives of taking
prisoners and gaining intelligence. The raid on Makin Island, along with the
raid on Tulagi earlier in the month, are considered the first use of special
operations during World War II.
it That same day, B-17 bombers target Nazi-occupied Europe for the first time,
hitting a railroad marshaling yard in Rouen, France. Piloting the lead bomber
is Maj. Paul W. Tibbetts Jr., who will drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima
nearly three years later.
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1943: The Eighth Air Force conducts a massive raid against a Messerschmidt
aircraft factory and ball bearing production facilities in Germany. Of the 376
B-17s that flew, 96 are shot down and another 95 are unable to be used again.
The factory is destroyed, and ball bearing production is significantly reduced.
3) Meanwhile, as Axis troops evacuate the island, Lt. Gen. George Patton and his
Seventh Army enter the Sicilian capital of Messina. Field Marshal Bernard
Montgomery intended to relegate Patton's maligned force to protecting the
British Eighth Army's flank and mop-up operations, but Patton's "Race to
Messina" proved the mettle of American combat troops and restored prestige to
his troops after the North African campaign.
1944: When enemy machinegun fire halts the progress of his company, Staff
Sgt. Stanley Bender climbs to the top of a disabled tank to determine where
the enemy positions are. For two minutes, he stands defiant while enemy
bullets bounce off his makeshift observation platform. Spotting the
machinegun nests on a knoll 200 yards away, he leads his squad through
withering fire to an irrigation ditch. As his men provide cover fire, Bender
calmly walks around to the rear of the first machinegun crew, avoiding both
enemy and friendly fire, and dispatches the Germans with one burst of his
weapon. He ignores incoming fire and knocks out a second position. His
fellow soldiers rush the remaining enemy soldiers and capture the town of La
Fonde, France. Thanks to Bender's incredible bravery, 37 German soldiers
are dead, 26 captured along with two anti-tank guns, one town, and three
intact bridges across the Maravenne River. Staff Sgt. Bender is awarded the
Medal of Honor.
1946: A 37mm bullet fires the seat carrying First Sergeant Lawrence Lambert
(U.S. Army Air Forces) out of the back of a P-61 "Black Widow" night
fighter, making the veteran parachutist the first person to eject from an aircraft
in flight. Automatic timers separate Lambert from his seat and deploy his
1952: When Pvt. First Class Robert E. Simanek and his fellow men of the 2d
Battalion, 5th Marines are ambushed, an enemy grenade lands in their
position. Simanek hurls himself on the grenade and shields his comrades from
the deadly blast. Incredibly, he survives the wounds and the following year is
awarded the Medal of Honor by President Dwight Eisenhower, becoming the
36th Marine to earn the military's highest award during the Korean War to date.
Today, Simanek is one of 72 living Medal of Honor recipients (only five
remain from the Korean War).
is 1940: When Adolf Hitler authorizes Operation "Sea Lion" - the invasion of
Britain - Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goring orders the German air force
to destroy the Royal Air Force to establish air superiority. What ensues is one
of the largest air battles in history as the Germans launch nearly 1,000 sorties
across the English Channel.
While the RAF pilots score more aerial kills than their German counterparts
(both sides lose dozens of warplanes), Lufwaffe pilots damage and destroy
many British aircraft on the ground, and cause significant damage to facilities.
This day marks the climax of the air battle, as more planes and pilots are lost
on "The Hardest Day" than any other during the Battle of Britain.
1945: Although the war in the Pacific ended days ago with Emperor Hirohito
accepting the unconditional surrender terms, Japanese anti-aircraft artillery
engage a flight of American B-32 Dominator reconnaissance planes over
Tokyo. 14 Japanese fighters take off to engage the Americans, killing Sgt.
Anthony Marchione - the last American killed in action in World War II.
Meanwhile, thousands of Japanese soldiers surrender in formerly occupied
areas of China, but Chinese communist troops attack the Japanese garrison at
Hong Kong, hoping to take control of the strategic port city before the
Chinese Nationalist government forces arrive.
Also, Soviet Union troops begin their occupation of Japan's Kurile Islands.
Soviet and Japanese forces will fight for several days, and at war's end, the
contested islands will end up in communist hands.
1959: A helicopter engine explodes during a test aboard the USS Wasp (CV18), igniting a blaze that threatens the nuclear weapons being transported by
the ship. The explosion and subesequent fire causes serious damage and
several decks are flooded while crews race to contain the fire before the
nuclear warheads are compromised. Fortunately, the fire is brought under
control in 30 minutes.
1965: Over 5,000 Marines assault a Viet Cong regiment near Van Tuong,
South Vietnam, in the first large-scale operation of U.S. forces in the Vietnam
War. The Marines encircle the VC and inflict hundreds of casualties, but the
remaining communist fighters manage to escape after several days of fighting.
1976: American soldiers attempting to cut down a tree blocking observation of
the Korean Demilitarized Zone are attacked by North Korean soldiers. A North
Korean officer crosses into South Korean territory, claiming that their leader
Kim Il Sung planted the tree and his troops attack and kill Capt. Arthur
Bonifas and Lt. Mark Barrett, who were armed only with axes.
1910: 100 feet over New York City's Sheepshead Bay Race Track, Lt. Jacob
E. Fickel becomes the world's first aerial gunner. Sitting in the biplane's
passenger seat, with Glenn Curtiss at the controls, Fickel fires his Army
Springfield .30-caliber rifle, demonstrating that a bullet can be fired from a
moving aircraft without the recoil knocking the plane out of the sky.
Fickel goes on to command the Fourth Air Force during World War II and
retires as a major general.
1912: After less than three hours of instruction, 1st Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham
boards a Curtiss (yes, the famed aircraft designer that flew alongside Lt. Fickel
two years ago) biplane and makes his first solo flight, becoming the Marine
Corps' first aviator. A veteran of the Spanish-American War and several
Caribbean campaigns, Cunningham deploys to the Western Front
during World War I where he observes aviation tactics - while over German
lines - and formulates procedures for Marine aviators to use against enemy
submarines and their bases.
1950: After over two weeks of fighting at Taegu, South Korea, an
outnumbered UN force consisting of the American 1st Cavalry Division and
the Republic of Korea's II Corps defeat five divisions of North Korean
soldiers. The Pusan Perimeter still holds.
1953: Wernher von Braun watches as his Redstone rocket lifts off from Cape
Canaveral (Fla.), becoming the United States' first ballistic missile. Redstone
No. 1 - built using technology from Germany's V-2 rocket - flew for one
minute and 20 seconds before it's engine shut down and the missile falls into
the ocean. It will take some time before American rocket technology improves
to where the target area is actually more dangerous than the launch pad.
1977: 24 years after the first Redstone launch, a Titan III-Centaur rocket
blasts off (again, from Cape Canaveral) carrying the Voyager 2 space probe.
Not only have we advanced to the point of safely launching rockets, we can
aim their payload with such a degree of accuracy that Voyager was able to fly
by and study Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. Over 40 years later,
NASA is still communicating with the space probe, which is conducting
research from about 11 billion miles away.
1998: U.S. Navy warships launch dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles at a
medical manufacturing plant in Sudan and terrorist training camps in
Afghanistan. The attacks are a response to the al Qaeda bombings of U.S.
Embassy buildings in Kenya and Tanzania earlier in the month.
1918: When enemy fighters shoot down Ensign George M. Ludlow's Machhi
M.5 seaplane off the Austria-Hungary coast, Charles H. Hammann lands
beside him and rescues the downed aviator. Hamman's fighter is also
damaged, and the winds high and seas choppy, but he manages to take off
with Ludlow holding the struts behind him (the plane wasn't designed to carry
Today in US Military History - The Center for American ... Page 266 of 407
two pilots) and flies 65 miles across the Adriatic Sea to the air station at Porto -
--- Cassini, Italy. The plane sinks from the weight of the extra passenger after
landing but both aviators are safe.
Hammann, an enlisted pilot at the time, becomes the first Naval aviator
awarded the Medal of Honor and commissioned as an ensign after his daring
1942: On Guadalcanal, around 900 soldiers of Japan's 17th Army slam into
about 2,500 Marines manning positions along Alligator Creek. Wave after
wave of Japanese soldiers are cut down by the Marines, killing well over 700
attackers - including the Japanese commander - while inflicting nearly 100
1944: The F8F-1 Bearcat - Grumman's last piston-powered fighter - makes its
first flight. The warplane can fly faster and climb more quickly than the
venerable "Hellcat", but enters service too late to see action in World War II.
The Blue Angels will begin using the Bearcat for their demonstrations, and
many Navy and Marine aviators - including Neil Armstrong - consider the
agile warplane as their favorite.
1957: The Soviet Union launches the R-7 "Semyorka", the world's first
intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-7 was capable of carrying a 3-ton
nuclear warhead a distance of over 5,000 miles away.
1959: President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order granting
statehood to the territory of Hawaii. That same day, retired U.S. Army captain
Daniel Inouye begins his 53 year career in Congress. During World War II,
Inouye served in the highly decorated all-Nisei 442d Regimental Combat
Team. He lost his arm during a daring attack on German machine gun
positions in Italy, in which the already wounded officer had to pry a live
grenade from his severed hand and used it to destroy a bunker. For his actions,
Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor.
1965: A Titan II rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral, carrying Gemini V
astronauts Col. "Gordo" Cooper (USAF) and Lt. Cmdr. "Pete" Conrad (USN)
into space to spend what Conrad refers to as "eight days in a garbage can."
The long, cramped spaceflight marks the first time Americans set the
endurance record for time in space.
1980: During a Western Pacific patrol, the nuclear-powered cruiser USS
Truxtun (CGN-35) and the destroyer USS Merrill (DD-976) rescue over 100
Vietnamese refugees some 200 miles southeast of Saigon.
1776: A force of over 20,000 Redcoats led by Gen. William Howe land on
Long Island, N.Y.. Over the next few days the British will force the Americans
to withdraw to New Jersey, and the British capture the vital port of New York
City - which they hold for the duration of the war.
1863: The crew of Union steamer USS Shokokon spots the Confederate
schooner Alexander Cooper in New Topsail Inlet on the North Carolina Coast
(just south of present-day Camp Lejeune). A crew of sailors board a dinghy
which they use to reach the rear of the Confederate camp guarding the ship,
where Master-at-arms Robert T. Clifford sneaks ashore and counts the enemy.
Although outnumbered three-to-one, Clifford leads a charge against the
Rebels, who are routed and leave behind their ship and supplies. For his
actions, Clifford is awarded the Medal of Honor.
1914: During the opening days of World War I, the world is introduced to a
level of violence on a scale never before seen as the German army kills 27,000
French soldiers in one day at Ardennes and Charleroi. By month's end, the
Battle of the Frontiers will account for over a quarter million French casualties
- with 75,000 killed in action. Meanwhile, the French, British, and Belgian
troops manage to inflict 200,000 casualties on German General Helmuth von
Moltke's invasion force.
1942: Elements of Gen. Friedrich Paulus' Sixth Army begin arriving outside
Stalingrad, beginning what would become perhaps the largest and deadliest
engagement in human history - claiming some 2 million casualties over the
course of the battle. The Sixth Army will be surrounded and wiped out after
five brutal months of urban combat, and only 6,000 of the 107,000 prisoners
will survive the war.
1945: As Japanese forces surrender across Asia, American aircraft drop
several teams of French colonial administrators into French Indochina
(present-day Vietnam). Having worked alongside Ho Chi Minh against the
Japanese during World War II, the United States was originally supportive of
Vietnamese independence, but will reluctantly have to side with the French
during the Cold War.
1956: Chinese fighters engage a U.S. Navy P4M Mercator flying a nighttime
patrol over international waters, killing all 16 crew members. During the Cold
War, communist warplanes will shoot down several Mercator electronic
1942: While Japanese reinforcements depart Truk to join the fighting on
Guadalcanal, American P-40 "Lightnings" with the 49th Fighter Group shoot
down 15 Japanese fighters and bombers attempting to target the air base in
1944: When Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army reaches the Seine River,
Adolf Hitler orders Gen. Hans Speidel to destroy all bridges in Paris - which
Speidel ignores, as well as another order days later to target Paris with V-1
buzz bombs and V-2 rockets. Speidel's garrison will surrender in two days and
the 28th Infantry Division will parade through the streets of Paris, ending four
years of Nazi occupation.
300 miles to the west in Brittany, Staff Sgt. Alvin P. Carrey spots an enemy
machinegun nest 200 yards up a hill that is pinning down his soldiers. He
grabs as many grenades as he can carry and has his soldiers cover him, then
crawls up the hill. Carrey shoots a German soldier on the way up, then begins
hurling grenades at the enemy position - drawing the machine gunners' fire.
Although mortally wounded, he still manages to hurl a grenade right on target,
killing the crew and knocking their guns out. Carrey is posthumously awarded
the Medal of Honor.
1950: Over 70,000 Army Reservists are ordered to report for duty during the
1954: A Lockheed YC-130 prototype takes off for its first flight - a 61-minute
trip from the Lockheed plant in Burbank, Calif, to Edwards Air Force Base.
Designed to haul a tank and take off/land on short, primitive fields, the plane
lifts off in just 800 feet. Once it becomes operational, the versatile C-130
Hercules can even make takeoffs and landings on an aircraft carrier without
using the catapult or wires.
64 years after its first flight, the amazingly versatile combat transport plane
remains in production, providing transportation, air assault, special operations,
gunship, search and rescue, aerial refueling, aerial firefighting, and about any
other capability you can think of to the United States Armed Forces. 70 other
countries use the "Herc", which holds the distinction of the longest production
run of a military aircraft in history.
1990: As American forces continue deployment to the Persian Gulf for
Operation "Desert Shield", 46,000 Reservists are called up.
1996: Osama bin Laden issues his first fatwa, declaring war on the United
States for, among other reasons, maintaining a military presence in Saudi
Arabia. The founder of the terrorist group Al Qaeda's message isn't taken
seriously until bombs kill over 200 people at American embassies in Tanzania
and Kenya two years later.
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1814: Just ten miles northeast of Washington, D.C., British soldiers and Royal
Marines clash with an American force of militia and a detachment of Marines
and sailors in the Battle of Bladensburg. The professional British troops easily
scatter the militia, but run into a wall when they square off against the Marines.
In their first volley, the leathernecks destroy an entire company of the King's
men then pursue their foe into a ravine.
Capt. Samuel Bacon, Quartermaster of the Marine Corps, said "I will tell you
something now about the battle of Bladensburg. [...] The Marines are a dead
shot." The bodies of 150 British soldiers covered the battlefield in front of the
Marines' lines before the Americans are routed, leaving to road to the capital
open in what is considered "the greatest disgrace ever dealt to American
arms." Gen. Robert Ross' exhausted troops - several of which died during the
battle from exhaustion after long marches - avenge the American destruction
of Port Dover (in present-day Ontario) in May by setting fire to the
Presidential Mansion (now called the White House), Capitol Building, and
numerous other government and military facilities.
However, the British only hold Washington for one day before a massive
storm blows through, severely damaging the British ships and causes the
occupiers to abandon the area.
1912: The Navy's first electrically powered ship, USS Jupiter (AC-3) is
launched. Ten years later, a flight deck is added to the 542-ft. vessel, and the
renamed USS Langley becomes America's first aircraft carrier.
1942: Vice Adm. Frank J. Fletcher's Task Force 61 and a Japanese carrier
division converge in the Solomon Islands as Japanese troops attempt to
reinforce Guadalcanal. The Battle of the Eastern Solomons is fought entirely
by aircraft; the Japanese inflict serious damage on USS Enterprise (CV-6),
while the Americans sink several vessels, including the light carrier Ryujo.
Over Guadalcanal, Japanese warplanes clash with Army and Marine aircraft
of the "Cactus Air Force," with Capt. Marion E. Carl in his F4F Wildcat
scoring four of the day's ten Allied victories, becoming the Marine Corps'
1945: Just two days after being discharged from the service, Chief Petty Officer
Bob Feller returns to Cleveland and is honored by a parade before pitching in
his first major league game since becoming the first professional athlete to
enlist in the Armed Forces during World War II. Despite losing nearly four
years to his military service - Feller served aboard the battleship USS Alabama
- the future Hall of Famer strikes out 12 batters and only allows four hits in the
Indians 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.
1969: In Quang Tri Province, a team of 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion Marines
are ambushed by machinegun and automatic weapon fire in the early morning
hours. Lance Cpl. Richard A. Anderson is hit in both legs and knocked to the
ground, where he takes up a prone position and pours suppressive fire into the
enemy. He keeps up the attack, despite being wounded again. As a medic treats
his wounds, Anderson spots an enemy grenade landing in their position. He
rolls on top of the grenade and absorbs the deadly blast with his body, saving
several nearby Marines. Anderson is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1921: Years after World War I ends, the United States and Germany finally
sign a peace treaty. Meanwhile, coalmine workers attempting to unionize in
West Virginia begin fighting with law enforcement and strike breakers in
what becomes the largest insurrection since the Civil War. Over 1 million
rounds are fired during the so-called "Battle of Blair Mountain" before
hostilities come to an end once President Warren Harding authorizes the
Army to intervene.
1941: Richard "Dick" Winters - the famous commander of the 101st Airborne
Division's "Easy" Company - enlists in the Army, entering basic training at
Camp Croft in South Carolina. Winters will soon be selected for Officer
Candidate School, and go on to join Col. Robert Sink's 506th Parachute
Infantry Regiment in 1942. Winters and his men jump into Sainte-Mere-
- Eglise on D-Day and that day will lead a daring attack on German 88mm guns
firing on Utah Beach. For his actions in the Brecourt Manor Assault, Gen.
Omar Bradley awards Winters with the Distinguished Service Cross - the
Army's second-highest award for valor.
ekr 1942: The Japanese supply fleet carrying reinforcements and supplies for the
garrison on Guadalcanal is turned back after taking heavy damage from
American air- and land-based aircraft. Several warships are lost, along with
hundreds of sailors, soldiers, and many irreplaceable pilots.
1944: The 2d Armored Division and 4th Infantry Division enter Paris,
capturing the French capital from German troops. Garrison commander
General Dietrich von Choltitz surrenders his remaining forces that afternoon,
ending four years of Nazi occupation.
w 1945: While leading an intelligence operation for the Office of Strategic
Services (OSS), Capt. John M. Birch (USAAF) is killed by Chinese
communist soldiers. Birch's death is considered the first American casualty of
the Cold War. During World War II, Birch assisted Brig. Gen. Jimmy
Doolittle and his Raiders as they traveled across China, and Doolittle
recommended that Col. Claire Chennault should commission the American
missionary as an officer for the "Flying Tigers." Hoping to become a chaplain,
Birch instead wound up as an intelligence officer for the OSS.
1950: As railroad workers prepare to strike during the Korean War, President
Harry Truman issues an executive order stating that rail transport is "essential
to the national defense and security of the Nation" and places the U.S. Army in
charge of the critical infrastructure.
1967: The controversial Defense Secretary Robert McNamara states that the
Operation "Rolling Thunder" bombing campaign has had little effect on North
Vietnam's war-making capabilities. Although the military has dropped more
bombs so far in the Vietnam War than it had during all of World War II, Pres.
Lyndon Johnson's policy of dictating targets from Washington hamstrings his
commanders, who would otherwise have been able to carry out the campaign
by choosing targets that would permit them to accomplish their political
1950: The 5th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) replaces the 34th Infantry
Regiment which was utterly decimated by a series of delaying actions against
the North Korean Army. Since only 184 soldiers remained out of the regiment's
original strength of 1,898, surviving 34th Infantry soldiers are used to fill holes
in other units and the regiment is reconstituted in Japan.
One of those 5th RCT soldiers is Master Sgt. Melvin 0. Handrich, who fought
in the Aleutian Islands Campaign before becoming a paratrooper and fighting
across Europe. When a force of enemy soldiers attempts to overrun Handrich's
company, he leaves the relative safety of his position behind and moves
forward, where he will spend the next eight hours directing mortar and artillery
fire on the enemy.
When the hostile force makes another attempt to overrrun the American
position, Handrich observes friendly soldiers attempting to withdraw. He
crosses the fire-swept ground to rally them, and returns to his forward post.
Refusing medical care or even to seek cover, the North Koreans eventually cut
down Handrich. But when U.S. soldiers retake the ground, they count 70 dead
enemy surrounding Handrich's body.
1957: Following the href="http://www.victoryinstitute.net/blogs/utb/2019/08/21
/aug-21-today-inmilitary-history/">launch of the Soviet Union's R-7 Semyorka missile,
state-run news agency TASS announces that the USSR has successfully tested a
multi-stage intercontinental ballistic missile that could target "any place in the
1993: (Featured image) The hunt for Mohammad Farrah Aidid is on: the 75th
Ranger Regiment's 3rd Battalion and operators from Special Forces
Operational Detatchment-Delta deploy to Somalia to capture the warlord.
1776: Five days after 15,000 British soldiers land on Long Island, Gen.
William Howe's forces attack the Patriots garrisoned at Brooklyn Heights. Gen.
George Washington's troops are flanked by the Redcoats during the first major
battle of the Revolutionary War and suffer some 2,000 casualties before
retreating to their redoubt at Brooklyn.
Rather than press the attack and smash the rebellion, Howe ordered his troops
to prepare for a siege. However, in two days, the entire 10,000-man army slips
through the Royal Navy stationed along the East River and evacuates (with
their arms and supplies) to Manhattan. Washington is the last man to leave.
While New York City falls into enemy hands, the patriots have survived to
fight another day.
1918: U.S. and Mexican Army soldiers, along with militia and armed civilians,
clash along the border between Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Mexico. A handful
of U.S. soldiers are killed and over 100 Mexicans, but the battle is over when
the Americans seize the high ground overlooking the two Nogales on the
Following the battle, a chain-link fence is installed, splitting the two towns
and becoming the first permanent border fence between the United States and
1945: B-29 bombers begin airdropping supplies to U.S. prisoners of war held
1972: While U.S. aircraft execute the heaviest day of bombing in four years,
leveling scores of barracks and targeting North Vietnamese rail lines to China,
a four-ship formation enters Haiphong harbor at night and shells military
targets. While the heavy cruiser USS Newport News, the guided-missile
cruiser USS Providence, and the destroyers USS Robison and USS Rowan
head back to sea, they spot four Soviet-built patrol boats in pursuit.
Naval gunfire and tactical air support sink three of the four vessels in what
becomes one of the very few surface engagements of the Vietnam War.
1862: One year after the Confederacy's "glorious but dear-bought victory"
over the Union in the First Battle of Bull Run, the two (significantly larger)
armies meet again on the same battleground. 70,000 soldiers of Union Maj.
Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia engage Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's
50,000-man Army of Northern Virginia, resulting in heavy casualties on both
sides. Maj. Gen. James Longstreet's five divisions (25,000 men) execute the
largest mass assault of the war, smashing their opponents' left flank and
forcing and the Union to once again withdraw.
09 1944: Army Air Force pilots Maj. Joseph Myers and 2nd Lt. Manford Croy,
Jr., flying P-47 Thunderbolts, become the first fighter pilots to score a victory
over a jet aircraft when they shoot down German pilot Hieronymus Lauer's
Meanwhile, the First Army crosses the Marne River in France just days after
the liberation of Paris, and to the south, the coastal towns of Marseilles and
Toulon surrender to the Allies.
1945: An advance party of 150 soldiers - the first American troops to set foot
in Japan - land at the naval airfield at Atsugi to prepare for the 11th Airborne
Division's arrival in two days.
1952: Off the Korean coast, USS Boxer launches the first "guided missile"
ever fired from an aircraft carrier - a radio-controlled F6F-5K Hellcat fighter
fitted with 1,000-lb. bombs. A pilot controlled the drone, which was fitted
with a TV camera, from a two-seat AD-2Q Skyraider. Of the six drones
launched by Boxer, only one will reach its target.
1969: When Lance Cpl. Jose F. Jimenez's unit comes under heavy attack by
North Vietnamese soldiers concealed in well camouflaged emplacements
south of Da Nang, the Marine charges forward, neutralizing several enemy
soldiers and taking an anti-aircraft gun out of action. Jimenez continues his
attack, maneuvering to an enemy trench and wipes that position out as well in
the face of "vicious" enemy fire. Moving on to the next target, however,
---- Jimenez is mortally wounded and will be posthumously awarded the Medal of
1972: Air Force Capt. Richard S. Ritchie, flying a two-seat F-4D Phantom,
shoots down a North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter near Hanoi, becoming one
of only two American pilot aces during the Vietnam War. His weapons
systems officer, Capt. Charles B. DeBellevue finishes the war with six
Also on this day, President Richard Nixon announces that the military draft
will end by July of 1973.
Today's post is in honor of Sgt. Edgar E. Lopez of the 1st Battalion, 2d
Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary
Force. On this day in 2004, the 27-year-old native of Los Angeles was killed
by enemy action in Iraq's Babil Province.
1861: Surrender of Cape Hatteras
1940: At Lawson Army Airfield (modern-day Fort Benning, Ga.), 1st Lt.
William T. Ryder and his Parachute Test Platoon conduct the first mass
parachute jump in U.S. military history.
Meanwhile, a delegation of British scientists begin sharing radar and other
military technologies with the United States, hoping to secure assistance from
the still-neutral nation.
1944: Four years after German conquerors marched through Paris' famous Arc
de Triomphe, 15,000 American soldiers of the 28th Infantry Division parade
down the newly-liberated capital's Champs-Elysées.
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Meanwhile, a 21-man OSS force led by Lt. Cmdr. Frank Wisner parachutes
into Romania, coordinating the rescue operation of well over 1,000 American
prisoners of war.
-4, 1945: An American B-29 "Superfortress", carrying a load of humanitarian aid
to Allied prisoners of war in Korea, is intercepted by Soviet Yak-9 fighters.
The supposed allies attack the bomber, forcing 1st Lt. Joseph Queen's crew to
bail out before the plane crashes. The air crew are rescued, and the incident
marks one of the first international confrontations between the soon-to-be
Cold War rivals.
Across the Sea of Japan, Allied occupation forces begin arriving in Japan, as
well as the battleship USS Missouri, which will host the upcoming formal
surrender ceremonies on Sept. 2. Gen. Douglas MacArthur is granted the
authority to oversee the formation of a new Japanese government. Rather than
disband the existing government, MacArthur rules through the emperor whom
the Japanese people still view as divine - during Japan's transition to
1983: During the Lebanese Civil War, mortar crews target American
positions, killing two Marines and wounding 14 - the first fatalities for the
American peacekeeping force in Beirut. In less than two months, suicide
bombers will target a barracks complex, killing nearly 300 U.S. and French
peacekeepers, and leading to the eventual withdrawal of the Multinational
Force in February.
1776: After a series of defeats by the British, Gen. George Washington's
Continental Army conducts a strategic withdrawal of Long Island, sneaking
10,000 men and their equipment through British Adm. Richard Howe's picket
force under cover of darkness. Gen. William Howe (yes, the Howes are
brothers) sends a letter to Gen. George Washington seeking a peace
conference. Washington rejects the offer, forwarding the message to Congress
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instead. Diplomacy falls flat when the British refuse to recognize American
independence on Sept. 11, and the British respond by capturing New York
City four days later.
z3) 1862: Near Lexington, Ky., Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith accomplishes the
"nearest thing to a Cannae" (Hannibal's double envelopment of the Roman
army - perhaps the greatest tactical achievement in military history) during
the Civil War. The Confederates rout Maj. Gen. William "Bull" Nelson's
inexperienced Union troops - capturing over 4,000 - in the Battle of
1918: Southeast of Verdun, France, Gen. John J. Pershing's First Army moves
into position at the Saint-Mihiel salient. Among Pershing's three U.S. (and one
French) corps is Lt. Col. George S. Patton, Jr.'s newly formed 1st Provisional
Tank Brigade, which will conduct the first tank warfare in American history in
the upcoming Battle of Saint-Mihiel - the first independently-led American
operation of World War I.
1943: When Marine 1st Lt. Kenneth A. Walsh's F4U Corsair develops engine
trouble in the middle of a vital escort mission in the Solomon Islands, Walsh
lands his aircraft at Munda and switches out with another ride, and quickly
returns to the air to rendezvous with his package. While enroute, he spots a
flight of 50 enemy Zero fighters and despite the incredible 50:1 odds, the
Devil Dog attacks. Walsh's guns send four Japanese fighters down in flames
before they knock the lone American out of the sky. Walsh makes a deadstick
landing near Vella Lavella and is later recovered.
For his actions, Walsh is awarded the Medal of Honor. He finishes the war
with 21 victories.
1958: When China threatens to invade Taiwan, President Dwight Eisenhower
deploys the Navy's Seventh Fleet to the strait in addition to sending the Air
Force's Composite Air Strike Force to the island. Secretly, the United States
arms the Nationalist Chinese Air Force's American-made F-86 Sabres with
new AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, which will prove devastating to communist
MiG-15 and MiG-17 jets in coming days, deastroying nearly three dozen in
1963: After the United States and Soviet Union narrowly avoid war during the
Cuban Missile Crisis, a "hot line" is installed between the Pentagon and
Kremlin, providing the two nuclear-armed superpowers with instant
communication in hopes of preventing another conflict. The U.S. sends "The
quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog's back 1234567890," and the
Soviets respond with another message indicating all their teletype keys are
functioning. The 10,000-mile secure cable connection still operates today,
however it has been upgraded to a telephone system.
1983: Guion Bluford, a former Air Force F-4C Phantom II fighter pilot with
144 combat missions in Vietnam, becomes the first black astronaut in space
when the Space Shuttle Challenger blasts off on its third mission.
Accompanying Col. Bluford are Richard Truly (former F-8 Crusader aviator
and retired Vice Admiral), Daniel Brandenstien (A-6 aviator with 192 combat
missions and captain in the U.S. Navy), Dale Gardner (F-14 Tomcat pilot and
Navy captain), and William Thornton (U.S. Air Force doctor).
g 1995: NATO begins its first bombing campaign, Operation DELIBERATE
FORCE. American land- and carrier-based warplanes, along with aircraft from
14 other nations, drop over 1,000 precision-guided munitions on Bosnian Serb
positions, and the operation marks the first combat action for the German
Luftwaffe since the end of World War II 50 years earlier.
1864: Two armies under the command of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman
engage Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood's vastly outnumbered Army of
Tennessee just south of Atlanta. Despite brilliant fighting and generalship in
the Battle of Jonesborough, the Confederates destroy a trainload of military
supplies to prevent its capture by the Union and withdraw to Atlanta.
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1916: Near Guillemont, France, a German artillery shell scores a direct hit on
2nd Lt. Henry A. "Harry" Butters, instantly killing the popular Royal Field
Artillery officer. Butters, an American citizen that joined the British Army at
the outbreak of World War I, was so reknowned that Winston Churchill (then a
battalion commander with the Royal Scots Fusiliers) met with him and would
write of Butters after his death. Butters' gravestone simply read "An American
Citizen" - as he requested - and every soldier that could be spared attended his
1940: As war rages across Europe and Asia, President Franklin Roosevelt
federalizes 60,000 National Guard soldiers.
1942: After a squadron of eight Japanese destroyers finally manages to
squeeze through Guadalcanal's defensive ring and disembarks 1,000 Japanese
troops the night before, the arriving force stages an attack on Henderson Field.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps' elite 1st Marine Raider Battalion and 1st
Parachute Battalion arrive from Tulagi.
While four Marine Corps parachute operations are planned during the war, the
highly trained Paramarines are never used for their intended purpose and will
only be used in conventional roles. The Paramarines and Raiders - considered
to be among America's first special operations units - will both be disbanded
by war's end.
1943: The Navy commissions the destroyer escort USS Harmon - the first
warship to be named after an African-American. While serving aboard the
USS San Francisco (CA-36) during the Battle of the Solomon Islands, Mess
Attendant First Class Leonard R. Harmon "deliberately exposed himself to
hostile gunfire" to protect a medic providing care to wounded sailors, in
addition to displaying unusual loyalty on behalf of the ship's injured executive
officer. For his actions, Harmon was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
1950: Near midnight, as enemy mortar rounds hammer the American lines
along the Naktung River, a force of 500 communist soldiers crosses the river
under cover of fog and launches a fierce attack. When the infantry begin to
withdraw, their supporting armored vehicles take up defensive positions to
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cover the soldiers. Two American tanks are overrun, one is destroyed, and
another retreats, leaving just one M-26 Pershing tank to hold off the enemy.
Sgt. 1st Class Ernest R. Kouma, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and now a
tank commander, and his crew are surrounded. For the next nine hours, they
hold off repeated fanatical attacks. When the North Koreans get too close,
Kouma hops out of the protection of his tank and mans the .50-caliber gun,
showering the communists with deadly point-blank fire. Once the gun was
empty, he switched to his pistol and used grenades to keep the enemy from
overrunning his tank. As the exhausted soldiers withdraw to friendly lines,
they first have to cross eight miles of hostile territory and take out three
machinegun positions along the way.
Although he was suffering from serious wounds, Kouma began rearming and
resupplying his tank, hoping to get back into the fight. He accounted for an
incredible 250 dead enemy soldiers and the actions of Kouma and his crew
enabled the infantry to reach defensive positions. Sgt. 1st Class Kouma is sent
home and awarded the Medal of Honor.
1955: The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker makes its first flight. The mid-air
refueller was built to serve Strategic Air Command's B-52 fleet, but 63 years
later it remains in service for the foreseeable future (not scheduled for
replacement until 2040), and is one of six aircraft to serve the U.S. military for
over 50 years.