June 14 in U.S. military history

Edward Percy Moran’s painting of Betsy Ross presenting the first American flag to George Washington

1775: Following the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress establishes the Continental Army. The force is disbanded after the American Revolution, but in 1792, President George Washington forms the Legion of the United States – the nation’s first “professional” fighting force – renamed the United States Army in 1796.

1777: Congress formally declares the “Stars and Stripes” as the official flag of the thirteen United States. The declaration resolves that it consists of “thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

1863: Days after bragging that he could hold the town of Winchester (Va.) against a Confederate force of any size, Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy’s garrison is surrounded and defeated by a corps led by Maj. Gen. Richard S. Ewell. The Rebels capture 4,000 Union troops, hundreds of wagons and horses, and 23 artillery pieces at the cost of only some 250 casualties in the Second Battle of Winchester.

1940: The German Sixth Army capture the French capital of Paris unopposed. The Nazi flag will fly over the Arc de Triomphe for four years until Free French forces and the American 4th Infantry Division take the city back.

1944: 75 B-29 “Superfortress” heavy bombers take off from forward air bases in China, targeting the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawata, Japan – the first bombing raid on the Japanese mainland since the Doolittle Raid in 1942.

1945: While soldiers and Marines mop up Japanese resistance on Okinawa, the Joint Chiefs of Staff direct Gens. Douglas MacArthur, Omar Bradley, and Adm. Chester Nimitz to prepare plans to occupy Japan in case they suddenly surrender.

1954: Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, five-star general and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War II, signs the law adding the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

1985: Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad terrorists hijack TWA Flight 847 after the Boeing 727 lifts off from Greece. The hijackers beat the American military passengers aboard the plane and, upon landing in Beirut, Steelworker Second Class Robert D. Stethem is tortured and murdered, his body dumped on the tarmac. The plane makes multiple trips between Beirut and Algiers, and the remaining hostages are released in groups.

Author: Chris Carter

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