Jan. 5 in U.S. military history

[The series “This Day in U.S. Military History” is regularly published at OpsLens.com]

Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Franklin D. Miller served over six years in Vietnam

1781: Commanding 1,600 British troops, the American turncoat – now a British brigadier general – Benedict Arnold captures and burns Richmond, Va.

1855: A landing party from the USS Plymouth skirmishes with Chinese forces near Canton during the Taiping Rebellion.

1861: After South Carolina secedes from the Union, Fort Sumter (in Charleston Harbor) is surrounded by Confederate forces and in need of supplies. The civilian merchant vessel Star of the West departs New York on this date for the besieged Federal troops with supplies and 250 reinforcements. Upon arriving four days later, shore batteries attack the vessel, forcing it to turn around. The standoff continues until April, when the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter.

1875: Cdr. Edward Lull (USN) leads an expedition to locate the best route for the Panama Canal.

1904: Marines arrive in Korea to defend the U.S. legation assembly at Seoul.

1945: Japanese pilots receive their first order to execute kamikaze suicide tactics. At Okinawa alone, 1,465 kamikaze pilots destroy at least 30 U.S. warships and kill 5,000 Americans.

1951: 59 B-29 “Superforts” hammer Pyongyang with nearly 700 tons of bombs and the 18th Fighter-Bomber Group takes off from Suwon Air Base for the final time. The base is destroyed in the face of an advancing Chinese and North Korean military.

1967: U.S. and South Vietnamese Marines conduct a joint amphibious assault of the Mekong Delta. The goal of Operation “Deckhouse V” is to capture Viet Cong prisoners from the Thanh Phu Secret Zone, and it is the first time U.S. troops operate in the delta.

1970: Staff Sgt. Franklin D. Miller was leading a long range patrol of Special Forces soldiers and Montagnards in Laos when a booby trap wounded several members. A firefight ensued, wounding the entire patrol. Despite a serious chest wound, Miller is the last man standing and keeps up the fight for several hours, holding off repeated enemy assaults against their position. That evening, as he is about to exhaust his ammunition, a team arrives to relieve the Green Berets.

Miller would serve over six years in Southeast Asia. When asked by Richard Nixon upon awarding Miller the Medal of Honor, the president asks him where he wanted to be assigned next. Miller’s answer: “Vietnam.”

2002: Air Force C-17 cargo planes deliver materials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba so the “Seabees” can construct a detention facility for captured Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees.

Author: Chris Carter

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