May 2 in military history

1863: During day two of the Battle of Chancellorsville, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson is shot by a Confederate sentry while performing a leaders-reconnaissance mission. Following the amputation of Jackson’s shattered arm, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will lament, “He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm.”

The revered Jackson will die in eight days of pneumonia.

1945: Soldiers with the 82d Airborne and the 8th Infantry Division liberate the Wöbbelin concentration camp in northern Germany. The Nazis allowed many of the 5,000 inmates to starve, and U.S. soldiers found 1,000 dead upon arrival.

The soldiers force nearby German townspeople to visit the camp and bury the dead. Conditions were so extreme at Wöbbelin that some of the inmates had resorted to cannibalism, and hundreds more would die after the camp’s liberation.

That same day, Gen. Heinrich von Vietinghoff surrenders all Wehrmacht forces in Italy and the Red Army flies the Soviet flag over the Reichstag building. Berlin has fallen.

1946: When prisoners at Alcatraz riot – breaking into the prison armory and taking hostages – Marines from Treasure Island Naval Base assist in suppressing the riot. Prior to becoming a federal prison, Alcatraz was a military fort and detention facility, housing Confederate prisoners during the Civil War and conscientious objectors during World War I.

1964: Two months prior to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, a North Vietnamese frogman plants an explosive charge on USNS Card – a reactivated World War II escort carrier ferrying helicopters and American soldiers to South Vietnam – as the ship sits at a dock in Saigon. The blast kills five civilian crew members and Card sinks. The vessel is patched, raised, and will return to service in December.

1999: Lt. Col. David Goldfein, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 555th Fighter Squadron, becomes the second U.S. pilot shot down during Operation ALLIED FORCE. His F-16 fighter was shot down near Belgrade by a Serbian surface-to-air missile. Goldfein ejects safely and is soon recovered by a combat search and rescue team.

Goldfein is now the Air Force Chief of Staff – the service’s top officer.

2011: After perhaps the largest manhunt in history, U.S. intelligence has finally tracked down Osama bin Laden – the founder of Al Qaeda. An elite team of “DEVGRU” Navy SEALs (formerly known as SEAL Team SIX) boards specially modified Black Hawk helicopters in Afghanistan, flying undetected through Pakistan to bin Laden’s secret compound in Abbottabad.

One helicopter crash lands at the compound, but no one is seriously injured. The SEALs assault the building and gun down the man responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans nearly ten years ago.

Author: Chris Carter

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