Aug. 1: Today in military history

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 (junior grade) John F. Kennedy and his remaining 11-man crew 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 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.

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.

Author: Chris Carter

Leave a Reply