Today’s post is in honor of the four 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers who were killed during a reconnaissance patrol in Niger one year ago today: Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 34 of Puyallup, Wa.; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39 of Springboro, Ohio; Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25 of Miami Gardens, Fla.; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29 of Lyons, Ga.
1777: A week after losing Philadelphia to the British, Gen. George Washington decides to surprise Gen. Sir William Howe’s force encamped at Germantown (Pa.). 11,000 Continental troops and militia have marched 16 miles through the night, and begin their assault at 5:30 a.m.. Although initially successful, heavy fog, insufficiently trained troops, and stiff British resistance unravel Washington’s coordinated assault and the attack falls apart. Washington’s army suffers over 1,000 casualties and will have to spend the winter at Valley Forge.
1821: Lt. Robert F. Stockton, veteran of the War of 1812 who also fought the Barbary pirates, sets sail from Boston to interdict the African slave trade. Stockton will help establish the country of Liberia, where thousands of former American slaves and free blacks are resettled. He will capture several slave ships on this cruise, of which he writes, “I have great satisfaction in the reflection that I have procrastinated the slavery of some 800 Africans, and have broken off this horrible traffic to the northward of Cape Palmas for at least this season.
1822: Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States, is born in Delaware, Oh.. Despite having no military background, Hayes will be appointed Major in the 23rd Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The talented officer will be wounded five times during the Civil War, ultimately reaching the rank of Brevet Major General. Also serving in the 23rd Regiment is Pvt. – and future Pres. – William McKinley.
1906: A Marine expeditionary force, under command of Lt. Col. Franklin J. Moses, sets sail for Cuba to restore law and order. The Marines are supplemented by a squadron of cavalry troopers of the 11th Cavalry Regiment (today’s 11th Armored Cavalry “Blackhorse” Regiment).
1918: An explosion at the T. A. Gillespie Co. Shell Loading Plant in Sayreville, N.J. ignites a fire, leading to several more explosions that will last for three days. 300 buildings are destroyed, 100 people are killed, and hundreds are wounded. The plant is said to have on hand enough ammunition to supply the Western Front for six months. 12 Coast Guardsmen will be awarded the Navy Cross for their actions during the incident, and two will perish.
That same day, in Montrebeau Woods, France, a tank driven by Cpl. Harold W. Roberts of the Tank Corps’ 344th Battalion slides into a shell hole while positioning his tank to provide cover for a disabled tank. The 10-foot shell hole is filled with water and only one of the tank’s two occupants will be able to exit before the vehicle is flooded. Roberts tells his companion, “Well, only one of us can get out, and out you go.” For saving his fellow soldier’s life at the cost of his own, Cpl. Roberts is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1943: USS Ranger (CV-4) conducts the only American carrier operation in the northern Atlantic, when its Dauntless and Avenger crews attack a German convoy near Bod, Norway, sinking or damaging ten enemy vessels.
1944: After a heavy mortar barrage on Mt. Battaglia, Italy, Staff Sgt. Manuel V. Mendoza spots 200 enemy soldiers charging up the slope towards his position. He grabs his Thompson submachine gun and empties his five magazines into the charging force. He then switches to a carbine, exhausting that weapon’s ammunition as well. He draws his pistol and shoots a soldier armed with a flame-thrower, just before the German can reach Mendoza’s position. He then switches to a machinegun, pouring withering fire into the enemy and scattering them. When his gun jams, he switches to grenades and causes the enemy to begin fleeing. He charges after them, grabbing discarded weapons and capturing an enemy soldier. For single-handedly defeating a German counterattack, Staff Sgt. Mendoza is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which is upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2014.
1985: The terrorist group Hezbollah announces that they have executed former CIA Beirut station chief William F. Buckley. Buckley, a former Special Forces Lt. Col. and veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, had been held captive for over 14 months.