Today’s post is in honor of Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando, who gave his life for our country on this day in 2003. The 43-year-old Tennessee native was attempting to negotiate with armed men congregating after curfew near a Karbala, Iraq mosque when the men opened fire, killing Orlando, Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Bellavia, Cpl. Sean R. Grilley, and wounding seven other soldiers. Orlando commanded the 101st Airborne Division’s 716th Military Police Battalion and was a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
1821: The schooner USS Enterprise (the third of 12 so-named Continental and U.S. Naval vessels) intercepts a flotilla of four ships led by the infamous Capt. Charles Gibbs as the pirates attack American and British-flagged ships in Cuban waters. Although outnumbered, Lt. Cmdr. John Kearney and his crew quickly defeat the pirate force, and Gibbs escapes into the jungles of Cuba as three of his ships are burned. Gibbs will eventually be caught and is one of the last people executed for piracy in the United States.
1859: A small party of abolitionists led by John Brown occupies the military arsenal at Harper’s Ferry (modern-day West Virginia), hoping to inspire a slave rebellion. However, Brown’s uprising does not materialize and local militia force the rebels into a firehouse. A company of Marines under the command of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee is dispatched to the scene and after an unsuccessful attempt by Lee’s aide-de-camp, Lt. J.E.B. Stuart, to convince Brown to surrender, the Marines assault the barricaded fire station and bring an end to the crisis.
1918: When all other members of his machine gun detachment are killed or wounded, Pvt. Thomas C. Neibaur foils an entire German counterattack by himself. Four enemy soldiers attempt to kill him at close quarters, but the wounded Neibaur manages to kill them, and captures another 11 with his pistol. For his actions, Pvt. Neibaur is awarded the Medal of Honor.
1942: As Japanese planes attack a ship unloading badly needed supplies for Guadalcanal’s “Cactus Air Force”, Lt. Col. Harold W. “Indian Joe” Bauer – dangerously low on fuel following a 600-mile ferry flight from Espirito Santo – single-handedly engages the enemy warplanes, shooting down one bomber, four fighters, and damaging another before he runs out of fuel and has to land at Henderson Field. The commander of Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212) is shot down less than a month later after splashing two Japanese warplanes and will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
1946: After nine months of trials, ten Nazi war criminals are executed by hanging, including top Wehrmacht officers Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel, and SS officer Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Also sentenced is former Luftwaffe boss (and World War I fighter ace) Hermann Göring, who committed suicide the night before his execution.
1956: (Featured Image) The Pan American airliner Clipper Sovereign Of The Skies (a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, which is based off the B-29 Superfortress bomber) experiences failures in two of its four engines while in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a around-the-world flight and has to ditch in the water. The Coast Guard cutter USCGC Pontchartrain is only a half mile away from the crash site and rescues all passengers and crew before the plane slips under the waves after 20 minutes.
2002: Congress grants President George W. Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq, however the U.S.-led coalition will not invade Iraq until March of 2003.