Today in U.S. military history: the siege of Khe Sanh

Today’s post is in honor of Cpl. Christopher G. Singer, who was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on this day in 2012. The 23-year-old from Temecula, Calif. was assigned to the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

1903: The Militia Act of 1903 – also known as the “Dick Act” (Congressman and Maj. Gen. Charles Dick authored much of the legislation) – is passed, establishing federal standards and greater federal control over state militias, essentially creating the modern National Guard.

1918: 12 officers and 133 enlisted men from the 1st Aeronautical Company arrive for anti-submarine duty at Ponta Delgada, Azores. The unit was one of the first completely equipped American aviation units to serve overseas in World War I.

1954: (Featured image) First Lady Mamie Eisenhower christens USS Nautilus (SSN-571), the world’s first-ever nuclear submarine, at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division in Groton, Conn. Nautilus then launches into the Thames River, and in just under a year will cast her lines and ship out under nuclear power. Her Submarine Thermal Reactor obliterated anti-submarine warfare tactics honed against World War II-era diesel-electric subs since nuclear subs no longer need to surface periodically, can dive deeper, and (if detected) could clear the search area in record time.

1961: Seven years to the day after the first nuclear sub is commissioned, USS George Washington (SSBN-598) completes her first operational voyage. The United States’ first ballistic missile submarine remained underwater for 66 days during her maiden deterrent patrol.

1968: Just south of the demilitarized zone, two to three division-sized elements of North Vietnamese Army soldiers begin their attack on the U.S. Marines and soldiers of Khe Sanh Combat Base, kicking off a siege that will last several months.

Aerial Photo showing B-52 close air support strikes around Khe Sanh, 1968.
Image courtesy of Wayne Pittman.

1991: U.S. and coalition aircraft continue hammering Iraqi military targets, flying some 2,000 sorties on the fifth day of Operation DESERT STORM’s air campaign. An Iraqi SA-2 surface-to-air missile knocks out a Navy F-14A Tomcat flying near Al Asad airbase. The pilot, Lt. Devon Jones, and his radar intercept officer, Lt. Lawrence Slade, both eject safely. The Air Force’s 2oth Special Operations Squadron manage to rescue Jones, but Slade will spend the next several weeks as a prisoner of war.

Lt. Devon Jones as he is rescued by members of the 20th Special Operations Squadron

To this point in the conflict, 10 American warplanes have been shot down, and 13 aircrew are listed as missing in action.

[Originally published at]

Author: Chris Carter

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