Aug. 22: Today in U.S. military history

Shannon (left) and Wallenburg

Today’s post is in honor of 1st Lt. Dustin Shannon and CWO3 James J. Wallenburg who were killed on this day in 2002 when their AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed into a hillside during a nighttime training mission in bad weather near Camp Polk, S. Korea. Shannon was born 6 October 1978 in San Diego and is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy (Class of 2000). The men served in 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry.

1776: A force of over 20,000 Redcoats led by Gen. William Howe land on Long Island, N.Y.. Over the next few days the British will force the Americans to withdraw to New Jersey, and the British capture the vital port of New York City – which they hold for the duration of the war.

1863: The crew of Union steamer USS Shokokon spots the Confederate schooner Alexander Cooper in New Topsail Inlet on the North Carolina Coast (just south of present-day Camp Lejeune). A crew of sailors board a dinghy which they use to reach the rear of the Confederate camp guarding the ship, where Master-at-arms Robert T. Clifford sneaks ashore and counts the enemy. Although outnumbered three-to-one, Clifford leads a charge against the Rebels, who are routed and leave behind their ship and supplies. For his actions, Clifford is awarded the Medal of Honor.

1914: During the opening days of World War I, the world is introduced to a level of violence on a scale never before seen as the German army kills 27,000 French soldiers in one day at Ardennes and Charleroi. By month’s end, the Battle of the Frontiers will account for over a quarter million French casualties – with 75,000 killed in action. Meanwhile, the French, British, and Belgian troops manage to inflict 200,000 casualties on German General Helmuth von Moltke’s invasion force.

1942: Elements of Gen. Friedrich Paulus’ Sixth Army begin arriving outside Stalingrad, beginning what would become perhaps the largest and deadliest engagement in human history – claiming some 2 million casualties over the course of the battle. The Sixth Army will be surrounded and wiped out after five brutal months of urban combat, and only 6,000 of the 107,000 prisoners will survive the war.

1945: As Japanese forces surrender across Asia, American aircraft drop several teams of French colonial administrators into French Indochina (present-day Vietnam). Having worked alongside Ho Chi Minh against the Japanese during World War II, the United States was originally supportive of Vietnamese independence, but soon will reluctantly have to side with the French during the Cold War.

Ho Chi Minh (in shorts) with American OSS agents in 1945. The man in the suit is Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, who commanded the Viet Minh during World War II and fought the Americans as commander of the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War. The smiling man in the center is Maj. Allison Thomas, commander of the OSS’ “Deer Team” that parachuted into French Indochina to link up with Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Giap to fight the Japanese.

1956: (Featured image) Chinese fighters engage a U.S. Navy P4M Mercator flying a nighttime patrol over international waters, killing all 16 crew members. During the Cold War, communist warplanes will shoot down several Mercator electronic surveillance aircraft.

P4M-1Q Mercator of the VQ-2 Electronics Reconnaissance Squadron


Author: Chris Carter

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