Today’s post is in honor of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dennis H. Laffick of the Oklahoma National Guard who was killed on this day in 1995 when his OH-58 Kiowa helicopter struck power lines during a counter-drug operation in Bixby, Okla.. The 48-year-old Chicago native previously served with the 114th Aviation Helicopter Company in Vietnam and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
1862: One year after the Confederacy’s “glorious but dear-bought victory” over the Union in the First Battle of Bull Run, the two (significantly larger) armies meet again on the same battleground. 70,000 soldiers of Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia engage Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s 50,000-man Army of Northern Virginia, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides. Maj. Gen. James Longstreet’s five divisions (25,000 men) execute the largest mass assault of the war, smashing their opponents’ left flank and forcing and the Union to once again withdraw.
1944: Army Air Force pilots Maj. Joseph Myers and 2nd Lt. Manford Croy, Jr., flying P-47 Thunderbolts, become the first fighter pilots to score a victory over a jet aircraft when they shoot down German pilot Hieronymus Lauer’s Me 262.
Meanwhile, the First Army crosses the Marne River in France just days after the liberation of Paris, and to the south, the coastal towns of Marseilles and Toulon surrender to the Allies.
1945: An advance party of 150 soldiers – the first American troops to set foot in Japan – land at the naval airfield at Atsugi to prepare for the 11th Airborne Division’s arrival in two days.
1952: Off the Korean coast, USS Boxer launches the first “guided missile” ever fired from an aircraft carrier – a radio-controlled F6F-5K Hellcat fighter fitted with 1,000-lb. bombs. A pilot controlled the drone, which was fitted with a TV camera, from a two-seat AD-2Q Skyraider. Of the six drones launched by Boxer, only one will reach its target.
1969: When Lance Cpl. José F. Jiménez’s unit comes under heavy attack by North Vietnamese soldiers concealed in well camouflaged emplacements south of Da Nang, the Marine charges forward, neutralizing several enemy soldiers and taking an anti-aircraft gun out of action. Jiménez continues his attack, maneuvering to an enemy trench and wipes that position out as well in the face of “vicious” enemy fire. Moving on to the next target, however, Jiménez is mortally wounded and will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1972: Air Force Capt. Richard S. Ritchie, flying a two-seat F-4D Phantom, shoots down a North Vietnamese MiG-21 fighter near Hanoi, becoming one of only two American pilot aces during the Vietnam War. His weapons systems officer, Capt. Charles B. DeBellevue finishes the war with six victories.
Also on this day, President Richard Nixon announces that the military draft will end by July of 1973.