10 September: Today in U.S. military history

Ivan (left) and Cornwell

Today’s post is in honor of Capt. Leroy J. Cornwell III and Maj. Andrew Ivan Jr. who were lost when their F-4D Phantom went down during a forward air control mission over Laos’ Plain of Jars on this day in 1971. The 27-year-old Cornwell (from Wakefield, Va.) served in the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) and Ivan (29, from New Brunswick, N.J.) flew for the 13th TFS — both based at Udorn Air base, Thailand. Originally listed as missing, the crew were declared dead in 1973. However, their remains were located and buried in Arlington National Cemetery in the 1990s.

1813: Along the shores of Lake Erie, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s squadron engages the Royal Navy in the Battle of Put-in-Bay. Perry’s ship is so damaged that he boards an open lifeboat and transfers his flag to another ship in the face of heavy gunfire before resuming the fight. After defeating the British, he writes a brief report to Maj. Gen. (and future president) William Henry Harrison, commanding the Army of the Northwest: “We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.”

1944: The First U.S. Army captures Luxembourg. After being conquered by the Germans during both world wars, the tiny nation strips neutrality from its constitution and becomes a founding member of NATO.

1945: Just eight days after the end of World War II, the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) is commissioned., becoming the largest ship in the world. Midway would hold the title of the world’s largest ship for the next ten years, and her 1,001-foot flight deck would later be expanded from 2.8 to a whopping 4 acres. Midway aviators scored the first (June 17, 1965) and last (Jan. 12, 1973) victories of the Vietnam War. Later, she served as the flagship carrier during Operation DESERT STORM before retiring in 1992.

1950: When an enemy machinegun pins down his fellow 1st Cavalry troopers, Cpl. Gordon M. Craig and four other soldiers crawl forward to silence the enemy gun. When an enemy grenade lands in their position, Craig throws himself on the device to shield the others from the blast. Craig is killed, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

1951: A 3rd Air Rescue Squadron H-5 helicopter picks up Capt. Ward M. Millar, an F-80 pilot that had been shot down and held as a prisoner of war. Millar escaped after spending two months in captivity, and managed to evade his captors for three weeks, despite having broken both of his ankles when ejecting from his jet.

Author: Chris Carter

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