24 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Army Sgt. Tyler N. Holtz, who was killed on this day in 2011 in Afghanistan’s Wardak province by enemy small-arms fire. The 22-year-old native of Dana Point, Calif. was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and was serving his fourth tour in Afghanistan. Holtz was assigned to 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

1780: Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold learns that British spy Maj. John André has been captured, along with the evidence that would expose Arnold’s secret plot to turn West Point over to the British. He flees to the nearby sloop HMS Vulture, which carries him to New York. Gen. George Washington suggests a prisoner exchange: André for Arnold, but Gen. Henry Clinton refused. André is hanged and Arnold is commissioned as a brigadier general.

1918: U.S. Navy Ensign (future rear admiral) David S. Ingalls – on loan to the Royal Air Force and flying an RAF Sopwith Camel – shoots down enemy aircraft number five, becoming the first ace in U.S. Naval Aviation history, and the Navy’s only ace of World War I. Over the course of the war Ingalls is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross from the United States, a Distinguished Flying Cross from Britain, and made a member of the French Foreign Legion. When America enters World War II, he rejoins the Navy and will command the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor.

1929: Lt. James L. “Jimmy” Doolittle boards his Consolidated NY-2 Husky at Long Island’s Mitchel Field and buttons himself in a completely blacked-out cockpit. He becomes the first pilot to take off, fly, and land “blind” – having to relying solely on the aircraft’s (newly developed) instruments.

1942: Navy and Marine Dauntless dive bombers take off from Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field and attack the Japanese destroyers Umikaze and Kawakaze, which are attempting a “Tokyo Express” resupply mission. The convoy has to turn back, and Umikaze is so damaged that she has to be towed to Truk for repairs.

That same day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews constructing the Alaska Highway from the north connect with those working from the south. The strategic highway – stretching some 1,700 miles through remote and rugged Canadian and Alaskan terrain – will not be usable by vehicles until the following year.

1957: Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division land in Little Rock, Ark. for Operation ARKANSAS: ending segregationist governor Orval Fabus’ three-week standoff which kept black students from attending Little Rock’s Central High School. President Dwight Eisenhower also federalizes the entire Arkansas National Guard, taking control of the soldiers from Gov. Fabus.

1960: USS Enterprise (CVN 65), America’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (the eighth so-named vessel since 1775) is launched. At 1,123 feet, the “Big E” was the longest naval vessel ever built and was retired from service in 2012. Steel from CVN-65 will be used to build the next Enterprise, CVN-80, which is currently scheduled for launch in 2027.

Author: Chris Carter

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