Posted in Military History

Oct. 19: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Pvt. Edwardo J. Lopez, who was killed in action in Asad, Iraq on this day in 2006. The 21-year-old native of Aurora, Ill. was assigned to the 2d Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.


1781: British Gen. Charles Cornwallis formally surrenders 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships to an American and French force at Yorktown, Va., effectively ending the American Revolution.

1944: Two Interstate TDR assault drones are launched against Japanese gun emplacements on Ballale Island – one drone missing its target and another delivering two of its four 100-lb. bombs on the target. The TDR was a two-engine, unmanned airplane remotely controlled by a Grumman TBF Avenger via a television camera feed.

The National Naval Aviation Museum calls the TDR assault drone, pictured here during World War II, “the world’s first legitimate cruise missile”

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Posted in Images Military History

20 radical military aircraft that didn’t make the cut

When it comes to aerial combat, a new and improved warplane can make everything your opponent has in the air completely obsolete overnight. Japan’s “Zero” ruled the skies over the Pacific at the outset of World War II and the MiG-15 was dominant in the beginning of the Korean War, but United States defense contractors turned out faster, more agile, and deadlier planes like the F6F Hellcat or the F-86 Sabre and gave us air supremacy on such a level that it is as if owning the skies is an American birthright. These 20 aircraft didn’t make it to the production line, but without them we wouldn’t have pushed the design envelope and gained the technology that produced Super Hornets, Strike Eagles, stealth bombers, and even a Space Shuttle.

Grumman XF5F

If Pablo Picasso became an aircraft designer instead of an artist, Grumman’s X5F5 Skyrocket would have been his best work. Although it looked like a caricature of today’s A-10 Warthog – on drugs – it handled like a dream. In fact, it almost beat out a number of other prototypes and proven fighters during a 1941 competition for the Navy.

Posted in Images Military History

Look ma! No wings!

Martin Marietta’s X-24A lifting body (a fuselage without wings) was one of several prototypes that NASA and the U.S. Air Force tested when they were developing the concept that would become the Space Shuttle. (NASA photo)
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Oct. 18: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. Jarred S. Fontenot, who was killed in action on this day in 2007. The 35-year-old native of Port Barre, La. died in Baghdad of wounds from an improvised explosive device and enemy small-arms fire. Fontenot was assigned to 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 2d Infantry Division.


1775: A small British fleet commanded by Capt. Henry Mowat bombards the town of Falmouth, Mass. (modern-day Portland, Maine), setting most of the coastal settlement on fire with incendiary cannonballs. Mowat then sends a landing party ashore to destroy any buildings that were still standing, and the “Burning of Falmouth” will provide the inspiration for the Continental Congress to establish the Continental Navy.

1917: A convoy bearing the newly created 42d “Rainbow” Infantry Division sails from Hoboken, N.J. for France. The unit consists of federalized National Guard soldiers from 26 states and the District of Colombia, and its chief-of-staff is Col. (later, five-star general) Douglas MacArthur.

1942: Adolf Hitler issues his “Commando Order”, stipulating that any captured Allied commandos – even if they are wearing uniforms – will be executed without trial. Numerous Office of Strategic Services (OSS) agents and Army Air Force pilots and crewmembers are killed because of the order, and German officers carrying out illegal executions under the Commando Order will be tried for war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials.

1943: After 11 months of intense training, the 29th Ranger Battalion (Provisional) is disbanded before the American commandos can participate in combat action. The Rangers return to their original units, bringing with them advanced skills they can share with the regular troops, like penetrating deep behind enemy lines, staging raids, and intelligence gathering.

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John Glenn and Project BULLET

Major John H. Glenn, Jr., United States Marine Corps, with his Chance Vought F8U-1P Crusader after finishing the first supersonic transcontinental flight on July 16, 1957. Glenn flew 2,360 miles from Naval Air Station Los Alamitos in Southern California to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, N.Y. in just 3 hours and 23 minutes. (U. S. Navy)
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Oct. 17: This day in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Cpl. Jorge Villarreal Jr., who gave his life on this day in 2010 in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. The 22-year-old San Antonio native was killed when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle. Villarreal was serving with the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.


1918: Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell meets with American Expeditionary Force Commander Gen. John J. Pershing and floats the idea of dropping soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division behind enemy lines. Pershing approves the concept, but the war ends before paratroopers become a reality.

1922: Lt. Commander Virgil C. Griffin, piloting a Vought VE-7SF bi-winged fighter, makes the first-ever “official” takeoff from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Langley – a coaling ship which had been converted into America’s first aircraft carrier – in York River, Va.

Though Griffin is indeed the first man to takeoff from a “carrier”, he is not the first to takeoff from a warship. That distinction belongs to Eugene B. Ely who took-off from a platform affixed to a cruiser in 1910.

1941: When a “wolfpack” of German U-boats attacks an allied convoy, overwhelming its Canadian escort ships, USS Kearny and three other American destroyers depart their base at Iceland and begin dropping depth charges. A German torpedo strikes Kearny, killing 11 sailors and injuring 22 – the first American casualties of World War II. Adolf Hitler will use the engagement as a reason for declaring war on the United States in December.

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Oct. 16: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando, who gave his life for our country on this day in 2003. The 43-year-old Tennessee native was attempting to negotiate with armed men congregating after curfew near a Karbala, Iraq mosque when the men opened fire, killing Orlando, Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Bellavia, Cpl. Sean R. Grilley, and wounding seven other soldiers. Orlando commanded the 101st Airborne Division’s 716th Military Police Battalion and was a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.


1821: The schooner USS Enterprise (the third of 12 so-named Continental and U.S. Naval vessels) intercepts a flotilla of four ships led by the infamous Capt. Charles Gibbs as the pirates attack American and British-flagged ships in Cuban waters. Although outnumbered, Lt. Cmdr. John Kearney and his crew quickly defeat the pirate force, and Gibbs escapes into the jungles of Cuba as three of his ships are burned. Gibbs will eventually be caught and is one of the last people executed for piracy in the United States.

1859: A small party of abolitionists led by John Brown occupies the military arsenal at Harper’s Ferry (modern-day West Virginia), hoping to inspire a slave rebellion. However, Brown’s uprising does not materialize and local militia force the rebels into a firehouse. A company of Marines under the command of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee is dispatched to the scene and after an unsuccessful attempt by Lee’s aide-de-camp, Lt. J.E.B. Stuart, to convince Brown to surrender, the Marines assault the barricaded fire station and bring an end to the crisis.

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Oct. 15: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Hines, who gave his life for our country on this day in 2006. The 26-year-old native of Olney, Ill. perished during combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq. Hines was serving with the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve.


1917: When a German submarine launches a torpedo at USS Cassin (DD-43) during an escort patrol, Gunner’s Mate First Class Osmond Kelly Ingram realizes the torpedo will impact the destroyer’s store of depth charges. Instead of remaining in a position of safety, he charges across the deck to the depth charges to jettison the stockpiled explosives that could sink his ship. Ingram is killed while trying to save Cassin, becoming the first U.S. sailor killed during World War I and is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

1918: Near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, Lt. Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan earns the Medal of Honor while leading his soldiers during an assault on strong German positions. Wounded in the leg by a burst of machinegun fire, Donovan refuses evacuation and remains in command until his unit is withdrawn. Donovan is named Coordinator of Information by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 and he will form the Office of Strategic Services the following year – the predecessor to today’s Central Intelligence Agency.

Lt. Col. Donovan during World War I. Prior to his Medal of Honor, Donovan was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix du Guerre for valor on the battlefield.

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