Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Johnny C. Walls, who died of wounds sustained from small-arms fire in Uruzgan, Afghanistan on this date in 2007. Walls, 41, of Bremerton, Wash., was assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and had previously deployed to Iraq in 2003.
1783: Gen. George Washington delivers his “Farewell Address to the Army” near Princeton, N.J., in which he refers to the Continental Army as “one patriotic band of brothers.”
1861: Pres. Abraham Lincoln removes Union Gen. John C. Fremont as commander of the Western Department, following Fremont’s unilateral decision to declare martial law in the border state of Missouri and thus freeing all slaves.
1943: One day after the 3rd Marine Division lands at Bougainville, the cruisers and destroyers of Admiral Aaron S. “Tip” Merrill’s Task Force 39 defeat Japanese naval forces attempting to attack the landing force in the Battle of Empress Bay. Two Japanese ships are sent to the bottom, with numerous enemy warships receiving heavy damage.
(Featured image) Meanwhile, in the skies over the nearby Japanese fortress of Rabaul, Maj. Raymond H. Wilkins, Commander of the Army Air Corps’ 8th Bombing Squadron, led an attack against Japanese-held Rabaul. His bombs destroyed an enemy transport and destroyer, and although his plane was badly damaged and his bombs expended, Wilkins strafed a Japanese cruiser, sacrificing himself by drawing their fire so his fellow pilots could escape the deadly air defenses. The raid sinks 30 of the 38 Japanese vessels anchored at Rabaul, and Wilkins will posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor.
1922: Lt. Harold R. Harris (Army Air Service) performs the world’s first emergency parachute jump when the wings of his Loening PW-2A come apart during a simulated dogfight 2,500 feet over McCook Field. Harris bails out of his cockpit and after free-falling 2,000 feet, he lands safely in a garden in Dayton, Ohio.
1926: (featured image) With a brutal murder of a post office truck driver capping a series of brutal attacks on postal workers, President Calvin Coolidge orders the Marine Corps to protect the mail delivery across the United States. 2,500 Marines of two-time Medal of Honor recipient Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler’s 4th Marine Regiment will serve as the “Western Mail Guards,” guarding mail trucks, trains, and post offices. Quickly ending the crime wave, the Marines return to their regular posts in 1927.
1944: Two-and-a-half years after famously vowing to return to the Philippines, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and some 130,000 soldiers of the Sixth Army land at Leyte Island. Over the next 67 days, MacArthur’s forces will completely wipe out the 16th Japanese Army — perpetrators of the Bataan Death March — and capture Leyte, signaling the beginning of the end for the Japanese. Continue reading “20 October: Today in U.S. military history”
Today’s post is in honor of Capt. Dennis L. Pintor, one of three soldiers killed by an improvised explosive device on this day in 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq. The 30-year-old native of Lima, Ohio was assigned to the 20th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. Also lost were specialists Jaime Moreno (28, of Round Lake Beach, Ill.) and Michael S. Weger (30, of Rochester, N.Y.).
1862: Confederate cavalry commander Gen. James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart completes his “second ride” around Union Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.
1870: Five years after surrendering his Army of Northern Virginia to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Gen. Robert E. Lee passes away after suffering a stroke. The revered general served his country 44 years, fighting alongside Grant in the Mexican-American War, and against him in the Civil War. Continue reading “Oct. 12: Today in U.S. military history”
1861: 1,000 Confederate soldiers land on Florida’s Santa Rosa Island and assault Union-held Fort Pickens. The attackers withdraw after the federal guns inflict 90 casualties. Fort Pickens sits across the bay from Naval Air Station Pensacola — the birthplace of Naval aviation — and coastal defense guns were installed at the old fort during World War II.
1940: After USS Nautilus (SS-168) conducts a successful test refueling of a seaplane, Secretary of the Navy William F. Knox approves a plan for 24 submarines to each carry 20,000 gallons of aviation gasoline for refueling seaplanes at sea.
1950: As the U.S. military crosses into North Korea, the 1st Cavalry Division spearheads the assault. Pfc. Robert H. Young is wounded once by an enemy barrage, but he refuses medical treatment and remains on the line. Wounded a second time and awaiting treatment, he springs back into action when the enemy threatens to surround the Americans. Firing from an exposed position, he kills five enemy soldiers and is hit a third time, but remains on the field — directing friendly tanks to destroy enemy gun positions. Young is hit by an enemy mortar blast while he is treating his wounded comrades, but despite his multiple grievous wounds, he instructs the medics to help the others first.
Pfc. Young will perish from his wounds on November 9, 1950, and is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Continue reading “9 October: Today in U.S. military history”
Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Giles W. Stallard, who was killed during a firefight in the Republic of Vietnam’s Long An province on this day in 1968. The 19-year-old Saltville, Va. native had only been in country for a month and was assigned to B Company, 2d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division.
1777: Near what will soon become the United States Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.), British troops simultaneously attack – and defeat – Continental forces at Forts Clinton and Montgomery, and also destroy the chain that had been placed across the Hudson River to prevent British ships from sailing upriver. The engagement is sometimes called the Battle of the Clintons since the British troops are led by Gen. Sir Henry Clinton, and the garrisons are led by Gens. (and brothers) James Clinton and George Clinton – who is also the governor or New York.
1918: In the Argonne Forest, German forces have surrounded 500 American doughboys of the 77th “Metropolitan” Division under the command of Maj. Charles W. Whittlesey after the French and American units advancing on their flanks are held up. With no communication other than carrier pigeons and no other means to send supplies, 1st Lt. Harold E. “Dad” Goettler and 2nd Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley volunteer to fly through withering enemy fire to drop much-needed supplies to the Americans in a DH-4 Liberty Plane. On their second trip, both airmen are killed and are posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Also killed while attempting to locate the force is Capt. Eddie Grant, the former leadoff hitter and third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. Grant was one of the first baseball players to join the Armed Forces during World War I. All but 194 members of the Lost Battalion are killed, wounded, or captured, and five 77th Division soldiers – including Whittlesey – will earn the Medal of Honor during the six-day engagement.
1942: Five battalions of Marines, supported a group of scout snipers, cross Guadalcanal’s heavily defended Matanikau River and engage the Japanese. Col. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller’s 1st Battalion, 7th Marines trap a Japanese battalion in a ravine, creating what he called a “machine for extermination,” annihilating the force with a deadly combination of heavy artillery, mortar fire, and small arms fire. The operation plays a major role in the American victory on Guadalcanal, when Japanese planners opt for an exhausting overland march for their major offensive against Lunga Point later in the month, instead of crossing the Matanikau.