Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. Jarrod W. Black, who was killed by an improvised explosive device on this day in 2003 in Ramadi, Iraq. Black, 26, of Peru, Ind. was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment.
1753: 21-year-old Virginia adjutant George Washington delivers an ultimatum for French forces to abandon Fort Le Boeuf (present-day Waterford, Penn.) as they were trespassing on British territory. Lt. Christopher Gist, Washington’s guide, would save the future president’s life twice during their trip through the Ohio Country.
1770: Six British soldiers charged with murder for their role in the Boston Massacre are acquitted thanks to their counselor, future president John Adams. He argued that they were endangered by the mob and had the right to defend themselves. Of the eight soldiers and one officer to stand trial (Capt. Thomas Preston had been acquitted in October), two are found guilty of manslaughter and are branded on the thumb.
“Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently,” Adams wrote. “As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right. This however is no Reason why the Town should not call the Action of that Night a Massacre, nor is it any Argument in favour of the Governor or Minister, who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest Proofs of the Danger of Standing Armies.”Continue reading “Dec. 12 in military history”
Today’s post is in honor of Spc. Marshall L. Edgerton, who was killed when suicide bombers attacked his camp in Ramadi, Iraq on this day in 2003. The 27-year-old native of Rocky Face, Ga. was assigned to Company A, 82d Signal Battalion, 82d Airborne Division.
1941: The small American garrison on Wake – consisting of a few hundred Marines, sailors, and civilian contractors – repels a Japanese invasion force seeking to capture the island. The 5-inch coastal defense guns (taken from the former battleship USS Texas) hammer the incoming warships, sinking one destroyer and damaging several others, the island’s four remaining F4F-3 Wildcat fighters take off to intercept a flight of Japanese warplanes.
Despite being heavily outnumbered, Marine Capt. Henry T. Elrod will shoot down two aircraft before he and his fellow aviators set their sights on the Japanese ships. Elrod becomes the first American pilot to sink a surface ship during World War II when his bombs detonate the depth charges on Kisaragi. The destroyer goes down with all hands.
That same day, Adolf Hitler declares war on the United States. Although Nazi Germany and Japan had signed an agreement stating that Germany would come to Japan’s aid if they were attacked, Germany was under no such obligation since Japan was the aggressor. However, and with virtually no consultation with his staff, Hitler declares war against the United States anyways. Within hours, Congress responds with a unanimous declaration of war against Germany.Continue reading “Dec. 11 in U.S. military history”
Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. Wesley R. Williams, who on this date in 2012, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Williams, 25, of New Carlisle, Ohio, was assigned to 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and had previously deployed to Iraq.
1941: When a Japanese submarine reports the sighting of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) northeast of Hawaii, Japanese vessels still in the area are ordered to attack. Meanwhile, one of Enterprise‘s bombers spots the submarine I-70 and drops a 1,000-lb. bomb, just missing the sub, but knocking out its ability to submerge. Later, another SBD Dauntless finishes off the crippled I-70, sending the sub to the bottom – the first fleet submarine lost by the Japanese and the first to be sunk by aircraft during World War II.
Off the coast of Malaya, the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse become the first capital ships sunk solely by air power during the war. Prime Minister Winston Churchill would later say, “In all the war I never received a more direct shock. […] There were no British or American capital ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor who were hastening back to California. Over this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme and we everywhere were weak and naked.”Continue reading “Dec. 10 in military history”
Today’s post is in honor of Spc. Micah S. Gifford, who on this day in 2006 was killed by an improvised explosive device attack in Baghdad. The 27-year-old native of Redding, Calif. was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
1917: Four U.S. battleships, USS Delaware (BB-28), USS Florida (BB-30), USS New York (BB-34), and USS Wyoming (BB-32) arrive in British waters and join the British Grand Fleet for service during World War I. That same day, the United States declares war on Austria-Hungary.
1941: At 3:57 a.m., the minesweeper USS Condor spots a periscope at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The ship signals the nearby destroyer USS Ward, whose crew begins searching for the unidentified vessel. At 6:37 a.m., Ward spots the periscope as a two-man Japanese mini sub attempts to follow a U.S. cargo ship into the harbor and sinks the enemy warship – the first U.S. shots of World War II.
Having achieved total tactical and strategic surprise, Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo’s 1st Air Fleet begins their attack on Pearl Harbor. The strike is conducted in two waves: The first wave of 183 enemy aircraft strikes just before 8:00 a.m. The second wave of 170 planes hits a little after 8:30 a.m.Continue reading “Dec. 7: Today in U.S. military history”
As Japanese pilots returned to their carriers on 7 December 1941 following their attack on Pearl Harbor, they left behind a destroyed American fleet. American sailors, soldiers, and Marines enjoying a weekend in paradise were startled out of their bunks by the sounds of enemy planes overhead dropping bombs on a nation that – when they went to sleep the night before – had been at peace. In the space of a few hours on Sunday morning, dozens of ships and hundreds of planes were destroyed, seemingly wiping out our ability to strike back.
But what the Japanese war planners had no idea of when their warships silently slipped out of port on 26 November was the annihilation they would bring upon themselves when the United States used Pearl Harbor as a rallying cry, inspiring millions of young men to join the Armed Forces and avenge the 3,000-plus killed and wounded in the surprise attack. In the words of Admiral Hara Tadaichi, “We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war.”
The Japanese had been fighting a war for ten years by the time the Roosevelt Administration shut off American oil exports to Japan. This was viewed as an act of war since the Japanese needed vast quantities of oil to run their economy and war machine. So when we cut them off, they turned their sights on invading the oil-rich European colonies in Southeast Asia and the Dutch East Indies.
However, our Pacific Fleet, which had recently transferred its headquarters from San Diego to the territory of Hawaii, stood between Japan and their conquest, and their admirals realized that the only way to get the oil they so desperately needed was to wipe out our ships in a surprise attack.Continue reading “HISTORY MATTERS: How Japan’s victory at Pearl Harbor lost a war”
1942: Off Guadalcanal, the U.S. and Japanese fleets engage in one of only two battleship-on-battleship engagements of the Pacific War. While Kirishima hammers USS South Dakota (BB-57) in the early morning hours, USS Washington (BB-56) slips away undetected and maneuvers to near point-blank range, raking the Japanese battleship with devastating salvos. Japanese naval guns and torpedoes send three U.S. destroyers (Walke, Preston, and Benham) to the bottom of Ironbottom Sound, while U.S. warplanes destroy four troop transport ships carrying soldiers and badly needed supplies. The Allies have inflicted such heavy losses on the Japanese that they abandon the mission to retake Guadalcanal.
Injured in the attack on South Dakota is 12-year-old Seaman 1st Class Calvin L. Graham, who lied about his age that summer to join the Navy. Graham earns the Bronze Star with Combat “V” and the Purple Heart during the battle. Shockingly, Graham is thrown in the brig for three months, dishonorably discharged, and has his medals stripped when the government learns his actual age. He enlists in the Marine Corps when he turns 17.
Today’s post is in honor of Capt. James D. Nehl, who was killed by enemy small-arms fire on this day in 2012 during a patrol in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province. Nehl was a company commander in 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and had served as an enlisted soldier in the 75th Ranger Regiment before earning his commission.
1822: During an anti-piracy cruise in the Caribbean, the brig USS Alligator – the third of four so-named U.S. warships – intercepts a flotilla of American ships captured by pirates near Cuba. Lt. William H. Allen, Alligator‘s commanding officer, is mortally wounded when he and his sailors board the heavily-armed schooner Revenge, but his crew retakes all but one of the eight ships.
1906: Theodore Roosevelt boards the battleship USS Louisiana (BB-19) and heads south to inspect construction on the Panama Canal – marking the first foreign trip by a sitting U.S. president.
1942: U.S. troops advance on Oran, capturing 2,000 French soldiers after some hard fighting. Off the coast, Allied warships sink three French destroyers. Meanwhile to the east, German paratroopers land in Tunisia. And to the west, Maj. Gen. George Patton’s soldiers fight to secure the beachhead at Casablanca.
Today’s post is in honor of Spc. Dale J. Kridlo, who was one of two U.S. soldiers killed by small-arms fire on an observation post in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. Kridlo, 33, of Hughestown, Pa., was assigned to the 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps.
1811: At the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers, William Henry Harrison’s 1,000-man force of militia and regular infantry soldiers clash with American Indian warriors led by Tenskwatawa (known as “The Prophet”). Although outnumbered by the Americans, the Indians charge multiple times into Harrison’s lines, inflicting serious casualties on the defenders. The Prophet’s force withdraws once the sun rises and Tecumseh’s confederacy abandons the area. Harrison – destined to become a brigadier general during the War of 1812 and ultimately president of the United States – will forever be known as “the hero of Tippecanoe.”
1861: A Naval force under Flag Officer Samuel F. DuPont boldly steams into Port Royal Sound (S.C.) as Union gunners pour heavy fire into Confederate-held Forts Walker and Beauregard. Marines and sailors land and occupy the forts, giving the Union a crucial supply base for their Naval blockade.