Moments after this iconic photograph was snapped, 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez will be cut down by enemy fire and then use his body to absorb the blast from a grenade — posthumously earning the Medal of Honor. Read his citation here. 70 years ago this night, Lopez’s Marines spent the next several hours neutralizing the North Korean defenders, setting the stage for the drive to recapture Seoul.
Today’s post is in honor of Capt. Raymond P. Salzarulo, Jr. who was killed when his F-4C Phantom was shot down by an enemy surface-to-air missile over North Vietnam on this day in 1966. Although no parachutes were spotted, Salzarulo’s pilot, 1st Lt. John H. Nasmyth Jr., survived and spent the next 2,355 days as a prisoner of war. Salzarulo, a native of Hollansbee, W. Va. and a graduate of the Air Force Academy (Class of ’64), served with the famed 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron out of Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base. Originally listed as missing in action, his remains were identified in 1990 and he is buried next to the headstone for his father Ray Sr., a LB-30 Liberator pilot who was lost in an attack on the retreating Japanese fleet after the Battle of Midway, at Arlington National Cemetery.
Continue reading “4 September: Today in U.S. military history”
Today we honor six men from the 2d Battalion, Fourth Marines who gave their lives on August 24, 1966 during Operation PRAIRIE. When helicopters began taking fire from an enemy machinegun on “Razorback Ridge,” just south of the Demilitarized Zone, elements of Company E went in to search for — and destroy — the position. The Marines began investigating a rocky, bowl-shaped position, which was surrounded by caves infested with North Vietnamese soldiers that sprung out and attacked the now-trapped Americans.
Once word reached headquarters, a rescue mission was organized. Company F’s 3rd Platoon, commanded by 2nd Lt. Stephen F. Snyder, marched through the enemy infested jungle at night to make contact with the enemy and reach their trapped comrades. While 3rd Platoon did rescue some of the wounded Marines, the rescue force was unable to break the siege; the enemy held the high ground and used the cave system to their full advantage.
The NVA attacked at dawn, but were defeated by the Marine relief force and “E” Company survivors were able to return to friendly lines. The engagement would ultimately claim the lives of six of the rescuers: Pfc. Billy Joe Harrison (19, of Knoxville, Tenn.), LCpl. Douglas S. Dubose (19, of Tampa, Fla.), Pfc. Jerry W. Nye (19, of Hummelstown, Pa.), Pfc. Wayne R. Baker (20, of Ovalo, Texas), LCpl. William R. Kelley (20, of Citronelle, Ala.) died four days later from multiple gunshot wounds after being evacuated to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, and Lt. Snyder, a 23-year-old native of Sunbury, Pa., was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.
Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Gregory F. Ambrose, who was killed during a firefight on 15 March 1968 in the Republic of Vietnam’s Gia Dinh province. Pfc. Ambrose had served in Vietnam for just under a year, assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V.”
1865: The war lost, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee concludes, “There is nothing left for me to do, but to go and see Gen. [Ulysses S.] Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.”
Lee formally surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at the home of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Still-operating Confederate forces will surrender within months.
1918: The famed 94th “Hat in the Ring” Aero Squadron moves up to the Croix de Metz Aerodrome in France, becoming the first American aviation outfit to enter combat. In May, Lt. Douglas Campbell becomes the first American-trained pilot to earn “ace” status, and fellow squadron mate Lt. Eddie Rickenbacker – who will ultimately become America’s top flying ace of World War I – scores his fifth victory in June.
1942: Having run out of food, ammunition, and supplies after months of fighting the Japanese, Maj. Gen. Edward P. King surrenders over 11,000 American and 60,000 Filipino forces under his command on Luzon Island to the Japanese. Immediately after the fall of Bataan, the Japanese begin bombarding Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright and some 10,000 troops now isolated on the island fortress of Corregidor, who will manage to hold out for a month before they must surrender as well. Continue reading “9 April: This day in military history”
1865: A day after the Confederate government evacuates by rail, Union troops march into the Confederate capital of Richmond, Va. Retreating Soldiers and citizens set buildings on fire as they depart, and the conflagration will consume some 35 blocks of Richmond. It takes Union soldiers until the afternoon to contain the blaze. President Abraham Lincoln tours the captured city the next day.
The Civil War will be over in just six days.
1942: Japan’s 14th Army, led by Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, launches a major offensive against American and Filipino forces on the Bataan Peninsula. In six days, the 75,000 defenders, already weakened by starvation and disease, will have no choice but to surrender to the Japanese.
1946: Gen. Homma is convicted of nearly 50 counts of war crimes for his troops’ treatment of prisoners in the Bataan Death March, and is executed by firing squad. Continue reading “3 April: Today in U.S. military history”