Posted in Military History

50 years ago: Lost and found dog tags

While reading a 50-year-old 25th Infantry Division newsletter I came across an incredible story about lost — and found — dog tags.

Most of us have at one time or another lost something and at a later date accidentally discovered it again.

But not everyone experiences the likes of the identification tag problems of 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry Warriors Specialist 4 Jerry Smith and Private First Class George B. Tullas.

While assigned to the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23rd Infantry, Smith, of Jonesboro, Ark., lost his ID tags in the Crescent area near Tay Ninh City. The tags were lost in February near the Cambodian Border.

Five months later, while the Warriors were securing Highway 6A, Smith’s ID tags were found in the possession of a Vietnamese child outside of Trang Bang. Specialist Tony DeBlasio of Elmira, N. Y., noticed the tags. After recognizing the name of his fellow Warrior, DeBlasio checked out the service number, which cinched the case. Continue reading “50 years ago: Lost and found dog tags”

Posted in Military History

Sept. 17: Today in military history

Today’s post is in honor of Air Force Capt. Thomas O’Neal Zorn Jr. (26, of Waycross, Ga.), who was shot down on this date in 1972 as he escorted a strike package to Hanoi. The F-105 Wild Weasel pilot crashed in the Gulf of Tonkin and his remains were never recovered. Zorn was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and is memorialized in the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii.

1862: The Battle of Antietam (Maryland) – the bloodiest single-day battle in American history – opens between Confederate Army forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee and Union Army forces under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. After 12 hours of fighting, some 23,000 Americans are dead, wounded, or missing.

Though a strategic victory for the Union, the battle will prove tactically inconclusive for both sides.

1908: 2,500 people gather at Fort Myer, Va. to watch Orville Wright demonstrate his Wright Flyer to the Army Signal Corps. One of the propellers breaks during the flight, sending the aircraft nose-first into the ground, severely wounding Wright and killing his passenger, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge. Although Wright survived the first-ever fatal aircraft incident, he would spend the next seven weeks recovering in an Army hospital.

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13 September: Today in U.S. military history


Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. William R. Squier, Jr. who was killed by enemy small-arms fire on this date in 1969 in Binh Thuan province, Republic of Vietnam. The 20-year-old native of Brownell, Ks. had been in Vietnam for 17 months and was assigned to “C” Company Rangers, 75th Infantry.

1814: Unable to break the strong American defensive lines around Baltimore after a series of attacks, British troops return to their ships. Meanwhile, Vice Adm. Alexander Cochrane’s fleet begins a 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, which guards the entrance to Baltimore harbor. The ships fire their cannons and rockets at maximum range and are unable to inflict any serious damage.

American lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key observes the attack while aboard a Royal Navy ship to secure the release of an American prisoner. Key is so moved by the nighttime bombardment and the sight of the American flag in the morning that he writes “Defence of Fort M’Henry” on the back of an envelope, which will become the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The song does not become our national anthem, however, until 1931.

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12 September: Today in U.S. military history

Pfc. Tank

Today’s post is in honor of four 1st Battalion, 2d Infantry Regiment soldiers killed in action east of Loc Ninh, Republic of Vietnam on this day in 1968. Lost were 1st Lt. Lester L. Wood (24 years old, from Dallas), 1st Lt. James A. Smith (22, Blackfoot, Idaho), Staff Sgt. Larry R. Sims (23, Rolling Hills, Ill.), and Pfc. Phillip L. Tank (20, Ecorse, Mich.).

1847: “From the halls of Montezuma…” Gen. Winfield Scott’s army of Marines and soldiers begin their attack on the castle Chapultepec, sitting 200 feet above in Mexico City. During the battle, 90 percent of Marine commissioned and non-commissioned officers are killed by snipers, memorialized by the “blood stripe” on the Marine Corps’ Dress Blue trousers. Participating in the engagement are many young officers – such as Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson – who will face each other in the Civil War.

1918: The Battle of Saint-Mihiel, the first and only U.S.-led and executed operation of World War I, begins when Gen. John J. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force attacks Gen. Johannes Georg von der Marwitz’ Imperial German Army forces. Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell leads an armada of nearly 1,500 warplanes during the offensive – the largest air force assembled (at that point) in history. On the ground, artillery and tanks(commanded by Lt. Col. George Patton) join the infantry in devastating the German lines. In just three days, over 22,000 Germans are killed, wounded, or captured.

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Sept. 11: Today in military history

Today’s post is in honor of the nearly 3,000 Americans that were killed by terrorists on this date in 2001 and the four Americans that also lost their lives 11 years later in Benghazi, Libya.

Lt. Cmdr. Otis V. Tolbert Jr. was the son of a Naval aviator and played football for the Fresno State Bulldogs before receiving his commission in the Navy. Football had taken its toll on his knees so he couldn’t follow his father’s footsteps and become a pilot, so he earned his commission and joined Naval intelligence. On this date, the 38-year-old Lemoore, Calif. native was working in the Pentagon when the building was hit by Flight 77, killing 125 service members and civilians on the ground.

1776: After the British capture Long Island, Continental Congressional delegates Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge meet with British Adm. Lord Richard Howe for a peace conference at Staten Island. Hoping to bring a quick end to the conflict, King George granted Howe the authority to discuss peace terms, but not including the recognition of American independence. When Howe states that the loss of America would be like losing a brother, Franklin replies that “we will do our utmost endeavors to save your lordship that mortification.”

1814: New York is saved from a possible invasion by British forces when Commodore Thomas MacDonough’s squadron decisively defeats the British fleet led by Capt. George Downie in the Battle of Plattsburgh.

2001: As air controllers learn that several planes appear to have been hijacked, fighter jets are scrambled but do not arrive in time to disrupt a complex terrorist attack that kills 2,997 Americans and injures some 6,000. At 9:37a.m., a Boeing 757 flown by Al Qaeda terrorists slams into the Pentagon, killing 55 military personnel and 70 civilian employees. The area hit by the plane was undergoing renovations at the time of the attack, which meant only a few hundred of what would normally be around 5,000 occupants were endangered. Structural reinforcements and a sprinkler system had recently been added – in response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing – which increased survivability.

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