1914: Austrian doctors examine a young Adolf Hitler, determining him unfit for service in the Austro-Hungarian military. Hitler will volunteer for the German army when war breaks out in August, serving as a runner for a reserve infantry regiment.
1918: U.S. Army Lt. Stephen W. Thompson, a member of the American 1st Aero Squadron, is invited by French aviators to fly in a French “Breguet” biplane bomber as a gunner on one of their missions. Thompson shoots down a German Albatross fighter over Saarbrucken, Germany, making him the first American in uniform to shoot down an enemy airplane.
Today, the U.S. Air Force’s 1st Reconnaissance Squadron traces its lineage back to the 1st Aero Squadron.
1943: President Franklin D. Roosevelt awards Maj. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift the Medal of Honor for his role as commanding general of the 1st Marine Division during the Guadalcanal campaign.
1944: Over Forges-les-Eaux, France, Oberstleutnant (Lt. Col.) Egon Mayer shoots down a P-47 Thunderbolt, becoming the first Luftwaffe pilot to shoot down 100 enemy warplanes entirely on the Western Front. Mayer is shot down and killed two days later while leading an attack on a B-17 formation over Sedan.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – “RCSD PROUD,” a brand-new hip hop video produced for the Richland County Sheriff’s Dept. (RCSD) and featuring former University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball standout Tina Roy and NCAA-championship winning head coach Dawn Staley was released Fri., Feb. 1.
“A tour de force of the department’s resources and community connections,” according to The State newspaper, the video’s vocals are rapped by Roy – today an RCSD deputy – who wrote the lyrics and otherwise led the two-minute, 45-second music track, as other RCSD deputies, units, Community Action Team cars and K-9s are shown in static displays, during training, and otherwise performing and having fun as tape rolls.
Roy’s former head coach, basketball hall-of-famer, WNBA star, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Staley also appears in the video as does Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who makes two cameos in the track.
Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. Daniel Torres, who was killed by an improvised explosive device on this day in 2005 in Bayji, Iraq. The 23-year-old native of Fort Worth, Texas was assigned to 2d Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.
1779: Continental Navy Capt. John Paul Jones takes command of the former French frigate Duc de Duras, renaming her Bonhomme Richard (after Benjamin Franklin’s pen name). It will be aboard the Richard — badly damaged and sinking during the famous battle in the North Sea with the Royal Navy frigate HMS Serapis on 23 September — that Jones refuses a surrender demand, allegedly replying, “I have not yet begun to fight!” It has also been widely reported that when the Serapis’ Captain Richard Pearson inquired as to whether or not Jones had lowered or struck his colors, Jones shouted back, “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike!”
Incidentally, Bonhomme Richard (the first of five so-named American warships) does sink. But not before Pearson himself surrenders (believed to be “the first time in naval history that colors are surrendered to a sinking ship”), and Jones transfers his flag to his newly captured prize, Serapis.
Jones is destined to become “the Father of the American Navy,” though some argue that the title belongs to Commodore John Barry.
1787: Shays’ Rebellion — a short-lived Massachusetts uprising led by former Continental Army Capt. Daniel Shays, spawned by crippling taxes and an economic depression in the wake of the American Revolution — is quashed by Massachusetts militia.
Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. Roger C. Turner Jr., who was killed during an enemy mortar attack on this day in 2004 at Camp Anaconda, Iraq. The 37-year-old from Parkersburg, W. Va. was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.
1800: The frigate USS Constellation (the first of four so-named American warships) under the command of Capt. Thomas Truxtun defeats the French frigate La Vengeance under Capt. F.M. Pitot in a night battle lasting several hours. The engagement, fought during America’s Quasi War with France, is – according to Truxtun – “as sharp an action as ever was fought between two frigates.”
1862: Julia Ward Howe’s poem “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which begins “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” is published in the Atlantic Monthly. It will become a Union Army ballad. Today, the ballad is a martial hymn sung in American military chapels worldwide and by descendants of Union and Confederate soldiers alike.
1941: The 1st Marine Brigade is re-designated as the 1st Marine Division, and the 2d Marine Brigade becomes the 2d Marine Division — marking the first time Marine units are ever organized on the division level.
1942: (Featured image) Vice Adm. William Halsey Jr.’s Task Force 8 (USS Enterprise) hits Japanese facilities in the Marshall Islands, while Rear Adm. Jack Fletcher’s Task Force 17 (USS Yorktown) attacks the Gilberts. Aircraft and naval artillery inflict moderate damage to the Japanese garrisons and sink several smaller vessels. The Marshalls-Gilberts Raids mark the first American offensive operation against the Japanese during the war in the Pacific.
1865: Robert E. Lee is promoted to General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States. Lee is the only man to hold the prestigious rank during the Confederacy’s brief existence.
1917: Kaiser Wilhelm orders the Imperial German Navy’s fleet of 105 U-boats to resume their campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare, effectively causing the United States to enter World War I. No vessel – civilian or naval – is safe, and war’s end, German subs will have sent 5,000 ships to the bottom.
1945: U.S. Army Private Eddie Slovik is executed by firing squad near Sainte Marie-aux-Mines, France for abandoning his rifle company after admitting he is “too scared” for combat. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower personally signs the execution order to discourage further desertions. To date, Slovik remains the only American shot for desertion since the Civil War.
1950: To regain the upper hand in the nuclear arms race, President Harry S. Truman announces a program that would create a thermonuclear weapon, many times more powerful than the atomic weapon the Soviet Union recently tested.
Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. Alejandro Carrillo, who was killed during combat operations on this day in 2007 in Iraq’s Anbar province. The 22-year-old from Los Angeles was on his second deployment to Iraq and was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 7, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
1862: The U.S. Navy’s first ironclad ship, USS Monitor, is launched at Greenpoint, N.Y. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the turreted gunship will make history in March when she trades shots with the Confederate ironclad Virginia (a vessel built from the previously scuttled USS Merrimac) in a duel that ends with a draw at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
1942: A formation of over 50 Japanese bombers target Singapore harbor — unprotected by either fighters or anti-aircraft guns. Among the enemy bombardiers’ targets is USS Wakefield, a former luxury ocean liner, until her conversion to a troop transport in 1941. Wakefield had just disembarked 20,000 British troops, destined to surrender in just two weeks when Singapore falls to the Japanese.
Five Coast Guardsmen perish during the attack — the service’s first casualties of World War II. After some quick repairs, Wakefield loads about 500 women and children fleeing the Japanese and carries them to Sri Lanka.
Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Scott A. Schroeder, who was one of several Marines killed on this day in 1991 during the Battle of Khafji (see below.) The 19-year-old from Wauwatosa, Wisc. was assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Infantry Battalion.
1863: Following a series of clashes between white settlers and the Shoshone Indians, Col. Patrick E. Connor’s 3rd California Volunteer Infantry Regiment attacks a Shoshone encampment in Washington Territory (present day Utah-Idaho border). Hundreds of Shoshone and 21 Union soldiers are killed in the Battle (or massacre) of Bear River.
1943: As Task Force 18 brings American replacement troops to Guadalcanal, Japanese land-based torpedo bombers attack the flotilla, sinking the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) and damaging a destroyer. The American warships withdraw after the Battle of Rennell Island – the last major naval engagement of the Guadalcanal campaign – opening the door for the Japanese evacuation of Guadalcanal.
1944: Maj. Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s Eighth Air Force bombers and escorts take off from fields across England for their largest bombing mission of the war to that point. Over 800 B-17s and B-24s target the German cities of Frankfurt and Ludwigshaven. 29 heavy bombers are lost and another five are shot up badly enough to be scrapped after limping back across the channel. 22 American airmen are killed and 299 are listed as missing in action, but the gunners and P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt, and P-51 Mustang escort pilots claim over 150 German warplanes and damage dozens more.
Today’s post is in honor of Seaman Apprentice William Flores, who was one of 23 Coast Guardsmen that perished on this day in 1980 when USCGC Blackthorn collides with another vessel. Flores, 18, of Carlsbad, N.M., was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Medal — the service’s highest non-combat award for heroism — for tossing life jackets to guardsmen that had jumped overboard, then remained aboard the sinking vessel to assist injured and disoriented crew, sacrificing his life to save his shipmates.
1915: Pres. Woodrow Wilson signs into law the congressionally approved merger of the “Life Saving” and “Revenue Cutter” services, thus establishing the U.S. Coast Guard. Still, the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard is Aug. 4, 1790, the day Congress approved Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s proposal to “build ten cutters to protect the new nation’s revenue.”
1945: The Eighth Air Force celebrates its third birthday by sending 1,006 B-24 and B-17 bombers and 249 P-51 escorts to Dortmund, Germany on Mission 809 — a raid on marshaling yards, bridges and benzol plants, and other targets of opportunity. German air defenses shoot down seven B-24s and three B-17s, damage 464 bombers, and upon landing, another four bombers are damaged beyond repair. 16 airmen are killed, 31 wounded, and 106 missing in action.
By this time, the Mighty Eighth had flown more than 250,000 bomber and 210,000 fighter sorties, delivering well over half a million tons of bombs and destroying 13,000 enemy planes.
1966: Marines hit the beaches of the South Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province in the first amphibious landing since Korea. The Americans meet little resistance as they head inland, then move to cut off retreating North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces.
1973: B-52s carried out their final combat sortie in Southeast Asia — striking targets in South Vietnam. Operation ARC LIGHT had started in 1965.