This week in U.S. military history

Jan. 19

1770: The little-known but historically significant Battle of Golden Hill erupts in New York City between members of the patriot organization “Sons of Liberty” and a contingent of British soldiers. Several are wounded on both sides and one civilian is killed in what is considered by some historians as the first armed clash of the American Revolution.

1862: Union forces led by Brig. Gen. George H. Thomas defeat Confederates under Maj. Gen. George B. Crittenden in the Battle of Mill Springs (Ky.). The engagement marks the Union’s first significant victory of the war.

Jan. 20

1783: Diplomats in Versailles sign a treaty ending hostilities between the United States and Britain. After eight long years of fighting, the Americans have secured their independence.

1914: A naval aviation unit from Annapolis, Md. consisting of nine officers, 23 men, seven aircraft, portable hangars, and other gear, under Lieutenant J. H. Towers” arrives at Pensacola, Fla. aboard the battleship USS Mississippi and the bulk-cargo ship USS Orion to set up a flying school. The “Cradle of Naval Aviation” is born.

1944: The U.S. 5th Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Mark Clark, reaches the Gustav Line and clashes with German forces near Monte Cassino, Italy. After four months of bloody fighting, the Allies have Field Marshall Albert Kesselring’s Tenth Army on their heels and in danger of being surrounded.

1968: The North Vietnamese Army tries – and fails – to overrun Marines patrolling the hills surrounding their combat outpost. The Battle of Khe Sanh has begun – the heavily outnumbered and besieged Marines will fight off their attackers for 77 days, shattering two enemy divisions.

1981: 20 minutes after Ronald Reagan is sworn in as president, Iran releases 52 American hostages (including 18 military personnel) after 444 days of captivity.
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Posted on January 17, 2013 at 14:00 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Military History

This week in U.S. military history

Jan. 5

1781: Commanding 1,600 British troops, American Traitor – now a British brigadier general – Benedict Arnold captures and burns Richmond, Va.

1855: A landing party from the USS Plymouth skirmishes with Chinese forces near Canton during the Taiping Rebellion.

1875: U.S. Navy Cdr. Edward Lull leads an expedition to determine the best route for the Panama Canal.

1904: Marines arrive in Korea to defend the U.S. legation assembly at Seoul.

1945: Japanese pilots receive their first order to become kamikaze suicide attackers. At Okinawa alone, 1,465 kamikaze pilots destroy at least 30 U.S. warships and kill 5,000 Americans.

Jan. 6

1777: Gen. George Washington sets up winter camp for the Continental Army in the hills surrounding Morristown, N.J.

1861: Florida militia forces seize the Union Apalachicola Arsenal, which is defended by only Ordnance Sergeant Edwin Powell and three laborers. Although hopelessly outnumbered, Powell was prepared to fight if ordered to hold and initially refuses to surrender the keys to the magazines or armory. The militia permits Powell to telegram his command for instruction. Powell reluctantly concedes when he receives no response.

1942: Pres. Franklin Roosevelt informs Congress that he is authorizing the largest armaments production in United States history: 8 million tons of shipping, 45,000 planes, and 45,000 tanks, and 20,000 anti-aircraft guns will roll off assembly lines within the year.

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Posted on January 4, 2013 at 15:17 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Military History


Navy “SEAL” (Sea-Air-Land) Team Member moves through deep mud as he makes his way ashore from a boat, during a combat operation in South Vietnam in 1970. His gun is a Mk23 5.56mm Machine Gun (Stoner 63). Note his camouflage uniform & face paint. Photographed by PHC A. Hill.

A Navy SEAL, carrying a Mk23 5.56mm Machine Gun (Stoner 63), moves through deep mud as he makes his way ashore from a boat, during a combat operation in South Vietnam in 1970. (U.S. Navy photograph by PHC A. Hill)

Happy 51st birthday to the Navy SEALs, who were founded on Jan. 1, 1962.

Posted on January 2, 2013 at 11:19 by Chris Carter · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Images, Military History · Tagged with: 

Jan. 2 in U.S. military history

1777: Following the surprise American victory at Trenton (N.J.) days earlier, British forces under Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis counterattack Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army at Assunpink Creek. The British withdraw after three failed assaults against American positions, and abandon New Jersey after another defeat the following day.

1863: Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland defeats Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee in Murphreesboro, Tenn. Losses were heavy; casualty percentages were higher during the Battle of Stones River than during any other engagement during the Civil War.

1943: The 32nd Infantry Division captures the strategic town of Buna, New Guinea and its airfield in the first major land victory against the Japanese in World War II.

1944: U.S. forces – including the 32nd Infantry Division – land at Saidor, New Guinea, isolating 15,000 Japanese troops.

1967: Col. (future Brig. Gen. and triple ace) Robin Olds leads a flight of F-4 Phantoms over North Vietnam, shooting down nearly half of the North Vietnamese air force’s fighter inventory without a single loss to U.S. aircraft.

Adapted (and abridged) in part from “This Week in US Military History” by W. Thomas Smith Jr. at Human Events.

Posted on January 2, 2013 at 11:10 by Chris Carter · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Military History

Dec. 31 in U.S. military history

1775: The Continental Army suffers its first major defeat when an American invasion force commanded by Maj. Gen. Richard Montgomery unsuccessfully assaults the British at Quebec. The attack yields fewer than 20 British casualties at the cost of over 50 killed – including Gen. Montgomery – and over 400 captured.

1862: USS Monitor, the U.S. Navy’s first ironclad ship, sinks during a storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., along with 16 of her crew.

1942: Emperor Hirohito permits Japanese forces on Guadalcanal to retreat after five months of fighting.

1946: Although noting that “a state of war still exists,” Pres. Harry Truman proclaims an end to American hostilities in World War II. Treaties with Germany or Japan are not signed until 1951 and 1952, respectively.

1995: The 1st Armored Division crosses the Sava River into Bosnia-Herzogovina to begin a NATO peacekeeping operation.

Posted on December 31, 2012 at 12:40 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Military History

Doing the right thing

Ronald_Reagan_1983On this day in 1983, Pres. Ronald Reagan took full responsibility for the October bombing of the Beirut Embassy in Lebanon that killed 241 U.S. troops. Contrast that with the lies, stonewalling, and passing the buck of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

Of course, neither president was directly responsible for the death of American service members overseas; we must not lose sight that both of these attacks were perpetrated by America’s enemies. However the policies of both presidents and the actions of their subordinates certainly played a role and is worth further investigation (in Obama’s case) and discussion.

Reagan wasn’t perfect. No man is. But by taking responsibility for something that happened under his watch, President Reagan displayed a level class that Americans are unlikely to ever see from the man who currently occupies the White House.

I have fought against the restrictive rules of engagement in Afghanistan under Bush and Obama as part of the counterinsurgency doctrine. To be fair, under the Reagan administration Marines were not allowed to have loaded weapons during their peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, and were only allowed to return fire under certain circumstances. Had the Marines pulling security outside the barracks been locked and loaded, then those 241 Marines, sailors, and soldiers probably wouldn’t have died.

After the attack, Reagan withdrew the peacekeeping force. But why send combat troops to a country that poses no significant threat to the United States in the first place? When a president feels it is necessary to handicap our military’s ability to respond to deadly force in a particular theater, then we probably shouldn’t send men with guns in the first place.

In an age of terrorism, I wholeheartedly support counterterrorism. There are plenty of people who not only feel divinely inspired to kill innocent Americans, but also seek to do so. They must be stopped. But when we go beyond intelligence and special operations – putting “boots on the ground” – there has to be a legitimate reason.

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Posted on December 27, 2012 at 23:09 by Chris Carter · Permalink · One Comment
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Corsairs in formation

Three A-7 Corsair II aircraft of Attack Squadron (VA) 72 fly in formation over the Mediterranean Sea while operating from the carrier John F. Kennedy (CV 67) in December 21, 1975 (National Naval Aviation Museum photo)

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 14:48 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Dec. 27 in U.S. military history

1846: Although heavily outnumbered, a force of Missouri mounted militia led by Col. Alexander W. Doniphan called the “Doniphan Thousand” defeats the Mexican army at El Paso (present-day Texas) and captures the city in one of the major battles of the Mexican-American War.

1935: When the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa erupts, Army Air Force planes drop bombs to divert the lava flow from nearby Hilo.

1942: 2nd Lt. (future Maj.) Richard I. Bong, flying a P-38 Lighting over Buna, scores his first of 40 kills against Japanese aircraft. Bong would become the United States’ top ace of World War II and would earn the Medal of Honor.

1992: Lt. Col. Gary North shoots down an Iraqi MiG-25 in Iraq’s southern no-fly-zone with an AIM-120A missile, marking the first beyond-visual-range kill and the first combat air-to-air victory for the F-16 Falcon.

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 13:17 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Military History

Jesus, the wolf, and me

The simple story of my walk with God
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Those who don’t know me very well ask if I’ve somehow, suddenly found Jesus.

But those who know me best, know that it is less a finding of Jesus as much as it is an absolute surrendering to His Love and Will.

Almighty God (the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has been tugging at me since I was about eight-years-old. Perhaps earlier.

I say this because I’ve always known God was there. As a boy, I could even see Him in my mind’s eye (always seeing Him during the Sermon on the Mount). Always sensing His presence in the sunshine and in the rain. As I saw Him in my boy’s mind (and even in my teenage, young adult, and – to a degree – middle-aged mind), He was always there high above the church steeples, stretched out enormously across the sky; calling me to do something in the furtherance of His kingdom, always leading me along a path to somewhere, though I never really knew – or thought about – where that path might ultimately lead. Nor was I willing to jump right in and commit to that quest on that path.

Let’s look at that path for a moment.

The path, as I visualize it today, is more of a dirt-road cutting through very deep woods or wilderness.

In my earliest boyhood recollections I remember walking along this path with Jesus.

I was always just behind Him or – at times – alongside Him. But never as fully committed to where the path was leading as He was (is).

At some point, probably from the very beginning of my life, I began to venture off the path into the woods on either side of the path. There I would explore the things of the woods. There was so much temptation in the woods (the wilderness).

I would never get too deep into the wilderness, though, that I would not be able to run back to the path and find Jesus.

As I’ve said, that venturing off the path and into the wilderness began as a boy. Today, as a 53-year-old man, I realize I have spent most of my life up to this point in the wilderness.


Throughout my time in the wilderness, I’ve always been able to shout back toward the path, “Jesus, are you still there?”

And He has always quietly – but in a voice loud enough that I could hear Him – say, “Yes, Tom, I’m still here.”

So being temporarily comforted, I would stay in the wilderness and play. If I got caught in a thicket or stepped in a hole, I would just work my way out and keep on playing.

There were (and are) so many temptations and false adventures in the wilderness. And there, on the fringes of the wilderness, always lurking was a dark shape, like a wolf, moving parallel to me.

As long as I was enjoying the fun of the wilderness, this wolf just sort of stayed on a parallel track with me, just beyond the trees and tall grasses.

This wolf never really bothered me.

He didn’t need to because he had me where he wanted me: In the woods.

Though he has always whispered lies.

The wolf has always said to me things like; “There is always tomorrow,” and “You can stay here a long time and enjoy all the fun,” and “being in the woods will make you strong,” and “the path is not as fun as the woods, so just wait and go to the path when you are too old to play in the woods. After all, all the fun people and beautiful women and sources of power and pleasure and possessions are here in the woods.”

The wolf’s lies were endless.

So I would struggle with the whispers I was hearing, and again, shout back toward the path, “Jesus, are you still there?”

And Jesus would again say, “Tom, I’m still here, and I’m never going to leave you.”

Sometimes, at various periods in my life in the wilderness, Jesus would say from the path, “Tom, You’ve been over there long enough now. Come to Me. You are always getting stuck in those thickets, and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

And Jesus would say this at the most unexpected times.

Sometimes He would say this when I was working my way out of a thicket.

Sometimes it was when I really wanted something and couldn’t seem to get it.

Sometimes it was when I was hurting.

Sometimes it was when I was happy.

At times it was like that night I was by myself guarding a nuclear weapons space aboard ship, and – as the hours ticked by and I stood there alone counting the bolts in the bulkhead – Jesus began to press on my heart to come to Him, calling me from the path.

Tom, I love you,” Jesus said. “Just come to Me. Trust Me fully, and I will take care of you and give you the desires of your heart.”

I said, “Yes, Jesus, I want to, and I will, sort of. But with conditions, because I’m still young and strong, and I have my whole life in front of me. So I’ll be a good person and I will pray and read my Bible, but I have to play a little more. The woods are fun, and I know they are going to get a lot more fun, and I don’t want to miss out. Besides, what will my family and friends think of me if I reject the world and totally surrender to you? I don’t want people thinking I’m weird.”

Jesus didn’t push the issue, because He had given me the ability to choose. But I did sense that He stopped there on the path and looked at me with that look that a disappointed dad gives a son, and I felt ashamed.

Meanwhile, the wolf said, “Don’t listen to that. You’re a good person. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”


Remember, Jesus gave me the choice. But the wolf did (does) not.

At times, I would say to myself, “OK, I’ve had enough of the woods, maybe I should just trust Jesus. I want to go to the path.”

So I would start toward the path, and I could see Jesus standing there smiling at me like a proud father in the distance waiting patiently on me. And there was this inexplicable love exuding from Him.

All of a sudden, the wolf would burst out from some tall weeds, roaring and knocking me down and tearing me apart. And so I would limp away bloody and broken and utterly terrified.

At the same time, I was crying to Jesus to save me, And He was softly and reassuringly telling me to keep coming toward Him.

But I was injured and afraid and too busy trying to fix my situation. And I didn’t have enough faith or trust that Jesus could save me because I was too deep in the wilderness.

You see the path where Jesus was standing was about a thousand yards away. And the wolf was either right on top of me and ripping me to shreds, or about 30 feet away, growling and ready to attack me again if I made another attempt toward the path.

So I resigned myself to a lukewarm, distant relationship with Jesus, knowing that He was there and that He loved me, but that was about it.

This terrible cycle has repeated itself time-and-again throughout my life.

That is until my race toward the path this time, last year

Yes, just like all the other times, as soon as I started toward the path, the wolf attacked; and it was horrible (every aspect of my troubled life began to meltdown even faster).

But this time I kept going.

As I drew closer to the path (closer than I had ever been since I first ventured off of it as a boy), there was Jesus, standing there, smiling, and holding His arms wide to receive me and saying, “Tom, keep coming. I’m right here, and the wolf will not be able to hurt when you finally get to Me.”

Anyway, I am still in the wilderness, I am running and crashing through the brush, stumbling, but staying on my feet, always running, desperately trying to get through the woods and to the path.

Yes, I am wounded and the wolf is on my heels in pursuit (he only attacks when I attempt to escape the wilderness). But the closer I get to the path, the greater the power of Heaven I am feeling. The wolf is still pursuing – and with greater resolve than ever before – but he is winded and losing ground.

Jesus is getting closer. His power is becoming more manifest in my life. And I will never turn back. I will never stop running.

Visit W. Thomas Smith Jr. at

Posted on December 23, 2012 at 15:27 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Comments Closed
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Wild Weasels: Saving lives and cheating death

All of the books I have reviewed lately have been infantry or special operations, so I really didn’t think Viper Pilot, an autobiography of a modern-day Air Force fighter pilot would offer much in the way of excitement.

I was mistaken.

In an age of low-tech, low-intensity conflicts, dogfights have become all but a distant memory. But while threats facing today’s aviators have evolved, they most certainly have not disappeared. U.S. fighter pilots, the world’s best at air-to-air combat, have shifted their role towards close air support for ground units. And with all those planes in the sky, somebody has to take on the death-defying job of knocking out enemy surface-to-air missile sites.

That job goes to the “Wild Weasels.”

The basic objective of a wild weasel mission is for a team of F-16 pilots to fly over enemy air defense sites, forcing the enemy to fire deadly missiles at the pilots. Once pilots detect the launch – assuming the missile doesn’t kill the pilot – they use teamwork to counterattack and destroy the launchers and radar stations, making the skies safe for other aircrews in the theater. This process was repeated countless times over Iraq – both during the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

If you think that fighter pilots are all glory and no guts, soaring 30,000 feet over the mud and blood of combat, then you haven’t met Lt. Col. Dan “Two Dogs” Hampton. The now-retired author of Viper Pilot has flown over 150 combat missions in just about every combat operation since Vietnam, earning four Distinguished Flying Crosses for Valor and the Purple Heart…

[Read the entire review at The US Report]

Posted on November 26, 2012 at 16:50 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Book Reviews