Posted in Military History

4 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. John J. Savage, who on this day in 2008, died of wounds from an improvised explosive device attack on his vehicle in Mosul, Iraq. The 26-year-old from Weatherford, Texas was assigned to the 103rd Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion and was serving his second Iraq deployment.


1783: Nine days after the British evacuate New York City, Gen. George Washington bids farewell to his fellow Continental Army officers over a turtle feast at Fraunces Tavern. Washington tells them: “With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.”

1861: Jefferson Davis is elected President of the Confederate States of America. Previously, Davis served as a junior officer in the U.S. Army following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy. During the Mexican-American War, he raised a volunteer infantry regiment and became its colonel. President James Polk will offer Davis a federal commission as brigadier general, which he will turn down. Continue reading “4 December: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

7 October: Today in U.S. military history

Crowley

Today’s post is in honor of CWO3 Bryan L. Ellis (USA) and Cpl. Steven Crowley (USMC) who were killed when Islamic terrorists stormed the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan on 21 November 1979. Crowley (20, from Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.), of the Marine Security Guard was posthumously promoted to sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V.” Ellis (29, from Swansboro, N.C.) had served with the 117th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam.


1777: Continental forces under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates​ decisively defeat British forces under Gen. John “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne in the Second Battle of Saratoga (also known as the Battle of Bemis Heights​).

According to the National Parks Service, “This crucial American victory renewed patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face of the world.”

But the war is far from over.

1780: Three years to the day after Second Saratoga, patriot militia forces armed with rifles, knives, and tomahawks decisively defeat musket-armed Loyalist militia under the command of British Army Maj. Patrick Ferguson​ (who will be killed in the fighting) in the bloody Battle of King’s Mountain on the border between North and South Carolina.

Among the patriots is John Crockett, father of Davy Crockett​.

1864: After the U.S. Navy has spent months chasing the Confederate raider USS Florida, the crew of the sloop-of-war USS Wachusett spots the enemy cruiser in Bahia, Brazil. Cmdr. Napoleon Collins illegally attacks Florida in the pre-dawn hours while the Confederate captain was ashore, ramming the enemy ship before opening fire. The Confederate lieutenant left in charge of the vessel surrenders to Collins, who tows the prize out of Bahia under fire from Brazilian coastal guns.

Upon his return to the United States, Collins is court-martialed (Florida was harbored in a neutral country), but the charges are dismissed. Florida, which captured 37 ships before falling into Federal hands, mysteriously sinks before she can be returned to the Brazilians and Collins goes on to become a rear admiral, commanding the South Pacific Fleet. Continue reading “7 October: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

6 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Giles W. Stallard, who was killed during a firefight in the Republic of Vietnam’s Long An province on this day in 1968. The 19-year-old Saltville, Va. native had only been in country for a month and was assigned to B Company, 2d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division.


1777: Near what will soon become the United States Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.), British troops simultaneously attack – and defeat – Continental forces at Forts Clinton and Montgomery, and also destroy the chain that had been placed across the Hudson River to prevent British ships from sailing upriver. The engagement is sometimes called the Battle of the Clintons since the British troops are led by Gen. Sir Henry Clinton, and the garrisons are led by Gens. (and brothers) James Clinton and George Clinton – who is also the governor or New York.

Despite being 34 years old, “Harvard Eddie” volunteered to fight in World War I. He is buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France.

1918: In the Argonne Forest, German forces have surrounded 500 American doughboys of the 77th “Metropolitan” Division under the command of Maj. Charles W. Whittlesey after the French and American units advancing on their flanks are held up. With no communication other than carrier pigeons and no other means to send supplies, 1st Lt. Harold E. “Dad” Goettler and 2nd Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley volunteer to fly through withering enemy fire to drop much-needed supplies to the Americans in a DH-4 Liberty Plane. On their second trip, both airmen are killed and are posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Also killed while attempting to locate the force is Capt. Eddie Grant, the former leadoff hitter and third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. Grant was one of the first baseball players to join the Armed Forces during World War I. All but 194 members of the Lost Battalion are killed, wounded, or captured, and five 77th Division soldiers – including Whittlesey – will earn the Medal of Honor during the six-day engagement.

1942: Five battalions of Marines, supported a group of scout snipers, cross Guadalcanal’s heavily defended Matanikau River and engage the Japanese. Col. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller’s 1st Battalion, 7th Marines trap a Japanese battalion in a ravine, creating what he called a “machine for extermination,” annihilating the force with a deadly combination of heavy artillery, mortar fire, and small arms fire. The operation plays a major role in the American victory on Guadalcanal, when Japanese planners opt for an exhausting overland march for their major offensive against Lunga Point later in the month, instead of crossing the Matanikau.

Continue reading “6 October: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

25 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. William E. Hill, who was killed on this day in 1965 during a sweep and clear mission in the Republic of Vietnam’s Quang Nam province. The 33-year-old Leesburg, Fla. native had served in the Marine Corps for 14 years and was one of four Marines killed when an estimated platoon-sized Viet Cong force detonated a land mine and then engaged the Americans with small-arms fire.


1775: A small force of American and Canadian militia led by Ethan Allen attempts to capture the British-held city of Montreal. British Gen. Guy Carleton quickly gathers a force of British regulars and Canadian militia, scattering Allen’s troops and capturing the hero of Fort Ticonderoga and former commander of Vermont’s famed “Green Mountain Boys.” Allen will remain a prisoner in England until his exchange in 1778.

That same day, Col. Benedict Arnold sets out with 1,000 men on a poorly planned expedition to Quebec. The trip takes far longer than anticipated, forcing the men to eat their shoes and other leather equipment to survive, and they are soundly defeated by the British once the weakened force reaches their objective in December.

1918: Former Indianapolis 500 driver — now captain and commander of the Army Air Corps’ 94th “Hat in the Ring” Aero Squadron — Eddie Rickenbacker (featured image) becomes a double ace, singlehandedly attacking a flight of seven German warplanes and downing two. For his actions on this day, he will receive one of his nine Distinguished Service Crosses — later upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Rickenbacker’s 26 aerial victories by war’s end marks the most by any U.S. fighter pilot during World War I.

Continue reading “25 September: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

24 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Army Sgt. Tyler N. Holtz, who was killed on this day in 2011 in Afghanistan’s Wardak province by enemy small-arms fire. The 22-year-old native of Dana Point, Calif. was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and was serving his fourth tour in Afghanistan. Holtz was assigned to 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.


1780: Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold learns that British spy Maj. John André has been captured, along with the evidence that would expose Arnold’s secret plot to turn West Point over to the British. He flees to the nearby sloop HMS Vulture, which carries him to New York. Gen. George Washington suggests a prisoner exchange: André for Arnold, but Gen. Henry Clinton refused. André is hanged and Arnold is commissioned as a brigadier general.

1918: U.S. Navy Ensign (future rear admiral) David S. Ingalls – on loan to the Royal Air Force and flying an RAF Sopwith Camel – shoots down enemy aircraft number five, becoming the first ace in U.S. Naval Aviation history, and the Navy’s only ace of World War I. Over the course of the war Ingalls is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross from the United States, a Distinguished Flying Cross from Britain, and made a member of the French Foreign Legion. When America enters World War II, he rejoins the Navy and will command the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor.

1929: Lt. James L. “Jimmy” Doolittle boards his Consolidated NY-2 Husky at Long Island’s Mitchel Field and buttons himself in a completely blacked-out cockpit. He becomes the first pilot to take off, fly, and land “blind” – having to relying solely on the aircraft’s (newly developed) instruments. Continue reading “24 September: Today in U.S. military history”