Oct. 19 in U.S. military history

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

A TDR assault drone during World War II. This drone is now at the National Naval Aviation Museum (see link in article)

1781: British Gen. Charles Cornwallis formally surrenders 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships to an American and French force at Yorktown, Va., effectively ending the American Revolution.

1944: Two Interstate TDR assault drones are launched against Japanese gun emplacements on Ballale Island – one drone missing its target and another delivering two of its four 100-lb. bombs on the target. The TDR was a two-engine, unmanned airplane remotely controlled by a Grumman TBF “Avenger” via a television camera feed.

1950: Troopers with the 5th Cavalry Regiment enter Pyongyang, capturing the North Korean capitol. The following day, the 187th Regimental Combat Team will conduct two parachute drops north of the capitol to cut off retreating North Korean forces. The Communists will recapture Pyongyang on Dec. 5, after China joins the war.

1965: Two regiments of North Vietnamese soldiers begin a week-long siege on the Special Forces camp at Plei Me in South Vietnam’s central highlands. The outnumbered defenders repelled repeated attacks and eventually drove off the NVA forces. Following the battle, Gen. William Westmoreland ordered the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) to find and defeat the forces that attacked Plei Me, resulting in the bloody Battle of Ia Drang.

1987: Following an Iranian missile attack on a merchant vessel, U.S. warships attack and destroy two Iranian oil platforms being used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to attack shipping in the Persian Gulf.

2001: 200 Army Rangers parachute into – and quickly secure – an airfield southwest of Kandahar, Afghanistan, while special operation forces conduct other air-assault operations on several targets near Kandahar. These raids are the first known combat operations of the war in Afghanistan. In November, the captured airfield will become the first U.S. base in Afghanistan when Marines establish Camp RHINO.

Meanwhile, Spec. Jonn J. Edmunds and Pvt. 1st Class Kristofor T. Stonesifer become the first combat-related casualties in the War on Terror when the helicopter carrying them crashes in Pakistan.

Oct. 18 in U.S. military history

Nicknamed “The Bone,” The B-1B can carry 75,000 lbs. of ordinance and its four engines can push the heavy bomber to Mach 1.2

1775: A small British fleet commanded by Capt. Henry Mowat bombards the town of Falmouth, Mass. (modern-day Portland, Maine), setting most of the coastal settlement on fire with incendiary cannonballs. Mowat then sends a landing party ashore to destroy any buildings that were still standing, and the “Burning of Falmouth” will provide the inspiration for the Continental Congress to establish the Continental Navy.

1917: A convoy bearing the newly created 42d “Rainbow” Infantry Division sails from Hoboken, N.J. for France. The unit consists of federalized National Guard soldiers from 26 states and the District of Colombia, and its chief-of-staff is Col. (later, five-star general) Douglas MacArthur.

1942: Adolf Hitler issues his “Commando Order”, stipulating that any captured Allied commandos – even if they are wearing uniforms – will be executed without trial. Numerous Office of Strategic Services (OSS) agents and Army Air Force pilots and crewmembers are killed because of the order, and German officers carrying out illegal executions under the Commando Order will be tried for war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials.

1943: After 11 months of intense training, the 29th Ranger Battalion (Provisional) is disbanded before the American commandos can participate in combat action. The Rangers return to their original units, bringing with them advanced skills they can share with the regular troops, like penetrating deep behind enemy lines, staging raids, and intelligence gathering.

1983: Two years after the project was revived by President Ronald Reagan, the Rockwell B-1B “Lancer” supersonic bomber makes its first flight. Originally envisioned in the 1960s to combine the speed of the B-58 “Hustler” and the payload of the B-52 “Stratofortress”, the B-1 had been cancelled in 1977 after just four swept-wing prototypes were built. Lancers, originally intended to carry nuclear payloads, would later be fitted for conventional weapons and will not see combat until the 1998 bombing of Iraq (Operation “Desert Fox”). During the War on Terror, 40 percent of the munitions dropped during the Afghanistan campaign have been delivered by B-1Bs.

Posted on October 18, 2017 at 15:03 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Oct. 6 in U.S. military history

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

Soldiers of the 77th Division parade through New York City on Feb. 22, 1918, to mark George Washington’s Birthday. The division was nicknamed the “Metropolitan” Division because the bulk of its soldiers came from New York. On March 27, 1918, the division shipped out for France. (Library of Congress photo)

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.

1918: 500 men of the 77th “Metropolitan” Division under the command of Maj. Charles W. Whittlesey have been surrounded by German forces after the French and American units advancing on their flanks have been held up. With no communication other than carrier pidgeons 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 “Lost Battalion” in a DH-4 “Liberty Plane.” On their second trip, both airmen are killed, and will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor – America’s highest award for combat valor.

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 battalion traps a Japanese battalion in a ravine, creating what he called a “machine for extermination,” when heavy artillery, mortar fire, and small arms annihilates the enemy. 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.

1993: Three days after leading an assault at the Bakaara Market in the bloody Battle of Mogadishu, Delta Force’s Sgt. 1st Class Matt Rierson is killed by enemy mortar fire at the Mogadishu airport. 12 other soldiers are wounded in the attack. Another two soldiers are wounded during a mission to reach one of the downed Black Hawks.

Posted on October 6, 2017 at 17:29 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Oct. 4 in U.S. military history

Before becoming a CIA station chief, Buckley served in the Special Forces during Vietnam and was a company commander in the 1st Cavalry Division during the Korean War

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

1777: A week after losing Philadelphia to the British, Gen. George Washington decides to surprise Gen. Sir William Howe’s force encamped at Germantown (Pa.). 11,000 Continental troops and militia have marched 16 miles through the night, and begin their assault at 5:30 a.m.. Although initially successful, heavy fog, insufficiently trained troops, and stiff British resistance unravel Washington’s coordinated assault and the attack falls apart. Washington’s army suffers over 1,000 casualties and will have to spend the winter at Valley Forge.

1822: Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States, is born in Delaware, Oh.. Despite having no military background, Hayes will be appointed Major in the 23rd Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The talented officer will be wounded five times during the Civil War, ultimately reaching the rank of Brevet Major General. Also serving in the 23rd Regiment is Pvt. – and future Pres. – William McKinley.

1918: An explosion at the T. A. Gillespie Co. Shell Loading Plant in Sayreville, N.J. ignites a fire, leading to several more explosions that will last for three days. 300 buildings are destroyed, 100 people are killed, and hundreds are wounded. The plant is said to have on hand enough ammunition to supply the Western Front for six months. 12 Coast Guardsmen will be awarded the Navy Cross for their actions during the incident, and two will perish.

1943: USS Ranger conducts the only American carrier operation in the northern Atlantic, when its Dauntless and Avenger crews attack a German convoy near Bod, Norway, sinking or damaging ten enemy vessels.

1985: The terrorist group Hezbollah announces that they have executed former CIA Beirut station chief William F. Buckley. Buckley, a former Special Forces Lt. Col. and veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, had been held captive for over 14 months.

Posted on October 4, 2017 at 12:04 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Sept. 28 in U.S. military history

Auguste Couder’s Bataille de Yorktown

1781: Gen. George Washington leads a combined army of 8,000 Continentals, 7,800 French soldiers, and 3,100 Colonial militia out of Williamsburg (Va.) to the newly constructed trenches surrounding Lt. Gen. Lord Cornwallis’ trapped British forces at Yorktown, beginning the siege that will effectively bring an end to the American Revolution.

1787: After putting the finishing touches on the Constitution of the United States, the Continental Congress sends copies out to the states for ratification.

1924: Two Douglas DT-2 biplanes land at Sand Point, Wash., completing the U.S. Army Air Service’s 175-day, 27,553-mile journey, marking the first ever aerial circumnavigation of the globe.

1941: Capt. Joseph J. Rochefort, officer-in-charge of Pearl Harbor’s cryptology section, warns commanders that a change in Japanese radio traffic could indicate a major operation.

1945: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower relieves Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. of his post as military governor in Bavaria following controversial statements about the de-nazification process. Next month, Eisenhower transfers Patton from his beloved Third Army to lead the Fifteenth Army, a relatively small staff responsible for compiling a history of the European War.

1964: The Lafayette-class ballistic missile submarine USS Daniel Webster departs Charleston (S.C.) Harbor, becoming the first ship to deploy with the new Polaris A3 missiles. The A3 carries three 200-kiloton warheads with a maximum range of 2,500 nautical miles. When the USS Daniel Boone joins the Pacific Fleet in December, American nuclear missiles can now target anywhere on the entire Eurasian landmass.

2001: President George W. Bush declares that American combat forces are in “hot pursuit” of those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, while the Pentagon adds that American and British special operations forces have deployed to Afghanistan.

2012: Contrary to the Obama Administration’s narrative that the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous protest over a YouTube video, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announces that it was in fact a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack.”

Sept. 26 in U.S. military history

American troops operating the M1916 37mm gun in France, 1918

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

1777: Gen. Sir William Howe outmaneuvers Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army and takes the American capital of Philadelphia. Historically, wars usually end when the capital city falls into enemy hands, but the American Revolution will continue for another six years.

1918: Though technically launched at 11:30 p.m., Sept. 25, with an intense artillery barrage; the Meuse-Argonne Offensive – the six-week long “greatest battle of World War I in which the Americans participated” – officially begins just before dawn when whistles are blown along the American trench-lines, and with fixed-bayonets, American soldiers clamber over the top and begin their assault against the German lines. On this day alone, the Army awards eight soldiers with the Medal of Honor.

The battle, which begins with approximately 600,000 American soldiers and Marines, will see U.S. ranks swell to more than one million men. 26,277 Americans will be killed, another 95,786 wounded. But the campaign will end the war.

Meanwhile off the coast of Great Britain, a German U-boat sinks the Coast Guard cutter Tampa on convoy escort duty. Tampa takes 119 Coast Guardsmen and Navy sailors and 11 Royal Navy passengers with her to the bottom of the Bristol Channel – the greatest combat-related loss of life at sea for the Americans during World War I.

1945: U.S. Army Lt. Col. A. Peter Dewey, the chief of the Saigon Office of Special Services, is mistaken for a Frenchman and shot in the head by Viet Minh forces, making Dewey the first American killed by communists in Vietnam.

1983: Shortly after midnight, Moscow’s early warning network reports the launch of an American intercontinental ballistic missile. Despite a period of high tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Union, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov realizes that it must be a glitch in the computer system since an American first strike would surely involve hundreds of missiles and does not initiate a retaliatory strike, as Soviet doctrine required. Later, another the system reports the launch of another four missiles. This marks the closest the United States and Soviet Union come to accidental nuclear war.

Posted on September 26, 2017 at 15:52 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Sept. 25 in U.S. military history

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 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.

1950: Following the successful landing at Inchon and capture of Kimpo Airfield, soldiers and Marines cross the Han River and enter Seoul. The following day, Gen. Douglas MacArthur declares that his forces have recaptured the South Korean capital.

1957: U.S. Army paratroopers – members of the 101st Airborne Division – escort nine black students into Little Rock (Ark.) Central High School, ending racial segregation. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court declaring that racially segregated schools are unconstitutional, Governor Orval Faubus, a Democrat, had deployed the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the students from attending.

1993: A week before the Battle of Mogadishu, an American Blackhawk helicopter is shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade while on a patrol mission over the Somali capital. American and Pakistani units brave heavy enemy fire to secure the site and recover the three soldiers killed in the crash.

Posted on September 25, 2017 at 09:08 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Sept. 22 in U.S. military history

An F-14 Tomcat rides off into the sunset

1776: When Gen. George Washington asks for volunteers to go behind enemy lines and report on British troop movements in New York City. Capt. Nathan Hale is the only man to step forward. A fire devastates the city shortly after falling into British hands, and Hale is one of some 200 Americans swept up in the aftermath. Legend states that before Hale is hung, he tells his audience that “My only regret is that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

1927: One year after Gene “The Fighting Marine” Tunney defeats Jack Dempsey and becomes heavyweight champion, the two square off again in one of boxing’s most famous matches. In what will be Dempsey’s last fight, the former champ manages to knocks down Tunney – a veteran of World War I – for the first time in Tunney’s career, but loses the rematch in a unanimous decision. The Fighting Marine, victorious in all but one of his professional matches, will retire after successfully defending his title following his second fight with Dempsey.

1950: Gen. Omar Bradley is promoted to General of the Army. Bradley is the ninth – and last – American officer to wear five stars. While serving as the first Chairman of the newly formed Joint Chiefs of Staff, Bradley will be instrumental in removing fellow five-star general Douglas MacArthur following his public clashes with the Truman Administration.

That same day in Korea, the Communists are in full-scale retreat after being outflanked by the landing at Inchon and the breakout of the Pusan Perimeter.

1975: President – and former Lt. Cmdr. in the Naval Reserve – Gerald Ford survives his second assassination attempt in 17 days when former Marine Oliver Sipple disrupts the attack by hitting the would-be assassin’s gun arm before she can kill the president.

1980: Iraq invades Iran without warning, launching the nearly eight-year Iran-Iraq War. The United States, the Soviet Union, and many other nations throw their weight behind Iraq. Saddam Hussein will kill tens of thousands of Iranians with chemical weapons, and both Iranian and Iraqi will hit American ships during the conflict.

2006: The Navy retires the Grumman F-14 “Tomcat” after 32 years of service. The iconic swept-wing interceptors provided air cover during the American evacuation of Saigon, shot down four Libyan Air Force fighters during the 1980s, dropped precision-guided munitions in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, and saw action in virtually every American conflict during their operational history.

Posted on September 22, 2017 at 09:07 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Sept. 21 in U.S. military history

F-11F-1 Tigers parked on a flightline, circa 1960

1780: After deliberately weakening the defenses of Fort Arnold (now known as West Point), Hudson River, and other areas under his command, Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans for the strategic fort. The Colonists will soon capture Maj. John André, Britain’s top spy in the United States, foiling Arnold’s plan to hand over West Point – which will become the U.S. Military Academy in 1802 and is the Army’s oldest continually operating post.

1939: With war breaking out in Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to relax neutrality laws – permitting the United States to arm belligerent nations.

1942: In Seattle, Boeing’s massive B-29 “Superfortress” bomber makes its first flight. The new Superfort featured radar-controlled guns and could fly further, faster, and deliver more bombs than its predecessor, the B-17 “Flying Fortress.” The B-29 will see its first combat in 1944, and will bring an end to World War II when the Enola Gay and Bock’s Car drop atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1956: Grumman test pilot Tom Attridge, at the controls of an F11F-1 “Tiger” aircraft flying over Long Island, tests the plane’s ability to fire its guns at supersonic speeds. After firing, he actually runs into the bullets he had fired earlier from a higher altitude, mortally wounding the Tiger’s jet engine. The pilot manages to safely eject after shooting himself down.

1961: The 5th Special Forces Group is activated at Fort Bragg (N.C.). The “Green Berets” of 5th SFG will see extensive combat during the Vietnam War, as well as service in Operation Desert Storm and Somalia. In October, 2001, they are among the first U.S. forces to deploy to Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, where they would famously conduct the first American attack on horeseback since World War II.

1988: U.S. forces protecting tankers in the Persian Gulf spot the Iranian vessel Iran Ajr laying mines in international waters. Helicopters halt the vessel with rocket and machine gun fire, and a team of Navy SEALs boards the ship. In April, the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) strikes – and is nearly sunk by – a mine laid by the Iran Ajr, prompting the U.S. to retaliate against the Iranian fleet.

Operation “Earnest Will” is the largest convoy operation since World War II and marks the first tactical operation of the newly formed Special Operations Command – utilizing the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, SEALs, and special boat units all working together.

Posted on September 21, 2017 at 09:26 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Sept. 20 in U.S. military history

Marines during Operation SUMMIT – the first battlefield deployment of troops by helicopter

1777: British Maj. Gen. Charles Grey launches a daring nighttime attack on Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne’s Continental Army forces encamped near the Paoli Tavern near modern-day Malvern, Pa.. Grey orders his troops to only use bayonets, and has his men remove the flints from their rifles. The Redcoats catch the Americans completely by surprise, routing an entire division while only suffering 11 British casualties.

1797: The Continental Navy frigate Constitution is launched in Boston harbor. 220 years later, USS Constitution – known affectionately as “Old Ironsides” – is the “oldest ship in the American Navy,” and continues serving in the 21st century as a duly commissioned ship crewed by active-duty U.S. sailors and Naval officers in order to further public awareness of American Naval tradition.

1917: The 26th Infantry Division arrives at Saint-Nazaire, France, becoming the first division entirely organized in the United States to arrive in Europe for World War I. The National Guard soldiers immediately travel to Neufchâteau, where they are trained by experienced French soldiers. The “Yankee” Division will spend 210 days in combat, with 1,587 killed in action and another 12,077 soldiers wounded.

1944: Just three days after landing, the 81st Infantry Division has eliminated most of the Japanese garrison on the island of Angaur. Once the island is secured, the 81st will join the 1st Marine Division in the bloody battle on Peleliu, only seven miles away.

1950: 12 Sikorsky HRS-1 “Chickasaw” helicopters of Marine Helicopter Squadron 161 (HMR-161) conduct the first combat landing of troops, landing over 200 Marines and their equipment on Hill 844 near Kansong, Korea.

1984: The Iranian-supported terrorist group Hezbollah carries out a suicide car bomb attack on the U.S. Embassy Annex building in East Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion kills 24 – including Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth V. Welch (USA) and Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Ray Wagner (USN) – and injures both the U.S. and British ambassadors.

2001: President George W. Bush addresses a joint session of Congress, announcing the newly proposed Department of Homeland Security and requesting a declaration of war in response to the 9/11 attacks just nine days ago. Bush states “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

Posted on September 20, 2017 at 09:06 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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