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17 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Cpl. Jorge Villarreal Jr., who gave his life on this day in 2010 in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. The 22-year-old San Antonio native was killed when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle. Villarreal was serving with the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.


1918: Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell meets with American Expeditionary Force Commander Gen. John J. Pershing and floats the idea of dropping soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division behind enemy lines. Pershing approves the concept, but the war ends before paratroopers become a reality.

1922: Lt. Commander Virgil C. Griffin, piloting a Vought VE-7SF bi-winged fighter, makes the first-ever “official” takeoff from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Langley – a coaling ship which had been converted into America’s first aircraft carrier – in York River, Va.

Though Griffin is indeed the first man to takeoff from a “carrier”, he is not the first to takeoff from a warship. That distinction belongs to Eugene B. Ely who took-off from a platform affixed to a cruiser in 1910.

1941: When a “wolfpack” of German U-boats attacks an allied convoy, overwhelming its Canadian escort ships, USS Kearny and three other American destroyers depart their base at Iceland and begin dropping depth charges. A German torpedo strikes Kearny, killing 11 sailors and injuring 22 – the first American casualties of World War II. Adolf Hitler will use the engagement as a reason for declaring war on the United States in December.

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15 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Hines, who gave his life for our country on this day in 2006. The 26-year-old native of Olney, Ill. perished during combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq. Hines was serving with the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve.


1917: When a German submarine launches a torpedo at USS Cassin (DD-43) during an escort patrol, Gunner’s Mate First Class Osmond Kelly Ingram realizes the torpedo will impact the destroyer’s store of depth charges. Instead of remaining in a position of safety, he charges across the deck to the depth charges to jettison the stockpiled explosives that could sink his ship. Ingram is killed while trying to save Cassin, becoming the first U.S. sailor killed during World War I and is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

1918: (featured image) Near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, Lt. Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan earns the Medal of Honor while leading his soldiers during an assault on strong German positions. Wounded in the leg by a burst of machinegun fire, Donovan refuses evacuation and remains in command until his unit is withdrawn. Donovan is named Coordinator of Information by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 and he will form the Office of Strategic Services the following year – the predecessor to today’s Central Intelligence Agency.

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6 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Marine LCpl. Michael T. Badsing who was killed on this date in 1965 by enemy small-arms fire in South Vietnam. The 20-year-old Chicago native served with C Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division.


1781: Hoping to divert Gen. George Washington from marching against Lord Cornwallis’ forces now trapped in Virginia, two battalions of British soldiers — including American Loyalist forces under the command of Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold — assault New London, Conn.. The redcoats easily capture Fort Trumbull, but across the Thames River, the heavily outnumbered defenders of Fort Griswold fiercely resist.

The King’s men storm into the fort, massacring Americans attempting to surrender, and burn New London before withdrawing. Marquis de LaFayette is reported to have shouted “Remember Fort Griswold!” while assaulting the British redoubts at Yorktown.

1863: In the past 24 hours alone, Union Naval guns have killed 100 Confederates at Battery Wagner, one of the forts guarding Charleston (S.C.) harbor. The past 60 days of bombardment prove too much for Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, who orders his forces to evacuate by boat. The Yankees now control Morris Island — one step closer to capturing Charleston.

1918: (Featured image) U.S. Navy railroad artillery crews conduct their first attack – a German rail center in Tergnier. The five massive 14″/50cal Mark 4 guns, normally mounted to a battleship, are transported by train and can hit targets well over 20 miles downrange.

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30 August: Today in U.S. military history

CWO4 Vick

Today’s post is in honor of Marine Chief Warrant Officer 4 William L. Vick who was killed on this day in 1968 at the Ha Thanh Special Forces Camp. Vick, who was attempting to defuse a dud rocket that landed inside the camp, was one of five Americans* killed when another rocket hit their location. Prior to serving in Vietnam, he was a veteran of World War II and Korea, serving in the Chosin Reservoir where he earned the Silver Star.


Lt. Col. George S. Patton, Jr. in front of a French-built Renault FT light tank, which the Americans used during World War I

1776: After a series of defeats by the British, Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army conducts a strategic withdrawal of Long Island, sneaking 10,000 men and their equipment through British Adm. Richard Howe’s picket force under cover of darkness. Richard’s brother, Gen. William Howe, sends a letter to Gen. George Washington seeking a peace conference. Washington rejects the offer, forwarding the message to Congress instead. Diplomacy falls flat when the British refuse to recognize American independence on Sept. 11, and the British respond by capturing New York City four days later.

1862: Near Lexington, Ky., Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith accomplishes the “nearest thing to a Cannae” (Hannibal’s double envelopment of the Roman army – perhaps the greatest tactical achievement in military history) during the Civil War. The Confederates rout Maj. Gen. William “Bull” Nelson’s inexperienced Union troops – capturing over 4,000 – in the Battle of Richmond.

1918: Southeast of Verdun, France, Gen. John J. Pershing’s First Army moves into position at the Saint-Mihiel salient. Among Pershing’s three U.S. (and one French) corps is Lt. Col. George S. Patton, Jr.’s newly formed 1st Provisional Tank Brigade, which will conduct the first tank warfare in American history in the upcoming Battle of Saint-Mihiel – the first independently-led American operation of World War I.

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29 August: Today in U.S. military history

Holley

Today’s post is in honor of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Floyd C. Holley who, on this day in 2010, was killed while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. The 36-year-old from Casselberry, Fla. was serving his third combat deployment and was assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.


Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito in Sept. 1945. When the Japanese attempt to censor the photo showing the American commander towering above their revered emperor, MacArthur orders all newspapers to print the image.

1940: At Lawson Army Airfield (modern-day Fort Benning, Ga.), 1st Lt. William T. Ryder and his Parachute Test Platoon conduct the first mass parachute jump in U.S. military history.

Meanwhile, a delegation of British scientists begin sharing radar and other military technologies with the United States, hoping to secure assistance from the still-neutral nation.

1944: (Featured image) Four years after German conquerors marched through Paris’ famous Arc de Triomphe, 15,000 American soldiers of the 28th Infantry Division parade down the newly-liberated capital’s Champs-Élysées.

Meanwhile, a 21-man OSS force led by Lt. Cmdr. Frank Wisner parachutes into Romania, coordinating the rescue operation of well over 1,000 American prisoners of war before they can fall into the hands of the Soviet Red Army.

1945: An American B-29 Superfortress, carrying a load of humanitarian aid to Allied prisoners of war in Korea, is intercepted by Soviet Yak-9 fighters. The supposed allied pilots attack the bomber, forcing 1st Lt. Joseph Queen’s crew to bail out before the plane crashes. The air crew are rescued, and the incident marks one of the first international confrontations between the soon-to-be Cold War rivals.

Across the Sea of Japan, Allied occupation forces begin arriving in Japan, as well as the battleship USS Missouri, which will host the upcoming formal surrender ceremonies on Sept. 2. Gen. Douglas MacArthur is granted the authority to oversee the formation of a new Japanese government. Rather than disband the existing government, MacArthur rules through the emperor – whom the Japanese people still view as divine – during Japan’s transition to democracy.

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