30th anniversary of Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 09:30 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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June 12 in U.S. military history

Pres. Ronald Reagan delivering his famous line, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” in front of the Berlin Wall’s Brandenburg Gate.

1775: British Gen. Thomas Gage declares that the city of Boston is under martial law until the colonists repay for the tea they destroyed during the Boston Tea Party. Gage will pardon all colonists who lay down their arms except Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who are to be hanged.

Meanwhile, British ships arrive at Machiasport (present-day Machias, Maine) to commandeer a load of lumber for the construction of barracks during the colonists’ Siege of Boston. 31 militia members, led by Jeremiah O’Brien, board the merchant ship Unity and engage the British armed sloop HMS Margaretta. After an hour of fighting, Margaretta is captured and the British flag is surrendered to the colonists for the first time. The U.S. Merchant Marine traces their roots to the Battle of Machias.

1862: Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the new commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, orders Brig. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart to investigate the Union army’s right flank during the Peninsula Campaign. Stuart and his 1,200 troopers determine that the right flank is vulnerable, and with Union cavalry is in pursuit, Stuart and his men ride a 100-mile circle around Gen. George McClellan’s 105,000-man Army of the Potomac – capturing soldiers, horses, and supplies. Four days later, Stuart arrives in Richmond to a hero’s welcome.

1944 (D-Day Plus Six): Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division capture Carentan after three days of heavy urban combat, linking the Utah and Omaha beachheads. A third wave of troops and supplies land at the beaches of Normandy. Over 300,000 men, tens of thousands of vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of tons of materiel have hit the beach so far.

In the Pacific, airplanes from Adm. Marc Mitscher’s Task Force 58, consisting of nine aircraft carriers and six light carriers, pound Japanese positions in the Marianas Islands in preparation for the upcoming invasions.

1987: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Standing in front of Brandenburg Gate, President Ronald Reagan – a cavalry trooper prior to World War II and ultimately an Army Air Force officer in a motion picture unit – challenges his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. In two years the wall does come down, signifying the end of the Cold War.

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 09:21 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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May 1 in U.S. military history

1898: U.S. Navy Commodore George Dewey’s Asiatic Squadron steams single file into Manila Bay and destroys the out-armored and out-gunned Spanish fleet in the Philippines. Despite the support of shore batteries, the Spanish lose all seven of their vessels and only six American sailors are wounded. The Spanish-American War will effectively end in August, and Spain will cede control of the islands to the United States.

1943: When his B-17 bomber is hit by German flak and Sgt. Maynard H. “Snuffy” Smith loses power in his ball turret gun, he climbs out to assist the other members of the crew. The explosion started a fire started in the fuselage and three of the airmen had already bailed out. He treats two severely wounded comrades and begins fighting the fire that was melting holes in the aircraft. For the next 90 minutes, Smith alternates between caring for the wounded, extinguishing the fire, and manning the .50 caliber guns against attacking German fighters. The plane makes it safely back to England, but breaks in half upon landing from the fire and 3,500 bullets and pieces of shrapnel.

1960: CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers (former Captain, USAF) takes off from a military airbase in Pakistan on a reconnaissance overflight mission of the Soviet Union. His U-2 spy plane, flying some 70,000 feet above Russia, is hit by a surface-to-air missile and crashes into the Ural Mountains. Powers ejects safely and is held in a Soviet prison until his famous exchange on a Berlin bridge nearly two years later.

2003: George W. Bush becomes the first president to make an arrested landing when the S-3 Viking dubbed “Navy One” touches down on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) following its 10-month combat deployment. Bush delivers a speech on the deck of the aircraft carrier announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq.

Although the insurgency would drag on for years, the 21-day conventional campaign against Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime is over.

Apr. 14 in U.S. military history

1865: Four days after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appamatox, famed actor John Wilkes Booth shoots and mortally wounds Pres. Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.

1945: The Tirante (SS-240) torpedoes and sinks a Japanese ammunition ship in Cheju Harbor (modern-day South Korea). The explosion illuminates the surfaced Tirante, and as the sub rushes to escape the harbor, it launches its last two torpedoes, killing the two escort frigates in hot pursuit. Commander George L. Street is awarded the Medal of Honor for the engagement.

1969: Two North Korean Mig-21 fighters shoot down a Navy EC-121M “Warning Star” reconnaissance aircraft on an electronic intelligence-gathering mission against the Soviet Union. 30 sailors and one Marine perish in the largest single loss of life during an aircraft engagement during the Cold War.

1986: In response to a Libyan terrorist bombing in Berlin that killed two U.S. servicemen and wounded 79, Pres. Ronald Reagan orders airstrikes against Muammar Gaddafi. 45 Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft drop 60 tons of munitions on Libyan military targets. An Air Force F-111 “Aardvark” fighter-bomber is shot down by a surface to air missile – killing the two-man crew.

Western European governments denied the U.S. access to their airspace for the strike, forcing the F-111 crews based in England to fly around Spain. The route change added 13 hours of flight time and six mid-air refuelings, making Operation El Dorado Canyon the longest fighter mission in U.S. military history.

1988: The guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) strikes an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf, injuring ten sailors. In four days, the United States retaliates against Iran in the largest surface engagement since World War II.

Posted on April 14, 2017 at 18:08 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Komm rüber!

Defecting East German soldier Hans Conrad Schumann leaps over a barbed wire barricade at the Bernauer Street sector into West Berlin on Aug. 15, 1961 (Photo by Peter Leibing)

Schumann was guarding the “Berlin Wall” (at the time it was only a barbed-wire barricade) during it’s construction at the corner of Ruppiner Straße (street) and Bernauer Straße. As West Berliners shouted “Komm rüber!” (come over), the soldier lept the barbed wire where he ran to a waiting West German police car that took him to safety.

Posted on September 15, 2011 at 09:04 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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