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5 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today we honor Sgt. Fred A. Gassman, part of a joint American-Vietnamese patrol operating in Laos (codenamed Reconnaissance Team FER-DE-LANCE) and was killed by enemy fire on this date in 1970. The bodies of Gassman (23, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) and Staff Sgt. David A. Davidson (24, East Riverdale, Md.) were never recovered and the soldiers are presumed dead. Sgt. Gassman was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions.


1813: British troops and Native American warriors led by Maj. Gen. Henry Proctor and Shawnee chief Tecumseh are defeated by American Maj. Gen. Henry Harrison’s men in the Battle of the Thames (Ontario, Canada). The outnumbered British troops are routed Tecumseh’s tribal confederation collapses when he and his war chief Roundhead are killed. Soon, control of contested tribal-held lands in what was then-called Northwest Territory (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the eastern part of Minnesota) will be ceded to the U.S. government.

1918: (Featured image) Sgt. Michael B. Ellis of the 28th Infantry Regiment single-handedly attacks a German machine gun nest near Exermount, France, killing two enemy soldiers and capturing 17. He then moves on to capture 27 more enemy troops and six machine guns. Two captured officers cough up the locations of four additional machine gun positions, and the “Sgt. York of St. Louis” takes them as well. In addition to numerous valor medals from foreign countries, Ellis is awarded the Medal of Honor.

1950: Just a few short weeks after the U.S. military had its back to the sea in the Pusan Perimeter, the tables have completely turned. Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker’s Eighth U.S. Army issues orders to cross the 38th Parallel into North Korea. The communist capital of Pyongyang will soon be in allied hands, but China has threatened to join the war if the United States invades North Korea.

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27 September: Today in military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Joselito O. Villanueva, who gave his life for our country on this date in 2004. The 36-year-old native of Los Angeles was killed by enemy sniper fire while manning an observation post in Balad, Iraq. Villanueva spent 11 years in the Army and had been wounded in April when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle. He was serving with the 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division.


1860: During an insurrection on Panama, a landing party of Marines from the sloop-of-war USS St. Mary’s land and take control of a railway station.

1918: Although his face has been shredded by an enemy grenade, 1st Lt. Deming Bronson charges across open ground with the men of Company H, 364th Infantry, capturing an enemy dugout. Later that afternoon (Sept. 26), Bronson takes an enemy bullet to the arm. Patched up by the medic and ordered to the rear, he returns to his men instead. He powers through shock and the intense pain of his wounds, and the following day, Bronson assists in the capture of Eclisfontaine, France. He then assists in knocking out an enemy machinegun position, killing the gunner himself. When a heavy enemy artillery barrage forces the Americans to fall back, Bronson is hit again, wounded in both arms by an enemy high-explosive shell. A fellow officer pulls a profusely bleeding and faint Bronson to safety, and he remains with his fellow soldiers through the night, once again refusing to abandon the battle.

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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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