Posted in Military History

Today in U.S. military history: The Battle of Khafji

Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Scott A. Schroeder, who was one of several Marines killed on this day in 1991 during the Battle of Khafji (see below.) The 19-year-old from Wauwatosa, Wisc. was assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Infantry Battalion.

1863: Following a series of clashes between white settlers and the Shoshone Indians, Col. Patrick E. Connor’s 3rd California Volunteer Infantry Regiment attacks a Shoshone encampment in Washington Territory (present day Utah-Idaho border). Hundreds of Shoshone and 21 Union soldiers are killed in the Battle (or massacre) of Bear River.

1943: As Task Force 18 brings American replacement troops to Guadalcanal, Japanese land-based torpedo bombers attack the flotilla, sinking the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) and damaging a destroyer. The American warships withdraw after the Battle of Rennell Island – the last major naval engagement of the Guadalcanal campaign – opening the door for the Japanese evacuation of Guadalcanal.

1944: Maj. Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s Eighth Air Force bombers and escorts take off from fields across England for their largest bombing mission of the war to that point. Over 800 B-17s and B-24s target the German cities of Frankfurt and Ludwigshaven. 29 heavy bombers are lost and another five are shot up badly enough to be scrapped after limping back across the channel. 22 American airmen are killed and 299 are listed as missing in action, but the gunners and P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt, and P-51 Mustang escort pilots claim over 150 German warplanes and damage dozens more.

Eighth Air Force B-17s in formation. This bomber was one of 19 bombers shot down during a massive 1,100-bomber raid on Leipzig on 20 July 1944. Liberty Run was crippled by flak and crashed south of Aschaffenberg, Germany on 20 July 1944. The “A” inside the triangle on the tailfin shows that this bomber belongs to the 1st Combat Wing’s 91st Bomb Group (Heavy), flying out of RAF Bassingbourn.

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Today in U.S. military history: Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off for last time

Today’s post is in honor of Seaman Apprentice William Flores, who was one of 23 Coast Guardsmen that perished on this day in 1980 when USCGC Blackthorn collides with another vessel. Flores, 18, of Carlsbad, N.M., was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Medal — the service’s highest non-combat award for heroism — for tossing life jackets to guardsmen that had jumped overboard, then remained aboard the sinking vessel to assist injured and disoriented crew, sacrificing his life to save his shipmates.

1915: Pres. Woodrow Wilson signs into law the congressionally approved merger of the “Life Saving” and “Revenue Cutter” services, thus establishing the U.S. Coast Guard. Still, the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard is Aug. 4, 1790, the day Congress approved Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s proposal to “build ten cutters to protect the new nation’s revenue.”

1945: The Eighth Air Force celebrates its third birthday by sending 1,006 B-24 and B-17 bombers and 249 P-51 escorts to Dortmund, Germany on Mission 809 — a raid on marshaling yards, bridges and benzol plants, and other targets of opportunity. German air defenses shoot down seven B-24s and three B-17s, damage 464 bombers, and upon landing, another four bombers are damaged beyond repair. 16 airmen are killed, 31 wounded, and 106 missing in action.

By this time, the Mighty Eighth had flown more than 250,000 bomber and 210,000 fighter sorties, delivering well over half a million tons of bombs and destroying 13,000 enemy planes.

1966: Marines hit the beaches of the South Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province in the first amphibious landing since Korea. The Americans meet little resistance as they head inland, then move to cut off retreating North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces.

1973: B-52s carried out their final combat sortie in Southeast Asia — striking targets in South Vietnam. Operation ARC LIGHT had started in 1965.

Bomb blasts from a B-52 “Arc Light” strike. A B-52D, like the bomber which left the destruction seen above, could carry 108 500-lb. bombs, or a mixed load of 64 500-lb. bombs in the bomb bay and 24 750-lb. bombs on underwing pylons.

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Dec. 24: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Lance Cpl. Kenneth A. Corzine, who on this day in 2010 died of wounds sustained in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. The 23-year-old from Bethalto, Ill. was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

1814: Delegates from the United States and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Ghent in modern-day Belgium, bringing an end to the War of 1812. News travels slowly, however, and two weeks after the signing, Maj. Gen. (and future president) Andrew Jackson defeats a British invasion force in the Battle New Orleans.

1943: 670 B-17s and B-24s from the Eighth Air Force conduct a bombing raid at German long-range rocket sites at Pas de Calais, France.

1944: After a week of foul weather that had kept American warplanes grounded during the Battle of the Bulge finally breaks, the Eighth Air Force takes advantage of the break in the clouds and restore their air supremacy. Nearly 3,000 heavy bombers and fighters take off from England for the largest strike mission of the war to provide troops on the ground the support they need to break the Germans.

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