Posted in Military History

15 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Gunnery Sgt. Justin E. Schmalstieg who was killed while defusing a roadside bomb he in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on this day in 2010. The 28-year-old Pittsburgh native had served three tours in Iraq and was on his first deployment to Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, Calif.


1791: The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States, become law.

1862: Union Army Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside ends his disastrous series of frontal attacks against Gen. Robert E. Lee’s well-entrenched Confederate forces along Marye’s Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg. It is during the battle that Lee – emotionally moved by the valor of the Federal Army, which, despite terrible losses, attacks his impregnable position time-and-again – says, “It is well that war is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it.”

1864: Gen. John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee is routed in the Battle of Nashville by a Union army under command of Gen. George Thomas. After the battle, Hood’s once-formidable army would no longer be an effective fighting force. Continue reading “15 December: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

13 December: Today in U.S. military history

1636: The Massachusetts General Court in Salem orders the creation of a militia, requiring all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 join, to defend the colony if necessary. Three regiments are created: the North Regiment – today’s 181st and 182nd Infantry Regiments; the East Regiment – today’s 101st Engineer Battalion; and the South Regiment – today’s 101st Field Artillery Regiment. The National Guard is born.

1918: The U.S. Army of Occupation crosses the Rhine and enters Germany.

1951: Air Force pilot George A. Davis Jr. shoots down four MiG-15 jets, the largest one-day total during the Korean War. Davis was the war’s first double ace (10 kills) of the war, shooting down a total of 14 Chinese, Korean, and Soviet jets (adding to seven Japanese planes shot down during World War II), but he would later become the only ace to be killed during the conflict. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

1966: The Pentagon confirms that China is holding captive Capt. Phillip E. Smith, a U.S. Air Force F-104 Starfighter pilot. Smith was escorting an EC-121 Looking Glass aircraft on 20 September 1965 when his navigational equipment failed, causing him to stray into Chinese airspace. After being shot down and captured by the Chinese Army, Smith would spend the next seven years in captivity. Continue reading “13 December: Today in U.S. military history”

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11 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Spc. Marshall L. Edgerton, who was killed when suicide bombers attacked his camp in Ramadi, Iraq on this day in 2003. The 27-year-old native of Rocky Face, Ga. was assigned to Company A, 82d Signal Battalion, 82d Airborne Division.


1941: The small American garrison on Wake – consisting of a few hundred Marines, sailors, and civilian contractors – repels a Japanese invasion force seeking to capture the island. The 5-inch coastal defense guns (taken from the former battleship USS Texas) hammer the incoming warships, sinking one destroyer and damaging several others, the island’s four remaining F4F-3 Wildcat fighters take off to intercept a flight of Japanese warplanes.

Despite being heavily outnumbered, Marine Capt. Henry T. Elrod will shoot down two aircraft before he and his fellow aviators set their sights on the Japanese ships. Elrod becomes the first American pilot to sink a surface ship during World War II when his bombs detonate the depth charges on Kisaragi. The destroyer goes down with all hands.

That same day, Adolf Hitler declares war on the United States. Although Nazi Germany and Japan had signed an agreement stating that Germany would come to Japan’s aid if they were attacked, Germany was under no such obligation since Japan was the aggressor. However, and with virtually no consultation with his staff, Hitler declares war against the United States anyways. Within hours, Congress responds with a unanimous declaration of war against Germany. Continue reading “11 December: Today in U.S. military history”

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7 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Spc. Micah S. Gifford, who on this day in 2006 was killed by an improvised explosive device attack in Baghdad. The 27-year-old native of Redding, Calif. was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.


1917: Four U.S. battleships, USS Delaware (BB-28), USS Florida (BB-30), USS New York (BB-34), and USS Wyoming (BB-32) arrive in British waters and join the British Grand Fleet for service during World War I. That same day, the United States declares war on Austria-Hungary.

1941: At 3:57 a.m., the minesweeper USS Condor spots a periscope at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The ship signals the nearby destroyer USS Ward, whose crew begins searching for the unidentified vessel. At 6:37 a.m., Ward spots the periscope as a two-man Japanese mini-sub attempts to follow a U.S. cargo ship into the harbor and sinks the enemy warship – the first U.S. shots of World War II.

Having achieved total tactical and strategic surprise, Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo’s 1st Air Fleet begins their attack on Pearl Harbor. The strike is conducted in two waves: The first wave of 183 enemy aircraft strikes just before 8:00 a.m. The second wave of 170 planes hits a little after 8:30 a.m. Continue reading “7 December: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

4 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. John J. Savage, who on this day in 2008, died of wounds from an improvised explosive device attack on his vehicle in Mosul, Iraq. The 26-year-old from Weatherford, Texas was assigned to the 103rd Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion and was serving his second Iraq deployment.


1783: Nine days after the British evacuate New York City, Gen. George Washington bids farewell to his fellow Continental Army officers over a turtle feast at Fraunces Tavern. Washington tells them: “With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.”

1861: Jefferson Davis is elected President of the Confederate States of America. Previously, Davis served as a junior officer in the U.S. Army following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy. During the Mexican-American War, he raised a volunteer infantry regiment and became its colonel. President James Polk will offer Davis a federal commission as brigadier general, which he will turn down. Continue reading “4 December: Today in U.S. military history”