Posted in Military History

10 September: Today in U.S. military history

Ivan (left) and Cornwell

Today’s post is in honor of Capt. Leroy J. Cornwell III and Maj. Andrew Ivan Jr. who were lost when their F-4D Phantom went down during a forward air control mission over Laos’ Plain of Jars on this day in 1971. The 27-year-old Cornwell (from Wakefield, Va.) served in the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) and Ivan (29, from New Brunswick, N.J.) flew for the 13th TFS — both based at Udorn Air base, Thailand. Originally listed as missing, the crew were declared dead in 1973. However, their remains were located and buried in Arlington National Cemetery in the 1990s.


1813: Along the shores of Lake Erie, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s squadron engages the Royal Navy in the Battle of Put-in-Bay. Perry’s ship is so damaged that he boards an open lifeboat and transfers his flag to another ship in the face of heavy gunfire before resuming the fight. After defeating the British, he writes a brief report to Maj. Gen. (and future president) William Henry Harrison, commanding the Army of the Northwest: “We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.”

1944: The First U.S. Army captures Luxembourg. After being conquered by the Germans during both world wars, the tiny nation strips neutrality from its constitution and becomes a founding member of NATO. Continue reading “10 September: Today in U.S. military history”

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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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5 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Air Force Staff Sgt. Todd J. Lobraico Jr., who was killed on this date in 2013 by enemy small-arms fire during a patrol outside Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. The 22-year-old native of New Fairfield, Conn. was assigned to the 105th Security Forces Squadron, Stewart Air National Guard Base (N.Y.).


1781: The Royal Navy fleet commanded by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Grave’s Royal fleet clashes with Comte de Grasse’s French armada at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. The navies fight each other at close range for two hours before the British disengage and sail for New York. The French victory traps Lt. Gen. Lord Corwallis’ army at Yorktown, preventing their reinforcement or evacuation and ultimately contributing to Cornwallis’ surrender in October.

1813: Off the coast of Maine, the brig USS Enterprise spots HMS Boxer and the two vessels begin maneuvering to attack. Boxer’s captain Samuel Blyth declares “We are going to fight both ends and both sides of this ship as long as the ends and the sides hold together.” Blyth is killed in the opening barrage, and in less than 30 minutes, his ship is wrecked. A mortally wounded Capt. William Burrows refuses to accept Blyth’s sword and orders it sent back to the English captain’s family. The two captains are buried side by side during an elaborate funeral in Portland.

1862: U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, Charles F. Adams (the son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson of Pres. John Adams), informs the British government that sending ironclad warships to aid the Confederacy would lead to war.

1917: At Gouzeaucourt, France, an American engineer unit comes under enemy artillery fire, wounding Sgt. Matthew Calderwood and Pvt. William Branigan – the first U.S. casualties of World War I.

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26 August: Today in U.S. military history

Cpl. Humlhanz

Today’s post is in honor of Marine Cpl. Barton R. Humlhanz, who was killed by enemy action in Iraq’s Babil province on this day 15 years ago. Humlhanz, 23, of Hellertown, Pa. was assigned to Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24, 24th MEU out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.


1950: The 5th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) replaces the 34th Infantry Regiment which was utterly decimated by a series of delaying actions against the North Korean Army. Since only 184 soldiers remained out of the regiment’s original strength of 1,898, surviving 34th Infantry soldiers are used to fill holes in other units and the regiment is reconstituted in Japan.

One of those 5th RCT soldiers is Master Sgt. Melvin O. Handrich, who fought in the Aleutian Islands Campaign before becoming a paratrooper and fighting across Europe. When a force of enemy soldiers attempts to overrun Handrich’s company, he leaves the relative safety of his position behind and moves forward, where he will spend the next eight hours directing mortar and artillery fire on the enemy.

When the hostile force makes another attempt to overrrun the American position, Handrich observes friendly soldiers attempting to withdraw. He crosses the fire-swept ground to rally them, and returns to his forward post. Refusing medical care or even to seek cover, the North Koreans eventually cut down Handrich. But when U.S. soldiers retake the ground, they count 70 dead enemy surrounding Handrich’s body.

1957: Following the launch of the Soviet Union’s R-7 Semyorka missile, state-run news agency TASS announces that the USSR has successfully tested a multi-stage intercontinental ballistic missile that could target “any place in the world.”

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Today in U.S. military history: C-130 Hercules turns 65

Lockheed’s YC-130 during its first flight. Notice the lack of the radome on the aircraft’s nose. The originial Hercules used three-bladed propellers, like the prototype, but today’s “J” models use six-bladed props. (Lockheed Martin)

1942: While Japanese reinforcements depart Truk to join the fighting on Guadalcanal, American P-40 Warhawks with the 49th Fighter Group shoot down 15 Japanese fighters and bombers attempting to target the air base in Darwin, Australia.

1944: When Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army reaches the Seine River, Adolf Hitler orders Gen. Hans Speidel to destroy all bridges in Paris – which Speidel ignores, as well as another order days later to target Paris with V-1 buzz bombs and V-2 rockets. Speidel’s garrison will surrender in two days and the 28th Infantry Division will parade through the streets of Paris, ending four years of Nazi occupation.

300 miles to the west in Brittany, Staff Sgt. Alvin P. Carey spots an enemy machinegun nest 200 yards up a hill that is pinning down his soldiers. He grabs as many grenades as he can carry and has his soldiers cover him, then crawls up the hill. Carey shoots a German soldier on the way up, then begins hurling grenades at the enemy position – drawing the machine gunners’ fire. Although mortally wounded, he still manages to hurl a grenade right on target, killing the crew and knocking their guns out. Carey is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Continue reading “Today in U.S. military history: C-130 Hercules turns 65”