Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Johnny C. Walls, who died of wounds sustained from small-arms fire in Uruzgan, Afghanistan on this date in 2007. Walls, 41, of Bremerton, Wash., was assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and had previously deployed to Iraq in 2003.
1783: Gen. George Washington delivers his “Farewell Address to the Army” near Princeton, N.J., in which he refers to the Continental Army as “one patriotic band of brothers.”
1861: Pres. Abraham Lincoln removes Union Gen. John C. Fremont as commander of the Western Department, following Fremont’s unilateral decision to declare martial law in the border state of Missouri and thus freeing all slaves.
1943: One day after the 3rd Marine Division lands at Bougainville, the cruisers and destroyers of Admiral Aaron S. “Tip” Merrill’s Task Force 39 defeat Japanese naval forces attempting to attack the landing force in the Battle of Empress Bay. Two Japanese ships are sent to the bottom, with numerous enemy warships receiving heavy damage.
(Featured image) Meanwhile, in the skies over the nearby Japanese fortress of Rabaul, Maj. Raymond H. Wilkins, Commander of the Army Air Corps’ 8th Bombing Squadron, led an attack against Japanese-held Rabaul. His bombs destroyed an enemy transport and destroyer, and although his plane was badly damaged and his bombs expended, Wilkins strafed a Japanese cruiser, sacrificing himself by drawing their fire so his fellow pilots could escape the deadly air defenses. The raid sinks 30 of the 38 Japanese vessels anchored at Rabaul, and Wilkins will posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor.
1922: Lt. Harold R. Harris (Army Air Service) performs the world’s first emergency parachute jump when the wings of his Loening PW-2A come apart during a simulated dogfight 2,500 feet over McCook Field. Harris bails out of his cockpit and after free-falling 2,000 feet, he lands safely in a garden in Dayton, Ohio.
1926: (featured image) With a brutal murder of a post office truck driver capping a series of brutal attacks on postal workers, President Calvin Coolidge orders the Marine Corps to protect the mail delivery across the United States. 2,500 Marines of two-time Medal of Honor recipient Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler’s 4th Marine Regiment will serve as the “Western Mail Guards,” guarding mail trucks, trains, and post offices. Quickly ending the crime wave, the Marines return to their regular posts in 1927.
1944: Two-and-a-half years after famously vowing to return to the Philippines, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and some 130,000 soldiers of the Sixth Army land at Leyte Island. Over the next 67 days, MacArthur’s forces will completely wipe out the 16th Japanese Army — perpetrators of the Bataan Death March — and capture Leyte, signaling the beginning of the end for the Japanese. Continue reading “20 October: Today in U.S. military history”
1861: 1,000 Confederate soldiers land on Florida’s Santa Rosa Island and assault Union-held Fort Pickens. The attackers withdraw after the federal guns inflict 90 casualties. Fort Pickens sits across the bay from Naval Air Station Pensacola — the birthplace of Naval aviation — and coastal defense guns were installed at the old fort during World War II.
1940: After USS Nautilus (SS-168) conducts a successful test refueling of a seaplane, Secretary of the Navy William F. Knox approves a plan for 24 submarines to each carry 20,000 gallons of aviation gasoline for refueling seaplanes at sea.
1950: As the U.S. military crosses into North Korea, the 1st Cavalry Division spearheads the assault. Pfc. Robert H. Young is wounded once by an enemy barrage, but he refuses medical treatment and remains on the line. Wounded a second time and awaiting treatment, he springs back into action when the enemy threatens to surround the Americans. Firing from an exposed position, he kills five enemy soldiers and is hit a third time, but remains on the field — directing friendly tanks to destroy enemy gun positions. Young is hit by an enemy mortar blast while he is treating his wounded comrades, but despite his multiple grievous wounds, he instructs the medics to help the others first.
Pfc. Young will perish from his wounds on November 9, 1950, and is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Continue reading “9 October: Today in U.S. military history”
Today’s post is in honor of Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, who gave his life for our country on this date in 2015. The 29-year-old native of Pensacola, Fla. was one of six Air Force personnel that died in a C-130J crash on Afghanistan’s Jalalabad Airfield. Five civilian contractors on board also perished as did a three-man Afghan security team on the ground. Sartain was serving in the 66th Security Forces Squadron. Also lost were Airman 1st Class Kcey E. Ruiz (21, of McDonough, Ga.), Capt. Jordan P. Pierson (28, of Abilene, Texas), Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris (21, of Milwaukee, Wisc.), Staff Sgt. Ryan T. Hammond (26, Moundsville, W. Va.), and Capt. Johnathan J. Golden (33, of Camarillo, Calif.).
1942: (Featured image) Col. Laurence C. Craigie becomes the U.S. military’s first official jet pilot when he takes off from Muroc Dry Lake (present-day Edwards Air Force Base) in the Bell XP-59A. The day before, a Bell test pilot accidentally lifted off during a high-speed taxi test. Craigie will go on to command a fighter wing in North Africa, then becomes Vice Commander of the Far East Air Forces during the Korean War.
1944: As the 85th Infantry Division fights their way across Italy, Sgt. Christos H. Karaberis’ platoon was pinned down by enemy fire. Karaberis (who changed his name to Chris Carr following the war) crept to the rear of an enemy machine gun position. Leaping forward and shooting his submachine gun into the position, he caught the occupants by surprise – capturing eight enemy soldiers. Karaberis moved on to the next position – this time maneuvering to avoid enemy fire – killing four soldiers and capturing another. Karaberis then moved against a third machine gun position, forcing the enemy troops to surrender. Incredibly, Karaberis would charge two more positions, bringing his total to five machine gun nests, killing eight enemy soldiers, and capturing 22. His full Medal of Honor citation can be viewed here.
That same day near Palenburg, Germany, Pvt. Harold G. Kiner and four other soldiers are leading a frontal assault on the Germans. When the Americans are 25 yards away from enemy lines, they are pinned down by machinegun fire, then targeted by enemy grenades. Kiner spots one that lands between him and his fellow soldiers, then gallantly covers the deadly blast with his body. He is killed, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. William E. Hill, who was killed on this day in 1965 during a sweep and clear mission in the Republic of Vietnam’s Quang Nam province. The 33-year-old Leesburg, Fla. native had served in the Marine Corps for 14 years and was one of four Marines killed when an estimated platoon-sized Viet Cong force detonated a land mine and then engaged the Americans with small-arms fire.
1775: A small force of American and Canadian militia led by Ethan Allen attempts to capture the British-held city of Montreal. British Gen. Guy Carleton quickly gathers a force of British regulars and Canadian militia, scattering Allen’s troops and capturing the hero of Fort Ticonderoga and former commander of Vermont’s famed “Green Mountain Boys.” Allen will remain a prisoner in England until his exchange in 1778.
That same day, Col. Benedict Arnold sets out with 1,000 men on a poorly planned expedition to Quebec. The trip takes far longer than anticipated, forcing the men to eat their shoes and other leather equipment to survive, and they are soundly defeated by the British once the weakened force reaches their objective in December.
1918: Former Indianapolis 500 driver — now captain and commander of the Army Air Corps’ 94th “Hat in the Ring” Aero Squadron — Eddie Rickenbacker (featured image) becomes a double ace, singlehandedly attacking a flight of seven German warplanes and downing two. For his actions on this day, he will receive one of his nine Distinguished Service Crosses — later upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Rickenbacker’s 26 aerial victories by war’s end marks the most by any U.S. fighter pilot during World War I.