If you had to name the ten most-famous Americans ever, who would be on your list? Better yet: if you could go back in time with any of them and have a beer, who would you pick? John Glenn would have to be at the top of my list. He flew combat missions in World War II and Korea, flew alongside baseball great Ted Williams, was one of the original Mercury astronauts, the first American to orbit the earth, was a politician, ran for president, then became the oldest man in space. Man, wouldn’t you just kill to hear some of those stories?
The following pages feature historic photos of John H. Glenn Jr., some you might have seen, some you haven’t. Hopefully you enjoy reading this slideshow as much as we did writing it.
Maj. Glenn’s fighter took so much damage from enemy fire that his fellow aviators nicknamed him “Magnet Ass.” Here he stands in front of the F-86 Sabre which he used to kill three enemy MiG-15s. Between World War II and Korea, Glenn flew 149 combat missions and was hit 12 different times. On two occasions, his plane returned with over 250 holes.
Today’s post is in honor of the 19 soldiers who gave their lives on this day in 1993 during Operation GOTHIC SERPENT: Sgt. Cornell L. Houston Sr. and Pfc. James H. Martin Jr. of the 10th Mountain Division; SSgt. William D. Cleveland Jr., SSgt. Thomas J. Field, and CW4 Raymond A. Frank of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s SUPER 64; CW3 Clinton P. Wolcott and CW3 Donovan L. Briley of SUPER 61; Cpl. James E. Smith, Spc. James M. Cavaco, Sgt. James C. Joyce, Cpl. Richard W. Kowalewski Jr., Sgt. Dominick M. Pilla, and Sgt. Lorenzo M. Ruiz of the 3rd Ranger Battalion; MSgt. Timothy L. Martin, SFC Earl R. Filmore Jr., SSgt. Daniel D. Busch, SFC Randy Shughart, and MSgt. Garry I. Gordon of 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. (Delta’s SFC Matthew L. Rierson is killed in action on 6 Oct., but is typically included among the battle’s casualties)
1794: President George Washington calls on the governors of Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to mobilize troops to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Washington himself will lead the army – the only time a sitting president commands troops in the field. Henry “Light Horse” Lee, veteran of the American Revolution and father of Confederate general Robert E. Lee will also lead troops, and also participating in the campaign is Pvt. Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
1912: Four Marine battalions – including one led by Maj. Smedley Butler – converge and assault the fortress atop the 500-ft. Coyotepe Hill. Nicaraguan rebel commander Gen. Benjamin Zeledón is killed during the battle, and the rebellion effectively ends once the Marines capture the city of León in two days.
Butler, a veteran of the Boxer Rebellion, Banana Wars, Mexican Revolution, and World War I, is the only Marine in history to be awarded two Medal of Honors and the Marine Corps Brevet Medal. His Medal of Honor citations can be read here: 1st award / 2nd award
1950: Major League Baseball rules that Philadelphia Phillies’ 17-game winner Curt Simmons, whose National Guard unit had just been activated during the Korean War, would not be eligible to pitch in the World Series, despite the fact that he was on furlough. With their ace left-hander out of the lineup, the Phillies will be swept by a New York Yankee team managed by World War I veteran Casey Stengel (USN) and featuring Joe DiMaggio (USA), Whitey Ford (soon-to-be USA), Hank Bauer (USMC), Jerry Coleman (USMC), and Yogi Berra (USN).
[Today in Military History is originally published at OpsLens.com]
1865: The war lost, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee concludes, “There is nothing left for me to do, but to go and see Gen. [Ulysses S.] Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.”
Lee formally surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at the home of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Still-operating Confederate forces will surrender within months.
1918: The famed 94th “Hat in the Ring” Aero Squadron moves up to the Croix de Metz Aerodrome in France, becoming the first American aviation outfit to enter combat. In May, Lt. Douglas Campbell becomes the first American-trained pilot to earn “ace” status, and fellow squadron mate Lt. Eddie Rickenbacker – who will ultimately become America’s top flying ace of World War I – scores his fifth victory in June.
1942: Having run out of food, ammunition, and supplies after months of fighting the Japanese, Maj. Gen. Edward P. King surrenders over 11,000 American and 60,000 Filipino forces under his command on Luzon Island to the Japanese. Immediately after the fall of Bataan, the Japanese begin bombarding Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright and some 10,000 troops now isolated on the island fortress of Corregidor, who will manage to hold out for a month before they must surrender as well.
This day also marks the beginning of the brutal Bataan Death March. The Japanese force the sick, starving, and wounded prisoners to march some 80-90 miles in extreme heat and humidity to a Japanese prison camp in the backcountry of Luzon.
Along the way, thousands of captives are beaten, raped, bayoneted, disemboweled, beheaded, or shot. Those too weak to keep up with the march – or who stop to relieve themselves – are summarily executed. All are deprived of food and water. Fewer than 55,000 survive. Thousands more will not survive the prison camps or the so-called “hell ships” delivering them to labor facilities in Japan.