Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. William R. Squier, Jr. who was killed by enemy small-arms fire on this date in 1969 in Binh Thuan province, Republic of Vietnam. The 20-year-old native of Brownell, Ks. had been in Vietnam for 17 months and was assigned to “C” Company Rangers, 75th Infantry.
1814: Unable to break the strong American defensive lines around Baltimore after a series of attacks, British troops return to their ships. Meanwhile, Vice Adm. Alexander Cochrane’s fleet begins a 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, which guards the entrance to Baltimore harbor. The ships fire their cannons and rockets at maximum range and are unable to inflict any serious damage.
American lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key observes the attack while aboard a Royal Navy ship to secure the release of an American prisoner. Key is so moved by the nighttime bombardment and the sight of the American flag in the morning that he writes “Defence of Fort M’Henry” on the back of an envelope, which will become the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The song does not become our national anthem, however, until 1931.
Today’s post is in honor of four 1st Battalion, 2d Infantry Regiment soldiers killed in action east of Loc Ninh, Republic of Vietnam on this day in 1968. Lost were 1st Lt. Lester L. Wood (24 years old, from Dallas), 1st Lt. James A. Smith (22, Blackfoot, Idaho), Staff Sgt. Larry R. Sims (23, Rolling Hills, Ill.), and Pfc. Phillip L. Tank (20, Ecorse, Mich.).
1847: “From the halls of Montezuma…” Gen. Winfield Scott’s army of Marines and soldiers begin their attack on the castle Chapultepec, sitting 200 feet above in Mexico City. During the battle, 90 percent of Marine commissioned and non-commissioned officers are killed by snipers, memorialized by the “blood stripe” on the Marine Corps’ Dress Blue trousers. Participating in the engagement are many young officers – such as Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson – who will face each other in the Civil War.
1918: The Battle of Saint-Mihiel, the first and only U.S.-led and executed operation of World War I, begins when Gen. John J. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force attacks Gen. Johannes Georg von der Marwitz’ Imperial German Army forces. Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell leads an armada of nearly 1,500 warplanes during the offensive – the largest air force assembled (at that point) in history. On the ground, artillery and tanks(commanded by Lt. Col. George Patton) join the infantry in devastating the German lines. In just three days, over 22,000 Germans are killed, wounded, or captured.
Today’s post is in honor of the crew of FROSH 10, a B-52C that crashed into a mountain in Maine during a training mission on this day in 1963. The airmen were testing terrain-following radar and flying at near-treetop levels when they encountered severe turbulence from the mountains, completely shearing off their rear stabilizer. While the pilot and navigator survived, Maj. Robert J. Morrison, Lt. Col Joe R. Simpson, Jr., Maj. William W. Gabriel, Maj. Robert J. Hill, Jr., Capt. Herbert L. Hansen, Capt. Charles G. Leuchter and Tech. Sgt. Michael F. O’Keefe of the 99th Bombardment Wing, Heavy perished.
1847: Col. Sterling Price (future major general in the Confederate Army) learns a force of nearly 2,000 Mexicans and Pueblo Indians is preparing to assault U.S.-held Santa Fe, in modern-day New Mexico. He assembles his 353 soldiers, militia, and volunteers and heads out to meet the enemy, which occupy houses and the heights overlooking Price’s position.
Despite the terrain disadvantage and five-to-one numerical odds, Price’s heavily outnumbered force routs the insurgents.”In a few minutes,” Price reported, “my troops had dislodged the enemy at all points, and they were flying in every direction.”
1944: As Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas’ VI Corps expand the beachhead at Anzio, Adolf Hitler orders his troops to defend the Gustav Line (situated between Anzio and Monte Cassino) to the last man. The nihilistic dictator’s order comes a year — to the day — after ordering Gen. Friedrich Paulus’ shattered Sixth Army to fight to the death at Stalingrad. Paulus and his men only hold out for another week.
1846: Three days after Gen. Zachary Taylor’s forces defeat the Mexican Army in the Battle of Palo Alto, Pres. James K. Polk tells Congress: “Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon American soil.”
The Mexican-American War – already underway – is formally declared within two days.
1864: During the Battle of Yellow Tavern, Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart is shot by a dismounted Union cavalry trooper north of Richmond, Va. “The greatest cavalry officer ever foaled in America” is mortally wounded and will die the next day.
1889: An Army wagon train leaves Fort Grant loaded with $28,000 in gold and silver coins (nearly the equivalent of one million dollars today) to pay U.S. troops stationed in Arizona Territory, guarded by a dozen Buffalo Soldiers from the 24th Infantry and 10th Cavalry regiments. A band of highwaymen ambush the convoy and manage to make off with the money following a 30-minute firefight that wounds eight soldiers.
1846: In the first major battle of the Mexican War, U.S. Army forces under the command of Gen. (and future president) Zachary Taylor decisively defeat Mexican forces under Gen. Mariano Arista in the Battle of Palo Alto (Texas). The Mexicans will retreat to a seemingly more defensible position at Resaca de la Palma the following day, but Taylor will pursue and beat them badly there too.
1864: Union Army forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee clash in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. The outcome at Spotsylvania Courthouse will be inconclusive and the casualties terribly heavy. In less than two weeks, Grant will again break contact and continue his advance toward Richmond.
1904: U.S. Marines land at Tangier, Morocco to protect the Belgian legation.
1911: U.S. Navy Capt. Washington I. Chambers places an order for two A-1 Triad floatplanes from the Curtiss aircraft company. Thus, May 8 becomes the official birthday of Naval Aviation.
1945: V-E Day: The unconditional surrender of German forces signed by Gen. Alfred Jodl at the “little red schoolhouse” (supreme allied headquarters in Reims, France) the previous day becomes official. Although clashes between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army will continue for another day, Nazi Germany has laid down their arms.