Posted in Military History

9 April: This day in military history

Pfc. Ambrose

Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Gregory F. Ambrose, who was killed during a firefight on 15 March 1968 in the Republic of Vietnam’s Gia Dinh province. Pfc. Ambrose had served in Vietnam for just under a year, assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V.”


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.

94th Aero Squadron pilots (left to right) Eddie Rickenbacker, Douglas Campbell, and Kenneth Marr in front of a Nieuport fighter. (U.S. Army image)

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. Continue reading “9 April: This day in military history”

Posted in Military History

18 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of 2nd Lt. Michael P. Ruane who was killed by hostile fire during a combat operation just north of An Hoa Combat Base on this day in 1967. The 24-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y. native, assigned to Company M, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, had only been in country for a week.


1902: Pres. Theodore Roosevelt orders Adm. George Dewey to take the U.S. North and South Atlantic Squadrons and sail to Venezuela, in order to prevent blockading European navies from waging war against Venezuela over unpaid debts.

After his victory in the Battle of Manila Bay, Dewey was promoted to the new rank of “Admiral of the Navy,” the highest rank ever held by a U.S. Naval officer.

1927: A day after a Coast Guard vessel accidentally rams – and sinks – the submarine USS S-4 (SS-109) off Cape Cod, Navy divers are rushed to the scene. Chief Gunner’s Mate Thomas Eadie learns by tapping on the hull that six sailors remain alive. When fellow diver Fred Michels attempts to attach a line pumping fresh air into the sub, which lies 100 feet below the surface, his own airline is fouled. Although exhausted from his previous dives – for which he will receive his second Navy Cross – Eadie quickly dives again and manages to save Michels after two hours of grueling work. Unfortunately, bad weather prevents the divers from saving the sub’s sailors in time, but Eadie is awarded the Medal of Honor.

1944: In the Philippine Sea, Adm. William “Bull” Halsey’s Task Force 38 sails directly into Typhoon “Cobra”. The 100 mph-plus winds and high seas capsize and sink three destroyers, while heavily damaging a cruiser, five aircraft carriers, and three destroyers. The deadly storm claims the lives of 790 U.S. sailors and destroys over 100 planes, leading to the creation of a Naval weather center and typhoon tracking center on Guam the following year.

Over China, nearly 300 B-29s Superfortress, B-24 Liberator, and B-25 Mitchell bombers – accompanied by P-51 Mustang escorts of the 14th Air Force – attack the Japanese Army’s expeditionary base at Hankao, igniting supply fires that will burn for three days. Continue reading “18 December: Today in U.S. military history”

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

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 Images Military History

John Glenn: from MiG Killer to Oldest Man in Space

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.