August 2 in U.S. military history

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

1776: Although the Continental Congress voted to establish “the thirteen united [sic] States of America” on July 2 and adopted Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence two days later, congressional delegates sign the Declaration on this date. The most famous inscription belongs to John Hancock, the president of Congress, who is said to have declared, “There, I guess King George will be able to read that without his spectacles,” after adding his rather substantial signature.

1909: After a successful demonstration for the military by Orville Wright, the Army Signal Corps purchases a Wright Flyer for $30,000 (the equivalent of $800,000 today). The two-seat “Signal Corps Airplane No. 1” will train America’s first military pilots at College Park, Md. and Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio over the next two years – crashing several times – before it’s retirement. Today, the legendary aircraft hangs in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

1934: Upon the death of German president Paul von Hindenberg, Chancellor Adolf Hitler begins his “thousand-year Reich,” assuming full dictatorial powers as Reichsführer. Also on this date, Hitler changes the military oath so that the Wehrmacht swears allegiance to him instead of Germany.

1944: Convoy HX 300, the largest convoy of World War II, safely crosses the Atlantic, bringing over 1 million tons of supplies to ports in the United Kingdom. 32 escort vessels protected the 155 cargo ships, and the formation spanned nine miles across and four miles long. Not a single ship was attacked by a German submarine.

1950: As the North Korean Army bears down on the American and UN forces occupying the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade lands at Pusan and mans the Pusan Perimeter’s left flank.

1964: The destroyer USS Maddox (DD-731), supporting South Vietnamese covert operations against the North in the Gulf of Tonkin, is attacked by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. Within days, Congress would pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, paving the way for full-scale conflict in Vietnam.

1990: At 2a.m., several divisions of the Iraqi military’s elite Republican Guards cross into Kuwait, beginning a seven-month occupation of the neighboring state. The United States will lead a 35-nation coalition to liberate Kuwait in January.

Posted on August 2, 2017 at 08:39 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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June 8 in U.S. military history

Pres. George H.W. Bush greets Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf during the victory parade

1966: During a test flight of the North American XB-70 “Valkyrie,” an experimental six-engine bomber capable of flying at three times the speed of sound, an F-104 “Starfighter” chase plane collides with the Valkyrie, sending the bomber spiraling out of control and instantly killing the pilot of the chase plane, Joseph A. Walker – a former Army Air Force captain, fighter pilot during World War II, NASA chief test pilot, and the first U.S. civilian to fly high enough to be considered “spaceflight.” The Valkyrie’s pilot manages to eject, but the co-pilot is trapped inside the stricken warplane and crashes into the ground near Barstow, Calif. The Air Force backs out of the Valkyrie program shortly after the collision.

1967: During the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab nations, the technical research ship USS Liberty (AGTR-5), a converted World War II freighter, is attacked by Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats in Mediterranean, killing 34 sailors and injuring nearly 200. The ship was operating 30 miles north of the Sinai Peninsula, gathering electronic intelligence during Israel’s brief conflict with the Soviet-supported Arabs.

Crews frantically work to save the vessel, which was nearly broken in half. Liberty’s skipper, Cmdr. William McGonagle, receives the Medal of Honor for his actions in an atypical private ceremony. Although the details surrounding the incident are still unclear 50 years later, Israel immediately apologizes for the incident, citing fog of war, and offers compensation to the sailors’ families.

1991: Hundreds of thousands gather to see Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf lead a victory parade through Washington, D.C. following Operation Desert Storm. A flyover of F-117 stealth fighters kicks off the parade, while tanks and thousands of troops pass in front of Pres. George H.W. Bush and other officials.

1995: Nearly a week after a Bosnian-Serb surface to air missile shoots down his F-16C “Fighting Falcon,” Capt. Scott O’Grady radios for help. The Air Force pilot has been behind enemy lines evading his would-be captors for six days, and searching for a safe location suitable for landing a helicopter. Within hours, a 41-man Marine Corps specially trained rescue unit boards two CH-53 “Super Stallion” helicopters, accompanied by attack helicopters and some 40 other aircraft. Although the helicopters take fire on the return trip, O’Grady is recovered and no one is injured in the daring mission.

Posted on June 8, 2017 at 08:51 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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