1942: While Japanese reinforcements depart Truk to join the fighting on Guadalcanal, American P-40 Warhawks with the 49th Fighter Group shoot down 15 Japanese fighters and bombers attempting to target the air base in Darwin, Australia.
1944: When Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army reaches the Seine River, Adolf Hitler orders Gen. Hans Speidel to destroy all bridges in Paris – which Speidel ignores, as well as another order days later to target Paris with V-1 buzz bombs and V-2 rockets. Speidel’s garrison will surrender in two days and the 28th Infantry Division will parade through the streets of Paris, ending four years of Nazi occupation.
300 miles to the west in Brittany, Staff Sgt. Alvin P. Carey spots an enemy machinegun nest 200 yards up a hill that is pinning down his soldiers. He grabs as many grenades as he can carry and has his soldiers cover him, then crawls up the hill. Carey shoots a German soldier on the way up, then begins hurling grenades at the enemy position – drawing the machine gunners’ fire. Although mortally wounded, he still manages to hurl a grenade right on target, killing the crew and knocking their guns out. Carey is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Continue reading “Today in U.S. military history: C-130 Hercules turns 65”
Today’s post is in honor of Cpl. Nathan B. Carse, who was killed by an improvised explosive device on this day in 2011 in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. The 32-year-old native of Harrod, Ohio was the son of a Green Beret and was assigned to 2d Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade.
1862: A day after 10,000 soldiers under the command of Brig. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, supported by a flotilla of Union gunships, land at Roanoke Island (N.C.), the Confederates surrender the island’s four forts and two batteries. Federal forces now control a strategically significant section of the Atlantic coast, and coupled with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s victory at Fort Henry in Tennessee two days ago, Northerners finally have something to cheer about.
1910: William D. Boyce incorporates the Boy Scouts of America. Countless boys will cut their teeth as young adventurers in Boyce’s scouting program before joining the military. When sub commander Eugene Fluckey – one of nine Medal of Honor recipients to earn the Boy Scouts’ top distinction of Eagle Scout — assembled a landing party to go ashore and destroy a Japanese train, he wanted former Boy Scouts to do the job, since they would most likely have the skills to find their way there and back.
11 of the 12 humans to set foot on the moon were Boy Scout alumni; and Neil Armstrong — the first — was an Eagle Scout.
1865: Robert E. Lee is promoted to General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States. Lee is the only man to hold the prestigious rank during the Confederacy’s brief existence.
1917: Kaiser Wilhelm orders the Imperial German Navy’s fleet of 105 U-boats to resume their campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare, effectively causing the United States to enter World War I. No vessel – civilian or naval – is safe, and war’s end, German subs will have sent 5,000 ships to the bottom.
1945: U.S. Army Private Eddie Slovik is executed by firing squad near Sainte Marie-aux-Mines, France for abandoning his rifle company after admitting he is “too scared” for combat. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower personally signs the execution order to discourage further desertions. To date, Slovik remains the only American shot for desertion since the Civil War.
1950: To regain the upper hand in the nuclear arms race, President Harry S. Truman announces a program that would create a thermonuclear weapon, many times more powerful than the atomic weapon the Soviet Union recently tested.
Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Scott A. Schroeder, who was one of several Marines killed on this day in 1991 during the Battle of Khafji (see below.) The 19-year-old from Wauwatosa, Wisc. was assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Infantry Battalion.
1863: Following a series of clashes between white settlers and the Shoshone Indians, Col. Patrick E. Connor’s 3rd California Volunteer Infantry Regiment attacks a Shoshone encampment in Washington Territory (present day Utah-Idaho border). Hundreds of Shoshone and 21 Union soldiers are killed in the Battle (or massacre) of Bear River.
1943: As Task Force 18 brings American replacement troops to Guadalcanal, Japanese land-based torpedo bombers attack the flotilla, sinking the heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) and damaging a destroyer. The American warships withdraw after the Battle of Rennell Island – the last major naval engagement of the Guadalcanal campaign – opening the door for the Japanese evacuation of Guadalcanal.
1944: Maj. Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s Eighth Air Force bombers and escorts take off from fields across England for their largest bombing mission of the war to that point. Over 800 B-17s and B-24s target the German cities of Frankfurt and Ludwigshaven. 29 heavy bombers are lost and another five are shot up badly enough to be scrapped after limping back across the channel. 22 American airmen are killed and 299 are listed as missing in action, but the gunners and P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt, and P-51 Mustang escort pilots claim over 150 German warplanes and damage dozens more.
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.