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Today in U.S. military history: VI Corps lands at Anzio

Today’s post is in honor of 1st Lt. Nainoa K. Hoe, who was killed by an enemy sniper on this date in 2005 in Mosul, Iraq. The 27-year-old from Kailua, Hawaii was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.


1944: Allied forces, including the U.S. VI Corps under the command of Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas (of Lt. Gen. Mark Clark’s Fifth Army), begin a series of landings along a stretch of western Italian coastline in the Anzio-Nettuno area. The Allies achieve complete surprise against – and encounter little initial resistance from – the Germans, but the landings, codenamed Operation SHINGLE, kick off what will become one of the most grueling campaigns of World War II.

To distract from the Anzio landings, Gen. Clark’s forces attack key positions along the Rapido River. Company F of the 143rd Infantry Regiment is handed the responsibility of charging across the bridge targeted by artillery and mortars and into a killzone of withering machinegun fire. Staff Sgt. Thomas E. McCall and several of his men make it across the ice-covered bridge, and he quickly reassembles what remains his soldiers. They maneuver across open, muddy terrain and barbed wire to a spot where McCall orders his two squads to set up their machine guns. But enemy artillery quickly wipes out all of McCall’s men and one of the guns. McCall drags the wounded to cover and provides first aid, then grabs the last surviving machinegun and runs toward the enemy machinegun positions. He charges into one, killing its occupants, then wipes out another. McCall is last seen charging into a third enemy machinegun position, and will be captured by the Germans.

McCall is awarded the Medal of Honor, and will fight again in Korea. The Battle of Rapido river was considered one of the worst defeats for the U.S. Army during World War II and was the subject of a Congressional investigation following the war.

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Today in U.S. military history: the siege of Khe Sanh

Today’s post is in honor of Cpl. Christopher G. Singer, who was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on this day in 2012. The 23-year-old from Temecula, Calif. was assigned to the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.


1903: The Militia Act of 1903 – also known as the “Dick Act” (Congressman and Maj. Gen. Charles Dick authored much of the legislation) – is passed, establishing federal standards and greater federal control over state militias, essentially creating the modern National Guard.

1918: 12 officers and 133 enlisted men from the 1st Aeronautical Company arrive for anti-submarine duty at Ponta Delgada, Azores. The unit was one of the first completely equipped American aviation units to serve overseas in World War I.

1954: (Featured image) First Lady Mamie Eisenhower christens USS Nautilus (SSN-571), the world’s first-ever nuclear submarine, at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division in Groton, Conn. Nautilus then launches into the Thames River, and in just under a year will cast her lines and ship out under nuclear power. Her Submarine Thermal Reactor obliterated anti-submarine warfare tactics honed against World War II-era diesel-electric subs since nuclear subs no longer need to surface periodically, can dive deeper, and (if detected) could clear the search area in record time.

1961: Seven years to the day after the first nuclear sub is commissioned, USS George Washington (SSBN-598) completes her first operational voyage. The United States’ first ballistic missile submarine remained underwater for 66 days during her maiden deterrent patrol.

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Today in U.S. military history: Day Two of Operation DESERT STORM

Today’s post is in honor of Lt. William T. Costen and Lt. Charles Turner, whose A-6 Intruder was shot down on this date in 1991 during Operation DESERT STORM. Costen (27, from St. Louis, Mo.) and Turner (29, of Richfield, Minn.) had just finished their mission of mining the naval base at Um Qasr and were returning to their aircraft carrier when their plane was hit. They were assigned to Attack Squadron 155 (VA-155), on board USS Ranger.


1911: During the San Francisco Air Meet, exhibition pilot Eugene B. Ely lands his Curtiss Pusher Model “D” aircraft on the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania, which had been fitted with a special 119-foot-long wooden platform with makeshift tailhook system. Ely’s feat marks the first-ever airplane landing aboard a ship.

1945: In a speech to the House of Commons, British prime minister Winston Churchill recognizes the immense American sacrifice in the Battle of the Bulge. Possibly alluding to British general Bernard Montgomery’s reluctance to engage, resulting in only 1,400 British casualties compared to well over 100,000 Americans, Churchill states “U.S. troops have done almost all the fighting, suffering losses equal to those of both sides at the Battler of Gettysburg.”

Churchill adds, “This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”

1951: Following their return to action after the breakout from the Chosin Reservoir, the First Marine Division begins mopping-up guerillas in the Pohang area of South Korea.

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Today in U.S. military history: The first air strikes of Operation DESERT STORM

Today’s post is in honor of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher, a Naval F/A-18 aviator who was shot down by an Iraqi MiG on this day in 1991, becoming the first American casualty of Operation DESERT STORM. For years the fate of the 33-year-old from Kansas City, Mo. was unknown until Marines managed to track down his remains in 2009, which had been buried by Bedouins after being shot down 100 miles west of Baghdad. Speicher served with Strike Fighter Squadron 81 (VFA-18), the “Sunliners,” flying out of USS Saratoga (CV-60).


1781: Continental Army forces — including infantry, cavalry, dragoons (horse-mounted infantry), and militia – under the command of Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan, clash with a better-equipped, more-experienced force of British Army regulars and Loyalists under the command of Lt. Col. Banastre “Bloody Ban” Tarleton in a sprawling pastureland known as Hannah’s Cowpens in the South Carolina upcountry.

The Battle of Cowpens ends in a decisive victory for Morgan – who defeats Tarleton in a classic double-envelopment – and a near-irrevocable loss of men, equipment, and reputation for the infamous Tarleton and his “British Legion.”

1966: A nuclear-equipped B-52 bomber flying an Operation CHROME DOME airborne alert mission off the coast of Spain collides with a KC-135 Stratotanker during refueling, destroying both planes. Four B28 thermonuclear weapons fall from the sky; three landing near the village of Palomares and one sinks in the Mediterranean Sea in what is one of the worst nuclear disasters in U.S. military history.

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Jan. 17 in U.S. military history

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

Master Chief Carl Brashear

1781: Continental Army forces — including infantry, cavalry, dragoons (horse-mounted infantry), and militia – under the command of Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan, clash with a better-equipped, more-experienced force of British Army regulars and Loyalists under the command of Lt. Col. Banastre “Bloody Ban” Tarleton in a sprawling pastureland known as Hannah’s Cowpens in the South Carolina upcountry.

The Battle of Cowpens ends in a decisive victory for Morgan – who defeats Tarleton in a classic double-envelopment – and a near-irrevocable loss of men, equipment, and reputation for the infamous Tarleton and his “British Legion.”

1966: A nuclear-equipped B-52 bomber flying an Operation “Chrome Dome” airborne alert mission off the coast of Spain collides with a KC-135 “Stratotanker” during refueling, destroying both planes. Four B28 thermonuclear weapons fall from the sky; three landing near the village of Palomares and one sinks in the Mediterranean Sea in what is one of the worst nuclear disasters in U.S. military history.

Two of the weapons’ conventional charges went off upon impact, spreading small amounts of contamination, one lands largely intact, and after two-and-a-half months of searching, crews locate and recover the fourth device which had been sitting 2,850 feet below the surface. Navy Master Diver Carl Brashear – the Navy’s first black diver – will lose his leg in the recovery operation and will later return to duty despite being an amputee. His incredible story is portrayed in the 2000 film Men of Honor, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Master Chief Petty Officer Brashear.

1991: A massive U.S. and coalition air campaign continues to pound the Iraq’ air force and air defense systems, expanding the attacks to include Saddam Hussein’s command and control infrastructure. Meanwhile, the dictator fires eight Soviet-built “Scud” ballistic missiles into Israel. Saddam sought to draw Israel into the campaign, which he hoped would split Arab nations from the coalition as they would be unlikely to fight alongside Israel. President George H.W. Bush convinces the Israelis not to enter the war and pledges to deploy U.S. Patriot surface-to-air missiles to protect against further attacks.