Posted in Military History

20 August: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Taylor Gavin (34, Spokane, Wash.), who passed away one year ago today from wounds sustained in a helicopter crash in Sinjar, Iraq the previous day. Gavin piloted an MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that was returning from an Operation INHERENT RESOLVE counter-terrorism mission, and flew for the 160th “Night Stalkers” Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Gavin had served two combat tours in Iraq, three in Afghanistan, and four during INHERENT RESOLVE.


1910: 100 feet over New York City’s Sheepshead Bay Race Track, Lt. Jacob E. Fickel becomes the world’s first aerial gunner. Sitting in the biplane’s passenger seat, with Glenn Curtiss at the controls, Fickel fires his Army Springfield .30-caliber rifle, demonstrating that a bullet can be fired from a moving aircraft without the recoil knocking the plane out of the sky.

Fickel (right, with weapon) and Curtiss

Fickel goes on to command the Fourth Air Force during World War II and retires as a major general.

1912: After less than three hours of instruction, 1st Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham boards a Curtiss (yes, the famed aircraft designer that flew alongside Lt. Fickel two years ago) biplane and makes his first solo flight, becoming the Marine Corps’ first aviator. A veteran of the Spanish-American War and several Caribbean campaigns, Cunningham deploys to the Western Front during World War I where he observes aviation tactics – while over German lines – and formulates procedures for Marine aviators to use against enemy submarines and their bases.

1950: (featured image) After over two weeks of fighting at Taegu, South Korea, an outnumbered UN force consisting of the American 1st Cavalry Division and the Republic of Korea’s II Corps defeats five divisions of North Korean soldiers. MacArthur’s Pusan Perimeter still holds.

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