Posted in Military History

25 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. William E. Hill, who was killed on this day in 1965 during a sweep and clear mission in the Republic of Vietnam’s Quang Nam province. The 33-year-old Leesburg, Fla. native had served in the Marine Corps for 14 years and was one of four Marines killed when an estimated platoon-sized Viet Cong force detonated a land mine and then engaged the Americans with small-arms fire.

1775: A small force of American and Canadian militia led by Ethan Allen attempts to capture the British-held city of Montreal. British Gen. Guy Carleton quickly gathers a force of British regulars and Canadian militia, scattering Allen’s troops and capturing the hero of Fort Ticonderoga and former commander of Vermont’s famed “Green Mountain Boys.” Allen will remain a prisoner in England until his exchange in 1778.

That same day, Col. Benedict Arnold sets out with 1,000 men on a poorly planned expedition to Quebec. The trip takes far longer than anticipated, forcing the men to eat their shoes and other leather equipment to survive, and they are soundly defeated by the British once the weakened force reaches their objective in December.

1918: Former Indianapolis 500 driver — now captain and commander of the Army Air Corps’ 94th “Hat in the Ring” Aero Squadron — Eddie Rickenbacker (featured image) becomes a double ace, singlehandedly attacking a flight of seven German warplanes and downing two. For his actions on this day, he will receive one of his nine Distinguished Service Crosses — later upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Rickenbacker’s 26 aerial victories by war’s end marks the most by any U.S. fighter pilot during World War I.

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20 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. Steven Checo, who was killed during a firefight in Ivo Shkin, Afghanistan on this day in 2002. The 22-year-old soldier from Bronx, N.Y. was assigned to D Company, 2d Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C..

1803: A mere three weeks after accepting the territory from the Spanish, the French officially hand over New Orleans, the colonial capital of Louisiana, to the Americans. For less than three cents per acre, the United States has doubled in size, adding 828,000 square miles of territory west of the Mississippi River.

Flag-raising ceremony at the Place d’Armes (renamed Jackson Square following the War of 1812) in New Orleans, painting by Thure de Thulstrup

1860: Delegates meeting in Charleston, S.C. unanimously adopt the ordinance to dissolve ties with the United States. South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the Union. Continue reading “20 December: Today in U.S. military history”

Bell X-1A, Chuck Yeager, USAF
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12 December: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. Jarrod W. Black, who was killed by an improvised explosive device on this day in 2003 in Ramadi, Iraq. Black, 26, of Peru, Ind. was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment.

1753: 21-year-old Virginia adjutant George Washington delivers an ultimatum for French forces to abandon Fort Le Boeuf (present-day Waterford, Penn.) as they were trespassing on British territory. Lt. Christopher Gist, Washington’s guide, would save the future president’s life twice during their trip through the Ohio Country.

1770: Six British soldiers charged with murder for their role in the Boston Massacre are acquitted thanks to their counselor, future president John Adams. He argued that they were endangered by the mob and had the right to defend themselves. Of the eight soldiers and one officer to stand trial (Capt. Thomas Preston had been acquitted in October), two are found guilty of manslaughter and are branded on the thumb.

“Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently,” Adams wrote. “As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right. This however is no Reason why the Town should not call the Action of that Night a Massacre, nor is it any Argument in favour of the Governor or Minister, who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest Proofs of the Danger of Standing Armies.”

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26 August: Today in U.S. military history

Cpl. Humlhanz

Today’s post is in honor of Marine Cpl. Barton R. Humlhanz, who was killed by enemy action in Iraq’s Babil province on this day 15 years ago. Humlhanz, 23, of Hellertown, Pa. was assigned to Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24, 24th MEU out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

1950: The 5th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) replaces the 34th Infantry Regiment which was utterly decimated by a series of delaying actions against the North Korean Army. Since only 184 soldiers remained out of the regiment’s original strength of 1,898, surviving 34th Infantry soldiers are used to fill holes in other units and the regiment is reconstituted in Japan.

One of those 5th RCT soldiers is Master Sgt. Melvin O. Handrich, who fought in the Aleutian Islands Campaign before becoming a paratrooper and fighting across Europe. When a force of enemy soldiers attempts to overrun Handrich’s company, he leaves the relative safety of his position behind and moves forward, where he will spend the next eight hours directing mortar and artillery fire on the enemy.

When the hostile force makes another attempt to overrrun the American position, Handrich observes friendly soldiers attempting to withdraw. He crosses the fire-swept ground to rally them, and returns to his forward post. Refusing medical care or even to seek cover, the North Koreans eventually cut down Handrich. But when U.S. soldiers retake the ground, they count 70 dead enemy surrounding Handrich’s body.

1957: Following the launch of the Soviet Union’s R-7 Semyorka missile, state-run news agency TASS announces that the USSR has successfully tested a multi-stage intercontinental ballistic missile that could target “any place in the world.”

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Today in U.S. military history: UFOs and Pirates of the Caribbean

Today’s post is in honor of Lance Cpl. Joseph R. Giese, who was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on this day in 2011. The 24-year-old native of Winder, Ga. was assigned to 2d Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

1822: The sailors of the West Indies Squadron made this a pretty rough day for the pirates of the Caribbean: the schooner USS Porpoise (the first of five so-named Naval vessels) captures six pirate ships off the Cuban coast and destroys their base. Meanwhile, the heavily-armed brig USS Spark recaptures a Dutch sloop from pirates as another landing party destroys their base.

1942: After sailing across the Pacific to Japan, USS Pollack (SS-180) becomes the first U.S. submarine to sink an enemy vessel during World War II by torpedoing the 2,250-ton cargo ship Unkai Maru No. 1 off the coast of Honshu.

Lt. Cmdr. Stanley P. Moseley’s crew will send another Japanese cargo vessel to the bottom two days later.

1945: Off Manila Bay, a screening force of four American destroyers – USS Charles Ausburne (DD-294), USS Braine (DD-630), USS Shaw (DD-373), and USS Russel (DD-419) – move out to intercept a target spotted by radar. They find the Japanese destroyer Hinoki, which the flotilla quickly sinks, marking the last surface naval engagement of the Pacific War.

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