1922: Lt. Harold R. Harris (Army Air Service) performs the world’s first emergency parachute jump when the wings of his Loening PW-2A come apart during a simulated dogfight 2,500 feet over McCook Field. Harris bails out of his cockpit and after free-falling 2,000 feet, he lands safely in a garden in Dayton, Ohio.
1926: (featured image) With a brutal murder of a post office truck driver capping a series of brutal attacks on postal workers, President Calvin Coolidge orders the Marine Corps to protect the mail delivery across the United States. 2,500 Marines of two-time Medal of Honor recipient Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler’s 4th Marine Regiment will serve as the “Western Mail Guards,” guarding mail trucks, trains, and post offices. Quickly ending the crime wave, the Marines return to their regular posts in 1927.
1944: Two-and-a-half years after famously vowing to return to the Philippines, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and some 130,000 soldiers of the Sixth Army land at Leyte Island. Over the next 67 days, MacArthur’s forces will completely wipe out the 16th Japanese Army — perpetrators of the Bataan Death March — and capture Leyte, signaling the beginning of the end for the Japanese. Continue reading “20 October: Today in U.S. military history”
Some sweet B-roll footage of Carrier Air Wing 11 F/A-18 Hornets launching and landing on the deck of USS Nimitz (CVN-68) during Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. One day after this video was recorded, carrier aircraft conducted the first air strikes against ISIS targets in two-and-a-half years. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 3nd Class Kyle Merritt)
While the U.S. Navy has maintained a constant carrier presence either in the North Arabian Sea or the Gulf of Oman since May of 2019, the arrival of Nimitz marks the first time a U.S. carrier strike group has entered the Persian Gulf in ten months.
Today we honor six men from the 2d Battalion, Fourth Marines who gave their lives on August 24, 1966 during Operation PRAIRIE. When helicopters began taking fire from an enemy machinegun on “Razorback Ridge,” just south of the Demilitarized Zone, elements of Company E went in to search for — and destroy — the position. The Marines began investigating a rocky, bowl-shaped position, which was surrounded by caves infested with North Vietnamese soldiers that sprung out and attacked the now-trapped Americans.
Once word reached headquarters, a rescue mission was organized. Company F’s 3rd Platoon, commanded by 2nd Lt. Stephen F. Snyder, marched through the enemy infested jungle at night to make contact with the enemy and reach their trapped comrades. While 3rd Platoon did rescue some of the wounded Marines, the rescue force was unable to break the siege; the enemy held the high ground and used the cave system to their full advantage.
The NVA attacked at dawn, but were defeated by the Marine relief force and “E” Company survivors were able to return to friendly lines. The engagement would ultimately claim the lives of six of the rescuers: Pfc. Billy Joe Harrison (19, of Knoxville, Tenn.), LCpl. Douglas S. Dubose (19, of Tampa, Fla.), Pfc. Jerry W. Nye (19, of Hummelstown, Pa.), Pfc. Wayne R. Baker (20, of Ovalo, Texas), LCpl. William R. Kelley (20, of Citronelle, Ala.) died four days later from multiple gunshot wounds after being evacuated to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, and Lt. Snyder, a 23-year-old native of Sunbury, Pa., was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.
You may never have heard of the Hansen brothers, but twins Paul and Leslie own the distinction of being the only twins to earn the Navy Cross. In fact, they fought side-by-side when they accomplished the feat.
On 26 December 1943, the First Marine Division poured onto the beaches of Cape Gloucester, New Britain. As the Marines worked their way into the jungle, the amtraks (amphibious tractors) of the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion ferried in their ammunition and equipment. One of the first amtraks ashore was commanded by 23-year-old Philadelphia native Sgt. Robert J. Oswald Jr., with Pfc. Paul Hansen at the wheel and Pfc. Leslie Hansen manning a machinegun (both 20, from Bergen, N.Y.).
When heavy fire from Japanese pillboxes halted the Marine assault force attempting to capture the island’s airport, Oswald’s crew volunteered to destroy the enemy position. The job of charging the pillbox was dangerous enough, but onboard were tons of fuzes and 37-mm shells. Scores of enemy soldiers would be firing at a slow-moving, unarmored amphibious tractor loaded with explosives. Continue reading “Twins earn Navy Cross in same battle”