Posted in Military History

16 October: Today in U.S. military history

L-R: Orlando, Bellavia, and Grilley

Today’s post is in honor of three 716th Military Police Battalion soldiers killed during a firefight in Karbala, Iraq on this date in 2003. Killed were Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando (43, of Tennessee), SSgt. Joseph P. Bellavia (28, Wakefield, Mass.), and Cpl. Sean R. Grilley (24, San Bernardino, Calif.) Orlando was battalion commander and had served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Seven U.S. soldiers were wounded in the attack.


1821: The schooner USS Enterprise (the third of 12 so-named Continental and U.S. Naval vessels) intercepts a flotilla of four ships led by the infamous Capt. Charles Gibbs as the pirates attack American and British-flagged ships in Cuban waters. Although outnumbered, Lt. Cmdr. John Kearney and his crew quickly defeat the pirate force, and Gibbs escapes into the jungles of Cuba as three of his ships are burned. Gibbs will eventually be caught and is one of the last people executed for piracy in the United States.

1859: A small party of abolitionists led by John Brown occupies the military arsenal at Harper’s Ferry (modern-day West Virginia), hoping to inspire a slave rebellion. However, Brown’s uprising does not materialize and local militia force the rebels into a firehouse. A company of Marines under the command of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee is dispatched to the scene and after an unsuccessful attempt by Lee’s aide-de-camp, Lt. J.E.B. Stuart, to convince Brown to surrender, the Marines assault the barricaded fire station and bring an end to the crisis.

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15 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Hines, who gave his life for our country on this day in 2006. The 26-year-old native of Olney, Ill. perished during combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq. Hines was serving with the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve.


1917: When a German submarine launches a torpedo at USS Cassin (DD-43) during an escort patrol, Gunner’s Mate First Class Osmond Kelly Ingram realizes the torpedo will impact the destroyer’s store of depth charges. Instead of remaining in a position of safety, he charges across the deck to the depth charges to jettison the stockpiled explosives that could sink his ship. Ingram is killed while trying to save Cassin, becoming the first U.S. sailor killed during World War I and is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

1918: (featured image) Near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, Lt. Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan earns the Medal of Honor while leading his soldiers during an assault on strong German positions. Wounded in the leg by a burst of machinegun fire, Donovan refuses evacuation and remains in command until his unit is withdrawn. Donovan is named Coordinator of Information by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 and he will form the Office of Strategic Services the following year – the predecessor to today’s Central Intelligence Agency.

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Oct. 4: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of the four 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers who were killed during a reconnaissance patrol in Niger on this day two years ago: Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 34 of Puyallup, Wa.; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39 of Springboro, Ohio; Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25 of Miami Gardens, Fla.; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29 of Lyons, Ga.

Left to right: Black, Jeremiah Johnson, La David Johnson, and Wright

1777: A week after losing Philadelphia to the British, Gen. George Washington decides to surprise Gen. Sir William Howe’s force encamped at Germantown (Pa.). 11,000 Continental troops and militia have marched 16 miles through the night, and begin their assault at 5:30 a.m.. Although initially successful, heavy fog, insufficiently trained troops, and stiff British resistance unravel Washington’s coordinated assault and the attack falls apart. Washington’s army suffers over 1,000 casualties and will have to spend the winter at Valley Forge.

1821: Lt. Robert F. Stockton, veteran of the War of 1812 who also fought the Barbary pirates, sets sail from Boston to interdict the African slave trade. Stockton will help establish the country of Liberia, where thousands of former American slaves and free blacks are resettled. He will capture several slave ships on this cruise, of which he writes, “I have great satisfaction in the reflection that I have procrastinated the slavery of some 800 Africans, and have broken off this horrible traffic to the northward of Cape Palmas for at least this season.

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3 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of the 19 soldiers who gave their lives on this day in 1993 during Operation GOTHIC SERPENT: Sgt. Cornell L. Houston Sr. and Pfc. James H. Martin Jr. of the 10th Mountain Division; SSgt. William D. Cleveland Jr., SSgt. Thomas J. Field, and CW4 Raymond A. Frank of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s SUPER 64; CW3 Clinton P. Wolcott and CW3 Donovan L. Briley of SUPER 61; Cpl. James E. Smith, Spc. James M. Cavaco, Sgt. James C. Joyce, Cpl. Richard W. Kowalewski Jr., Sgt. Dominick M. Pilla, and Sgt. Lorenzo M. Ruiz of the 3rd Ranger Battalion; MSgt. Timothy L. Martin, SFC Earl R. Filmore Jr., SSgt. Daniel D. Busch, SFC Randy Shughart, and MSgt. Garry I. Gordon of 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. (Delta’s SFC Matthew L. Rierson is killed in action on 6 Oct., but is typically included among the battle’s casualties)


1794: President George Washington calls on the governors of Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to mobilize troops to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Washington himself will lead the army – the only time a sitting president commands troops in the field. Henry “Light Horse” Lee, veteran of the American Revolution and father of Confederate general Robert E. Lee will also lead troops, and also participating in the campaign is Pvt. Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

1912: Four Marine battalions – including one led by Maj. Smedley Butler – converge and assault the fortress atop the 500-ft. Coyotepe Hill. Nicaraguan rebel commander Gen. Benjamin Zeledón is killed during the battle, and the rebellion effectively ends once the Marines capture the city of León in two days.

Butler, a veteran of the Boxer Rebellion, Banana Wars, Mexican Revolution, and World War I, is the only Marine in history to be awarded two Medal of Honors and the Marine Corps Brevet Medal. His Medal of Honor citations can be read here: 1st award / 2nd award

1950: Major League Baseball rules that Philadelphia Phillies’ 17-game winner Curt Simmons, whose National Guard unit had just been activated during the Korean War, would not be eligible to pitch in the World Series, despite the fact that he was on furlough. With their ace left-hander out of the lineup, the Phillies will be swept by a New York Yankee team managed by World War I veteran Casey Stengel (USN) and featuring Joe DiMaggio (USA), Whitey Ford (soon-to-be USA), Hank Bauer (USMC), Jerry Coleman (USMC), and Yogi Berra (USN).

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1 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Air Force 1st Lt. Gary P. Offutt, who was shot down over the Republic of Vietnam’s Kien Giang province on this date in 1965. Offutt’s F-100 Super Sabre had just pulled up after a strafing run when the aircraft nose-dived into the ground, likely brought down by hostile fire. The 25-year-old Stewartsville, Missouri native’s remains were repatriated in 1995 and identified in 1997.


1918: When German soldiers attack the lines of the 110th Infantry Regiment, Irish immigrant and U.S. Army Major Joseph H. Thompson courageously defies enemy machinegun and artillery fire to encourage his troops, repulsing two separate assaults. Later, when his troops are stalled by enemy machinegun and anti-tank fire, which disabled all but one of the American tanks, Maj. Thompson charged forward of his line on three occasions through withering fire to guide the last remaining tank to a position where it could neutralize the machinegun nest. For his actions, Maj. Thompson was awarded the Medal of Honor.

In 1971, “Colonel Joe” Thompson, a former football star and successful coach at the University of Pittsburgh before leaving to fight in Mexico and World War I, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

1947: (Featured image) Former World War II ace George Welch climbs into the cockpit of his North American Aviation XF-86 for the maiden flight of the Sabre. When the Korean War breaks out, F-86 pilots will dominate the skies, with its pilots boasting a 10:1 kill ratio over the once-feared MiG-15s. Of 40 American aces, all but one accomplishes the feat in a Sabre.

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