I recently came across this fascinating cross-section of a Fletcher-class destroyer. The Navy commissioned 175 of these highly effective and cost-efficient ships during World War II, and we turned around after the war and sold several of the ships to the Japanese, Germans, and Italians.
These destroyers get their name from Adm. Frank F. Fletcher, skipper of the battleship USS Vermont during the Great White Fleet’s around-the-world cruise, who then earned a Medal of Honor commanding the landing at Vera Cruz, Mexico.
His nephew Lt. Frank J. Fletcher also earned the Medal of Honor at Vera Cruz for rescuing hundreds of refugees under fire. He then earned the Navy Cross while in command of a destroyer during the first world war. Although not an aviator, “Black Jack” Fletcher’s task forces defeat the Japanese in the first three carrier battles in history: Coral Sea, Midway, and the Eastern Solomons.
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.”
Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. Wesley R. Williams, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar, Afghanistan on this date in 2012. Williams, 25, of New Carlisle, Ohio, was assigned to 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and had previously deployed to Iraq.
1941: When a Japanese submarine reports the sighting of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) northeast of Hawaii, Japanese vessels still in the area are ordered to attack. Meanwhile, one of Enterprise‘s bombers spots the submarine I-70 and drops a 1,000-lb. bomb, just missing the sub, but knocking out its ability to submerge. Later, another SBD Dauntless finishes off the crippled I-70, sending the sub to the bottom – the first fleet submarine lost by the Japanese and the first to be sunk by aircraft during World War II.
Off the coast of Malaya, the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales (featured image) and battle cruiser HMS Repulse become the first capital ships sunk solely by air power during the war. Prime Minister Winston Churchill would later say, “In all the war I never received a more direct shock. […] There were no British or American capital ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor who were hastening back to California. Over this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme and we everywhere were weak and naked.” Continue reading “10 December: Today in military history”
Today’s post is in honor of Spc. Dale J. Kridlo, who was one of two U.S. soldiers killed by small-arms fire on an observation post in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. Kridlo, 33, of Hughestown, Pa., was assigned to the 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps.
1811: At the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers, William Henry Harrison’s 1,000-man force of militia and regular infantry soldiers clash with American Indian warriors led by Tenskwatawa (known as “The Prophet”). Although outnumbered by the Americans, the Indians charge multiple times into Harrison’s lines, inflicting serious casualties on the defenders. The Prophet’s force withdraws once the sun rises and Tecumseh’s confederacy abandons the area. Harrison – destined to become a brigadier general during the War of 1812 and ultimately president of the United States – will forever be known as “the hero of Tippecanoe.”
1861 (featured image): A Naval force under Flag Officer Samuel F. DuPont boldly steams into Port Royal Sound (S.C.) as Union gunners pour heavy fire into Confederate-held Forts Walker and Beauregard. Marines and sailors land and occupy the forts, giving the Union a crucial supply base for their Naval blockade.
On the morning of 7 December 1941, nine Japanese torpedoes struck the battleship USS Oklahoma, anchored on Battleship Row during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The massive ship capsized in just 15 minutes, trapping hundreds of sailors and Marines inside.
Crews worked feverishly to rescue the survivors, which could be heard tapping the inside of the ship’s hull for the next three days. Unsung heroes like civilian dock worker Julio DeCastro raced against the clock, cutting through sections of the hull to pull out dozens of men.
Two Oklahoma sailors earned the Medal of Honor: Seaman James Ward and Ensign Francis Flaherty both sacrificed their lives so their comrades could escape their battle stations. Chief John Austin posthumously earned the Navy Cross for assisting 15 of his fellow sailors out of a flooded compartment. Boatswain Adolph Bothne braved enemy fire and the hazardous waters, picking up boatload after boatload of survivors and ferrying them to Ford Island. Lt. (j.g.) Aloysius H. Schmitt assisted in evacuating a dozen trapped sailors through an opening, but when it was his turn to escape, he declined so that several other sailors that showed up as he about to be rescued appeared. Schmitt gave up his chance of survival so that others may live, becoming the first American chaplain to die in World War II. Continue reading “Never forgotten: Remains of over 200 Pearl Harbor sailors, Marines identified”