Posted in Military History

13 September: Today in U.S. military history

Squier

Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. William R. Squier, Jr. who was killed by enemy small-arms fire on this date in 1969 in Binh Thuan province, Republic of Vietnam. The 20-year-old native of Brownell, Ks. had been in Vietnam for 17 months and was assigned to “C” Company Rangers, 75th Infantry.


1814: Unable to break the strong American defensive lines around Baltimore after a series of attacks, British troops return to their ships. Meanwhile, Vice Adm. Alexander Cochrane’s fleet begins a 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, which guards the entrance to Baltimore harbor. The ships fire their cannons and rockets at maximum range and are unable to inflict any serious damage.

American lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key observes the attack while aboard a Royal Navy ship to secure the release of an American prisoner. Key is so moved by the nighttime bombardment and the sight of the American flag in the morning that he writes “Defence of Fort M’Henry” on the back of an envelope, which will become the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The song does not become our national anthem, however, until 1931.

Continue reading “13 September: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

10 September: Today in U.S. military history

Ivan (left) and Cornwell

Today’s post is in honor of Capt. Leroy J. Cornwell III and Maj. Andrew Ivan Jr. who were lost when their F-4D Phantom went down during a forward air control mission over Laos’ Plain of Jars on this day in 1971. The 27-year-old Cornwell (from Wakefield, Va.) served in the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) and Ivan (29, from New Brunswick, N.J.) flew for the 13th TFS — both based at Udorn Air base, Thailand. Originally listed as missing, the crew were declared dead in 1973. However, their remains were located and buried in Arlington National Cemetery in the 1990s.


1813: Along the shores of Lake Erie, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s squadron engages the Royal Navy in the Battle of Put-in-Bay. Perry’s ship is so damaged that he boards an open lifeboat and transfers his flag to another ship in the face of heavy gunfire before resuming the fight. After defeating the British, he writes a brief report to Maj. Gen. (and future president) William Henry Harrison, commanding the Army of the Northwest: “We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.”

1944: The First U.S. Army captures Luxembourg. After being conquered by the Germans during both world wars, the tiny nation strips neutrality from its constitution and becomes a founding member of NATO. Continue reading “10 September: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

5 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Air Force Staff Sgt. Todd J. Lobraico Jr., who was killed on this date in 2013 by enemy small-arms fire during a patrol outside Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. The 22-year-old native of New Fairfield, Conn. was assigned to the 105th Security Forces Squadron, Stewart Air National Guard Base (N.Y.).


1781: The Royal Navy fleet commanded by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Grave’s Royal fleet clashes with Comte de Grasse’s French armada at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. The navies fight each other at close range for two hours before the British disengage and sail for New York. The French victory traps Lt. Gen. Lord Corwallis’ army at Yorktown, preventing their reinforcement or evacuation and ultimately contributing to Cornwallis’ surrender in October.

1813: Off the coast of Maine, the brig USS Enterprise spots HMS Boxer and the two vessels begin maneuvering to attack. Boxer’s captain Samuel Blyth declares “We are going to fight both ends and both sides of this ship as long as the ends and the sides hold together.” Blyth is killed in the opening barrage, and in less than 30 minutes, his ship is wrecked. A mortally wounded Capt. William Burrows refuses to accept Blyth’s sword and orders it sent back to the English captain’s family. The two captains are buried side by side during an elaborate funeral in Portland.

1862: U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, Charles F. Adams (the son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson of Pres. John Adams), informs the British government that sending ironclad warships to aid the Confederacy would lead to war.

1917: At Gouzeaucourt, France, an American engineer unit comes under enemy artillery fire, wounding Sgt. Matthew Calderwood and Pvt. William Branigan – the first U.S. casualties of World War I.

Continue reading “5 September: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

4 September: Today in U.S. military history

Surrender ceremony on Wake Island, 1945

Today’s post is in honor of Capt. Raymond P. Salzarulo, Jr. who was killed when his F-4C Phantom was shot down by an enemy surface-to-air missile over North Vietnam on this day in 1966. Although no parachutes were spotted, Salzarulo’s pilot, 1st Lt. John H. Nasmyth Jr., survived and spent the next 2,355 days as a prisoner of war. Salzarulo, a native of Hollansbee, W. Va. and a graduate of the Air Force Academy (Class of ’64), served with the famed 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron out of Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base. Originally listed as missing in action, his remains were identified in 1990 and he is buried next to the headstone for his father Ray Sr., a LB-30 Liberator pilot who was lost in an attack on the retreating Japanese fleet after the Battle of Midway, at Arlington National Cemetery.
Continue reading “4 September: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

Today in U.S. military history: Task Force Smith

This day in 1950 marks the first combat between U.S. and communist forces in the Korean War. Task Force Smith, an understrength battalion of infantry and an artillery battery hastily deployed to delay the North Korean invasion while American and allied forces can establish a defensive line. The obsolete American anti-tank weapons bounce harmlessly off the Soviet-built T-34 tanks, which overrun the task force, but the incredibly outnumbered men hold off two full divisions of enemy troops for several hours.

Just 185 of Smith’s 520-man force return to friendly lines after the Battle of Osan.

Also on this day in U.S. military history:

1814: On the banks of the Niagara River in Upper Canada (modern-day Ontario), The United States Army proves that they are capable of going toe-to-toe with the British. Wrongly believing that the American soldiers are militia – and therefore easily dispersed – British Gen. Phineas Rail orders his Redcoats to advance on Maj. Gen. Jacob Brown’s Army of the North. The king’s men are cut down and retreat to nearby Fort George after suffering heavy casualties in the Battle of Chippawa. Continue reading “Today in U.S. military history: Task Force Smith”