Posted in Military History

Sept. 17: Today in military history

Today’s post is in honor of Air Force Capt. Thomas O’Neal Zorn Jr. (26, of Waycross, Ga.), who was shot down on this date in 1972 as he escorted a strike package to Hanoi. The F-105 Wild Weasel pilot crashed in the Gulf of Tonkin and his remains were never recovered. Zorn was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and is memorialized in the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii.


1862: The Battle of Antietam (Maryland) – the bloodiest single-day battle in American history – opens between Confederate Army forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee and Union Army forces under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. After 12 hours of fighting, some 23,000 Americans are dead, wounded, or missing.

Though a strategic victory for the Union, the battle will prove tactically inconclusive for both sides.

1908: 2,500 people gather at Fort Myer, Va. to watch Orville Wright demonstrate his Wright Flyer to the Army Signal Corps. One of the propellers breaks during the flight, sending the aircraft nose-first into the ground, severely wounding Wright and killing his passenger, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge. Although Wright survived the first-ever fatal aircraft incident, he would spend the next seven weeks recovering in an Army hospital.

Continue reading “Sept. 17: Today in military history”

Posted in Military History

12 September: Today in U.S. military history

Pfc. Tank

Today’s post is in honor of four 1st Battalion, 2d Infantry Regiment soldiers killed in action east of Loc Ninh, Republic of Vietnam on this day in 1968. Lost were 1st Lt. Lester L. Wood (24 years old, from Dallas), 1st Lt. James A. Smith (22, Blackfoot, Idaho), Staff Sgt. Larry R. Sims (23, Rolling Hills, Ill.), and Pfc. Phillip L. Tank (20, Ecorse, Mich.).


1847: “From the halls of Montezuma…” Gen. Winfield Scott’s army of Marines and soldiers begin their attack on the castle Chapultepec, sitting 200 feet above in Mexico City. During the battle, 90 percent of Marine commissioned and non-commissioned officers are killed by snipers, memorialized by the “blood stripe” on the Marine Corps’ Dress Blue trousers. Participating in the engagement are many young officers – such as Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson – who will face each other in the Civil War.

1918: The Battle of Saint-Mihiel, the first and only U.S.-led and executed operation of World War I, begins when Gen. John J. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force attacks Gen. Johannes Georg von der Marwitz’ Imperial German Army forces. Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell leads an armada of nearly 1,500 warplanes during the offensive – the largest air force assembled (at that point) in history. On the ground, artillery and tanks(commanded by Lt. Col. George Patton) join the infantry in devastating the German lines. In just three days, over 22,000 Germans are killed, wounded, or captured.

Continue reading “12 September: Today in U.S. military history”

Posted in Military History

6 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Marine LCpl. Michael T. Badsing who was killed on this date in 1965 by enemy small-arms fire in South Vietnam. The 20-year-old Chicago native served with C Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division.


1781: Hoping to divert Gen. George Washington from marching against Lord Cornwallis’ forces now trapped in Virginia, two battalions of British soldiers — including American Loyalist forces under the command of Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold — assault New London, Conn.. The redcoats easily capture Fort Trumbull, but across the Thames River, the heavily outnumbered defenders of Fort Griswold fiercely resist.

The King’s men storm into the fort, massacring Americans attempting to surrender, and burn New London before withdrawing. Marquis de LaFayette is reported to have shouted “Remember Fort Griswold!” while assaulting the British redoubts at Yorktown.

1863: In the past 24 hours alone, Union Naval guns have killed 100 Confederates at Battery Wagner, one of the forts guarding Charleston (S.C.) harbor. The past 60 days of bombardment prove too much for Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, who orders his forces to evacuate by boat. The Yankees now control Morris Island — one step closer to capturing Charleston.

1918: (Featured image) U.S. Navy railroad artillery crews conduct their first attack – a German rail center in Tergnier. The five massive 14″/50cal Mark 4 guns, normally mounted to a battleship, are transported by train and can hit targets well over 20 miles downrange.

Continue reading “6 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

30 August: Today in U.S. military history

CWO4 Vick

Today’s post is in honor of Marine Chief Warrant Officer 4 William L. Vick who was killed on this day in 1968 at the Ha Thanh Special Forces Camp. Vick, who was attempting to defuse a dud rocket that landed inside the camp, was one of five Americans* killed when another rocket hit their location. Prior to serving in Vietnam, he was a veteran of World War II and Korea, serving in the Chosin Reservoir where he earned the Silver Star.


Lt. Col. George S. Patton, Jr. in front of a French-built Renault FT light tank, which the Americans used during World War I

1776: After a series of defeats by the British, Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army conducts a strategic withdrawal of Long Island, sneaking 10,000 men and their equipment through British Adm. Richard Howe’s picket force under cover of darkness. Richard’s brother, Gen. William Howe, sends a letter to Gen. George Washington seeking a peace conference. Washington rejects the offer, forwarding the message to Congress instead. Diplomacy falls flat when the British refuse to recognize American independence on Sept. 11, and the British respond by capturing New York City four days later.

1862: Near Lexington, Ky., Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith accomplishes the “nearest thing to a Cannae” (Hannibal’s double envelopment of the Roman army – perhaps the greatest tactical achievement in military history) during the Civil War. The Confederates rout Maj. Gen. William “Bull” Nelson’s inexperienced Union troops – capturing over 4,000 – in the Battle of Richmond.

1918: Southeast of Verdun, France, Gen. John J. Pershing’s First Army moves into position at the Saint-Mihiel salient. Among Pershing’s three U.S. (and one French) corps is Lt. Col. George S. Patton, Jr.’s newly formed 1st Provisional Tank Brigade, which will conduct the first tank warfare in American history in the upcoming Battle of Saint-Mihiel – the first independently-led American operation of World War I.

Continue reading “30 August: Today in U.S. military history”