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Oct. 12: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Capt. Dennis L. Pintor, one of three soldiers killed by an improvised explosive device on this day in 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq. The 30-year-old native of Lima, Ohio was assigned to the 20th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. Also lost were specialists Jaime Moreno (28, of Round Lake Beach, Ill.) and Michael S. Weger (30, of Rochester, N.Y.).

1862: Confederate cavalry commander Gen. James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart completes his “second ride” around Union Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.

1870: Five years after surrendering his Army of Northern Virginia to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Gen. Robert E. Lee passes away after suffering a stroke. The revered general served his country 44 years, fighting alongside Grant in the Mexican-American War, and against him in the Civil War. Continue reading “Oct. 12: Today in U.S. military history”

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6 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Pfc. Giles W. Stallard, who was killed during a firefight in the Republic of Vietnam’s Long An province on this day in 1968. The 19-year-old Saltville, Va. native had only been in country for a month and was assigned to B Company, 2d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division.

1777: Near what will soon become the United States Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.), British troops simultaneously attack – and defeat – Continental forces at Forts Clinton and Montgomery, and also destroy the chain that had been placed across the Hudson River to prevent British ships from sailing upriver. The engagement is sometimes called the Battle of the Clintons since the British troops are led by Gen. Sir Henry Clinton, and the garrisons are led by Gens. (and brothers) James Clinton and George Clinton – who is also the governor or New York.

Despite being 34 years old, “Harvard Eddie” volunteered to fight in World War I. He is buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France.

1918: In the Argonne Forest, German forces have surrounded 500 American doughboys of the 77th “Metropolitan” Division under the command of Maj. Charles W. Whittlesey after the French and American units advancing on their flanks are held up. With no communication other than carrier pigeons and no other means to send supplies, 1st Lt. Harold E. “Dad” Goettler and 2nd Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley volunteer to fly through withering enemy fire to drop much-needed supplies to the Americans in a DH-4 Liberty Plane. On their second trip, both airmen are killed and are posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Also killed while attempting to locate the force is Capt. Eddie Grant, the former leadoff hitter and third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. Grant was one of the first baseball players to join the Armed Forces during World War I. All but 194 members of the Lost Battalion are killed, wounded, or captured, and five 77th Division soldiers – including Whittlesey – will earn the Medal of Honor during the six-day engagement.

1942: Five battalions of Marines, supported a group of scout snipers, cross Guadalcanal’s heavily defended Matanikau River and engage the Japanese. Col. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller’s 1st Battalion, 7th Marines trap a Japanese battalion in a ravine, creating what he called a “machine for extermination,” annihilating the force with a deadly combination of heavy artillery, mortar fire, and small arms fire. The operation plays a major role in the American victory on Guadalcanal, when Japanese planners opt for an exhausting overland march for their major offensive against Lunga Point later in the month, instead of crossing the Matanikau.

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2 October: Today in U.S. Military History

Today’s post is in honor of Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, who gave his life for our country on this date in 2015. The 29-year-old native of Pensacola, Fla. was one of six Air Force personnel that died in a C-130J crash on Afghanistan’s Jalalabad Airfield. Five civilian contractors on board also perished as did a three-man Afghan security team on the ground. Sartain was serving in the 66th Security Forces Squadron. Also lost were Airman 1st Class Kcey E. Ruiz (21, of McDonough, Ga.), Capt. Jordan P. Pierson (28, of Abilene, Texas), Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris (21, of Milwaukee, Wisc.), Staff Sgt. Ryan T. Hammond (26, Moundsville, W. Va.), and Capt. Johnathan J. Golden (33, of Camarillo, Calif.).

1942: (Featured image) Col. Laurence C. Craigie becomes the U.S. military’s first official jet pilot when he takes off from Muroc Dry Lake (present-day Edwards Air Force Base) in the Bell XP-59A. The day before, a Bell test pilot accidentally lifted off during a high-speed taxi test. Craigie will go on to command a fighter wing in North Africa, then becomes Vice Commander of the Far East Air Forces during the Korean War.

1944: As the 85th Infantry Division fights their way across Italy, Sgt. Christos H. Karaberis’ platoon was pinned down by enemy fire. Karaberis (who changed his name to Chris Carr following the war) crept to the rear of an enemy machine gun position. Leaping forward and shooting his submachine gun into the position, he caught the occupants by surprise – capturing eight enemy soldiers. Karaberis moved on to the next position – this time maneuvering to avoid enemy fire – killing four soldiers and capturing another. Karaberis then moved against a third machine gun position, forcing the enemy troops to surrender. Incredibly, Karaberis would charge two more positions, bringing his total to five machine gun nests, killing eight enemy soldiers, and capturing 22. His full Medal of Honor citation can be viewed here.

That same day near Palenburg, Germany, Pvt. Harold G. Kiner and four other soldiers are leading a frontal assault on the Germans. When the Americans are 25 yards away from enemy lines, they are pinned down by machinegun fire, then targeted by enemy grenades. Kiner spots one that lands between him and his fellow soldiers, then gallantly covers the deadly blast with his body. He is killed, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

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27 September: Today in military history

Today’s post is in honor of Sgt. 1st Class Joselito O. Villanueva, who gave his life for our country on this date in 2004. The 36-year-old native of Los Angeles was killed by enemy sniper fire while manning an observation post in Balad, Iraq. Villanueva spent 11 years in the Army and had been wounded in April when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle. He was serving with the 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division.

1860: During an insurrection on Panama, a landing party of Marines from the sloop-of-war USS St. Mary’s land and take control of a railway station.

1918: Although his face has been shredded by an enemy grenade, 1st Lt. Deming Bronson charges across open ground with the men of Company H, 364th Infantry, capturing an enemy dugout. Later that afternoon (Sept. 26), Bronson takes an enemy bullet to the arm. Patched up by the medic and ordered to the rear, he returns to his men instead. He powers through shock and the intense pain of his wounds, and the following day, Bronson assists in the capture of Eclisfontaine, France. He then assists in knocking out an enemy machinegun position, killing the gunner himself. When a heavy enemy artillery barrage forces the Americans to fall back, Bronson is hit again, wounded in both arms by an enemy high-explosive shell. A fellow officer pulls a profusely bleeding and faint Bronson to safety, and he remains with his fellow soldiers through the night, once again refusing to abandon the battle.

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24 September: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Army Sgt. Tyler N. Holtz, who was killed on this day in 2011 in Afghanistan’s Wardak province by enemy small-arms fire. The 22-year-old native of Dana Point, Calif. was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and was serving his fourth tour in Afghanistan. Holtz was assigned to 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

1780: Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold learns that British spy Maj. John André has been captured, along with the evidence that would expose Arnold’s secret plot to turn West Point over to the British. He flees to the nearby sloop HMS Vulture, which carries him to New York. Gen. George Washington suggests a prisoner exchange: André for Arnold, but Gen. Henry Clinton refused. André is hanged and Arnold is commissioned as a brigadier general.

1918: U.S. Navy Ensign (future rear admiral) David S. Ingalls – on loan to the Royal Air Force and flying an RAF Sopwith Camel – shoots down enemy aircraft number five, becoming the first ace in U.S. Naval Aviation history, and the Navy’s only ace of World War I. Over the course of the war Ingalls is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross from the United States, a Distinguished Flying Cross from Britain, and made a member of the French Foreign Legion. When America enters World War II, he rejoins the Navy and will command the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor.

1929: Lt. James L. “Jimmy” Doolittle boards his Consolidated NY-2 Husky at Long Island’s Mitchel Field and buttons himself in a completely blacked-out cockpit. He becomes the first pilot to take off, fly, and land “blind” – having to relying solely on the aircraft’s (newly developed) instruments. Continue reading “24 September: Today in U.S. military history”