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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.

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29 August: Today in U.S. military history

Holley

Today’s post is in honor of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Floyd C. Holley who, on this day in 2010, was killed while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. The 36-year-old from Casselberry, Fla. was serving his third combat deployment and was assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.


Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito in Sept. 1945. When the Japanese attempt to censor the photo showing the American commander towering above their revered emperor, MacArthur orders all newspapers to print the image.

1940: At Lawson Army Airfield (modern-day Fort Benning, Ga.), 1st Lt. William T. Ryder and his Parachute Test Platoon conduct the first mass parachute jump in U.S. military history.

Meanwhile, a delegation of British scientists begin sharing radar and other military technologies with the United States, hoping to secure assistance from the still-neutral nation.

1944: (Featured image) Four years after German conquerors marched through Paris’ famous Arc de Triomphe, 15,000 American soldiers of the 28th Infantry Division parade down the newly-liberated capital’s Champs-Élysées.

Meanwhile, a 21-man OSS force led by Lt. Cmdr. Frank Wisner parachutes into Romania, coordinating the rescue operation of well over 1,000 American prisoners of war before they can fall into the hands of the Soviet Red Army.

1945: An American B-29 Superfortress, carrying a load of humanitarian aid to Allied prisoners of war in Korea, is intercepted by Soviet Yak-9 fighters. The supposed allied pilots attack the bomber, forcing 1st Lt. Joseph Queen’s crew to bail out before the plane crashes. The air crew are rescued, and the incident marks one of the first international confrontations between the soon-to-be Cold War rivals.

Across the Sea of Japan, Allied occupation forces begin arriving in Japan, as well as the battleship USS Missouri, which will host the upcoming formal surrender ceremonies on Sept. 2. Gen. Douglas MacArthur is granted the authority to oversee the formation of a new Japanese government. Rather than disband the existing government, MacArthur rules through the emperor – whom the Japanese people still view as divine – during Japan’s transition to democracy.

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28 August: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dennis H. Laffick of the Oklahoma National Guard who was killed on this day in 1995 when his OH-58 Kiowa helicopter struck power lines during a counter-drug operation in Bixby, Okla.. The 48-year-old Chicago native previously served with the 114th Aviation Helicopter Company in Vietnam and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


1862: One year after the Confederacy’s “glorious but dear-bought victory” over the Union in the First Battle of Bull Run, the two (significantly larger) armies meet again on the same battleground. 70,000 soldiers of Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia engage Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s 50,000-man Army of Northern Virginia, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides. Maj. Gen. James Longstreet’s five divisions (25,000 men) execute the largest mass assault of the war, smashing their opponents’ left flank and forcing and the Union to once again withdraw.

1944: Army Air Force pilots Maj. Joseph Myers and 2nd Lt. Manford Croy, Jr., flying P-47 Thunderbolts, become the first fighter pilots to score a victory over a jet aircraft when they shoot down German pilot Hieronymus Lauer’s Me 262.

Meanwhile, the First Army crosses the Marne River in France just days after the liberation of Paris, and to the south, the coastal towns of Marseilles and Toulon surrender to the Allies.

1945: An advance party of 150 soldiers – the first American troops to set foot in Japan – land at the naval airfield at Atsugi to prepare for the 11th Airborne Division’s arrival in two days.

1952: Off the Korean coast, USS Boxer launches the first “guided missile” ever fired from an aircraft carrier – a radio-controlled F6F-5K Hellcat fighter fitted with 1,000-lb. bombs. A pilot controlled the drone, which was fitted with a TV camera, from a two-seat AD-2Q Skyraider. Of the six drones launched by Boxer, only one will reach its target.

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27 August: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Army PFC Tan Q. Ngo, who was killed on this day in 2008 when his mounted patrol was hit with enemy small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Ngo (20, of Beaverton, Ore.) was serving with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment out of Hohenfels, Germany.


1776: Five days after 15,000 British soldiers land on Long Island, Gen. William Howe’s forces attack the Patriots garrisoned at Brooklyn Heights. Gen. George Washington’s troops are flanked by the Redcoats during the first major battle of the Revolutionary War and suffer some 2,000 casualties before retreating to their redoubt at Brooklyn.

Rather than press the attack and smash the rebellion, Howe ordered his troops to prepare for a siege. However, in two days, the entire 10,000-man army slips through the Royal Navy stationed along the East River and evacuates (with their arms and supplies) to Manhattan. Washington is the last man to leave. While New York City falls into enemy hands, the patriots have survived to fight another day.

1918:  (Featured image) U.S. and Mexican Army soldiers, along with militia and armed civilians, clash along the border between Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Mexico. A handful of U.S. soldiers are killed and over 100 Mexicans, but the battle is over when the Americans seize the high ground overlooking the two Nogales on the Mexican side.

Following the battle, a chain-link fence is installed, splitting the two towns and becoming the first permanent border fence between the United States and Mexico.

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Today in U.S. military history: C-130 Hercules turns 65

Lockheed’s YC-130 during its first flight. Notice the lack of the radome on the aircraft’s nose. The originial Hercules used three-bladed propellers, like the prototype, but today’s “J” models use six-bladed props. (Lockheed Martin)

1942: While Japanese reinforcements depart Truk to join the fighting on Guadalcanal, American P-40 Warhawks with the 49th Fighter Group shoot down 15 Japanese fighters and bombers attempting to target the air base in Darwin, Australia.

1944: When Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army reaches the Seine River, Adolf Hitler orders Gen. Hans Speidel to destroy all bridges in Paris – which Speidel ignores, as well as another order days later to target Paris with V-1 buzz bombs and V-2 rockets. Speidel’s garrison will surrender in two days and the 28th Infantry Division will parade through the streets of Paris, ending four years of Nazi occupation.

300 miles to the west in Brittany, Staff Sgt. Alvin P. Carey spots an enemy machinegun nest 200 yards up a hill that is pinning down his soldiers. He grabs as many grenades as he can carry and has his soldiers cover him, then crawls up the hill. Carey shoots a German soldier on the way up, then begins hurling grenades at the enemy position – drawing the machine gunners’ fire. Although mortally wounded, he still manages to hurl a grenade right on target, killing the crew and knocking their guns out. Carey is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Continue reading “Today in U.S. military history: C-130 Hercules turns 65”