Today in US Military History
1962: U.S. Navy SEAL Teams “One” and “Two” are established.
1777: Following the surprise American victory at Trenton (N.J.) days earlier, British forces under Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis counterattack Gen. George Washington's Continental Army at Assunpink Creek. The British withdraw after three failed assaults against American positions, and abandon New Jersey after another defeat the following day.
1863: Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland defeats Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee in Murphreesboro, Tenn. Losses were heavy; casualty percentages were higher during the Battle of Stones River than during any other engagement during the Civil War.
1943: The 32nd Infantry Division captures the strategic town of Buna, New Guinea and its airfield in the first major land victory against the Japanese in World War II.
1944: U.S. forces - including the 32nd Infantry Division - land at Saidor, New Guinea, isolating 15,000 Japanese troops.
1967: Col. (future Brig. Gen. and triple ace) Robin Olds leads a sortie of F-4 Phantoms over North Vietnam, shooting down nearly half of the North Vietnamese air force's fighter inventory without a single loss to U.S. aircraft.
1777: Capitalizing on his successful Christmas night crossing of the Delaware River followed by a pair of victories in two separate battles of Trenton (N.J.), Continental Army Gen. George Washington defeats a British force under Lt. Col. Charles Mawhood in the Battle of Princeton.
At one point during the battle, Washington – at the head of his advancing infantry – reportedly gallops through a thick haze of musket and artillery smoke, shouting: "Parade with me my brave fellows, we will have them soon!"
1861: Eight days before Alabama secedes from the Union, four companies of Alabama volunteers led by Col. John B. Todd capture Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay.
1944: After splashing his 26th Japanese aircraft (a U.S. record at the time), Marine Corps flying ace Maj. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington is shot down. Believing he was dead, the military "posthumously" awards Boyington the Medal of Honor, but he would emerge from Japanese captivity after war's end.
While anchored in New York Bay, a series of explosions capsize and sink the destroyer USS Turner (DD-648), claiming 138 sailors.
A Coast Guard Sikorsky HNS-1 flown by Lt. Cdr. Frank A. Erikson delivers plasma to survivors of the Turner, marking the first use of a helicopter in a life-saving role.
1990: After 10 days of hiding out in the Vatican embassay, Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega surrenders to U.S. forces.
1847: The U.S. Government Ordnance Department orders 1,000 revolvers designed by Samuel. Colt and Texas Ranger Capt. Samuel H. Walker. Historians would later say that Colt's invention altered the course of human history.
1910: USS Michigan (BB 27), America's first dreadnought battleship, is commissioned.
1943: USS Helena (CL 50), operating off the coast of Munda Island, shoots down a Japanese Type 99 Val bomber, marking the first kill using Variable Timing (proximity-fused) anti-aircraft shells.
1944: U.S. Army Air Force bombers begin dropping weapons and supplies to resistance fighters in Europe during Operation Carpetbagger.
1989: Two F-14 Tomcats from the carrier USS John F. Kennedy shoot down two Libyan MiG-23 Flogger aircraft in the Gulf of Sidra.
2002: Sgt. 1st Class Nathan R. Chapman, assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group, is killed by enemy small-arms fire, becoming the first soldier killed during the War in Afghanistan.
1781: Commanding 1,600 British troops, American Traitor - now a British brigadier general - Benedict Arnold captures and burns Richmond, Va.
1855: A landing party from the USS Plymouth skirmishes with Chinese forces near Canton during the Taiping Rebellion.
1875: U.S. Navy Cdr. Edward Lull leads an expedition to determine the best route for the Panama Canal.
1904: Marines arrive in Korea to defend the U.S. legation assembly at Seoul.
1945: Japanese pilots receive their first order to become kamikaze suicide attackers. At Okinawa alone, 1,465 kamikaze pilots destroy at least 30 U.S. warships and kill 5,000 Americans.
Medal of Honor: 42 years ago, SSgt. Franklin D. Miller was leading a long range patrol of Special Forces soldiers and Montagnards in Laos when a booby trap wounded several members. Eventually, the entire patrol was wounded - including Miller, who was shot in the chest. The last man able to fight, Miller held off repeated enemy assaults against their position, despite being vastly outnumbered.
Miller would serve over six years in Southeast Asia. When asked by Pres. Richard Nixon at his award ceremony where he wanted to be assigned next, Miller answered "Vietnam."
1777: Gen. George Washington sets up winter camp for the Continental Army in the hills surrounding Morristown, N.J.
1861: Florida militia forces seize the Union Apalachicola Arsenal, which is defended by only Ordnance Sergeant Edwin Powell and three laborers. Although hopelessly outnumbered, Powell was prepared to fight if ordered to hold and initially refuses to surrender the keys to the magazines or armory. The militia permits Powell to telegram his command for instruction. Powell reluctantly concedes when he receives no response.
1927: U.S. Marines return to Nicaragua to protect American lives and property.
1942: Pres. Franklin Roosevelt informs Congress that he is authorizing the largest armaments production in United States history: 8 million tons of shipping, 45,000 planes, and 45,000 tanks, and 20,000 anti-aircraft guns will roll off assembly lines within the year.
1943: The light cruiser USS Helena (CL-50) uses proximity-fused anti-aircraft shells for the first time in combat, shooting down a Japanese "Val" dive-bomber.
1944: Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill is designated to lead the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), a long-range penetration special operations unit, now popularly known as Merrill's Marauders. Of the 2,750 men to enter the unit at Burma, only two were not wounded or killed. Today's 75th Ranger Regiment is a descendant of Merrill's Marauders.
1967: U.S. and South Vietnamese Marines conduct a joint amphibious assault of the Mekong Delta, marking the first time U.S. troops operate in the delta.
Medal of Honor: 44 years ago in South Vietnam, Army helicopter pilot Maj. Patrick H. Brady conducted multiple medical evacuation missions in dense fog and in the face of heavy enemy fire. Over the course of the day, he rescued 51 soldiers and 400 bullet holes were counted in the three helicopters he flew.
1973: An F-4 Phantom flown by U.S. Air Force Capt. Paul Howman and 1st Lt. Lawrence Kullman shoots down a MiG-21 fighter over North Vietnam, chalking up the final USAF air-to-air kill of the Vietnam War.
1815: U.S. forces (including soldiers, sailors, Marines, pirates, a few freed slaves, Choctaw Indians, and militiamen from several states) under the command of Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson defeat a numerically superior British amphibious force under the overall command of Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane in the Battle of New Orleans (La.).
Though a decisive victory for the Americans, the battle takes place 15 days after the signing of the war-ending Treaty of Ghent. Communications being what they were in 1815, news of the treaty did not reach New Orleans until February.
1847: A combined U.S. Army-Navy-Marine force under the joint command of Commodore Robert F. Stockton and Gen. Stephen W. Kearny decisively defeat Mexican forces under the command of Gen. José María Flores in the Battle of San Gabriel, California. Within days, U.S. troops are in control of Los Angeles.
1967: 16,000 U.S. and 14,000 South Vietnamese troops enter the "Iron Triangle," a major Viet Cong stronghold near Saigon, on a massive search and destroy mission. The Viet Cong largely avoided contact with the large force, withdrawing to Cambodia or hiding in tunnels. Operation Cedar Falls was the largest ground operation of the Vietnam War and marked the first time "tunnel rats" were used.
1861: Confederate coastal-artillery batteries open fire on the U.S. commercial paddlesteamer Star of the West in Charleston (S.C.) harbor. The shots – the first of the American Civil War – repel the Star, forcing the ship to abort its mission of resupplying the besieged U.S. Army garrison at Fort Sumter.
1945: Following a devastating naval bombardment, the first of more than 200,000 6th Army soldiers land at Lingayen Gulf. The Battle of Luzon (Philippines) is on, and by March, Allied forces control all strategic locations on the island.
1847: U.S. Naval forces occupy Los Angeles during the Mexican-American War.
1920: Following months of negotiations, the Treaty of Versailles is signed, formally ending the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers.
1923: After four years of occupation duty, Pres. Warren Harding orders all remaining U.S. troops in Germany home.
1927: Marines land at Nicaragua to support the Nicaraguan government during their civil war. The Marines would remain until 1933, supervising elections and maintaining order.
1942: Japanese troops begin their four-month siege of U.S. and Filipino forces on Bataan.
1944: Congress passes the G.I. Bill of Rights, proposed by the American Legion. Following the end of World War II, millions of veterans take advantage of education benefits and home loans provided by the new legislation.
1946: An Army Signal Corps lab at Camp Evans, N.J. reflects radio signals off the moon and receives the return, signifying the beginning of the U.S. space program.
1967: The Mobile Riverine Force, a joint unit of U.S. Army infantry carried by Navy assault craft that operated in South Vietnam's Mekong Delta, arrives at Vung Tau.
1863: The Confederate sloop-of-war CSS Alabama takes the Union steamer USS Hatteras by surprise (Alabama was flying British colors), sinking Hatteras off Galveston, Texas.
1944: 663 bombers from the Eighth Air Force and nearly 600 fighter escorts attack aviation industry targets in Germany in one of the largest raids to date. Of the estimated 500 Luftwaffe fighters that intercept the group, over half are shot down, and nearly 200 more are listed as probable kills or damaged. 60 American bombers and five fighters do not return.
2002: The first detainees from the War on Terror arrive at the Camp X-Ray detention facility in U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
1945: Warplanes from the U.S. Navy’s carrier Task Force 38 under the command of Vice Adm. John Sidney McCain Sr. (grandfather of Sen. John S. McCain III), attack enemy convoys and bases along the coast of Japanese-held French Indochina (Vietnam) in the Battle of the South China Sea.
Codenamed “Operation Gratitude,” the attacks are wildly successful. Despite rough seas and high winds from a dangerously close typhoon, Japanese bases at Saigon, Cape Saint Jacques (Vung Tau), Cam Ranh Bay, Qui Nhon, and Tourane Bay (Da Nang) are hit hard, resulting in the destruction of docks, barracks, weapons depots, hangars, and scores of Japanese seaplanes and other aircraft, as well as the sinking of more than 40 enemy ships.
1952: SHORAN (short-range radio navigation) precision guidance technology is used for the first time when a B-26 Marauder guides 10 B-29 Superfortress bombers to Wonju, Korea. In another first, the B-29s drop specially-fused 500-lb. bombs that explode in the air, showering communist troops with shrapnel.
1962: The U.S. Air Force begins defoliation operations to deny the Viet Cong use of jungle cover for their movements. Over nine years, Operation Ranch Hand pilots, whose motto was "Only you can prevent forests," would fly 19,000 sorties and drop an estimated 20 million gallons of defoliant. 10 percent of the vegetation in South Vietnam is destroyed.
1973: An F-4 Phantom flown by U.S. Navy Lieutenants Vic Kovaleski and Jim Wise splash a MiG-17, making it the Navy’s final air-to-air kill and the last aerial-combat kill of the war.
1993: Marine PFC Domingo Arroyo becomes the first American service member killed in Operation Restore Hope when his patrol is ambushed by Somalian gunmen.
1865: U.S. soldiers, sailors, and Marines under the joint command of Maj. Gen. Alfred Howe Terry and Rear Adm. David Dixon Porter begin landing operations – in what will prove to be the largest American amphibious operation until World War II – aimed at seizing Fort Fisher, N.C., a Confederate stronghold near the port city of Wilmington. The fort – commanded by Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg – will fall to Union forces within two days.
1942: The U.S. military's first helicopter, the Sikorsky XR-4, makes its initial flight.
1951: Forty years before Desert Storm, Air Force bombers destroy a North Korean bridge with a radio-guided "smart" bomb.
1969: A Zuni rocket overheats and launches on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), igniting a blaze that would kill 27 sailors and wound over 300, and claim 15 aircraft.
1962: The U.S. Army suffers its first combat casualties of the Vietnam War when the Viet Cong shoot down a H-21C Shawnee transport helicopter, claiming three lives.
1973: Following progress in the peace talks between the United States and North Korea, Pres. Richard Nixon suspends offensive action in the Vietnam War. U.S. involvement will cease in less than two weeks.
1917: British intelligence intercepts a coded telegram from the German government requesting an alliance with Mexico if the U.S. enters World War I. In return for a Mexican attack on the United States, Germany would offer financial aid and assist Mexico in regaining Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The Mexicans refuse, and the "Zimmermann Telegram" sparks outrage when published in U.S. papers, leading Congress to declare war on Germany in April.
1781: Continental Army forces -- including infantry, cavalry, dragoons (horse-mounted infantry), and militia – under the command of Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan, clash with a better-equipped, more-experienced force of British Army regulars and Loyalists under the command of Lt. Col. Banastre “Bloody Ban” Tarleton in a sprawling pastureland known as Hannah’s Cowpens in the South Carolina upcountry.
The Battle of Cowpens ends in a decisive victory for Morgan – who defeats Tarleton in a classic double-envelopment – and a near-irrevocable loss of men, equipment, and reputation for the infamous Tarleton and his "British Legion."
1991: U.S. and coalition forces launch a massive air campaign aimed at destroying the Iraqi Air Force, Iraq’s air-defense forces and overall command and control facilities in Iraq and occupied Kuwait. F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters and AGM-86 air-launched cruise missiles make their combat debuts, and B-52 crews from Barksdale Air Force Base (La.) fly a 14,000 mile, 35-hour round-trip bombing mission, setting the record for longest combat mission at the time.
Aircrews conduct over 1,000 sorties and drop 18,000 tons of ordnance in the first 14 hours. Operation Desert Storm is underway, and in one week, the ground campaign would begin.
1911: Eugene B. Ely lands his Curtiss Pusher Model "D" aircraft on the USS Pennsylvania, fitted with a special platform with makeshift tailhook system, becoming the first-ever airplane landing aboard a ship.
1951: Following their return to action after the breakout from the Chosin Reservoir, the First Marine Division begins mopping-up guerillas in the Pohang area of South Korea.
1770: The little-known but historically significant Battle of Golden Hill erupts in New York City between members of the patriot organization "Sons of Liberty" and a contingent of British soldiers. Several are wounded on both sides and one civilian is killed in what is considered by some historians as the first armed clash of the American Revolution.
1862: Union forces led by Brig. Gen. George H. Thomas defeat Confederates under Maj. Gen. George B. Crittenden in the Battle of Mill Springs (Ky.). The engagement marks the Union's first significant victory of the war.
1914: A naval aviation unit from Annapolis, Md. consisting of nine officers, 23 men, seven aircraft, portable hangars, and other gear, under Lieutenant J. H. Towers” arrives at Pensacola, Fla. aboard the battleship USS Mississippi and the bulk-cargo ship USS Orion to set up a flying school. The "Cradle of Naval Aviation" is born.
1944: The U.S. 5th Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Mark Clark, reaches the Gustav Line and clashes with German forces near Monte Cassino, Italy. After four months of bloody fighting, the Allies have Field Marshall Albert Kesselring's Tenth Army on their heels and in danger of being surrounded.
1968: The North Vietnamese Army tries - and fails - to overrun Marines patrolling the hills surrounding their combat outpost. The Battle of Khe Sanh has begun - the heavily outnumbered and besieged Marines will fight off their attackers for 77 days, shattering two enemy divisions.
1981: 20 minutes after Ronald Reagan is sworn in as president, Iran releases 52 American hostages (including 18 military personnel) after 444 days of captivity.
1903: The Militia Act of 1903 – also known as the "Dick Act" (Congressman and Maj. Gen. Charles Dick authored much of the legislation) – is passed, establishing federal standards and greater federal control over state militias, essentially creating the modern National Guard.
1918: 12 officers and 133 enlisted men from the Marine Corps' First Aeronautical Company arrive for anti-submarine duty at Ponta Delgada, Azores. The unit was one of the first completely equipped American aviation units to serve overseas in World War I.
1968: An Air Force B-52 carrying four hydrogen bombs crashes near Thule Air Base, Greenland. The nuclear payload releases, causing widespread radioactive contamination.
1944: Allied forces, including the U.S. VI Corps under the command of Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas (of Lt. Gen. Mark Clark’s Fifth Army), begin a series of landings along a stretch of western Italian coastline in the Anzio-Nettuno area. Codenamed Operation Shingle, the Allies achieve complete surprise against – and encounter little initial resistance from – the Germans. But the landings kick off what will become one of the most grueling campaigns of World War II.
1954: First Lady Mamie Eisenhower breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow of USS Nautilus in Groton, Connecticut, launching the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. The following year, Nautilus gets underway, begins breaking numerous sea-travel records, and becomes the first "ship" to cross the North Pole.
1968: The U.S. Air Force begins Operation Igloo White, it's state-of-the-art electronic warfare operation utilizing a network of sensors to detect and interdict communist infiltration into South Vietnam.
1969: Operation Dewey Canyon, the Marine Corps' last major offensive of the Vietnam War, begins. Marines under the command of Col. Robert H. Barrow spent 56 days clearing out the North Vietnamese Army's stronghold near the A Shau Valley.
1968: North Korean forces seize USS Pueblo (AGER-2) in the Sea of Japan, killing one sailor and capturing 82. The prisoners spend 11 months in captivity and Pueblo is now a museum in Pyongyang.
1942: A U.S. destroyer division led by Cmdr. Paul H. Talbot engages a Japanese convoy, sinking at least four transports and one of their escorts. The Battle of Makassar Strait is the U.S. Navy's first surface action of World War II.
1961: A B-52 bomber on an airborne alert mission breaks up over Goldsboro, N.C., killing three of the crew and releasing its payload of two Mark 39 nuclear bombs. One bomb is recovered and another buries itself nearly 200 feet below the ground.
1856: Marines and seamen from the sloop USS Decatur land at Seattle to protect settlers from an Indian attack. The Battle of Seattle lasted seven hours and the Indians suffered severe casualties, while only two settlers died.
1951: The Eighth Army, inspired by their new commander Lt. Gen. Matthew Ridgway, launches the first UN counteroffensive of the Korean War.
1948: Pres. Harry S. Truman signs executive order 9981, which essentially directs the desegregation of the armed forces.
1837: U.S. soldiers and Marines under the command of Col. Archibald Henderson – a serving Marine Corps commandant – defeat a force of Seminole Indians in the running battle of Hatchee-Lustee Creek (Florida). For his actions, Henderson will receive a brevet promotion to brigadier general, becoming the Corps’ first general officer.
1862: Pres. Abraham Lincoln issues the first of two war orders. The first, General War Order No. One, directs U.S. Army and Naval forces to move “against the insurgent forces [of the Southern states].” In four days, Lincoln will issue Special War Order No. One, calling for an expeditionary force to seize and hold “a point” along the railroad southwest of Manassas Junction.
1942: The submarine USS Gudgeon (SS-211) sinks the Japanese submarine I-173, becoming the first American sub to send an enemy warship to the bottom during World War II and the first U.S. submarine to sink an enemy submarine in action.
1943: B-17 and B-24 bombers of the U.S. Eighth Air Force strike German U-boat facilities at Wilhelmshaven. The bombing raid is the first U.S. Army Air Forces mission over Germany.
1973: Representatives of the United States and North Vietnam sign the Paris Peace Accords, ending U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.
1915: Pres. Woodrow Wilson signs into law the congressionally approved merger of the “Life Saving” and “Revenue Cutter” services, thus establishing the U.S. Coast Guard. Still, the officially recognized birthday of the Coast Guard is Aug. 4, 1790, the day Congress approved Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton's proposal to “build ten cutters to protect the new nation's revenue.”
1986: 73 seconds after lift-off, Space Shuttle Challenger explodes, killing all seven crew members. Among the deceased are Commander Richard R. Scobee (Lt. Col., USAF), Pilot Michael J. Smith (Capt., USN), Mission Specialist Ellison S. Onizuka (Lt. Col., USAF), and Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis (Capt., USAF).
1991: Following an Iraqi attack into Saudi Arabia, centering on the port city of Khafji. US forces support Saudi and Qatari troops in expelling the Iraqi forces. 29 Americans were killed, two captured, and one AC-130 gunship was shot down during in the Battle of Khafji, which was the first ground engagement of Operation Desert Storm.
1862: The U.S. Navy’s first ironclad ship, USS Monitor, is launched at Greenpoint, N.Y. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the turreted gunship will make history in March when it trades shots with the Confederate ironclad Virginia (a vessel built from the previously scuttled USS Merrimac) in a duel ending in a draw at Hampton Roads, Virginia.
1945: Raid at Cabanatuan
1968: The Vietnamese TET Offensive – launched by jointly operating North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces – kicks off across South Vietnam.
1945: U.S. Army Private Eddie Slovik is executed by firing squad near Ste Marie-aux-Mines, France for desertion under fire. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower personally signed the execution order to discourage further desertions. Slovik remains the only American shot for desertion since the Civil War.
1800: The frigate USS Constellation (the first of four so-named American warships) under the command of Capt. Thomas Truxtun defeats the French frigate La Vengeance under Capt. F.M. Pitot in a night battle lasting several hours. The engagement, fought during America’s Quasi War with France, is – according to Truxtun – “as sharp an action as ever was fought between two frigates.”
1862: Julia Ward Howe's poem "Battle Hymn of the Republic," which begins “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” is published in the Atlantic Monthly. It will become a Union Army ballad. Today, the ballad is a martial hymn sung in American military chapels worldwide and by descendents of Union and Confederate soldiers alike.
1943: Having been defeated by the U.S. Marine Corps, Emperor Hirohito orders Japanese troops on Guadalcanal to withdraw from the island.
1961: The Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – the first three-staged, solid-fueled ICBM – is launched for the first time in a successful “all systems” test.
2003: The doomed Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) disintegrates upon reentering the earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crewmembers.
1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed by representatives of the United States and Mexico, officially ending the Mexican-American War. According to the Library of Congress, the treaty “[extends] the boundaries of the United States by over 525,000 square miles. In addition to establishing the Rio Grande as the border between the two countries, the territory acquired by the U.S. included what will become the states of Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.”
1901: Congress authorizes the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps under the Army Medical Department.
1801: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Mortefontaine treaty, officially ending the Quasi War with France.
1961: The U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) launches its EC-135 flying command post – codenamed “Looking Glass” – in order to maintain seamless and secure command-and-control of U.S. nuclear forces in the event ground-based command-and-control is wiped out in a nuclear attack. “Looking Glass” aircraft will be airborne 24/7 for the next three decades. According to the U.S. Strategic Command (which replaced SAC): “On July 24, 1990, Looking Glass ceased continuous airborne alert, but remained on ground or airborne alert 24 hours a day.”
Today, the U.S. Navy's E-6B Mercury is America’s “Looking Glass.”
1779: Continental Navy Capt. John Paul Jones takes command of the former French frigate, Duc de Duras, renaming her Bonhomme Richard (after Benjamin Franklin’s pen name). It will be aboard the Richard – badly damaged and sinking during the famous battle in the North Sea with the Royal Navy frigate HMS Serapis on Sept. 23 – that Jones refuses a surrender demand, allegedly replying, “I have not yet begun to fight!” It has also been widely reported that when the Serapis’ Captain Richard Pearson inquired as to whether or not Jones had lowered or struck his colors, Jones shouted back, “I may sink, but I'll be damned if I strike!”
Incidentally, Bonhomme Richard (the first of five so-named American warships) does sink: But not before Pearson himself surrenders (believed to be “the first time in naval history that colors are surrendered to a sinking ship”), and Jones transfers his flag to his newly captured prize, Serapis.
Jones is destined to become “the Father of the American Navy,” though – in some circles – it is argued that title belongs to Commodore John Barry.
1787: Shays' Rebellion – a short-lived Massachusetts uprising led by former Continental Army Capt. Daniel Shays and spawned by crippling taxes and an economic depression in the wake of the American Revolution – is quashed by Massachusetts militia.
1944: Kwajalein Atoll is secured by U.S. forces.
1945: The Big Three – U.S. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin – meet at the Crimea Conference (best known as the Yalta Conference) to discuss among other points what was to become of soon-to-be conquered Germany and the nations the Nazis had previously defeated.
1918: U.S. Army Lt. Stephen W. Thompson, a member of the American 1st Aero Squadron, is invited by French aviators to fly in a French Breguet bomber as a gunner on one of their missions. It is on that mission that Thompson shoots down a German Albatross fighter over Saarbrucken, Germany; making him the first American in uniform to shoot down an enemy airplane.
Today, the U.S. Air Force’s 1st Reconnaissance Squadron traces its lineage back to the 1st Aero Squadron.
1787: Representatives of the French and U.S. governments sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance in Paris. France recognized the United States as an independent nation and provided much-needed military aid.
1802: Congress authorizes Pres. Thomas Jefferson to arm U.S. ships to defend against Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean.
1832: Marines and sailors aboard the USS Potomac (the first of five so-named ships) attack pirates from the village of Quallah Batoo, Sumatra (present-day Indonesia) following the massacre of a U.S. merchant vessel in February 1831.
1862: Union Army and Navy forces under Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant capture Fort Henry from Confederate forces in the first major Union victory of the Civil War.
1945: Army Air Force B-24 and B-29 bombers begin attacking Iwo Jima in preparation of the upcoming landing.
1965: North Vietnamese sappers attack the helicopter base Camp Holloway, killing eight, wounding over 100, and destroying 18 aircraft. The attack prompted Pres. Lyndon Johnson to begin bombing North Vietnam.
1947: The submarine USS Cusk (SS-348) launches a JB-2 Loon, America's first submarine-launched "cruise missile." Never used in combat, the Loon was a modified copy of the infamous German VB-1 flying bomb.
1945: For three days, 1,300 Royal Air Force and US Army Air Force heavy bombers drop 3,900 tons of bombs on Dresden, Germany. The bombs and incendiary devises created a firestorm that killed 25,000 Germans.
1778: The Continental sloop-of-war Ranger (the first of 10 so-named American warships) under the command of Capt. John Paul Jones fires a 13-gun salute to French Adm. Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte’s fleet anchored in France’s Quiberon Bay. The French return the salute with nine guns. It is the first time America’s new flag – “the stars and stripes” – is officially recognized by a foreign power.
1814: The American frigate USS Constitution captures Lovely Ann, a British armed merchant vessel, and HMS Pictou, a Royal Navy schooner, within hours of each other.
1912: USS E-1 (SS-24), the U.S. Navy’s first diesel-powered submarine, is commissioned in Groton, Connecticut. The sub is skippered by an almost 27-year-old Lt. Chester W. Nimitz, destined to become the famous five-star fleet admiral of World War II.
1898: A terrific explosion rips through the bow of USS Maine anchored in Havana Harbor, Cuba. Within minutes, 260 U.S. sailors and Marines are dead.
Convinced that the explosion (the cause of which is still being debated) is the result of a mine or the work of Spanish saboteurs, American newspapers will demand vengeance. America will soon be at war with Spain.
1804: U.S. Navy Lt. (future commodore) Stephen Decatur sails a captured Tripolitan ketch he renames USS Intrepid into the harbor at Tripoli. There, Decatur and a volunteer force of sailors and Marines board the frigate USS Philadelphia (the second of six so-named American warships), which had been previously captured by Tripolitan pirates. After a brief but violent close-quarters struggle – in which several pirates but no Americans are killed – Decatur orders the Philadelphia burned.
1945: American paratroopers jump over the Philippines’ "fortress Corregidor" in one of the most difficult airborne operations of the war. For the next 11 days, the Americans will root out the enemy from a labyrinth of caves and tunnels and beat back multiple banzai attacks before wiping out almost all of the 6,500-man enemy garrison.
1864: The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sinks the Federal sloop-of-war USS Housatonic in Charleston (S.C.) harbor, becoming the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship in action. It is a pyrrhic victory however: the submarine also sinking – either with its victim or soon after the attack – with the loss of all hands.
1865: Columbia, S.C. falls to Union Army forces under the command of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.
1944: U.S. Marines land and quickly capture Engebi island, the first obstacle to seizing Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshalls. The following day, U.S. Army forces strike Eniwetok – a tougher fight – and soldiers and Marines seize the island in three days.
1945: The first two of three dispatched U.S. Marine divisions begin hitting the beach on day-one of the epic battle for Iwo Jima. Of the 21,000 Japanese diehards defending Iwo, some 20,800 will be killed. Almost 7,000 Marines will lose their lives. Another 26,000 will be wounded.
1944: U.S. Army Air Forces and Britain’s Royal Air Force begin Operation ARGUMENT, a massive thousand-plus bomber offensive aimed at destroying the German Air Force and Luftwaffe manufacturing facilities in order to achieve irreversible air superiority before the Normandy landings. Allied losses will be high. German losses will be staggering.
1962: U.S. Marine Lt. Col. (future colonel) and two-war fighter pilot John H. Glenn Jr. becomes the first American to orbit Earth. Glenn orbits Earth three times in less than five hours in his spacecraft, Friendship 7.
1909: Pres. Theodore Roosevelt’s "Great White Fleet" – a four-squadron armada of white-painted warships manned by some 14,000 sailors and Marines – returns to Hampton Roads, Virginia after sailing around the world in a grand show of American Naval power.
1967: The U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade conducts the first and only mass parachute jump of the Vietnam War. The jump is but one element of the much broader airborne (primarily heliborne assault) and infantry “search and destroy” operation, Junction City. The operation will continue through May.
1974: Lt. J.G. Barbara Ann Allen Rainey becomes the first female Naval aviator. In 1982, she will be killed in a crash while training a student pilot.
1778: Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian Army officer – arguably the father of American drill instructors – arrives at Valley Forge with the task of whipping the Continental Army into shape.
1836: The advance elements of a 4,000-plus-man Mexican army under the command of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna begin the siege of the isolated Texas Army garrison at the Alamo mission near (now part of present-day) San Antonio, Texas, during the Texas War of Independence.
The Alamo’s approximately 200-man garrison will be wiped out nearly to a man when the Mexicans storm the mission on March 6.
1847: During the Mexican-American War, a Mexican army under Santa Anna launches a series of attacks against a numerically inferior U.S. Army force under the command of Gen. (and future president) Zachary Taylor near Buena Vista. Though surprised and outnumbered, the Americans beat back the Mexicans who are forced to withdraw with heavy losses.
1942: The Japanese submarine I-17 surfaced off the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Coast and attacked the Ellwood Oil Field. The sub's 5.5-inch gun inflicted minimal damage, but the incident sparked an invasion scare along the Pacific coast and would lead to the internment of Japanese-American citizens.
1945: After several days of savage fighting, U.S. Marines capture the summit of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Just after 10:30 a.m., a small flag is raised on Suribachi. But an officer orders a larger flag be hoisted so that it might be seen from the far end of the island.
1813: The sloop-of-war USS Hornet (the third of eight so-named American warships) under the command of Capt. James Lawrence sinks the Royal Navy brig HMS Peacock in a swift action in which Peacock’s skipper, Capt. William Peake, is killed.
1991: At 4:00 a.m. the lead elements of the enormous coalition ground force surges forward into Iraq and Kuwait aimed at ousting Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait. President George H.W. Bush will order a ceasefire on the 28th. The 42-day “mother of all battles” (38 days for the initial air campaign and four days for the ground campaign) will end.
1779: Following an arduous campaign through freezing floodwaters, a joint American-French force under Virginia militia Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark captures British-held Fort Sackville at Vincennes in the Illinois backcountry.
1949: Lucky Lady II, a U.S. Air Force B-50 bomber flown by Capt. James Gallagher and his 13-man crew, begins the first leg of the first-ever nonstop flight around the world. The flight, requiring nearly four days and four in-flight refuelings, will be successful, and it will prove to the world that U.S. aircraft are capable of flying from their North American bases and striking any city on earth.
1995: U.S. Marines land once again on the beaches of Mogadishu - this time, to secure the airport and seaport for the withdrawal of remaining UN forces from Somalia.
1943: Elements of the U.S. Army Air Forces and Royal Australian Air Force intercept and all-but-destroy an entire Japanese troop-transport convoy in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. Several enemy ships, scores of enemy aircraft, and thousands of enemy soldiers will be sent to the bottom.
1965: Operation Rolling Thunder begins.
1776: 250 Continental Marines and sailors led by Marine Capt. Samuel Nicholas land at New Providence Island in the Bahamas, quickly capturing Fort Montague from the British in the first amphibious operation in American military history.
1815: The U.S. Congress authorizes American Naval action against the pirate state of Algiers.
1883: The U.S. Congress approves the creation of the “new Navy” with an authorization to build three “steel-protected cruisers” and a “steel dispatch boat.” The authorization begins a steel-ship renaissance for the U.S. Navy.
1931: The U.S. Congress adopts “The Star Spangled Banner” as the official national anthem.
1944: B-17 Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Army Air Forces participate in the first daylight bombing raid over Berlin. A massive B-17 raid over the German capitol will follow in two days.
1770: A contingent of armed British soldiers fire into a crowd of protesting colonists in what will become known as the Boston Massacre. Five colonists are killed. The soldiers, charged with murder, will contend the protestors were threatening them with rocks and clubs. The killings will spark public outrage, demands for the death penalty for the soldiers responsible, and draw America even closer toward revolution.
1942: The Seabees – the U.S. Navy’s celebrated combat-capable Construction Battalions (CBs) – are established.
1966: The "Ballad of the Green Berets" composed by U.S. Army Special Forces Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler and author Robin Moore hits the number-one spot on the Billboard Chart where it will remain for five weeks.
1836: Following a two-week siege, the Alamo – commanded by Lt. Col. William Barret Travis – falls to Mexican forces after the Texas garrison puts up one of the most heroic defenses in American military history. The garrison of nearly 200 volunteers is wiped out to a man.
1942: The first black airmen graduate from flight school at Tuskegee, Alabama.
1945: U.S. Army armored forces race to seize the strategically vital Ludendorff Bridge (also known as the Remagen bridge) before the Germans blow the structure. The Americans are successful, thus enabling the allies to establish a bridgehead on the enemy side of the Rhine River.
1965: The lead elements of 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines begin coming ashore at Da Nang, South Vietnam. Within hours, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines will arrive aboard transport aircraft at the nearby airbase. The Marines of 3/9 and 1/3 – both part of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade – are the first American ground-combat forces destined for offensive operations against the enemy in Southeast Asia.
1862: The CSS Virginia and USS Monitor exchange shots in one of the first battles between ironclad ships.
1945: 279 B-29 Stratofortress bombers from the 314th Bombardment Wing destroy over 16 square miles of Tokyo and kill 84,000 civilians in a firestorm created by incendiary bombs.
1783: Three Royal Navy ships open fire on Continental Navy ships Duc De Lauzun and Alliance off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, but are defeated in what became the last naval engagement of the American Revolution.
1862: President Abraham Lincoln fires Gen. George B. McClellan from his post as general-in-chief due to McClellan's unwillingness to attack the Confederate army.
1918: Lt. Paul Baer singlehandedly attacks seven German aircraft over Cerney-les-Reims, France, shooting down one - the first enemy aircraft shot down in U.S. military history - earning the Army Air Corps' first Distinguished Service Cross award. In just six weeks Baer would become the first American flying ace, ultimately splashing a total of nine enemy aircraft during World War I.
1941: The United States becomes an "arsenal of democracy" when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease Act. The program provided over $50 billion in funds, weapons, aircraft, and ships to allied nations.
1945: B-29 Stratofortress bombers conduct a strategic bombing campaign against mainland Japan. Within a week, Osaka, Kobe, and Nagoya go up in flames. 120,000 Japanese civilians die at the cost of only 20 B-29s lost.
1965: The U.S. Navy conducts the first patrols of Operation MARKET TIME. The blockade lasted eight-and-a-half years and effectively blocked enemy troops and supplies from reaching South Vietnam by sea.
1942: Four PT boats transport Gen. Douglas MacArthur, his family, and staff from the Philippine island fortress of Corregidor to Australia.
1865: The Confederate government approves the use of slaves for soldiers. Although Gen. Robert E. Lee requested that slaves who fought should be granted freedom, the bill did not allow such a provision. Several thousands slaves would go on to fight for the Confederacy. 200,000 blacks fought for the Union.
1942: The U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps begins training dogs for it's "K-9 Corps." Following basic training, the dogs were utilized in sentry, scout, messenger, and mine detection duties.
1951: United Nations forces under the command of U.S. Army Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway recapture Seoul, Korea.
1965: U.S. and South Vietnamese forces launch the second bombing wave of Operation ROLLING THUNDER, targeting facilities on Tiger Island, off the North Vietnamese coast, and the ammunition depot at Phu Qui, 100 miles south of Hanoi.
1781: British Army forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis march toward a pyrrhic victory over Continental Army and militia forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Greene at Guilford Courthouse (near present-day Greensboro), N.C.
1916: As World War I rages in Europe, a U.S. Army expeditionary force under the command of Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing crosses into Mexico in pursuit of the bandit, Pancho Villa.
1802: President Thomas Jefferson signs into law the establishment of a corps of engineers, which "shall be stationed at West Point in the State of New York and shall constitute a Military Academy." The United States Military Academy is born.
1916: Following Mexican bandit Pancho Villa's raid on Columbia, New Mexico, the U.S. Army Signal Corps' 1st Aero Squadron conducts the first military aerial reconnaissance flight over Mexico.
1945: Though Japanese resistance will continue for several more days, Iwo Jima is declared secure.
1966: Neil A. Armstrong (USN, ret.) and David R. Scott (USAF) rocket into space aboard Gemini VIII, conducting the first docking operation in space. Gemini VIII suffered the first critical in-space system failure and had to abort the remainder of the mission, splashing down safely in the Pacific Ocean.
1988: When forces from Nicaragua's leftist government crossed into Honduras to strike Contra rebel targets, President Ronald Reagan deploys 3,000 U.S. troops to Honduras.
1776: British forces under the command of Gen. Sir William Howe begin evacuating Boston after Howe reluctantly concludes that the American artillery positions atop Boston’s commanding Dorchester Heights are "impregnable."
1973: The first U.S. prisoners of war are released from the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" prison camp in North Vietnam.
1945: Some 1,250 American bombers and their fighter escorts roar toward Berlin in one of the U.S. Army Air Forces’ “heaviest” bombing raids on the German capitol.
1945: Adm. Marc A. Mitscher’s Fast Carrier “Task Force 58” begins a several-day series of attacks on Japanese bases at Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku in preparation for the forthcoming Okinawa campaign. The enemy will mount a counterattack, but with only moderate effect. Japanese losses of shore facilities, aircraft, and men will be heavy.
1916: Four days after “Black Jack” Pershing crosses into Mexico, the U.S. Army’s 1st Aero Squadron under Capt. (future major general) Benjamin D. Foulois joins the hunt for Pancho Villa. Though Foulois’ aircraft will be used primarily for observation and delivery of dispatches, the squadron will be the first to test tactical air support of ground forces.
2003: U.S. and coalition air and sea forces fire the opening shots in the invasion of Iraq.
1863: Confederate cavalry under the command of Kentucky raider, Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan, strikes a sizeable Union reconnaissance force under Col. Albert S. Hall at Vaught’s Hill, Tennessee. Though outnumbered and surrounded, Hall’s hilltop position enables the colonel to beat back a series of attacks until Morgan – learning that Hall is to be reinforced with additional U.S. troops from Murfreesboro – is forced to disengage.
1922: America’s first aircraft carrier, USS Langley, is commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia. Converted from the coaling ship USS Jupiter, Langley will see action in World War II. But she will be so badly damaged in an action off Java in 1942, her escorts will be forced to scuttle her.
1942: U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur – ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to leave his besieged soldiers in the Philippines (where their capture is inevitable) and make his way to Australia – delivers his famous “I shall return” speech. MacArthur will return to the Philippines in Oct. 1944.
1820: Commodore Stephen Decatur – “America’s Lord Nelson,” the hero of Tripoli, and the author of the famous aphorism, “Our country, right or wrong” – is mortally wounded in a duel with Commodore James Barron near Bladensburg, Maryland.
1775: In a speech before the House of Burgesses, future Virginia governor (and colonel of the 1st Virginia Regiment) Patrick Henry exclaims, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
1776: As a force-multiplier for the fledgling Continental Navy, the Continental Congress authorizes the employment of privateers (privately owned and armed merchant ships) against “enemies of these United Colonies,” specifically Great Britain, her commercial shipping, privately owned vessels, and ships of the Royal Navy.
1815: Though the War of 1812 has officially ended – communications being what they are in the early 19th century – the Royal Navy sloop-of-war HMS Penguin under the command of Capt. James Dickenson engages the sloop USS Hornet (the third of eight so-named American Navy ships) under Capt. James Biddle off the South Atlantic archipelago Tristan da Cunha. The fighting is quick and hot: Both captains are wounded; Dickenson mortally. HMS Penguin surrenders in less than one half hour.
1943: Elements of Germany's vaunted Afrika Korps clash with U.S. Army forces near the oasis of El Guettar in Tunisia.
2003: Task Force Tarawa (2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade) under the command of Brig. Gen. Richard F. Natonski attack – and will ultimately defeat – Iraqi forces in heavy fighting at An Nasiriyah.
1945: Paratroopers of Maj. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway’s XVIII Airborne Corps – composed of the U.S. 17th Airborne “Thunder from Heaven” Division and their British 6th Airborne Division comrades – strike and seize key German positions on the enemy side of the Rhine River. The airborne assault is the last major parachute and gliderborne operation of World War II.
1959: Elvis Presley is sworn into the Army as a private. He would attend basic and advanced training at Fort Hood, Texas and later serve in Europe in the 3d Armored Division. He ultimately reached the rank of sergeant before completing his two years of active duty service. Elvis was a jeep driver and reconnaissance scout, although he could also drive, load, and fire the M-48 Patton tank.
1863: Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton presents six Union Army soldiers – members of Andrews’ Raiders – with the first-ever Medals of Honor. Today, America recognizes all of its Medal of Honor recipients on National Medal of Honor Day – Mar. 25 (of each year) – the anniversary of the first presentations.
1864: Confederate cavalry under the command of Maj. Gen. (future Lt. Gen.) Nathan Bedford Forrest, “the wizard of the saddle,” strike Union forces under Col. Stephen G. Hicks in the Battle of Paducah, Kentucky.
1917: After Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare on Allied (including U.S.) shipping and discovery of the "Zimmerman Telegram", proposing German alliance with Mexico if the U.S. enters World War I, Congress declares war on Germany.
1945: Torpedo bombers from the USS Hornet sink the Japanese battleship Yamato, the largest battleship ever constructed. Only 280 of the 2,778 crew are rescued, making the attack the largest loss of life at sea of a single ship during World War II.
1945: A sortie of 180 Luftwaffe planes from the Luftwaffe's Sonderkommando Elbe take off for the unit's only mission of the war. Their Bf-109G aircraft are specially modified to ram into Allied bombers, ideally with the pilot safely ejecting before or after the collision. Of the 15 U.S. bombers they intercept, eight are knocked out of the sky.
1942: Maj. Gen. Edward P. King surrenders US forces at Bataan to the Japanese.
1945: Marine Bombing Squadron 612 (VMB-612) launches night attacks from Iwo Jima against the Japanese coast.
1975: Marines evacuate nearly 300 Americans and foreign nationals from Cambodia during Operation EAGLE PULL.
1970: "Houston, we have a problem": Apollo 13 command module's oxygen tank explodes, aborting the lunar landing.
1961: Under cover of darkness, a diversionary landing of 164 Cuban exiles, supported by US Navy destroyers, departs for Baracoa, Cuba, but turns around due to militia activity on the coast. At 0600, eight B-26B Invader bombers, prepared by the CIA, attack Cuban airfields in preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion.
1962: Marine Medium Transport Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMM-362) arrives at the Soc Trang airfield in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, becoming the first operational Marine Corps unit deployed to Vietnam.
1898: The Secretary of the Navy orders Maj. Gen. Charles Heywood, the ninth Commandant of the Marine Corps, to organize a battalion for duty in Cuba.
1847: U.S. Army forces under the command of Gen. Winfield Scott outmaneuver, drive from a superior position, inflict heavy losses, and decisively defeat a numerically superior Mexican Army under Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna at Cerro Gordo.
1961: More than 1,500 CIA-trained and financed Cuban freedom fighters hit the beach along the Cuban coastline including the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), while nearly 180 "Free Cuba" paratroopers begin landing north of the beachhead. Their goal is to overthrow the communist regime of Fidel Castro, but the operation is doomed when locals fail to rise up and support the invasion and President Kennedy withholds the promised American air and naval gunfire support.
1775: Paul Revere and William Dawes begin their famous "midnight ride" from Boston to Lexington, Mass., where they link-up with Samuel Prescott, who rides on to Concord. All three are sounding the alarm – warning town leaders and alerting the militia – that nearly 1,000 British infantrymen, grenadiers, and Royal Marines are advancing from Boston.
1942: Sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers led by U.S. Army Air Forces Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle launch from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the first raid against the Japanese mainland during World War II. The raid will be successful, but all aircraft will be lost. Eleven men will be killed or captured.
1775: Nearly 1,000 British regulars cross the Charles River from Boston, Mass. to the Cambridge shoreline (thus the famous "two" lantern signal in the Old North Church as opposed to the "one" lantern which would have signaled a British approach on land across "Boston neck"). The British forces bowl over the militia at Lexington, then advance to seize and destroy military stores in Concord. The Americans retreat to high ground, regroup, and advance on the King's men at North Bridge, forcing the British to withdraw, then begin firing from rock outcroppings, trees, and houses, opening a "veritable furnace of musketry" on the British companies streaming back toward Boston.
The British barely escape the gauntlet. The war is on.
1861: Pres. Abraham Lincoln orders a Naval blockade of Confederate ports in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The blockade will be extended to North Carolina and Virginia the following week.
1945: Following a massive artillery, Naval gunfire and air bombardment of Japanese defenses on Okinawa, U.S. forces launch a coordinated ground assault against the infamous Shuri Line.
1861: A reluctant Col. Robert E. Lee – forced to choose between the United States and his home state Virginia – resigns his commission in the U.S. Army. In three days, Lee will accept command of Virginia state forces. He is destined to become general-in-chief of Confederate forces.
1861: Days after Virginia secedes from the Union, Norfolk Navy Yard is abandoned and burned by Union forces to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. The Confederates would do the same when they abandon the shipyard in May 1862.
1945: As Adolf Hitler celebrates his 56th birthday, the U.S. flag is raised over Nuremberg Stadium - site of the Nazi party rallies. Following five days of heavy fighting, 7th Army forces have captured Nuremberg.
1947: U.S. Navy Capt. L.O. Fox, supported by 80 Marines, accepts the surrender of Lt. Yamaguchi and 26 Japanese soldiers and sailors on the island of Peleliu, nearly 20 months after the end of World War II.
1777: British Army forces led by Gen. William Tryon attempt to destroy the village of Danbury, Conn. Much of the town is burned before Continental forces can arrive several days later.
1836: Described as “one of the biggest military upsets in the [western] hemisphere,” Texas Army forces under the command of Gen. Sam Houston decisively defeat Mexican forces under Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna in the bloody Battle of San Jacinto. The fighting is grim – much of it hand-to-hand – but it is over in less than 20 minutes. Houston is wounded. Santa Anna, hiding and dressed in a common soldier’s uniform, will be captured the following day.
The Mexican Army is finished. Texas independence is secured.
1898: America declares war on Spain. The following day, U.S. Navy warships begin blockading Cuba, and USS Nashville (one of five so-named American warships, including two Confederate vessels of the same name) fires the first official shots of the war.
1918: German flying ace Manfred von Richtofen, known as the "Red Baron," is shot down and killed near Vaux-sur-Somme, France. Richtofen's 80 kills were the most by any pilot during World War I.
1940: U.S. Army Capt. Robert M. Losey, attempting to evacuate U.S. personnel from Finland, is killed when German aircraft bomb a rail yard. Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring apologizes for the incident.
1951: Marine pilots from the USS Bataan splash three Yak fighters and damage another in the first aerial clash with the North Korean Air Force.
1863: Union Col. Benjamin Grierson begins a two-week raid through Mississippi cutting the state's telegraph lines, destroying two trainloads of Confederate ammunition, destroying 50 miles of railroad, killing 100 and capturing 500 Confederates - at the cost of three wounded, seven wounded, and 14 missing.
1898: President William McKinley orders a naval blockade of Cuba.
1915: German forces introduce poison gas when they fire over 150 tons of chlorine gas, devastating the French line at Ypres, Belgium.
1944: American soldiers land in New Guinea for Operations RECKLESS and PERSECUTION, beginning a three month battle that would claim the lives of 12,811 of the original 15,000 Japanese troops, compared to only 527 Americans.
1945: Adolf Hitler confides to his aides in his underground bunker that the war is lost and suicide is his only option. He will kill himself in eight days.
1987: The U.S. Navy is ordered to provide assistance to neutral vessels under Iranian attack in the .
2004: Pat Tillman, who left a multi-million dollar career in professional football to join the Army Rangers, is killed while on patrol in eastern Afghanistan.
1778: Capt. John Paul Jones - commanding the Continental sloop-of-war Ranger - leads a daring ship-to-shore raid on the British fortress at Whitehaven, England. Jones’ sailors and Marines spike the enemy’s guns, burn a few buildings, and set fire to a ship before withdrawing. The raid is the first on British soil by an American force.
1862: Union Naval forces under the command of Adm. David Farragut knife past Confederate gunboats and batteries at Forts Jackson and St. Philip in the Mississippi River at New Orleans. Farragut will capture the city.
1944: The U.S. military uses it's first "smart" bomb, the radio-guided VB-1 Azon, to close the Brenner Pass between Italy and Austria. Although not the world's first smart bomb - the Germans beat us to it - Army Air Corps pilots would drop hundreds of these bombs during World War II, primarily to destroy bridges, such as the famous "Bridge Over the River Kwai" in Thailand.
1980: Following a string of glitches from missed deadlines to malfunctioning helicopters, a U.S. operation aimed at freeing American hostages in Iran is aborted at a remote staging area – code-named “Desert One” – some 200 miles from Tehran. As the rescue force begins to withdraw, one of the helicopters operating in night black-out conditions accidentally hovers into a C-130 transport aircraft. A terrific explosion follows, killing five U.S. airmen and three Marines.
1944: Lt. Carter Harmon, flying an Army Air Force Sikorsky YR-4B helicopter, conducts the first known military helicopter rescue 100 miles behind enemy lines in Burma.
1945: Russian and U.S. armies link up at the Elbe River and Torgau. World War II will be over in days.
1960: The nuclear-powered submarine USS Triton (SSRN 586) arrives at the St. Peter and Paul rocks in the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first vessel to cross the globe submerged. Triton traveled 26,723 nautical miles in only 60 days.
1777: 16-year-old Sybil Ludington – "the female Paul Revere" – begins her 40-mile, all-night ride across an isolated circuit of New York–Connecticut backcountry, warning villagers of a British attack on nearby Danbury, Connecticut.
1805: Following an extremely difficult march across a 500-to-700-mile stretch of desert, a force of U.S. Marines and foreign mercenaries led by U.S. Army officer William Eaton attack and seize the fortress at Derna (modern-day Libya) during the First Barbary War. The battle was the first U.S. land battle on foreign soil and the first time the U.S. flag is raised over foreign soil.
1865: The overcrowded Mississippi River steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 Union soldiers just released from Confederate prison, explodes and sinks just north of Memphis. At least 1,500 soldiers perish in the blast.
1965: U.S. Marines land in the Dominican Republic to prevent the nation from falling to communism.
1798: The U.S. Navy Department – parent company of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps – is established.
1945: German leader Adolf Hitler commits suicide in Hitler’s Berlin Bunker. German Army forces will surrender to the Allies within days.
1970: Pres. Richard M. Nixon announces that U.S. troops would conduct operations in North Vietnamese-controlled areas of Cambodia. Congress would shortly ban combat troops in Laos and Cambodia.
1862: 5,000 Union troops under command of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler march unopposed into New Orleans, capturing the city.
1946: When prisoners at Alcatraz riot - breaking into the prison armory and taking hostages - Marines from Treasure Island Naval Base assist in suppressing the riot.
1863: During day-two of the Battle of Chancellorsville, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates appear out of nowhere, smashing into Union Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s right flank and literally rolling up the encamped Federal force.
That evening, Gen. Jackson is shot by a Confederate sentry while performing reconnaissance. Jackson's arm is amputated, and he will die in eight days of pneumonia.
1864: The bloody albeit inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness (Virginia) opens between Union Army forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Fighting is grim: Casualties will be heavy on both sides. Union and Confederate generals will be killed. Wounded and trapped soldiers will be burned alive by a battle-sparked woods fire.
Within two days, Grant will disengage and advance toward Spotsylvania Courthouse.
1961: U.S. Navy Commander (future rear admiral) Alan B. Shepard Jr. rockets to an altitude of more than 116 miles above the Earth’s surface aboard "Freedom 7," becoming the first American in space.
1965: The first large-scale U.S. Army forces – the famous 173rd Airborne Brigade – arrive in South Vietnam.
1942: Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright unconditionally surrenders all US forces in the Philippines to the Japanese.
1962: A Polaris ballistic missile from the submerged USS Ethan Allen explodes on Christmas Island, having traveled 1,200 miles. The test marks the first explosion of a ballistic missile and the only time a nuclear-tipped Polaris missile is fired from a submerged sub.
1873: Marines from the USS Pensacola and USS Tuscarora land at the Bay of Columbia to protect American citizens and interests as local groups fight for control of the Panamanian government.
1942: The Battle of the Coral Sea begins in earnest between Allied (primarily U.S.) Naval forces and the Japanese Navy.
The battle – the first fought between opposing ships beyond visual range – is largely a carrier-air fight, and will result in the loss or damage of several American ships, including the loss of USS Lexington, scores of destroyed planes and hundreds of sailors and Marines killed.
The Japanese will also suffer serious losses.
According to the U.S. Naval Historical Center, the battle "was an operational and strategic defeat for [Japan], the first major check on the great offensive they had begun five months earlier at Pearl Harbor."
1945: Germany surrenders one week after Adolf Hitler commits suicide in Hitler’s Berlin Bunker.
1846: In the first major battle of the Mexican War, U.S. Army forces under the command of Gen. (and future president) Zachary Taylor decisively defeat Mexican forces under Gen. Mariano Arista in the Battle of Palo Alto (Texas). The Mexicans will retreat to a seemingly more defensible position at Resaca de la Palma the following day, but Taylor will pursue and beat them badly there too.
1864: Union Army forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee clash in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. The outcome at Spotsylvania Courthouse will be inconclusive and the casualties terribly heavy. In less than two weeks, Grant will again break contact and continue his advance toward Richmond.
1911: The U.S. Navy places its first order with the Curtiss aircraft company for two biplanes. Thus, May 8 becomes the official birthday of Naval Aviation.
1961: President John F. Kennedy approves the deployment of 400 Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets) to Vietnam to train South Vietnamese forces.
1962: The first medevac helecopter flight of the Vietnam War.
1975: In what is considered to be the last official action of the Vietnam War, Khmer Rouge forces seize the merchant ship SS Mayaguez off the coast of Cambodia. During the rescue operation, Marines boarded and secured the Mayaguez - the first of its kind since 1826 - and the 39 prisoners were released. 41 Marines and airmen died assaulting nearby Kaoh Tang island where the prisoners were mistakenly believed to be held.
1916: Kiffin Rockwell, an American pilot serving in the French Air Service' Lafayette Flying Corps during World War I, becomes the first American pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft in history.
1944: West Loch disaster
1912: The aviation arm of the U.S. Marine Corps is born with the arrival of 1st Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham at the Naval Aviation Camp, Annapolis, Maryland. There, Cunningham will begin his flight training, and with less than three hours of instruction, he will solo in a Wright Model B-1 biplane.
1968: The fast-attack submarine USS Scorpion (the sixth of six so-named American Navy vessels) is mysteriously lost at sea several hundred miles off the Azores. All hands – 99 sailors – perish.
1862: Confederate forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson strike, outmaneuver, and – with textbook coordination of infantry, cavalry, and artillery – decisively defeat Union Army forces under Col. John R. Kenly at Front Royal, Virginia.
1818: Gen. (future U.S. pres.) Andrew Jackson and his expeditionary army march into Spanish-controlled Florida, easily capturing the Gulf-coastal town of Pensacola.
1917: U.S. Army Gen. John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing is named commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Force, which is destined for European combat the following year.
1967: USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) – the last conventionally powered American aircraft carrier – is launched.
1918: Elements of the 1st Infantry Division, under the command of Lt. Gen. Robert Lee Bullard, launch the first major attack by U.S. forces in World War I, capturing the French town of Cantigny from a far-more experienced German army.
1959: Two years before humans would reach space, monkeys Able and Baker blast off from Cape Canaveral aboard a Jupiter rocket, reaching a height of 360 miles above the earth. The monkeys splashed down safely in the Atlantic after traveling 1,700 miles in 16 minutes.
1980: The first female cadets graduate from the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, and the Coast Guard Academy.
1866: "Decoration Day" – the predecessor to Memorial Day – is first observed by order of U.S. Army Gen. John A. Logan, who designated the day "for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country." Maj. Gen. (future U.S. pres.) James A. Garfield presides over ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery (the former estate of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee), and approximately 5,000 participants decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate dead — about 20,000 of them — buried on the grounds.
1864: The bloody battle of Cold Harbor opens in earnest between Union Army forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Grant will launch a series of futile attacks over the next three days. Lee will defend and hold. Union losses will be staggering: 13,000 to the Confederacy’s 2,500.
1942: The great Naval battle of Midway opens between U.S. Naval and air forces under the command of Adm. Chester W. Nimitz and Japanese forces under Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, who had hoped to lure the U.S. Pacific Fleet into a great air-sea battle and destroy it.
Considered a turning point in the Pacific theater of operations, the Japanese fleet is intercepted near Midway atoll, engaged, and will be decisively defeated by Nimitz. The Americans will lose one carrier, USS Yorktown, but four Japanese carriers will be sent to the bottom.
According to the U.S. Naval Historical Center: "[Midway] represents the strategic high water mark of Japan's Pacific Ocean war. Prior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive."
1965: Air Force astronauts Edward H. White II and James A. McDivitt blast off aboard Gemini IV. White will become the first American to "walk" in space - enjoying the experience so much that he had to be ordered to return to the capsule.
1944: Rome falls to U.S. forces, becoming the first European capital to be liberated by the Allies.
1967: During the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab nations, the technical research ship USS Liberty (AGTR-5) is attacked by Israeli forces in Mediterranean, killing 34 sailors and injuring nearly 200.
1812: President James Madison approves an Act of Congress declaring that a state of war exists between the United States and Great Britain, launching the War of 1812.
1950: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's Army crosses the 38th Parallel and invades South Korea, launching the Korean War.
1942: The Japanese submarine I-25 surfaces at the mouth of the Columbia River, off the coast of Oregon, and attacks Fort Stevens. The sub causes little damage, but the event marks the only time that a stateside U.S. military installation is bombarded.
1917: The first U.S. troops arrive in France to fight alongside the Allies in World War I. More than two million Americans will serve on the battlefields of Western Europe, and over 50,000 will lose their lives.
1914: Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated by a Bosnian Serb. One month later, Austria-Hungary will declare war on Serbia, triggering World War I.
1943: Nearly half a million Allied troops invade Sicily. In just over a month of fighting, U.S., British, and Canadian forces will drive the enemy from the island.
Chips, a German Sheperd military police dog serving in Sicily with Company I, 30th Infantry Regiment, attacks a hidden German pillbox, forcing four enemy soldiers to surrender. Chips is wounded in the attack, but is awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart by the 3rd Infantry Division's commander, Maj. Gen. Lucian Truscott.
1945: The atomic age dawns when the first nuclear weapon is tested at Alamogordo Air Base, N.M. (present-day White Sands Missile Range). The shock wave from the device could be felt 100 miles away and the mushroom cloud reached over six miles in the air.
1898: Spanish forces under the command of Gen. José Toral surrender Cuba to U.S. forces under Gen. William R. Shafter during the Spanish American War.
1944: Two ships are destroyed along with hundreds of sailors and civilians killed and wounded when ammunition being loaded aboard the ships at Port Chicago, Calif. explodes. One ship is so badly obliterated that no identifiable pieces can be found. The explosion was reportedly heard 200 miles away.
1779: 300 Continental Marines attack the British at Fort George, Penobscot Bay (present-day Castine, Maine).
1969: Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong – a U.S. Naval aviator who flew multiple combat missions over Korea, and was once shot down – becomes the first human in history to walk on the surface of the moon.
Armstrong, who serves as Apollo 11 mission commander, is accompanied on the historic voyage by command module pilot Michael Collins, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who will become a major general in 1978, and lunar module pilot Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin (also an Air Force fighter pilot, who shot down two MiG-15 fighters over Korea.
1823: U.S. Navy Midshipman and acting-lieutenant (future admiral) David Glasgow Farragut leads a raiding party of cutlass-armed sailors and Marines against a pirate base on Cape Cruz, Cuba. Farragut’s men attack and destroy the pirate stronghold.
1861: In what the Union hoped and generally believed would be an overwhelming Union victory that would end the rebellion before it got started, Confederate Army forces under the command of Brig. Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard and reinforced by Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston–and Johnston’s soon-to-be famous Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, who on-this-day will earn the nom d’ guerre, “Stonewall”–defeat and rout Union Army forces under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell during the First Battle of Bull Run, known to many Southerners as First Manassas.
1943: Elements of Gen. George S. Patton Jr.’s 7th Army seize Palermo, Sicily.
1866: David Glasgow Farragut – best known for purportedly uttering the command, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" during the 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama – is appointed to the rank of admiral (the first such rank in U.S. Naval history). Also, future American Pres. Ulysses S. Grant becomes the first "full [four star] general" in the history of the U.S. Army.
1947: The National Security Act of 1947 – the law reorganizing the post-World War II national defense/intelligence structure of the United States – is passed, establishing the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency. The Act, which will become effective Sept. 18, is considered to be the most sweeping reorganization of the American defense structure since the establishment of the Department of the Navy in 1798.
1909: 10,000 people, including Pres. Howard Taft, gather to watch aviation pioneer Orville Wright fly himself and U.S. Army Lt. Frank P. Lahm above the Fort Myer, Virginia countryside for more than an hour in his now-famous Wright Flyer. The Army leadership is impressed enough that it takes delivery of its first Wright Flyer, "the world’s first military airplane," within days.
1953: An armistice is signed, ending the Korean War.
1779: 40 Continental Marines and Massachusetts Militia, including their leader, Marine Capt. John Welsh, are killed in an unsuccessful assault on Britain's Fort George at Penobscot Bay, Maine.
1914: One month after the assassination of Austria's Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, triggering World War I. Nearly 20 million military and civilians will be dead by conflict's end four years later.
1915: 340 Marines and sailors land at Port au Prince, Hayti, beginning an occupation that would last until 1934.
1918: Brig. Gen. John A. Lejeune assumes command of the 2d U.S. Army Division in France - becoming the second Marine to command an Army Division (Brig. Gen. Charles A. Doyen was the first).
1932: Following an unsuccessful attempt to remove "Bonus Army" marchers from the nation's capital by Washington, D.C. police, President Herbert Hoover orders Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur, to evict the protestors by force. Other notable officers participating were Majors George S. Patton (in command of tanks) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (junior aide to MacArthur).
1943: Eight square miles of Hamburg, Germany and 42,000 citizens are consumed in a firestorm caused by thousands of British incendiary bombs.
1945: A B-25 Mitchell bomber, flying through thick fog over New York City, slams into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, killing the plane's three crewmembers, 11 occupants and igniting a four-story blaze.
1965: Pres. Lyndon Johnson sends 50,000 troops to Vietnam, bringing the number to 125,000. To meet the requirements, monthly draft calls are increased from 17,000 to 35,000 - the highest since the Korean War.
1846: Sailors and Marines of USS Cyane seize San Diego, California, during the Mexican War.
1780: A force of 600 militiamen, led by Col. Isaac Shelby, captures Thickety Fort (South Carolina) from British Loyalists without firing a shot.
1864: In a special-operation that proves disastrous for the initiators, Union Army troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside detonate a mine, blowing a huge hole (or crater) in the Confederate defenses at Petersburg, Virginia. Several units of Union soldiers charge in after the explosion, but each unit is beaten back with heavy losses by Confederates under Brig. Gen. William Mahone.
1909: Days after a successful demonstration flight, the Army Signal Corps takes delivery of the "world's first military airplane," the Wright military flyer of 1909.
1919: The USS New Orleans (CL 22) lands a Marine detachment in Tyutuke Bay, Siberia, in support of a White Russian attack on Bolshevik forces.
1941: The river gunboat USS Tutuila (PR 4) becomes the first U.S. warship attacked during World War II when Japanese aircraft mistakenly bomb the vessel in Chunking, China.
1945: Days after completing its top-secret mission of delivering components of the atomic bomb destined for Hiroshima to Tinian Island, the USS Indianapolis is hit by a Japanese torpedo. The cruiser sinks in the shark-infested waters within 12 minutes, and only 317 of the original 1,196 crewmembers survive. The Indianapolis is the last U.S. ship sunk during World War II.
1967: Fire erupts on the flight deck of the USS Forrestal when a electrical glitch launches a rocket into another plane's fuel tank, resulting in a conflagration and series of explosions that would kill 134 sailors and destroy 21 aircraft.
1777: The Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman whom Gen. George Washington will soon take under his wing, is commissioned "major general" in the Continental Army.
1945: The U.S. government warns Japan that eight cities will be destroyed if they refuse to surrender. Days later, atomic bombs fall on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the Japanese surrender before further cities are leveled.
1964: The U.S. Navy's all-nuclear Task Force One USS Enterprise (CVAN 65), USS Long Beach (CGN 9), and USS Bainbridge (DLGN 25) pass through the Straights of Gibraltar, beginning their 30,565-mile cruise around the world. Including port calls, the fleet crosses the globe - unrefueled - in 65 days.
1955: The famous U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft makes its first-ever flight above Groom Lake (Area 51), Nevada.
1943: PT 109, commanded by LTJG (and future pres.) John F. Kennedy, is run down and cut in half by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri.
1964: The USS Maddox, supporting South Vietnamese covert operations against the North in the Gulf of Tonkin, is attacked by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. The three ships are destroyed, and within days, Congress would pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, leading to full-scale conflict in Vietnam.
1950: The first members of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group members arrive in Saigon. The group will supervise the allocation of military aid to the French military in Vietnam, and later act as military trainers.
1958: USS Nautilus — the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine and the U.S. Navy’s sixth so-named vessel — becomes the first “ship” to cross the North Pole.
1790: Congress approves Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s proposal to "build ten cutters to protect the new nation’s revenue," establishing the Revenue Cutter Service – first of the predecessor services of the modern Coast Guard.
1846: Sailors and Marines from the USS Congress capture Santa Barbara, Calif. during the Mexican-American War.
1873: Lt. Col. George Custer and his 7th Cavalry have their first engagement with Sioux warriors, led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. When 7th Cavalry meets Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at the Little Big Horn River in three years, Custer and 200 cavalrymen will perish.
1914: As Europe plunges into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson announces that the United States shall remain neutral.
1964: Less than 48 hours after North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the USS Maddox, the destroyer USS Turner Joy detects what appears to be - on radar - a small watercraft approaching the destroyer. For two-and-a-half hours, Maddox and Turner Joy - accompanied by aircraft from USS Ticonderoga - fire at the supposed targets.
In response, aircraft from the carriers Ticonderoga and Constellation attack North Vietnamese patrol boat bases and the oil storage facility at Vinh. Within days, Congress would pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, leading to full-scale conflict in Vietnam.
1945: A single American B-29 bomber, Enola Gay, flying from the island of Tinian drops the first-ever atomic bomb used in war on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Between 80,000 and 140,000 Japanese are killed instantly, and another 100,000 are severely wounded.
1964: Congress overwhelmingly passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, enabling Pres. Lyndon Johnson to increase U.S. involvement in Vietnam and leading to full-scale war.
1945: The second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
1944: After three weeks of fighting, the island of Guam is declared secure.
1945: Japan surrenders (V-J Day).
1945: Japan surrenders to the United States on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.
1783: In the the "greatest triumph in the history of American diplomacy," John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin sign the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War. Britain formally recognizes the independence of the United States, whose borders now extend west to the Mississippi River.
1945: Days after the end of World War II, U.S. troops occupy South Korea while Soviet troops occupy North Korea. The two sides are separated by the 38th Parallel, setting the stage for the Korean War less than five years later.
1942: The Japanese submarine I-25 surfaces off the Oregon coast, launching an E14Y "Glen" floatplane. Pilots Nobuo Fujita and Shoji Okuda drop their incendiary bombs in the Oregon forest, becoming the only pilots to bomb the continental United States.
1777: Battle of Freeman's Farm — first engagement in the Battle of Saratoga (during the American Revolution) — opens between Continental forces under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates and British forces under Gen. John "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne. Brits carry the day, but suffer heavy losses. Continentals will ultimately win Saratoga.
1797: The Continental Navy frigate Constitution is launched in Boston harbor.
Today USS Constitution – known affectionately as “Old Ironsides” -- is the “oldest ship in the American Navy,” and continues serving in the 21st century as a duly commissioned ship crewed by active-duty U.S. sailors and Naval officers in order to further public awareness of American Naval tradition.
1863: Confederate forces under the command of Gen. Braxton Bragg prevail against Union forces under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans at Chickamauga, Georgia. Bragg’s casualties are far higher than those of Rosecrans, and - apart from Gettysburg - the battle is the bloodiest engagement of the Civil War.
1988: U.S. forces protecting American tankers in the Persian Gulf spot an Iranian vessel laying mines in international waters. The Iran Ajr is captured and scuttled. In April, the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) strikes - and is nearly sunk by - a mine laid by the Iran Ajr, prompting the U.S. to retaliate against the Iranian fleet.
1779: The famous battle of the North Sea opens between Continental Navy frigate Bonhomme Richard under the command of Capt. John Paul Jones, and Royal Navy frigate HMS Serapis. When the British Captain Richard Pearson asks Jones whether he has struck his colors, Jones reportedly replies: "I have not yet begun to fight!"
The Bonhomme Richard does sink: But not before the British captain surrenders (believed to be “the first time in naval history that colors are surrendered to a sinking ship”), and Jones transfers his flag to his newly captured prize, Serapis.
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.
1960: USS Enterprise (CVN 65), America's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (the eighth of eight so-named American Navy ships since 1775) is launched.
1957:U.S. Army paratroopers – members of the 101st Airborne Division – escort nine black students into Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas, ending segregation there.
1918: Though technically launched at 11:30 p.m., Sept. 25, with an intense artillery barrage; the Meuse-Argonne Offensive – the six-week long “greatest battle of World War I in which the Americans participated” – officially begins just before dawn when whistles are blown along the American trench-lines, and with fixed-bayonets, American soldiers clamber over the top and begin their assault against the German lines.
The battle, which begins with approximately 600,000 American soldiers and Marines, will see U.S. ranks swell to more than one million men. 26,277 Americans will be killed, another 95,786 wounded. But the campaign will end the war.
1945: U.S. Army Lt. Col. A. Peter Dewey, the chief of the Saigon Office of Special Services, is mistaken for a Frenchman and shot in the head by Viet Minh forces, making Dewey the first American killed by communists in Vietnam.
1777: Continental forces under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates decisively defeat British forces under Gen. John "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne in the Second Battle of Saratoga (also known as the Battle of Bemis Heights).
According to the National Parks Service, “This crucial American victory renewed patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face of the world.”
But the war is far from over.
1780: Three years to the day after Second Saratoga, patriot militia forces armed with rifles, knives, and tomahawks decisively defeat musket-armed Loyalist militia under the command of British Army Maj. Patrick Ferguson (who will be killed in the fighting) in the bloody Battle of King’s Mountain on the N.C.-S.C. border.
Among the patriots is John Crockett, father of Davy Crockett.
1918: Nearly two weeks into the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I, the U.S. Army’s 82nd Division (destined to become the famed 82nd Airborne Division) battles its way toward -- and successfully relieves -- the now famous “Lost Battalion” (combined elements of three battalions of the 77th Infantry Division, which had been surrounded during a German counterattack).
For days without blankets and overcoats, always running short of ammunition and medical supplies (the wounded often patched up with bloody bandages removed from the dead), and with little food and nearly no water; the “Lost Battalion” -- under the command of Maj. (future lieutenant colonel) Charles S. Whittlesey -- had refused to surrender. Responding to a German surrender-demand, Whittlesey allegedly replied, “Go to hell!” Some reports suggest he said, “Come and get us.”
Whittlesey and two of his officers -- Captains George McMurtry and Nelson Holderman -- will receive the Medal of Honor.
1941: Although the United States has not yet entered the war, a German U-boat torpedoes USS Kearny (DD-432), killing 11 sailors - the first Naval casualties of World War II.
2001: Post 9/11 America goes on the offensive against terrorists when U.S. and allied forces launch a massive retaliatory air and naval strike against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan.
1918: The day following the relief of the “Lost Battalion,” Private First Class (future U.S. Army sergeant and future colonel in the Tennessee State Guard) Alvin C. York captures “the whole damned German Army.”
In the action for which he will receive both the Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre, York leads a seven-man team of doughboys against a strong enemy position. The team kills at least 25 Germans and captures four officers, 128 soldiers, and over 30 machineguns.
French Marshall Ferdinand Foch will tell York, “What you did was the greatest thing accomplished by any private soldier of all the armies of Europe.”
1942: U.S. Naval forces under the command of Rear Admiral Norman Scott intercept a Japanese fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral Aritomo Gotō, attempting to reinforce troops on Guadalcanal in the Battle of Cape Esperance. Fighting began shortly before midnight off the northwest coast of the island. The Navy sank one Japanese cruiser and three destroyers, losing only one U.S. destroyer, the USS Duncan (DD 485). Adm. Gotō was mortally wounded in the engagement. Japanese sailors who jumped overboard refused to be rescued by American ships, instead choosing to remain in the shark-infested waters.
1968: Astronauts Walter M. Schirra (Capt., USN), Donn F. Eisele (Col., USAF), and Walter Cunningham (Col. USMCR ) blast off aboard Apollo 7. The crew, commanded by Schirra, would orbit the Earth for 11 days and transmit the first live television broadcasts from orbit.
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.
1775: The Continental Congress votes "to fit out two sailing vessels, armed with ten carriage guns, as well as swivel guns, and manned by crews of eighty, and to send them out on a cruise of three months to intercept transports carrying munitions and stores to the British army in America." The U.S. Navy is born.
1943: In what will become known as "Black Thursday," U.S. Army Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses – elements of the famed 8th Air Force – attack the ball-bearing plants (critical to Germany’s aviation industry) at the heavily defended Bavarian city of Schweinfurt. Though the raid is successful, scores of bombers – and more than 600 airmen – are lost.
1777: After having been decisively defeated by Continental Army Gen. Horatio Gates at Second Saratoga, British Gen. John "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne surrenders his entire army, between 5,000 and 7,000 men.
1922: Lt. Commander Virgil C. Griffin, piloting a Vought VE-7SF bi-winged fighter, makes the first-ever "official" takeoff from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Langley - a coaling ship which had been converted into America’s first aircraft carrier - in York River, Va.
Though Griffin is indeed the first man to takeoff from a “carrier”, he is not the first to takeoff from a warship. That distinction belongs to Eugene B. Ely who took-off from a platform affixed to a cruiser in 1910.
1781: British Gen. Charles Cornwallis formally surrenders 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships to an American and French force at Yorktown, Va., effectively ending the American Revolution.
1950: U.S. forces take the North Korean capitol Pyongyang.
1965: Two regiments of North Vietnamese soldiers begin a week-long siege on the Special Forces camp at Plei Me in South Vietnam's central highlands. The outnumbered defenders repelled repeated attacks and eventually drove off the NVA forces. Following the battle, Gen. William Westmoreland ordered the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) to find and defeat the forces that attacked Plei Me, resulting in the bloody Battle of Ia Drang.
1987: Following an Iranian missile attack on a merchant vessel, U.S. warships attack and destroy two Iranian oil platforms being used by Iranian forces to attack shipping in the Persian Gulf.
2001: U.S. Army Rangers and Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets) conduct airborne and air-assault operations on several targets in Kandahar. These raids are the first known combat operations of the war in Afghanistan.
In Pakistan, two Rangers are killed in a helicopter crash, becoming the first combat-related casualties in the War on Terror.
1922: Lt. Harold R. Harris performs the world's first emergency parachute jump when the controls of his Loening PW-2A malfunction over McCook Field, Ohio.
1944: Gen. Douglas MacArthur returns to the Philippines - along with more than 100,000 soldiers - as U.S. forces land at Leyte Island. The island is captured after 67 days of intense fighting, signaling the beginning of the end for the Japanese.
The Japanese Army's 16th Division, which conducted the brutal Bataan Death March and held Leyte Island, is completely wiped out during the fighting.
1917: Four months after arriving in France, U.S. soldiers get their first taste of combat on the front lines during World War I.
1957: The U.S. military suffers its first casualties in Vietnam when a wave of terrorist attacks strikes American military facilities in Saigon, wounding 13.
1962: President John F. Kennedy announces that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear weapons in Cuba and the United States will establish a naval blockade around the island to prevent further offensive weapons from entering Cuba.
1983: A 2,000-lb. truck bomb explodes at the Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers. The bombing would become known as "the bloodiest day in Marine Corps history since Iwo Jima." Moments later, another truck bomb hits the French barracks, killing 58. American troops withdrew from Lebanon four months later.
1954: President Dwight Eisenhower pledges direct support to the South Vietnamese government.
1812: The frigate USS United States under the command of Capt. (future commodore) Stephen Decatur – hero of Tripoli and said to be the U.S. Navy’s own Lord Nelson – captures the Royal Navy frigate HMS Macedonian under the command of Capt. John Carden in a brisk fight several hundred miles off the Azores.
1942: On Guadalcanal, Japanese forces launch a series of full-frontal assaults to retake Henderson Field. The defending Marines - led by Lt. Col. Lewis "Chesty" Puller - and soldiers kill upwards of 3,000 Japanese troops at the cost of only 80 Americans.
1944: During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the escort carrier USS St. Lo (CVE-63) becomes the first major warship to be sunk by Japanese kamikaze pilots. By war's end, kamikaze attacks would sink 34 U.S. ships.
Torpedoes from the destroyer USS Melvin (DD-680) sink the Japanese battleship Fusō, considered to be the largest warship to go down with all hands during World War II. Rear. Adm. Jesse Oldendorf's 7th Fleet Support Group, consisting of several battleships sunk or damaged during Pearl Harbor, engage and sink the battleship Yamashiro, marking the last battleship-versus-battleship engagement in history.
Elsewhere in the gulf, three Japanese destroyers are sunk at the cost of one U.S. escort carrier, two destroyers, and a destroyer escort.
Aircraft from the U.S. 3rd Fleet, commanded by Adm. Bill Halsey, sink the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, the last surviving carrier that struck Pearl Harbor. Also headed for the bottom are two more light carriers and a destroyer. Two more ships - including another light carrier - are crippled. Later that day, naval gunfire and torpedoes will claim another Japanese light carrier, two destroyers, and a light cruiser. The Battle for Leyte Gulf is effectively over.
1950: Well over 200,000 Chinese Communist troops attack UN forces in their first assault of the Korean War. The Chinese force withdraws to the mountains and when they attack again one month later, they will drive the UN all the way to the southern tip of the Korean peninsula.
1972: Pres. Richard Nixon suspends the bombing campaign against North Vietnam following secret peace talks in Paris. A cease fire will be signed in just three months.
1983: In the largest military operation since Vietnam, nearly 2,000 U.S. troops land on the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada to secure American citizens and topple the Marxist regime.
Medal of Honor: On this day in 1942, Sgt. John Basilone became a Marine legend, fighting off wave after wave of Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal despite being incredibly outnumbered.
1909: U.S. Army Lt. (future brig. gen.) Frederick Erastus Humphreys becomes the first Army aviator to solo in a heavier-than-air craft – the Wright Flyer – following three hours of instruction by Wilbur Wright.
1922: Lt. Commander Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier makes the first aircraft-carrier landing on the deck of America’s first carrier, USS Langley (CV-1).
1942: Japanese carrier-based aircraft sink the carrier USS Hornet, leaving only one operational carrier in the Pacific. The Battle of Santa Cruz is a pyrrhic victory for the Japanese, however, as their carrier pilots were decimated in the attack and can no longer conduct attacks on U.S. forces at Guadalcanal.
1944: The Battle of Leyte Gulf – the last great naval battle of the Pacific during World War II – ends in a lopsided victory for the Americans. An epic three-day, four-part engagement fought in defense of the U.S. effort to retake the Philippines, the battle has all but ended the Japanese Navy’s ability to fight as a substantive fleet. It is also history's last sea battle in which battleships engage one another in pitched battle.
All total, 282 U.S. and Japanese warships and 190,000 sailors on both sides have been directly involved in the battle. Four Japanese carriers, three battleships, six cruisers, 14 destroyers, and nearly 10,000 sailors have been sent to the bottom. The U.S. Navy has suffered the loss of three carriers, three destroyers, and one submarine.
1950: The First Marine Division lands at Wonsan, Korea and moves north toward the Yalu River. In a month, they will be attacked by 10 Chinese divisions and have to fight their way out of the Chosin Reservoir.
Meanwhile, Republic of Korean (South Korea) forces arrive at the Yalu River and learn that two entire Chinese Armies have already crossed into Korea.
1966: A magnesium parachute flare ignites aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CV-34) off the coast of Vietnam, igniting the worst ship-board fire since World War II. 44 sailors perish in the blaze.
1968: An estimated four battalions of North Vietnamese soldiers attempt to overrun Fire Support Base Julie near the Cambodian border. Supported by dozens of B-52 strikes, the defenders manage to repel the attack.
Medal of Honor: On this day in 1942, Marine platoon sergeant Mitchell Paige single-handedly fought off waves of Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal when all his men were killed or wounded. When reinforcements arrived, Paige led a bayonet charge that drove off the enemy.
1962: Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev “blinks,” ordering the withdrawal of ballistic missiles from Cuba and putting an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis
1814: The wooden floating battery Demologos, the first steam-powered warship, is launched at New York City.
1942: Japanese troops begin to withdraw from Guadalcanal.
1998: 36 years after becoming the first American to orbit the earth, John Glenn (Col, USMC, ret.) blasts off aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest man in space at 77 years old.
Medal of Honor: On this day in 1944, three Japanese-American soldiers with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team earn the Medal of Honor near Biffontaine, France: T/5 James K. Okubo, Pvt. Barney F. Hajiro, and Pvt. George T. Sakato.
1918: Famous World War I flying ace Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker shoots down his 26th - and final - enemy aircraft over Rémonville, France.
1940: The Royal Air Force's First Eagle Squadron, consisting of volunteer pilots from the United States, becomes operational. Thousands of Americans would apply, but only 244 were chosen for service during the early days of World War II.
1950: Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur orders U.S. forces north of the 38th Parallel to "mop up" the North Korean Army.
1954: The last racially segregated unit in the U.S. Armed Forces is abolished; the military is officially desegregated.
Medal of Honor: On this day in 1944, Pvt. Wilburn K. Ross almost single-handedly fought off a German attack that devastated his company. Pvt. Ross killed or wounded dozens of enemy soldiers, forcing their retreat.
1941: Although the United States has not yet entered the war, a German submarine torpedoes and sinks the destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245), which was providing convoy escort. 115 sailors perish in the first sinking of a U.S. warship in World War II.
1943: Lt. Hugh D. O'Neill, flying at night in a specially modified F4U Corsair, shoots down a Japanese Betty bomber over Vella Lavella, scoring the first kill for the radar-equipped night fighters.
1968: Five days before the elections, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson ends Operation Rolling Thunder, the bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Over three-and-a-half years, 864,000 tons of bombs fell on the Communist nation - more tonnage dropped than either the Korean War or the Pacific Theater of World War II. Hundreds of U.S. planes and aircrew are shot down.
1971: Saigon begins releasing the first of around 3,000 Viet Cong prisoners of war. American POWs won't be released until Feb. 12, 1973.
1976: The Air Force's E-3A Sentry airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) aircraft makes its first flight.
Medal of Honor: On this day in 1972, Navy Petty Officer Michael E. Thornton became the only Medal of Honor recipient to save the life of another Medal of Honor recipient, Lt. Thomas Norris, who was believed to be dead. Thornton fought and ran through a harrowing field of fire to rescue his officer, then swam out to sea for four hours before being rescued while holding two incapacitated teammates - even though he himself was wounded multiple times.
1904: The new U.S. Army War College opens its doors to three majors and six captains, among them Capt. (future General of the Armies) John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.
1943: The 3d Marine Division, led by Gen. Allen H. Turnage, invades Japanese-held Bougainville.
1944: Japan sends the first of some 9,000 hydrogen-filled balloon bombs towards the U.S. and Canada. By war's end, only six Americans would be killed and a small amount of damage is inflicted by the bombs.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Rose, a B-29 Superfortress reconnaissance plane makes the first U.S. flight over Tokyo since the Doolittle Raid of 1942.
1952: The U.S. tests the world's first hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok Atoll. The thermonuclear weapon, with a yield 1000 times greater than previous bombs, gave the United States a temporary advantage over the Soviet Union in the arms race.
1983: 300 Marines from the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit conduct an air and amphibious landing on the Caribbean island of Carriacou, 15 miles northeast of Grenada, in search of Cuban military forces.
Medal of Honor: On this day in 1942, a machine gun section led by Cpl. Anthony Casamento was hit so badly that all but Casamento were grievously wounded or killed. Despite his own wounds (he was hit 14 times during the engagement), Casamento single-handedly held his position and repelled numerous enemy attacks.
1783: Gen. George Washington delivers his “Farewell Address to the Army” near Princeton, N.J., in which he refers to the Continental Army as “one patriotic band of brothers."
1861: Pres. Abraham Lincoln removes Union Gen. John C. Fremont as commander of the Western Department, following Fremont's unilateral decision to declare martial law in the border state of Missouri and thus freeing all slaves.
1943: The cruisers and destroyers of Task Force 39, commanded by Rear Admiral Aaron S. "Tip" Merrill, defeat Japanese naval forces attempting to in the Battle of Empress Bay off the coast of Bougainville.
1963: Unpopular South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated following a U.S.-backed coup by the South Vietnamese army.
Medal of Honor: On this day in 1943, Maj. Raymond H. Wilkins, Commander of the Army Air Corps' 8th Bombing Squadron, led an attack against Japanese-held Rabaul. His bombs destroyed an enemy transport and destroyer, and although his plane was badly damaged and his bombs expended, Wilkins strafed a Japanese cruiser, drawing their fire so his fellow pilots could escape the deadly air defenses. Wilkins would not survive, but the raid sinks 30 of the 38 Japanese vessels anchored at Rabaul.
1917: German forces attack a vastly-outnumbered U.S. unit near Artois, France, killing three and capturing 11, marking the first U.S. ground combat casualties of World War I.
1941: The Combined Japanese Fleet receives Top-Secret Order No. 1 - ordering the fleet to attack the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor as well as Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines.
1967: The Battle of Dak To begins, which would last for three weeks and was among the heaviest fighting seen in the Central Highlands area. North Vietnamese forces sustained heavy casualties and were denied their goal of destroying a U.S. unit.
1979: Iranian students loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini storm the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, taking 90 hostages - including 18 embassy Marines and defense attachés - beginning 444 days of captivity.
1862: Realizing an army led by Gen. George McClellan would never defeat Confederate forces, Pres. Abraham Lincoln removes the cautious Union commander, to be replaced days later by Gen. Ambrose Burnside.
Two years and three days later, Lincoln would defeat McClellan - a Democrat - in the 1864 presidential election.
1915: Lt. Commander Henry Mustin catapults from the USS North Carolina in a Curtiss AB-2 flying boat, becoming the first American to make a catapult launch from a ship underway.
1917: U.S. Army Maj. (future Brig. Gen.) Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and his younger brother Lt. (future Lt. Col.) Archibald Roosevelt, both sons of former Pres. Theodore Roosevelt (a former U.S. Army cavalry colonel who will receive the Medal of Honor in 2001 for actions during the Spanish-American War), lead the first American patrol into "No Man’s Land" during World War I.
Meanwhile in the Atlantic, a torpedo fired by a German U-boat sinks the yacht USS Alcedo, which had been escorting a convoy to France. 21 sailors perish when the yacht becomes the first U.S. warship sunk during World War I.
1923: The submarine USS SS-1 (SS-105) launches a Martin MS-1 seaplane, marking the first flight of a submarine-launched aircraft.
1950: Gen. Douglas MacArthur begins a heavy air campaign against North Korean targets, including bridges over the Yalu River, violating orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that restricted operations within five miles of North Korea's border with China.
2009: U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan kills 13 and wounds another 29 soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood, Texas in the deadliest shooting on a U.S. military installation.
Medal of Honor: On this day in 1966, PFC John F. Baker, Jr. attacked and destroyed several enemy bunkers, killed several snipers, and rescued eight fellow soldiers. Capt. Robert F. Foley, Baker's company commander, earned the Medal of Honor during the same engagement.
1945: Ensign Jake West's FR-1 Fireball touches down aboard the USS Wake Island, making him the first pilot to land a jet on an aircraft carrier.
2001: U.S.-led coalition forces defeat Taliban forces in Mazar-e-Sharif, scoring the first major victory of the war in Afghanistan.
1918: The armistice is signed, ending World War I.
1965: 450 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry under the command of Lt. Col. Harold Moore are choppered in to assault the communist stronghold in the Ia Drang Valley. Upon landing, the unit is nearly overrun by three battalions (1,600 soldiers) of North Vietnamese regulars, resulting in hand-to-hand combat, but the soldiers hold out for two days before being relieved - inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley is the first major battle between U.S. and NVA forces and one of the only set-piece battles of the Vietnam War.
1917: The destroyers USS Fanning and USS Nicholson attack the German U-boat U-58, becoming the first ships to sink a submarine in US history.
1944: The USS Mississinewa becomes the first victim of the Japanese "Kaiten" suicide submarine when the tanker is sunk in the Caroline Islands.
1945: The Nuremberg Trials begin when 24 high-ranking Nazi officials face charges in Nuremberg, Germany for atrocities committed during World War II.
1962: President Kennedy lifts the naval blockade against Cuba, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.
1817: The First Seminole War begins when Gen. (and future president) Andrew Jackson leads forces into Spanish-held Florida to reclaim escaped slaves from Seminole tribal areas.
1970: Col. Arthur D. "Bull" Simons leads a 56-man rescue operation on the Son Tay POW camp, just 23 miles from Hanoi, North Vietnam. The prisoners had been relocated to another camp prior to the operation, but the raid - involving over 100 aircraft from multiple services - was a tactical success and would serve in part as a model for the formation of Special Operations Command.
1863: The battles of the Chattanooga campaign begin between newly appointed commander of the Western armies, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg.
Within days, Union Army forces will attack and capture Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, and the Confederate works on Missionary Ridge. The “Gateway to the Lower South” will open, and within a year, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman will pass through the “gateway” enroute to Atlanta.
1943: Japanese-held Tarawa falls to American forces despite the boast of its defending commander, Rear Adm. Keiji Shibasaki, that “a million men could not take Tarawa in a hundred years.” It takes several thousand Marines and about 76 hours to seize Tarawa.
Makin Atoll, 100 miles north of Tarawa, is also declared secure.
1944: The Seventh Army, commanded by Gen. Alexander Patch, captures Strasbourg, France.
1972: Peace talks between the US and North Vietnam secretly resume in Paris, but quickly reach an impasse.
Medal of Honor: On this date in 1944, near Moyenmoutier, France, 1st Lt. Edward A. Silk single-handedly silenced a German machine-gun position that had halted his battalion.
1863: Union forces scale the slopes of Lookout Mountain under cover of fog, capturing the objective and breaking the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, Tenn.
1944: 111 U.S. Army Air Forces B-29 bombers based in Saipan attack the Nakajima Aircraft engine plant near Tokyo in the first attack on the Japanese mainland since Doolittle’s 1942 raid.
1950: Gen. Douglas MacArthur launches the "Home by Christmas" offensive against Chinese and North Korean forces. The attack meets heavy resistance and a Chinese counterattack would drive UN forces from North Korea by December.
Medal of Honor: Three Union soldiers were awarded the Medal for actions in the Battle of Lookout Mountain: Pvt. Peter Kappesser and 1st Sgt. Norman F. Potter (for capturing Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s flag) and Sgt. John Kiggins (for waving colors to save the lives of troops being fired at by friendly artillery batteries – drawing concentrated enemy fire).
In Korea, 1951, PFC Noah O. Knight discovered enemy soldiers entering a friendly position. He had previously depleted his ammunition, stemming an enemy advance and causing heavy enemy casualties. PFC Knight rushed the soldiers, neutralizing two with his rifle butt, but was mortally wounded when the third enemy soldier detonated his explosives.
1783: Three months after the end of the Revolutionary War, the last British soldiers withdraw from New York City. British forces had held the city since 1776, and after its liberation, New York would become the first national capital under the Constitution.
1863: One day after capturing Lookout Mountain, Union forces under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant rout Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee on Missionary Ridge, breaking the Confederate siege of Chattanooga.
1864: The Confederate plot to burn New York City fails. Agents did manage to burn several hotels, but most of the fires either were contained quickly or failed to ignite. Robert Kennedy, a Confederate officer who escaped from a Union prisoner of war camp in Ohio, was the only operative to be caught.
1876: In Wyoming Territory, Army cavalry soldiers defeat Cheyenne warriors under chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf, effectively ending the Cheyenne's ability to wage war.
1941: Adm. Harold R. Stark, the Chief of Naval Operations, warns Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, that both President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull think a Japanese surprise attack is a distinct possibility. The next day, the Japanese task force sets sail for Pearl Harbor.
1943: Five US destroyers under the command of Capt. Arleigh Burke sink three Japanese destroyers while receiving no damage themselves in the Battle of Cape St. George in the Solomon Islands, marking the end of Japan's "Tokyo Express" resupply route in the South Pacific.
1943: Bombers from the US 14th Air Force, based in China, strike the Japanese-held island of Formosa (Taiwan) for the first time.
1944: Four US carriers are damaged in a mass kamikaze assault by Japanese aircraft as US warplanes sink two Japanese cruisers off Luzon.
1961: The world's first nuclear-powered carrier, the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) is commissioned.
2001: US Marines of the 15th and 26 Marine Expeditionary Unit land near Kandahar, becoming the first major combat force in Afghanistan.
2001: CIA operative and former Marine Johnny Michael Spann becomes the first US combat death in Afghanistan when hundreds of Taliban prisoners in the makeshift prison near Mazar-I-Sharif revolt.
Medal of Honor: 1st Lt. Arthur MacArthur Jr., father of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, seizes “the colors of his regiment at a critical moment and planted them on the captured works on the crest of Missionary Ridge.” The MacArthurs are the first father and son to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The only other pair is Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
1941: After receiving an ultimatum from the US ordering Japan to vacate China or face further sanctions, the Japanese First Air Fleet, commanded by Adm. Chuichi Nagumo, departs for their attack on Pearl Harbor.
1943: The British transport HMT Rohna is struck by a German radio-controlled bomb, killing over 1000 American troops. The sinking of the Rohna remains the greatest loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy
1950: Chinese forces launch a massive counterattack against US and South Korean forces, driving them south and putting an end to any hopes of a quick conclusion to the Korean War.
Medal of Honor: In 1862, Maj. William H. Powell leads twenty men on a charge of a 500-man encampment at Sinking Creek Valley, Va., capturing the enemy soldiers without losing a man.
In 1970, 1st Lt. James P. Fleming rescues a trapped six-man special forces long reconnaissance patrol near the Cambodian border, despite his helicopter nearly out of fuel and in the face of heavy enemy fire.
Nov. 27, 1817: Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines dispatches soldiers to attack the Seminole camp at Fowltown, Fla., formally beginning the First Seminole War.
Nov. 27, 1868: Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry attacks a peaceful Cheyenne encampment near present-day Cheyenne, Okla. The Battle of Washita River – more of a massacre – would be the first substantial “victory” in the Indian Wars.
Nov. 27, 1909: Following the execution of two American mercenaries in Nicaragua, US troops land in Bluefields to prepare for an invasion.
Nov. 27, 1942: Adm. Jean de Laborde orders the destruction of the French fleet anchored at Toulon, to avoid falling into German hands. Three battleships, six cruisers, 1 aircraft transport, 30 destroyers, and 16 submarines are sunk. Three submarines sail for Allied-controlled Algiers, and only one falls into German hands.
Nov. 27, 1951: A Nike anti-aircraft missile shoots down a QB-17 target drone over White Sands Missile Range, becoming the first successful surface-to-air missile test.
Medal of Honor: In Korea, 1950, Army Capt. Reginald B. Desiderio personally charged the enemy, inflicting heavy casualties and ultimately repelling a “fanatical” assault. Capt. Desiderio was mortally wounded in the assault. His replacement, Capt. Lewis L. Millett, would also be awarded the Medal of Honor for a historic bayonet charge in February.
1941: The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) departs Pearl Harbor to ferry F4F Wildcat fighters from VMF-211 to Wake Island, thus saving the carrier from the coming Japanese attack.
1941: Adolf Hitler meets with Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and the two determine that Jews in the Middle East must be exterminated.
1942: The first Ford production B-24 Liberator rolls off the new production line in Ypsilanti, Mich. By war’s end, the plant would turn out some 8,500 Liberators – and by June of 1944, at the incredible rate of one per hour.
1943: Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin meet in Teheran, Iran for the first time to plan a strategy to defeat Nazi Germany.
1950: Gen. Walton Walker, Commander of the Eighth Army, declares that his offensive is over. Gen. Douglas MacArthur informs the Joint Chiefs that “We face an entirely new war.” Nearly half a million Chinese soldiers drive US forces before them.
Medal of Honor: The Chinese launched a massive offensive, intending to wipe out the First Marine Division. On Nov. 28, 1950, three Marines from the 2nd Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division - one in E Company (SSgt. Robert S. Kennemore) and two in F Company (Capt. William E. Barber and Pvt. Hector A. Cafferata Jr.) - would receive the Medal of Honor.
1760: Rogers’ Rangers under the command of Massachusetts-born Maj. (future Lt. Col.) Robert Rogers capture Fort Detroit from the French. U.S. Army Rangers in the 20th and 21st centuries will trace their lineage to Rogers and his British Colonial irregulars.
1804: Marine Corps 1st Lt. Presley O'Bannon, William Eaton, Navy Midshipman George Mann, and seven Marines land at Alexandria, Egypt with the intention of overthrowing the ruler of Tripoli. Five months -and 600 miles - later, the men would arrive in the port city of Derne and defeat the Bashaw's forces.
1890: Navy beats Army, 24-0, in the first-ever Army (West Point) – Navy (Annapolis) football game.
1929: U.S. Navy Commander Richard E. Byrd Jr. makes the first-ever flight over the South Pole. Byrd – a future rear admiral and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his 1926 flight over the North Pole – is the navigator of the South Pole flight. His companions include pilot Bernt Balchen, radio operator Harold June, and photographer Ashley McKinley. The team crosses the Pole in a modified Ford tri-motor airplane.
1941: The Japanese decide that the terms issued by the United States are unacceptable and that Japan must go to war. Meanwhile, the passenger ship Lurline sends a radio signal that they have spotted Japanese fleet in the North Pacific, heading East.
1944: The submarine USS Archerfish sinks the Japanese carrier Shinano, the largest warship sunk by a submarine during World War II, off Honshu. In the Philippines, the battleship USS Maryland and two destroyers are heavily damaged by kamikaze attacks.
1952: Newly elected president - and former Gen. - Dwight Eisenhower fulfills his campaign promise of visiting Korea in hopes of ending the conflict. Upon taking office, President Eisenhower informed the Chinese that he would unleash Nationalist Chinese forces in Taiwan against Communist China unless peace negotiations progressed. An armistice was signed in July of 1953.
1968: Viet Cong High Command issues a directive to its forces to wage a new assault to "utterly destroy" US and South Vietnamese forces, specifically targeting the highly effective Phoenix counterinsurgency program.
Medal of Honor: For nearly two weeks, SSgt. Andrew Miller engaged in a "series of heroic events," to include single-handedly silencing multiple machinegun positions; killing or wounding dozens of German soldiers, and capturing scores more. Then on Nov. 29 1944, SSgt. Miller's platoon was pinned down by German fire. He led a charge that smothered the Germans, but the attack cost Miller his life.
1779: Gen. George Washington's army establishes their winter headquarters at Morristown, N.J. during the worst winter of the 1700s.
1918: The American Army of Occupation enters Germany. Rejecting the Treaty of Versailles, the US technically remained in a state of war against the Germans until 1921 when a separate peace agreement was signed.
1921: Lt. Cmdr. Ralph F. Wood departs Norfolk, Va. in a blimp for Washington, D.C.in the first flight of a helium-filled aircraft.
1941: Japanese emperor Hirohito signs a declaration of war against the United States.
1941: The Civil Air Patrol is established. Originally intended for reconnaissance, civilian planes are eventually fitted with bombs and depth charges when German submarines begin attacking US ships on the east coast. CAP pilots would log half a million hours, spotting 173 submarines, hitting 10 and sinking two - at the cost of 64 pilots.
1943: The Teheran Conference between Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin concludes. The three agree on plans to invade western Europe in May, 1944; to invade southern France; and that the Soviets would join the war against Japan once the Germans were defeated.
1943: The improved P-51D Mustang is first utilized in a fighter sweep over Belgium. The Mustang will shoot down nearly five thousand German planes - an incredible 19 enemy fighters for ever one Mustang lost. The P-51D would see service in the Pacific Theater as well as close air support for troops during the Korean War.
1949: The Marine Corps' first helicopter squadron, HMX-1, is commissioned at Quantico, Va. Today HMX-1 is tasked with transportation of the President.
1950: Regimental Combat Team 31 is annihilated by Chinese forces during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Enemy casualties are extremely heavy, but over 1000 US soldiers are killed, freeze to death, or die in Chinese captivity. The unit's commanding officer, Col. Allan MacLean, became the highest-ranking officer to die in combat during the Korean War. Only 385 of the unit's original 3200 soldiers are fit for duty.
1964: President Lyndon Johnson agrees to a two-phase bombing campaign against North Vietnam.
1969: The government holds its first draft lottery since 1942.
1941: The USS Lexington (CV-2) departs Pearl Harbor with Marine dive bombers destined for Midway Island, leaving no carriers at the base as the Enterprise departed for Wake on Nov. 28. The mission saves the aircraft carrier from destruction in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in two days.
1943: U.S. Army Air Forces begin attacks against German V-1 and V-2 rocket bases in Operation Crossbow.
1945: A squadron of five Navy Avenger torpedo bombers departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for a flight over the so-called "Bermuda Triangle" in the Atlantic Ocean. Two hours later, the lead pilot radios that both of his compasses have malfuntioned and that their position is unknown, with other planes reporting similar problems. Four hours after takeoff, a message is heard ordering pilots to prepare for ditching their aircraft. A rescue operation is launched, and a Mariner search-and-rescue aircraft is also lost. Hundreds of ships and planes are unable to find any trace of the men or aircraft.
1950: Pyongyang, Korea falls to the invading Chinese army. Meanwhile, the USS Princeton (CV-37) arrives off the coast of Korea to provide air support to US troops retreating from Chinese forces.
1964:President Lyndon Johnson presents Army Capt. Roger H.C. Donlon the first Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War in ceremonies at the White House. Capt. Donlon led a Green Beret team as they defended against a reinforced Viet Cong battalion near Laos on July 6, 1964.
1846: Army, Marine, Navy, and civilian forces under the command of Col. Stephen Watts Kearney attack Mexican "Californios" in the Battle of San Pasqual, near present-day San Diego. Both sides claimed victory and the engagement became one of the bloodiest of the Mexican-American War.
1917: A German U-boat torpedoes the destroyer USS Jacob Jones off the coast of England, which becomes the first US destroyer to be sunk by a submarine.
1941: When an Australian scout plane spots a Japanese fleet near the Malayan Coast, the Allies presume that the Japanese plan to invade Thailand. However, British intelligence intercepts a radio signal warning to the Japanese fleet to be on full alert, prompting advisers to question whether the move is a diversion.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Third Fleet departs Palau for their invasion of the Philippines.
Across the Pacific, Admiral Yamamoto tells his First Air Fleet, "The rise or fall of the empire depends upon this battle. Everyone will do his duty with utmost efforts." The attack on Pearl Harbor will begin in a matter of hours.
1950: American forces – primarily leathernecks of the now-famous 1st Marine Division, a few American soldiers, and a handful of British commandos – begin their epic “fighting withdrawal” from Hagaru-ri to Koto-ri and on to Hamnung, during the breakout from the Chosin Reservoir, Korea. At Koto-ri, a few officers express concern that their vastly outnumbered, bloodied, freezing, near-starving columns might not survive the final trek to Hamnung.
As the UN orders communist forces to halt at the 38th Parallel, US and Australian planes kill an estimated 2,500 enemy troops.
1961: The U.S. Air Force is authorized to begin combat operations in Vietnam - provided they carry a Vietnamese national for training purposes.
1968: The U.S. Navy's Mobile Riverine Force begins a highly effective interdiction campaign, codenamed Operation Giant Slingshot, aimed at stopping the flow of men and weapons flowing through the Mekong Delta from the Cambodian border.
Medal of Honor: When his company was attacked by a battalion-sized enemy force in 1967, Chaplain Charles J. Liteky moved multiple times through heavy enemy fire to deliver last rights to dying soldiers and aid to wounded soldiers. Despite incoming small arms and rocket fire, Liteky stood up multiple times in order to direct the incoming helicopters to the landing zone. The chaplain would carry 20 wounded soldiers to the landing zone for evacuation.
1917: Four US battleships, USS Delaware (BB 28), USS Florida (BB 30), New York (BB 34), and USS Wyoming (BB 32) arrive in British waters and join the British Grand Fleet in service during World War I.
1941: The destroyer USS Ward spots and sinks a Japanese minisub, firing the first US shots in World War II.
Having achieved total tactical and strategic surprise, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor begins. The attack is conducted in two waves: The first wave of 183 enemy aircraft strikes just before 8:00 a.m. The second wave of 170 planes hits a little after 8:30 a.m.
Of the ships anchored at Pearl Harbor, five of the eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were either sunk or severely damaged. By day’s end, 2,718 American sailors, 582 soldiers (including Army Air Forces personnel), 178 Marines, and 103 civilians will be dead, dying or wounded. Japanese losses were minimal: 30 planes, five minisubs, 65 killed, and one Japanese sailor captured. All but two of the battleships - the Arizona and Oklahoma - are raised to fight again. Admiral Hara Tadaichi would say, "We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war."
Meanwhile, Japanese forces bomb Guam and Wake as destroyers and planes attack Midway.
1942: The USS New Jersey, one of the world's largest battleships ever built, is launched.
1943: The Fifth Army secures the Mignano Gap in Italy.
1944: The Third Army crosses the Siegfried Line at Saarlautern.
In the Pacific, the 77th Division lands at Ormoc in the Philippines as one of the escort destroyers, USS Ward (the same ship that sunk the midget submarine three years ago at Pearl Harbor), is sunk by kamikaze attacks. Nearby, the USS Mahan is also sunk by kamikaze attacks.
1950: Air Force cargo planes drop eight treadway bridge spans in the Funchilin Pass, enabling the First Marine Division to cross the most difficult natural obstacle on their breakout of the Chosin Reservoir.
1952: US Air Force F-86 Saber pilots shoot down seven of 32 enemy aircraft for the highest tally of the Korean War.
1959: America's first operational ballistic missile, the PGM-17 Thor, is successfully launched at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
1972: Apollo 17 launches for NASA's final lunar mission. Aboard are (Navy Capt.) Eugene A. Cernan, (Navy Capt.) Ronald E. Evans, and (civilian) Harrison H. Schmitt.
Medal of Honor: 15 sailors earned the Medal of Honor during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
1992: 1,800 U.S. Marines land on the beaches of Somalia to restore order to the war-torn country. Backed by the Marines, aid workers are soon able to restore humanitarian aid to civilians.
1961: 33 H-21C Shawnee helicopters from the U.S. Army 8th and 57th Transportation Companies arrive in Vietnam, becoming the first US helicopters in Vietnam.
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.
Christopher Gist, Washington's guide, would save the future president's life twice during the trip.
1770: The British soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre are acquitted. Future president John Adams is their lawyer.
1937: The gunship USS Panay and three Standard Oil tankers are sunk by Japanese as they evacuate US citizens from Nanking following the Japanese invasion during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
1953: Maj. (future Maj. Gen.) Chuck Yeager pilots the Bell X-1A to Mach 2.44 (1648 mph), setting a speed record that still stands today (straight-wing aircraft on level flight). The flight almost costs Yeager his life.
1985: Arrow Air Flight 1285, returning soldiers of the 101st Airborne to Fort Campbell following a peacekeeping mission in Egypt, crashes after takeoff, killing 248 soldiers.
1992: Marine Corps Cobra helicopter gunships destroy a Somali armed vehicle, marking the first combat action of Operation Restore Hope.
Medal of Honor: 70 years ago during the defense of Wake Island, Marine Capt. Henry T. Elrod shot down enemy planes, sunk a ship, and commanded Marines on the ground as they defended against the Japanese invasion.
1636: The Massachusetts General Court in Salem orders the creation of a militia, requiring all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 join, to defend the colony if necessary. Three regiments are created: the North Regiment - today's 181st and 182nd Infantry Regiments; the East Regiment - today's 101st Engineer Battalion; and the South Regiment - today's 101st Field Artillery Regiment. The National Guard is born.
1918: The US Army of Occupation crosses the Rhine and enters Germany.
1951: Air Force pilot George A. Davis Jr. shoots down four MiG-15 jets, the largest one-day total during the Korean War. Davis was the war's first double ace (10 kills) of the war, shooting down a total of 14 Chinese, Korean, and Soviet jets (adding to seven Japanese planes shot down during World War II), but he would later become the only ace to be killed during the conflict. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1966: US bombers attacked Hanoi, North Vietnam for the first time.
1974: The North Vietnamese Army attacks Phuoc Long Province, just north of Saigon in a "test" attack. South Vietnamese resistance is ineffective and the United States does nothing. In coming weeks, North Vietnamese forces will capture Saigon and South Vietnam will surrender unconditionally.
2003: Soldiers from the Fourth Infantry Division and special operators from Task Force 121 capture deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in a "spider hole" near his hometown of Tikrit.
1791: The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States, becomes law.
1862: Union Army Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside ends his disastrous series of frontal attacks against Gen. Robert E. Lee’s well-entrenched Confederate forces along Marye’s Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg. It is during the battle that Lee – emotionally moved by the valor of the Federal Army, which, despite terrible losses, attacks his impregnable position time-and-again – says, “It is well that war is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it.”
1864: Gen. John Bell Hood's Confederate Army of Tennessee is routed in the Battle of Nashville by a Union army under command of Gen. George Thomas. After the battle, Hood's once formidable army would no longer be an effective fighting force.
1944: A plane carrying Maj. Glenn Miller, leader of the world-famous "Glenn Miller Orchestra" prior to World War II, disappears in bad weather over the English Channel. Miller volunteered for service and led the Army Air Force Band from 1942 until his disappearance.
Meanwhile, the US Seventh Army enters Germany.
1945: Gen. Douglas MacArthur orders the end of Shintoism as the state religion of Japan, which viewed Emperor Hirohito as a divine authority.
1948: The Navy and State Department sign a memorandum establishing the Marine Security Guard program for US embassies across the world.
1950: F-86 Sabres make their combat debut in Korea. Meanwhile, UN forces withdraw south of the 38th Parallel.
1964: The AC-47, the Air Force's first gunship, makes its combat debut in Vietnam.
1965: US bombers conduct their first major attack against North Vietnamese industrial targets, destroying a power plant north of Haiphong that supplied 15 percent of the country's electricity.
Meanwhile, Walter M. Schirra (USN) and Thomas P. Stafford (USAF) blast off aboard Gemini VI. The crew test rendezvous procedures in space with Gemini VII, which had already been in space for several days.
1969: President Richard Nixon announces that 50,000 additional US troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam.
Medal of Honor: 44 years ago, Private Allen J. Lynch crossed a kill zone multiple times and killed numerous enemies in order to rescue three wounded comrades.
1969: Operation Linebacker II begins
1974: Pvt. Teruo Nakamura is discovered on the island of Morotai (Indonesia), becoming the last Japanese hold-out from World War II to surrender.
1777: Gen. George Washington's Continental Army establishes its winter camp at Valley Forge.
1862: Confederate cavalry under Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest dismantle railroad tracks north and south of Jackson, Tenn., disrupting Union supplies.
1941: Adolf Hitler replaces Field Marshall Walther von Brauchitsch as commander-in-chief of Germany's armed forces.
1972: Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene A. Cernan (Capt., USN ret.), Ronald E. Evans (Capt., USN ret.), and civilian Harrison H. Schmitt splash down in the South Pacific after spending a record 75 hours on the Moon's surface. Cernan is the last human to set foot on the moon.
2000: The UN Security Council voted to impose sanctions on the Taliban in Afghanistan, directing them to close terrorist training camps and to hand over Osama bin Laden, who was suspected in attacks against United States embassies.
2001: Fires that had been burning for over three months under the rubble of the World Trade Center are finally declared to be extinguished.
2003: Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi halts his nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs after secret negotiations with the United States and Britain.
Medal of Honor: 67 years ago, Tech Sgt. Robert E. Gerstung braved eight hours of intense tank, artillery, and mortar fire. He crossed the killzone to retrieve more ammunition, and later, another weapon when his malfunctioned. When the order was given to withdraw, Gerstung provided the only covering fire for the unit.
1803: The Louisiana Purchase is completed, doubling the size of the United States. France sells 828,000 square miles of territory west of the Mississippi River for less than three cents an acre.
1860: Delegates meeting in Charleston, S.C. unanimously adopt the ordinance to dissolve ties with the United States. South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the Union.
1862: Confederate forces under Gen. Earl Van Dorn attack the supply depot for Union General Ulysses S. Grant's troops, derailing Grant's plan to capture Vicksburg, Miss.
1941: The 1st American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers," enters combat with the Japanese over China.
1989: 27,000 US troops, supported by 300 aircraft, invade Panama to protect American lives and overthrow dictator Manuel Noriega.
1992: US Marines and Belgian paratroopers secure the Somalian port city of Kismaayo in the first combined amphibious assault since the Vietnam War.
Medal of Honor: 68 years ago over the North Sea, Tech. Sgt. Forrest L. "Woody" Vosler's B-17 was damaged and forced to leave the formation after a bombing raid on Bremen, Germany. Despite his wounds, Vosler left his station to man the machinegun when the tailgunner was wounded. Vosler was blinded by shrapnel, and had to repair the radio by touch in order to send a distress signal as the damaged plane was about to ditch in the North Sea.
1861: President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill creating a "Medal of Honor" for enlisted sailors and Marines who "distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war." The Army version of the medal is signed into law the following summer.
1866: In the biggest defeat on the Great Plains until Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse leads 79 soldiers and two civilians into a deadly ambush at Fort Kearny in present-day Wyoming. The 81 Americans are wiped out by approximately 2,000 Indians.
1943: The submarine USS Grayback sinks its fourth Japanese ship in three days.
1944: German troops from the 5th Panzer Army surround the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, Belgium.
1945: Nearly one month after a vehicle accident that paralyzed him, Gen. George S. Patton dies of a pulmonary embolism in a military hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.
1950: Airmen from the Fifth Air Force conduct "Operation Kiddy Car," the evacuation of nearly 1,000 Korean War orphans to the island of Cheju-do to escape approaching communist forces.
1968: Frank Borman (Col. USAF, ret.), James Lovell (Capt. USN, ret.), and William Anders (Maj. Gen. USAF, ret.) blast off aboard Apollo 8, becoming the first humans to leave Earth's orbit and on Christmas Eve, would become the first to orbit the moon.
Medal of Honor: 67 years ago in Belgium, Private Francis S. "Frank" Currey kills one tank, disables three others, and forces a German unit to retreat after inflicting heavy casualties with a bazooka, automatic rifle, a halftrack, and anti-tank grenades.
1775: The Continental Congress creates the Continental Navy. Esek Hopkins, Esq. is named commander-in-chief of the fleet, four captains are commissioned, as well as five first lieutenants (including future hero John Paul Jones), five second lieutenants, and three third lieutenants.
1864: Following his “March to the Sea” and just before his “March through the Carolinas,” Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman presents the captured city of Savannah (Ga.) to Pres. Lincoln as a “Christmas gift.”
The wire from Sherman to Lincoln reads; “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”
1941: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C. for the Arcadia Conference, the first summit between Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt to discuss military strategy.
Meanwhile, the first US troops arrive at Australia.
1944: Having surrounded the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, Belgium, German General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz issues a surrender ultimatum to Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, the acting commander for the 101st. Clement's one-word response: "NUTS!"
Despite being heavily outnumbered, the 101st was able to hold out until the 4th Armored Division relieved them on Dec. 26th.
Meanwhile, German commanders, including the Chief of the General Staff, recommend ending the Rundstedt Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) due to a lack of significant progress.
1950: Air Force F-86 Sabres shoot down six communist MiG-15 fighters without losing a single jet in the biggest dogfight of the Korean War.
Medal of Honor: 67 years ago near Kalterherberg, Germany, Tech. Sgt. Peter J. Dalessondro saved his unit from being completely routed by multiple overwhelming attacks.
1941: Japanese air and land forces assault Wake, Wilkes, and Peale islands. U.S. forces surrender after 12 hours of desperate fighting.
1812: Delegates from the United States and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Ghent in modern-day Belgium, bringing an end to the War of 1812. News travels slowly, however, and two weeks after the singing, Maj. Gen. (and future president) Andrew Jackson defeats a British invasion force in the Battle New Orleans.
1943: 670 B-17s and B-24s from the 8th Air Force conduct a bombing raid at German long-range rocket sites at Pas de Calais, France.
1950: An armada of ships and aircraft evacuate over 100,000 U.S. and South Korean troops, along with their equipment and 91,000 Korean refugees from the North Korean port of Hungnam, in what has become known by historians as the "greatest evacuation movement by sea in U.S. military history."
1944: Elements of the U.S. 4th Armored Division – the spearhead of Gen. George S. Patton Jr.'s Third Army – break the German Army's siege of Bastogne relieving the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division. The grateful but proud Airborne soldiers insist they are only being "relieved," not "rescued."
1846: Although heavily outnumbered, a force of Missouri mounted militia led by Col. Alexander W. Doniphan called the "Doniphan Thousand" defeats the Mexican army at El Paso (present-day Texas) and captures the city in one of the major battles of the Mexican-American War.
1935: When the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa erupts, Army Air Force planes drop bombs to divert the lava flow from nearby Hilo.
1942: 2nd Lt. (future Maj.) Richard I. Bong, flying a P-38 Lighting over Buna, scores his first of 40 kills against Japanese aircraft. Bong would become the United States' top ace of World War II and would earn the Medal of Honor.
1992: Lt. Col. Gary North shoots down an Iraqi MiG-25 in Iraq's southern no-fly-zone with an AIM-120A missile, marking the first beyond-visual-range kill and the first combat air-to-air victory for the F-16 Falcon.
1778: British troops capture Savannah, Ga.
1812: The USS Constitution defeats the British frigate HMS Java in a three-hour battle off the coast of Brazil.
1862: Plans to capture Vicksburg, Tenn., the last remaining Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, are thwarted when Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's frontal assault on entrenched Confederate forces is defeated in the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs.
1890: 7th Cavalry troops surround a Sioux encampment at Wounded Knee Creek (present-day South Dakota), attempting to disarm the Indians under Chief Big Foot. The soldiers attack when a shot is fired (it is not known who fired) and massacre over 150 Sioux, including many women and children. The Massacre at Wounded Knee is the last major engagement in the Plains Wars.
1943: The submarine USS Silversides (SS 236) sinks three Japanese cargo ships and damages a fourth off the Palau Islands.
1813: British troops burn Buffalo, N.Y.
1959: The USS George Washington, America's first ballistic missile submarine, is commissioned at Groton, Conn.
2006: Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is executed by hanging following a conviction by an Iraqi court for murdering 148 Shiites from Dujail after an unsuccessful 1982 assassination attempt.
1775: The Continental Army suffers its first major defeat when an American invasion force commanded by Maj. Gen. Richard Montgomery unsuccessfully assaults the British at Quebec. The attack yields fewer than 20 British casualties at the cost of over 50 killed - including Gen. Montgomery - and over 400 captured.
1862: USS Monitor, the U.S. Navy's first ironclad ship, sinks during a storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., along with 16 of her crew.
1942: Emperor Hirohito permits Japanese forces on Guadalcanal to retreat after five months of fighting.
1946: Although noting that "a state of war still exists," Pres. Harry Truman proclaims an end to American hostilities in World War II. Treaties with Germany or Japan are not signed until 1951 and 1952, respectively.
1995: The 1st Armored Division crosses the Sava River into Bosnia-Herzogovina to begin a NATO peacekeeping operation.
Adapted (and abridged) in part from "This Week in US Military History" by W. Thomas Smith Jr. at Human Events.