Honoring the deeds of those who have fought for our freedom.

Military History – December 2019

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, led to the United States’ entry into World War II. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

Japan intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions they planned in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Over the next seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

The attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time (18:18 UTC). The base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft (including fighters, level and dive bombers, and torpedo bombers) in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. All but the USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Important base installations such as the power station, dry dock, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section), were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 64 servicemen killed. One Japanese sailor, Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured.

The surprise attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan, and several days later, on December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. The U.S. responded with a declaration of war against Germany and Italy. Domestic support for non-interventionism, which had been fading since the Fall of France in 1940, disappeared..

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Military History – November 2019

The United States Marine Corps traces its roots to the Continental Marines of the American Revolutionary War, formed by Captain Samuel Nicholas by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress on 10 November 1775, to raise two battalions of Marines. That date is regarded and celebrated as the date of the Marine Corps’ birthday. At the end of the American Revolution, both the Continental Navy and Continental Marines were disbanded in April 1783. The institution itself would not be resurrected until 11 July 1798. At that time, in preparation for the Quasi-War with France, Congress created the United States Marine Corps. Marines had been enlisted by the War Department as early as August 1797 for service in the new-build frigates authorized by the Congressional “Act to provide a Naval Armament” of 18 March 1794, which specified the numbers of Marines to recruit for each frigate.

British and American troops garrisoned aboard Hornet and Penguin exchanging small arms musket fire with Tristan da Cuna in the background during the final engagement between British and American forces of the war.

The Marines’ most famous action of this period occurred during the First Barbary War (1801–1805) against the Barbary pirates, when William Eaton and First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon led eight Marines and 500 mercenaries in an effort to capture Tripoli. Though they only reached Derna, the action at Tripoli has been immortalized in the Marines’ hymn and the Mameluke Sword carried by Marine officers.

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Military History – October 2019

Operation Linebacker

Operation Linebacker was the codename of a U.S. Seventh Air Force and U.S. Navy Task Force 77 air interdiction campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) from 9 May to 23 October 1972, during the Vietnam War.

Its purpose was to halt or slow the transportation of supplies and materials for the Nguyen Hue Offensive (known in the West as the Easter Offensive), an invasion of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) by forces of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) that had been launched on 30 March. Linebacker was the first continuous bombing effort conducted against North Vietnam since the end of Operation Rolling Thunder in November 1968.

Operation Linebacker, the designation for the new interdiction campaign, would have four objectives: to isolate North Vietnam from its outside sources of supply by destroying railroad bridges and rolling stock in and around Hanoi and northeastward toward the Chinese frontier; the targeting of primary storage areas and marshalling yards; to destroy storage and transshipment points; and finally, to eliminate (or at least damage) the North’s air defense system. With nearly 85 percent of North Vietnam’s imports (which arrived by sea) blocked by Pocket Money, the administration and the Pentagon believed that this would cut its final lines of communication with its socialist allies. The People’s Republic of China alone shipped an average of 22,000 tons of supplies a month over two rail lines and eight major roads that linked it with North Vietnam.

On 10 May Operation Linebacker and Operation Custom Tailor began with large-scale bombing operations against North Vietnam by tactical fighter aircraft of the Seventh Air Force and Task Force 77. Their targets included the railroad switching yards at Yên Viên and the Paul Doumer Bridge, on the northern outskirts of Hanoi.[38] A total of 414 sorties were flown on the first day of the operation, 120 by the Air Force and 294 by the Navy, and they encountered the heaviest single day of air-to-air combat during the Vietnam War, with 11 North Vietnamese MiGs (four MiG-21s and seven MiG-17s) and two U.S. Air Force F-4s shot down. Anti-aircraft artillery and over 100 surface-to-air missile firings also brought down two U.S. Navy aircraft.

By the end of the month, American aircraft had destroyed 13 bridges along the rail lines running from Hanoi to the Chinese border. Another four were destroyed between the capital and Haiphong, including the notorious Thanh Hóa Bridge. Several more bridges were brought down along the rail line leading to the south toward the DMZ. Targets were then switched to petroleum and oil storage and transportation networks and North Vietnamese airfields. There was an immediate impact on the battlefield in South Vietnam. Shelling by PAVN artillery dropped off by one-half between 9 May and 1 June. This slowdown was not due to an immediate shortage of artillery shells, but rather to a desire to conserve ammunition. U.S. intelligence analysts believed that PAVN had enough stockpiled supplies to sustain their campaigns throughout the autumn.

The intensity of the bombing campaign was reflected by the sharp increase in the number of strike and support sorties flown in Southeast Asia as a whole: from 4,237 for all services, including the VNAF, during the month preceding the invasion, to 27,745 flown in support of ARVN forces from the beginning of April to the end of June (20,506 of them flown by the Air Force). B-52s provided an additional 1,000 sorties during the same period. The North was feeling the pressure, admitting in the official PAVN history that “between May and June only 30 percent of supplies called for in our plan actually reached the front-line units.” In total, 41,653 Linebacker I missions dropped 155,548 tons of bombs.

In addition to interdicting the road and rail system of North Vietnam, Linebacker also systematically attacked its air defense system. The North Vietnamese Air Force, with approximately 200 interceptors, strongly contested these attacks throughout the campaign. Navy pilots, employing a mutually supporting “loose deuce” tactical formation and many with TOPGUN training, enjoyed a kill ratio of 6:1 in their favor in May and June, such that after that the North Vietnamese rarely engaged them thereafter. In contrast, the Air Force experienced a 1:1 kill ratio through the first two months of the campaign, as seven of its eventual 24 Linebacker air-to-air losses occurred without any corresponding North Vietnamese loss in a twelve-day period between 24 June and 5 July. Air Force pilots were hampered by use of the outdated “fluid four” tactical formations (a four-plane, two element formation in which only the leader did the shooting and in which the outside wingmen were vulnerable) dictated by service doctrine. Also contributing to the parity was a lack of air combat training against dissimilar aircraft, a deficient early warning system, and ECM pod formations that mandated strict adherence to formation flying. During August, however, the introduction of real-time early warning systems, increased aircrew combat experience, and degraded North Vietnamese ground control interception capabilities reversed the trend to a more favorable 4:1 kill ratio.

Linebacker saw several other “firsts”. On the opening day of the operation, Navy Lieutenant Randall H. Cunningham and his radar intercept officer, Lieutenant (j.g.) William P. Driscoll became the first U.S. air aces of the Vietnam War when they shot down their fifth MiG. On 28 August, the Air Force gained its first ace when Captain Richard S. Ritchie downed his fifth enemy aircraft. Twelve days later, Captain Charles B. DeBellevue (who had been Ritchie’s backseater during four of his five victories) downed two more MiGs, bringing his total to six. On 13 October another weapons officer, Captain Jeffrey S. Feinstein, was credited with his fifth MiG, making him the final Air Force ace.

For more information on Operation Linebacker read the full article on Wikipedia.org!

Military History – September 2019

Victory over Japan Day (also known as Victory in the Pacific Day, V-J Day, or V-P Day) is the day on which Japan surrendered in World War II, in effect ending the war. The term has been applied to both of the days on which the initial announcement of Japan’s surrender was made – to the afternoon of August 15, 1945, in Japan, and, because of time zone differences, to August 14, 1945 (when it was announced in the United States and the rest of the Americas and Eastern Pacific Islands) – as well as to September 2, 1945, when the signing of the surrender document occurred, officially ending World War II.

August 15 is the official V-J Day for the UK, while the official U.S. commemoration is September 2. The name, V-J Day, had been selected by the Allies after they named V-E Day for the victory in Europe.

On September 2, 1945, a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. In Japan, August 15 usually is known as the “memorial day for the end of the war” (終戦記念日, Shūsen-kinenbi?); the official name for the day, however, is “the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace” (戦没者を追悼し平和を祈念する日, Senbotsusha o tsuitōshi heiwa o kinensuru hi?). This official name was adopted in 1982 by an ordinance issued by the Japanese government.

Events before V-J Day

On 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On August 9, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. The Japanese government on August 10 communicated its intention to surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, but with too many conditions for the offer to be acceptable to the Allies.

The news of the Japanese offer, however, was enough to begin early celebrations around the world. Allied soldiers in London danced in a conga line on Regent Street. Americans and Frenchmen in Paris paraded on the Champs-Elysées singing “Don’t Fence Me In“. American soldiers in Berlin shouted “It’s over in the Pacific”, and hoped that they would now not be transferred there to fight the Japanese. Germans stated that the Japanese were wise enough to—unlike themselves—give up in a hopeless situation, but were grateful that the atomic bomb was not ready in time to be used against them. Moscow newspapers briefly reported on the atomic bombings with no commentary of any kind. While “Russians and foreigners alike could hardly talk about anything else”, the Soviet government refused to make any statements on the bombs’ implication for politics or science.

In Chungking, Chinese fired firecrackers and “almost buried [Americans] in gratitude”. In Manila, residents sang “God Bless America“. On Okinawa, six men were killed and dozens were wounded as American soldiers “took every weapon within reach and started firing into the sky” to celebrate; ships sounded general quarters and fired anti-aircraft guns as their crews believed that a Kamikaze attack was occurring. On Tinian island, B-29 crews preparing for their next mission over Japan were told that it was cancelled, but that they could not celebrate because it might be rescheduled.

Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration

A little after noon Japan Standard Time on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito‘s announcement of Japan’s acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast to the Japanese people over the radio. Earlier the same day, the Japanese government had broadcast an announcement over Radio Tokyo that “acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation [would be] coming soon”, and had advised the Allies of the surrender by sending a cable to U.S. President Harry S Truman via the Swiss diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C.  A nationwide broadcast by Truman was aired at seven o’clock p.m. (daylight time in Washington, D.C.) on August 14 announcing the communication and that the formal event was scheduled for September 2. In his announcement of Japan’s surrender on August 14, Truman said that “the proclamation of V-J Day must wait upon the formal signing of the surrender terms by Japan“.

Since the European Axis Powers had surrendered three months earlier (V-E Day), V-J Day was the effective end of World War II, although a peace treaty between Japan and the United States was not signed until 1952, and between Japan and the Soviet Union in 1956. In Australia, the name V-P Day was used from the outset. The Canberra Times of August 14, 1945, refers to VP Day celebrations, and a public holiday for VP Day was gazetted by the government in that year according to the Australian War Memorial.

Public celebrations

After news of the Japanese acceptance and before Truman’s announcement, Americans began celebrating “as if joy had been rationed and saved up for the three years, eight months and seven days since Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941” (the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), Life magazine reported.  In Washington, D.C. a crowd attempted to break into the White House grounds as they shouted “We want Harry!”.  In San Francisco two women jumped naked into a pond at the Civic Center to soldiers’ cheers. More seriously, thousands of drunken people, the vast majority of them Navy enlistees who had not served in the war theatre, embarked in what the San Francisco Chronicle summarized in 2015 as “a three-night orgy of vandalism, looting, assault, robbery, rape and murder” and “the deadliest riots in the city’s history”, with more than 1000 people injured, 13 killed, and at least six women raped. None of these acts resulted in serious criminal charges, and no civilian or military official was sanctioned, leading the Chronicle to conclude that “the city simply tried to pretend the riots never happened”.

The largest crowd in the history of New York City‘s Times Square gathered to celebrate. The victory itself was announced by a headline on the “zipper” news ticker at One Times Square, which read “*** OFFICIAL TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER ***”; the six asterisks represented the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. In the Garment District, workers threw out cloth scraps and ticker tape, leaving a pile five inches deep on the streets. A “coast-to-coast frenzy of [servicemen] kissing” occurred, with Life publishing photographs of such kisses in Washington, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Read more about this topic at it’s Wikipedia.org page.

Military History – July 2019

The Korean Armistice Agreement is the armistice which ended the Korean War. It was signed by U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Harrison, Jr. representing the United Nations Command (UNC), North Korean General Nam Il representing the Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. The armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, and was designed to “insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.” No “final peaceful settlement” has been achieved yet. The signed armistice established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (de facto a new border between the two nations), put into force a cease-fire, and finalized repatriation of prisoners of war. The Demilitarized Zone runs not far from the 38th parallel, which separated North and South Korea before the war.

The signed armistice established a “complete cessation of all hostilities in Korea by all armed force” that was to be enforced by the commanders of both sides. Essentially a complete cease-fire was put into force. The armistice is however only a cease-fire between military forces, rather than an agreement between governments.  No peace treaty was signed which means that the Korean War has not officially ended.

The armistice also established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The DMZ was decided to be a 2.5-mile (4.0 km)-wide fortified buffer zone between the two Korean nations. The Demilitarized Zone follows the Kansas Line where the two sides actually confronted each other at the time of the signed armistice. The DMZ is currently the most heavily defended national border in the world.

The Armistice also established regulations regarding prisoners of war. The agreement stated that “Within sixty (60) days after this agreement becomes effective each side shall, without offering any hindrance, directly repatriate and hand over in groups all those prisoners of war in its custody who insist on repatriation to the side to which they belonged at the time of capture.” Ultimately, more than 22,000 North Korean or Chinese soldiers refused repatriation. On the opposite side, 327 South Korean soldiers, 21 American soldiers and 1 British soldier also refused repatriation, and remained in North Korea or in China.

In addition to the established regulations listed above, the armistice also gave recommendation to the “governments of the countries concerned on both sides that, within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.” Even in 2013, 60 years after the signing of the armistice agreement, these issues have not been settled as a peaceful settlement of the Korean question has not been reached and American troops still reside in South Korea.

After the armistice was signed the war is considered to have ended even though there was no official peace treaty. Despite the three-year war, the Korean peninsula greatly resembled what it did before the war with national borders at similar locations.

Read more on Wikipedia’s article “Korean Armistice Agreement

Military History – June 2019

Midway Atoll, several months before the battle. Eastern Island (with the airfield) is in the foreground, and the larger Sand Island is in the background to the west.

The Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, only six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the United States Navy under Admirals Chester Nimitz, Frank Jack Fletcher, and Raymond A.  Spruance decisively defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy under Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chuichi Nagumo, and Nobutake Kondo near Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet that proved irreparable. Military historian John Keegan called it “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.”[10]

The operation, like the earlier attack on Pearl Harbor, sought to eliminate the United States as a strategic power in the Pacific, thereby giving Japan a free hand in establishing its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Japanese hoped another demoralizing defeat would force the U.S. to capitulate in the Pacific War and thus ensure Japanese dominance in the Pacific. Luring the American aircraft carriers into a trap and occupying Midway was part of an overall “barrier” strategy to extend Japan’s defensive perimeter, in response to the Doolittle air raid on Tokyo. This operation was also considered preparatory for further attacks against Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii itself.

Devastators of VT-6 aboard USS Enterprise being prepared for take off during the battle

The plan was handicapped by faulty Japanese assumptions of the American reaction and poor initial dispositions. Most significantly, American codebreakers were able to determine the date and location of the planned attack, enabling the forewarned U.S. Navy to prepare its own ambush. All four of Japan’s large aircraft carriers—Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu, part of the six-carrier force that had attacked Pearl Harbor six months earlier—and a heavy cruiser were sunk, while the U.S. lost only the carrier Yorktown and a destroyer. After Midway and the exhausting attrition of the Solomon Islands campaign, Japan’s capacity to replace its losses in materiel (particularly aircraft carriers) and men (especially well-trained pilots and maintenance crewmen) rapidly became insufficient to cope with mounting casualties, while the United States’ massive industrial and training capabilities made losses far easier to replace. The Battle of Midway is considered a turning point in the Pacific War.

For more information, see the full article at Wikipedia.org

Military History – May 2019


Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_DayMemorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.  The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.  It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountain areas. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with relatives and others. There often is a religious service and a picnic-like “dinner on the ground,” the traditional term for a potluck meal in which people used to spread the dishes out on sheets or tablecloths on the grass. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

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On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon.[41] It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

Memorial Day observances in small New England towns are often marked by dedications and remarks by veterans, state legislators, and selectmen
The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. The concert is broadcast on PBS and NPR. Music is performed, and respect is paid to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.

For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the National Guard and other servicemen participating along with veterans and military vehicles from various wars.

Read more about this topic at Wikipedia: Memorial Day

Military History – April 2019

Military History:  Believe it or not, but even old retired guys and younger working guys run into a time, where you just don’t catch up, therefore our Military History segment is going off center.  So “April, a month of firsts” contains some facts throughout our history that helped shape our country.  Many of them way before us or our Grandparents, but these “firsts” have had an impact on our lives and how we live, if we think deep enough.  More information on any of these can be found through Wikipedia or some key words in any trusted search engine.

April, a month of First’s

“not just April Fool’s Day”

April 2, 1792 – Congress established the first U.S. Mint at Philadelphia.  David Rittenhouse, an American scientist, was appointed the first director of the mint by President George Washington. Two lots were purchased by Rittenhouse on July 18, 1792, at Seventh Street and 631 Filbert Street in Philadelphia for $4,266.67. The next day, demolition of an abandoned whiskey distillery on the property began. Foundation work began on July 31, and by September 7, the first building was ready for installation of the smelting furnace. The smelt house was the first public building erected by the United States government. A three-story brick structure facing Seventh Street was constructed a few months later. Measuring nearly 37 ft. (11 m) wide on the street, it only extended back 33 ft. (10 m). The gold and silver for the mint were contained in basement vaults. The first floor housed deposit and weighing rooms, along with the press room, where striking coins took place. Mint official offices were on the second floor, and the assay office was located on the third floor. A photograph of the Seventh Street building taken around 1908 show that by then the year 1792 and the words “Ye Olde Mint” (in quotes) had been painted onto the facade.

April 3, 1860 – In the American West, the Pony Express service began as the first rider departed St. Joseph, Missouri. For $5 an ounce, letters were delivered 2,000 miles to California within ten days. The famed Pony Express riders each rode from 75 to 100 miles before handing the letters off to the next rider. A total of 190 way stations were located about 15 miles apart. The service lasted less than two years, ending upon the completion of the overland telegraph.

April 3, 1995 – Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to preside over the Court, sitting in for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist who was out of town.

April 4, 1887 – The first woman mayor was elected in the U.S. as Susanna M. Salter became mayor of Argonia, Kansas   Her election was a surprise because her name had been placed on a slate of candidates as a prank by a group of men who were actually against women in politics and hoped to secure a loss that would humiliate women and discourage them from running.   Because candidates did not have to be made public before election day, Salter herself did not know she was on the ballot before the polls opened.   When, on election day itself, she agreed to accept office if elected, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union abandoned its own preferred candidate and voted for Salter en masse, helping to secure her election by a two-thirds majority.

April 6, 1896 – After a break of 1500 years, the first Olympics of the modern era was held in Athens, Greece.

April 8, 1913 – The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified requiring direct popular election of U.S. senators. Previously, they had been chosen by state legislatures.  The amendment was proposed by the 62nd Congress in 1912 and adopted in 1913 upon being ratified by three-fourths (36) of the state legislatures. It was first implemented in special elections in Maryland (November 1913) and Alabama (May 1914), then nationwide in the November 1914 election.

April 12, 1981 – The first space shuttle flight occurred with the launching of Columbia with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen aboard. Columbia spent 54 hours in space, making 36 orbits, then landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

April 18, 1942 – The first air raid on mainland Japan during World War II occurred as General James Doolittle led a squadron of B-25 bombers taking off from the carrier Hornet to bomb Tokyo and three other cities. Damage was minimal, but the raid boosted Allied morale following years of unchecked Japanese military advances.

April 30, 1789 – George Washington became the first U.S. President as he was administered the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York City.

Military History – March 2019

Battle of Bismarck Sea

The Battle of the Bismarck Sea (2–4 March 1943) took place in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) during World War II when aircraft of the U.S. Fifth Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) attacked a Japanese convoy carrying troops to Lae, New Guinea. Most of the task force was destroyed, and Japanese troop losses were heavy.  

The Japanese convoy was a result of a Japanese Imperial General Headquarters decision in December 1942 to reinforce their position in the South West Pacific. A plan was devised to move some 6,900 troops from Rabaul directly to Lae. The plan was understood to be risky, because Allied air power in the area was strong, but it was decided to proceed because otherwise the troops would have to be landed a considerable distance away and march through inhospitable swamp, mountain and jungle terrain without roads before reaching their destination. On 28 February 1943, the convoy – comprising eight destroyers and eight troop transports with an escort of approximately 100 fighters – set out from Simpson Harbour in Rabaul.

The Allies had detected preparations for the convoy, and naval codebreakers in Melbourne (FRUMEL) and Washington, D.C., had decrypted and translated messages indicating the convoy’s intended destination and date of arrival. The Allied Air Forces had developed new techniques they hoped would improve the chances of successful air attack on ships. They detected and shadowed the convoy, which came under sustained air attack on 2–3 March 1943. Follow-up attacks by PT boats and aircraft were made on 4 March. All eight transports and four of the escorting destroyers were sunk. Out of 6,900 troops who were badly needed in New Guinea, only about 1,200 made it to Lae. Another 2,700 were rescued by destroyers and submarines and returned to Rabaul. The Japanese made no further attempts to reinforce Lae by ship, greatly hindering their ultimately unsuccessful efforts to stop Allied offensives in New Guinea.

For more information on this topic, check out it’s page on Wikipedia.org

 

Military History – February 2019


The earliest military action to be revered with a Medal of Honor award is performed by Colonel Bernard J.D. Irwin, an assistant army surgeon serving in the first major U.S.-Apache conflict. Near Apache Pass, in southeastern Arizona, Irwin, an Irish-born doctor, volunteered to go to the rescue of Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom, who was trapped with 60 men of the U.S. Seventh Infantry by the Chiricahua Apaches. Irwin and 14 men, initially without horses, began the 100-mile trek to Bascom’s forces riding on mules. After fighting and capturing Apaches along the way and recovering stolen horses and cattle, they reached Bascom’s forces on February 14 and proved instrumental in breaking the siege.

The first U.S.-Apache conflict had begun several days before, when Cochise, the Chiricahua Apache chief, kidnapped three white men to exchange for his brother and two nephews held by the U.S. Army on false charges of stealing cattle and kidnapping a child. When the exchange was refused, Cochise killed the white men, and the army responded by killing his relatives, setting off the first of the Apache wars.

Although Irwin’s bravery in this conflict was the earliest Medal of Honor action, the award itself was not created until 1862, and it was not until January 21, 1894, that Irwin received the nation’s highest military honor.

*Article courtesy of History.com