1669 – LaSalle left Montreal to explore Ohio River.
1699 – Pirate Capt. William Kidd was captured in Boston.
1701 – William Kidd, English-US buccaneer, was hanged.
1747 – John Paul Jones, naval hero of the American Revolution, was born near Kirkcudbright, Scotland. As a US naval commander he invaded England during the American War of Independence.
1776 – The US Declaration of Independence was announced on the front page of “PA Evening Gazette.”
1777 – British forces under Gen. Burgoyne captured Fort Ticonderoga from the Americans. Lieutenant General John Burgoyne’s 8,000-man army occupied high ground above the fort, and nearly surrounded the defenses. These movements precipitated the occupying Continental Army, an under-strength force of 3,000 under the command of General Arthur St. Clair, to withdraw from Ticonderoga and the surrounding defenses. Some gunfire was exchanged, and there were some casualties, but there was no formal siege and no pitched battle. Burgoyne’s army occupied Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, the extensive fortifications on the Vermont side of the lake, without opposition on 6 July. Advance units pursued the retreating Americans. The uncontested surrender of Ticonderoga caused an uproar in the American public and in its military circles, as Ticonderoga was widely believed to be virtually impregnable, and a vital point of defense. General St. Clair and his superior, General Philip Schuyler, were vilified by Congress. Both were eventually exonerated in courts martial, but their careers were adversely affected. Schuyler had already lost his command to Horatio Gates by the time of the court martial, and St. Clair held no more field commands for the remainder of the war.
1779 – The Battle of Grenada took place during the American War of Independence in the West Indies between the British Royal Navy and the French Navy, just off the coast of Grenada. The British fleet of Admiral John Byron, the grandfather of Lord Byron, had sailed in an attempt to relieve Grenada, which the French forces of the Comte D’Estaing had just captured. Incorrectly believing he had numerical superiority, Byron ordered a general chase to attack the French as they left their anchorage at Grenada. Because of the disorganized attack and the French superiority, the British fleet was badly mauled in the encounter, although no ships were lost. Naval historian Alfred Thayer Mahan described the British loss as “the most disastrous … that the British Navy had encountered since Beachy Head, in 1690.” Despite the French victory, d’Estaing did not follow up with further attacks, squandering any tactical advantage the battle gave him.
1785 – The dollar is unanimously chosen by the Congress of the Confederation (Articles) as the monetary unit for the United States. When the British finally took their American cousins’ advice and waddled – somewhat uncertainly – away from their shores, the newly-liberated United States of America was left in desperate need of a currency of its own. So desperate was that need, that Congress adopted a young Hispanic currency – The Dollar – as its own.
1798 – US law made aliens “liable to be apprehended, restrained, …& removed as alien enemies.”
1809 – Congress authorized the construction of twelve new cutters to enforce President Thomas Jefferson’s embargo.
1863 – Vincent Strong (b.1837), US Union brig-general, died from wounds at Gettysburg.
1864 – Confederate General Jubal Early’s troops cross the Potomac River and capture Hagerstown, Maryland. Early had sought to threaten Washington, D.C., and thereby relieve pressure on General Robert E. Lee, who was fighting to keep Ulysses S. Grant out of Richmond. During the brutal six-week campaign against Grant in June 1864, Lee was under tremendous pressure. On June 12, he dispatched Jubal Early to Lynchburg, in western Virginia, to hold off a Union attack by General David Hunter. After defeating Hunter, Early was ordered to head down the Shenandoah Valley to the Potomac. Lee hoped that this threat to Washington would force Grant to return part of his army to the capital and protect it from an embarrassing capture by the Confederates. Lee was inspired by a similar Shenandoah campaign by Stonewall Jackson in 1862, in which Jackson occupied three Federal armies in a brilliant military show. However, the circumstances were different in 1864. Grant now had plenty of men, and Lee was stretched thin around the Richmond-Petersburg perimeter. Still, the first part of Early’s raid was successful. His force crossed the Potomac on July 6, and a cavalry brigade under John McCausland rode into Hagerstown. Early instructed McCausland to demand $200,000 from the city officials of Hagerstown for damages caused by Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley, but McCausland felt the amount was too large, so he asked for $20,000. After receiving the money, Early’s army turned southeast toward Washington. The Confederates reached the outskirts of the city before being turned away by troops from Grant’s army.
1887 – David Kalākaua, monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, is forced at gunpoint by Americans to sign the Bayonet Constitution giving Americans more power in Hawaii while stripping Hawaiian citizens of their rights.
1898 – Armed Auxiliary Dixie captures Spanish Three Bells, Pilgrim, and Greeman Castle.
1905 – Marines escorted the body of John Paul Jones from France to Annapolis.
1908 – CDR Robert Peary sails in Roosevelt from New York to explore Arctic.
1911 – First naval aviation base established at Annapolis, MD.
1920 – Test and first use of radio compass in aircraft off Norfolk, VA.
1923 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed.
1943 – Night Battle of Kula Gulf results in loss of 2 Japanese destroyers and USS Helena.
1943 – An American force (4 cruisers and 4 destroyers) led by Admiral Giffen bombards Japanese positions on Kiska Island.
1944 – Lieutenant Jackie Robinson of the U.S. Army, while riding a civilian bus from Camp Hood, Texas, refused to give up his seat to a white man. Lt. Jackie Robinson was court martialed for refusing the order of a civilian bus driver to move to the back of the bus. He was acquitted.
1944 – On Numfoor, American forces capture Namber airfield. Allied fighter aircraft are flown in.
1945 – General Claire Chennault resigns his command of the US 14th Army Air Force in protest to plans to disband it.
1945 – President Truman signed an executive order establishing the Medal of Freedom.
1945 – Some 600 US B-29 Superfortress bombers struck Osaka, Kofu, Chiba, Shimizu (near Tokyo), Shimotsu and Akashi, all on Honshu. Nearly 4000 tons of bombs are dropped.
1945 – Operation Overcast began in Europe–moving Austrian and German scientists and their equipment to the United States.
1946 – Forty-third President of the United States George W. Bush is born. Raised in Midland, Texas, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1968. Upon graduation he joined the 111th Fighter Squadron, Texas Air National Guard. After completing a year’s flight training he became an F-102 Delta Dagger fighter-interceptor pilot. His unit, which was organized in 1923 as the 111th Observation Squadron, an element of Texas’ 36th Division, had fought in Europe during World War II and was one of only six Air Guard squadrons to actually fight in Korea during that war. When Bush joined the unit it was tasked with the continental air defense mission against possible Soviet bomber attack. He remained with the unit until his honorable discharge in late 1973. After graduating with an MBA from Harvard Business School he entered the oil business. Later he was twice elected as the Governor of Texas and in 2001 became the 43rd U.S. President. Of the 19 former Guardsmen who have become president, he is the only one with an Air Guard background.
1950 – The 24th Infantry Division’s 34th Infantry Regiment was driven from Pyongtaek by an overwhelming North Korean onslaught in the first of a series of delaying actions down the peninsula.
1950 – U.S. Air Force B-29s from the 19th Bomb Group hit the Wonsan oil refinery following a move from Guam to a new base in Okinawa in record time.
1950 – Acting on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense, President Truman approved raising the authorized strength of the Army from 630,000 to 680,000.
1955 – Diem declares in a broadcast that since the Geneva Agreements were not signed, South Vietnam is not bound by them. Although he does not reject the ‘principle of elections,’ any proposals from the Vietminh are out of the question ‘if proof is not given us that they put the higher interest of the national community above those of Communism.’
1962 – Storax Sedan was a shallow underground nuclear test conducted in Area 10 of Yucca Flat at the Nevada National Security Site as part of Operation Plowshare, a program to investigate the use of nuclear weapons for mining, cratering, and other civilian purposes. The radioactive fallout from the test contaminated more US residents than any other nuclear test. The Sedan Crater is the largest man-made crater in the United States, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1964 – At Nam Dong in the northern highlands of South Vietnam, an estimated 500-man Viet Cong battalion attacks an American Special Forces outpost. During a bitter battle, Capt. Roger C. Donlon, commander of the Special Forces A-Team, rallied his troops, treated the wounded, and directed defenses although he himself was wounded several times. After five hours of fighting, the Viet Cong withdrew. The battle resulted in an estimated 40 Viet Cong killed; two Americans, 1 Australian military adviser, and 57 South Vietnamese defenders also lost their lives. At a White House ceremony in December 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Captain Donlon with the first Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War.
1976 – In Annapolis, Maryland, the United States Naval Academy admits women for the first time in its history with the induction of 81 female midshipmen. In May 1980, Elizabeth Anne Rowe became the first woman member of the class to graduate. Four years later, Kristine Holderied became the first female midshipman to graduate at the top of her class. The U.S. Naval Academy opened in Annapolis in October 1845, with 50 midshipmen students and seven professors. Known as the Naval School until 1850, the curriculum included mathematics, navigation, gunnery, steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy, and French. The Naval School officially became the U.S. Naval Academy in 1850, and a new curriculum went into effect requiring midshipmen to study at the Academy for four years and to train aboard ships each summer–the basic format that remains at the academy to this day.
1982 – President Ronald Reagan agreed to contribute U.S. troops to the peacekeeping unit in Beirut.
1989 – The U.S. Army destroyed its last Pershing 1-A missiles at an ammunition plant in Karnack, Texas, under terms of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
1990 – NATO leaders concluded two days of meetings in London, pledging to sharply reduce both nuclear and conventional defenses in Europe.
1993 – Two US soldiers are WIA when a Rocket Propelled grenade hits their guard post.
1997 – The rover Sojourner rolled down a ramp from the Mars Pathfinder lander and began mankind’s first mobile exploration of Mars. The first rock targeted for examination was named “Barnacle Bill.”
1998 – It was reported that a planned shipment of nuclear rods was to be transported across Northern California, Nevada and Utah to Idaho for processing before final storage in South Carolina. The federal government had made 154 secret shipments of spent nuclear fuel rods over the last 40 years. Four more shipments from 7 Asian countries were planned to occur by 2009.
1999 – Pres. Clinton signed Executive Order 13129 to impose sanctions against the ruling Taliban militia in Afghanistan.
2001 – The United States turned over to Japanese authorities an American serviceman accused of rape.
2001 – Former FBI agent Robert Hanssen pleaded guilty to 15 criminal counts and agreed to give a full accounting of his spying activities for Moscow.
2002 – Gunmen assassinated Afghan Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir (48) and his driver in broad daylight in the capital Kabul. Qadir was a prominent Pashtun businessman and was suspected of being involved in the opium trade.
2002 – Greek police, assisted by American and British agents, raided an apartment and found dozens of anti-tank rockets they believe were stolen from the army in the late 1980s by the elusive November 17 terrorist group.
2002 – In Latvia hopes were high at a summit of 10 former communist countries aspiring to join NATO, and many delegates already were looking ahead to the responsibilities of membership.
2004 – A group of armed, masked Iraqi men threatened to kill Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if he did not immediately leave the country, accusing him of murdering innocent Iraqis and defiling the Muslim religion.
2004 – In Iraq a car bomb exploded in the town of Khalis, killing 13 people attending a wake for the victims of a previous attack.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
*VAN VOORHIS, BRUCE AVERY
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy. Born: 29 January 1908, Aberdeen, Wash. Appointed from: Nevada. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Squadron Commander of Bombing Squadron 102 and as Plane Commander of a PB4Y-I Patrol Bomber operating against the enemy on Japanese-held Greenwich Island during the battle of the Solomon Islands, 6 July 1943. Fully aware of the limited chance of surviving an urgent mission, voluntarily undertaken to prevent a surprise Japanese attack against our forces, Lt. Comdr. Van Voorhis took off in total darkness on a perilous 700-mile flight without escort or support. Successful in reaching his objective despite treacherous and varying winds, low visibility and difficult terrain, he fought a lone but relentless battle under fierce antiaircraft fire and overwhelming aerial opposition. Forced lower and lower by pursuing planes, he coolly persisted in his mission of destruction. Abandoning all chance of a safe return he executed 6 bold ground-level attacks to demolish the enemy’s vital radio station, installations, antiaircraft guns and crews with bombs and machinegun fire, and to destroy 1 fighter plane in the air and 3 on the water. Caught in his own bomb blast, Lt. Comdr. Van Voorhis crashed into the lagoon off the beach, sacrificing himself in a single-handed fight against almost insuperable odds, to make a distinctive contribution to our continued offensive in driving the Japanese from the Solomons and, by his superb daring, courage and resoluteness of purpose, enhanced the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
DONLON, ROGER HUGH C.
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army. Place and date: Near Nam Dong, Republic of Vietnam, 6 July 1964. Entered service at: Fort Chaffee, Ark. Born: 30 January 1934, Saugerties, N.Y. G.O. No.: 41, 17 December 1964. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while defending a U.S. military installation against a fierce attack by hostile forces. Capt. Donlon was serving as the commanding officer of the U.S. Army Special Forces Detachment A-726 at Camp Nam Dong when a reinforced Viet Cong battalion suddenly launched a full-scale, predawn attack on the camp. During the violent battle that ensued, lasting 5 hours and resulting in heavy casualties on both sides, Capt. Donlon directed the defense operations in the midst of an enemy barrage of mortar shells, falling grenades, and extremely heavy gunfire. Upon the initial onslaught, he swiftly marshaled his forces and ordered the removal of the needed ammunition from a blazing building. He then dashed through a hail of small arms and exploding hand grenades to abort a breach of the main gate. En route to this position he detected an enemy demolition team of 3 in the proximity of the main gate and quickly annihilated them. Although exposed to the intense grenade attack, he then succeeded in reaching a 60mm mortar position despite sustaining a severe stomach wound as he was within 5 yards of the gun pit. When he discovered that most of the men in this gunpit were also wounded, he completely disregarded his own injury, directed their withdrawal to a location 30 meters away, and again risked his life by remaining behind and covering the movement with the utmost effectiveness. Noticing that his team sergeant was unable to evacuate the gun pit he crawled toward him and, while dragging the fallen soldier out of the gunpit, an enemy mortar exploded and inflicted a wound in Capt. Donlon’s left shoulder. Although suffering from multiple wounds, he carried the abandoned 60mm mortar weapon to a new location 30 meters away where he found 3 wounded defenders. After administering first aid and encouragement to these men, he left the weapon with them, headed toward another position, and retrieved a 57mm recoilless rifle. Then with great courage and coolness under fire, he returned to the abandoned gun pit, evacuated ammunition for the 2 weapons, and while crawling and dragging the urgently needed ammunition, received a third wound on his leg by an enemy hand grenade. Despite his critical physical condition, he again crawled 175 meters to an 81mm mortar position and directed firing operations which protected the seriously threatened east sector of the camp. He then moved to an eastern 60mm mortar position and upon determining that the vicious enemy assault had weakened, crawled back to the gun pit with the 60mm mortar, set it up for defensive operations, and turned it over to 2 defenders with minor wounds. Without hesitation, he left this sheltered position, and moved from position to position around the beleaguered perimeter while hurling hand grenades at the enemy and inspiring his men to superhuman effort. As he bravely continued to move around the perimeter, a mortar shell exploded, wounding him in the face and body. As the long awaited daylight brought defeat to the enemy forces and their retreat back to the jungle leaving behind 54 of their dead, many weapons, and grenades, Capt. Donlon immediately reorganized his defenses and administered first aid to the wounded. His dynamic leadership, fortitude, and valiant efforts inspired not only the American personnel but the friendly Vietnamese defenders as well and resulted in the successful defense of the camp. Capt. Donlon’s extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.