1741 – Vitus Bering, a Danish mariner working for Russia, landed on the Alaskan coast.
1806 – Zebulon Pike, the U.S. Army officer who in 1805 led an exploring party in search of the source of the Mississippi River, sets off with a new expedition to explore the American Southwest. Pike was instructed to seek out headwaters of the Arkansas and Red rivers and to investigate Spanish settlements in New Mexico. Pike and his men left Missouri and traveled through the present-day states of Kansas and Nebraska before reaching Colorado, where he spotted the famous mountain later named in his honor. From there, they traveled down to New Mexico, where they were stopped by Spanish officials and charged with illegal entry into Spanish-held territory. His party was escorted to Santa Fe, then down to Chihuahua, back up through Texas, and finally to the border of the Louisiana Territory, where they were released. Soon after returning to the east, Pike was implicated in a plot with former Vice President Aaron Burr to seize territory in the Southwest for mysterious ends. However, after an investigation, Secretary of State James Madison fully exonerated him. The information he provided about the U.S. territory in Kansas and Colorado was a great impetus for future U.S. settlement, and his reports about the weakness of Spanish authority in the Southwest stirred talk of future U.S. annexation. Pike later served as a brigadier general during the War of 1812, and in April 1813 he was killed by a British gunpowder bomb after leading a successful attack on York, Canada.
1830 – 3 Indian tribes, Sioux, Sak & Fox, signed a treaty giving the US most of Minnesota, Iowa & Missouri.
1862 – U.S.S. Carondelet, Commander Walke, U.S.S. Tyler, Lieutenant Gwin, and ram Queen of the West, carrying Army sharp shooters on reconnaissance of the Yazoo River, engaged Confederate ironclad ram Arkansas, Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown. In a severe fight as Union ships withdrew, Arkansas partially disabled Carondelet and Tyler. Entering the Mississippi, Arkansas ran through fire from the Union fleet to refuge under the Vicksburg batteries in a heavily damaged condition and with many casualties. Farragut’s fleet pursued Arkansas, but, as the Flag Officer reported, “it was so dark by the time we reached the town that nothing could be seen except the flashes of the guns.” In the heavy cannonade as Farragut’s ships continued down river below Vicks-burg, U.S.S. Winona, Lieutenant Edward T. Nichols, and U.S.S. Sumter, Lieutenant Henry Erben, were substantially damaged. The daring sortie of Arkansas emphatically underscored the need to reduce Vicksburg. Major General Ear] Van Dorn, CSA, said that Lieutenant Brown had ”immortalized his single vessel, himself, and the heroes under his command, by an achievement, the most brilliant ever recorded in naval annals.” Secretary Mallory added: “Naval history records few deeds of greater heroism or higher professional ability than this achievement of the Arkansas.” Lieutenant Brown was promoted to Commander, and the Confederate Congress later expressed thanks to Brown and his men “for their signal exhibition of skill and gallantry. . . in the brilliant and successful engagement of the sloop of war Arkansas with the enemy’s fleet.”
1863 – Boat crews from U.S.S. Stars and Stripe and Somerset, under Lieutenant Commander Crosman, landed at Marsh’s Island, Florida, and destroyed some 60 bushels of salt and 50 salt boilers.
1863 – Batteries at Grimball’s Landing on the Stone River, South Carolina, opened a heavy fire on U.S.S. Pawnee, Commander Balch, and U.S.S. Marblehead, Lieutenant Commander Scott while Confederate troops assaulted a Union position on James Island under command of Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry. Though Pawnee, struck some 40 times by the accurate shorefire, and Marblehead were compelled to drop downriver, they nonetheless provided important support for the Union troops and were instrumental in forcing the Confederates to break off the attack. Brigadier General Terry reported that the ships “opened a most effective fire upon my left. The enemy, unable to endure the concentric fire to which they were exposed, fell back and retreated. . . I desire to express my obligations to Captain Balch, U.S. Navy, commanding the naval forces in the river, for the very great assistance he rendered to me. . .”
1870 – Georgia became the last of the Confederate states to be readmitted to the Union.
1870 – Act of Congress establishes Navy Pay Corps, which later becomes the Navy Supply Corps.
1918 – The Second Battle of the Marne began during World War I. This is the last German offensive, up the Marne toward Epernay.
1918 – When German forces cross the Marne River they cut off two companies from the 109th Infantry and two companies of the 110th Infantry, 28th Division, all from Pennsylvania. These four companies found themselves surrounded and fought off repeated German assaults, as they fought their way south with the survivors regaining the division’s positions in the afternoon. They inflicted crippling losses on the enemy, but also lost heavily themselves. Out of about 500 men in the two companies of the 109th only about 150 men regained the safety of the rest of the division.
1941 – Master spy Juan Pujol Garcia, nicknamed “Garbo,” sends his first communique to Germany from Britain. The question was: Who was he spying for? Juan Garcia, a Spaniard, ran an elaborate multiethnic spy network that included a Dutch airline steward, a British censor for the Ministry of Information, a Cabinet office clerk, a U.S. soldier in England, and a Welshman sympathetic to fascism. All were engaged in gathering secret information on the British-Allied war effort, which was then transmitted back to Berlin. Garcia was in the pay of the Nazis. The Germans knew him as “Arabel,” whereas the English knew him as Garbo. The English knew a lot more about him, in fact, than the Germans, as Garcia was a British double agent. None of Garcia’s spies were real, and the disinformation he transmitted to Germany was fabricated-phony military “secrets” that the British wanted planted with the Germans to divert them from genuine military preparations and plans. Among the most effective of Garcia’s deceptions took place in June 1944, when he managed to convince Hitler that the D-Day invasion of Normandy was just a “diversionary maneuver designed to draw off enemy reserves in order to make a decisive attack in another place”-playing right into the mindset of German intelligence, which had already suspected that this might be the case. (Of course, it wasn’t.) Among the “agents” that Garcia employed in gathering this “intelligence” was Donny, leader of the World Aryan Order; Dick, an “Indian fanatic”; and Dorick, a civilian who lived at a North Sea port. All these men were inventions of Garcia’s imagination, but they leant authenticity to his reports back to Berlin–so much so that Hitler, while visiting occupied France, awarded Garcia the Iron Cross for his service to the fatherland. That same year, 1944, Garcia received his true reward, the title of MBE-Member of the British Empire–for his service to the England and the Allied cause. This ingenious Spaniard had proved to be one of the Allies’ most successful counterintelligence tools.
1942 – The first supply flight from India to China over the ‘Hump’ was flown to help China’s war effort.
1942 – First photographic interpretation unit set up in the Pacific.
1943 – General Patton forms a provisional corps to advance on the west of the island while US 2nd Corps (Bradley) drives northward. In Catania the Axis forces retreat behind the Simeto River.
1943 – General Griswold replaces General Hester in command of operation in New Georgia. There is an air battle over Rendova in which the Americans lose 3 aircraft and claim to shoot down more than 40 Japanese planes.
1943 – President Roosevelt creates a new office of economic warfare, headed by Leo Crowley. It replaces the previous board.
1944 – Elements of the US 1st Army reach the outskirts of Lessay. From here to the Taute River, the advance is halted for regrouping. Heavy fighting takes place near St. Lo.
1944 – US 5th Army advances toward Leghorn. The French Expeditionary Corps capture Castellina.
1944 – Greenwich Observatory was damaged by German V1 rocket.
1945 – The West End lights up again, ending over 2000 days of blackout and dim-out.
1945 – American naval vessels bombard Muroran, the second biggest steel center in Japan, lying in Volcano Bay on the east side of the island of Hokkaido. Three battleships bombarded the Muroran and some 1000 carrier planes bombed the cities of Hakodati, Otaru, Abashiri, Kushiro, Asahigawa and Obihiro, all on Hokkaido.
1945 – American B-29 Superfortress bombers, based in the Marianna Islands, raided an oil refinery at Kudamatsu on Honshu Island while fighters and bombers from Okinawa attacked objectives on Kyushu and southern Honshu.
1948 – John J. Pershing (87), [Black Jack], US general (Mexico, WW I), died.
1950 – The North Koreans penetrated the U.S. 24th Infantry Division’s defense and crossed the Kum River. The 19th Infantry Regiment lost 20 percent of its fighting force, the 1st Battalion alone losing 338 out of 785. The 63rd Field Artillery Battalion was overrun and sustained heavy casualties.
1950 – F-80s accounted for 85 percent of the enemy’s losses to air attack. Far East Air Forces Commander, Lieutenant General George E. Stratemeyer, stated that he wouldn’t trade the F-80 for all the F-47s and F-51s he could get. “It does a wonderful job in ground support and can take care of the top-side job if enemy jets appear.”
1950 – Republic of Korea President Syngman Rhee transferred operational control of the ROK Army to the United Nations Command.
1953 – U.S. Air Force Captain James Jabara, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, qualified as the second and last “triple ace” of the war — 15 kills. He also was the second ranking jet ace of the war.
1958 – President Eisenhower ordered 5,000 U.S. Marines to Lebanon, at the request of that country’s president, Camille Chamoun, in the face of a perceived threat by Muslim rebels; to help end a short-lived civil war.
1965 – The unmanned spacecraft Mariner 4 passes over Mars at an altitude of 6,000 feet and sends back to Earth the first close-up images of the red planet. Launched in November 1964, Mariner 4 carried a television camera and six other science instruments to study Mars and interplanetary space within the solar system. Reaching Mars on July 14, 1965, the spacecraft began sending back television images of the planet just after midnight on July 15. The pictures–nearly 22 in all–revealed a vast, barren wasteland of craters and rust-colored sand, dismissing 19th-century suspicions that an advanced civilization might exist on the planet. The canals that American astronomer Percival Lowell spied with his telescope in 1890 proved to be an optical illusion, but ancient natural waterways of some kind did seem to be evident in some regions of the planet. Once past Mars, Mariner 4 journeyed on to the far side of the sun before returning to the vicinity of Earth in 1967. Nearly out of power by then, communication with the spacecraft was terminated in December 1967.
1968 – Intel was founded. Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore had left Fairchild Semiconductor to form NM Electronics in Mountain View, Ca. In 1997 Tim Jackson published “Inside Intel: Andrew Grove and the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Chip Company.” Grove joined Intel in this year and became its president in 1979. They bought the rights to the name Intel from Intelco fro $15,000.
1971 – In a surprise announcement, President Richard Nixon says that he will visit Beijing, China, before May 1972. The news, issued simultaneously in Beijing and the United States, stunned the world. Nixon reported that he was visiting in order “to seek normalization of relations between the two countries and to exchange views on questions of concern to both sides.” Privately, Nixon hoped that achieving a rapprochement with China, North Vietnam’s major benefactor, would convince Hanoi to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the Vietnam War. The announcement was preceded by an April 6 invitation for the U.S. Table Tennis team to visit China, and by Nixon’s end to the 20-year U.S. trade embargo against China. On July 22, the North Vietnamese announced that they viewed Nixon’s visit to China as a divisive attempt by the United States to drive a wedge between Hanoi and Beijing.
1972 – CGC Absecon was decommissioned and transferred to the South Vietnamese Navy. This was the last of the seven 311-foot Casco-class cutters to be transferred to the South Vietnamese. She was commissioned as the Tham Ngu Lao (HQ-15) on 15 July 1972. She was seized by the North Vietnamese when the South fell in 1975. The North Vietnamese gave her the hull number HQ-1 but did not apparently name her. She was refitted with two or possibly four SS-N-2 launchers.
1975 – Three American astronauts blasted off aboard an Apollo spaceship hours after two Soviet cosmonauts were launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft for a mission that included a linkup of the two ships in orbit.
1987 – Former National Security Adviser John Poindexter testified at the Iran-Contra hearings that he had never told President Reagan about using Iranian arms sales money for the Contras in order to protect the president from possible political embarrassment.
1990 – Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and visiting West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl held talks on the issue of a united Germany’s membership in NATO.
1993 – Authorities in Los Angeles announced eight arrests in connection with an alleged plot by white supremacists to ignite a race war by bombing a black church and killing prominent black Americans. Christopher Fisher, leader of the Fourth Reich Skinheads, was later sentenced to more than 8 years in federal prison while defendant Carl Daniel Boese was sentenced to nearly 5 years in prison; both had pleaded guilty to arson and conspiracy charges.
1998 – Direct flights between the US and Cuba resumed after 2 years. US authorities expanded a “security zone” to include most of the Florida coast to prevent anti-Castro protestors from entering Cuban waters.
1998 – Richard Butler, chief of UNSCOM, ordered Scott Ritter in mid-July to place a listening device in UNSCOM headquarters.
1998 – Iraq and Syria sign an agreement to build a second oil pipeline between the two countries. No information is available on the new line’s capacity or the route it will take; however, U.S. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin states that implementation of the agreement would be a violation of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
1998 – The Pentagon ramped up its efforts to scuttle Lockheed Martin’s slated mega-merger with fellow defense giant Northrop Grumman. In particular, the administration announced plans to bring Lockheed to court on anti-trust charges. The Pentagon’s hardball play came a few months after it had first announced its opposition to the proposed $10.7 billion deal. During the intervening time, the government had attempted to work with both Lockheed and Northrop to make their union more palatable. But, despite Lockheed’s willingness to divest nearly $1 billion in assets, the Pentagon still felt that the merger would staunch competition in the defense industry. The government also feared that a Lockheed/Northrop union would clog up a disproportionate share of the industry’s electronic assets. While Lockheed disputed these charges, they nonetheless wilted at the thought of a court battle with the Pentagon: on July 16, Lockheed officials announced that they were scrapping the multi-billion dollar merger. But, even in the wake of this decision, Lockheed refused to cede the point to the government. Rather, company chief Vance Coffman downplayed the failed merger, stating that “continuing litigation” is not in the best interests of the company and its customers, shareholders, (and) employees.
2000 – Iran test-fired an upgraded version of its 800-mile range, Shabab-3 missile.
2002 – John Walker Lindh agreed to serve 20 years in prison for fighting in Afghanistan in a plea bargain with the government. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Oct 4.
2002 – A federal agency approved Navy plans for a sonar system to search out enemy submarines despite potential injury to whales and dolphins.
2002 – Osama bin Laden is alive and planning another attack on the United States, said an Arab journalist with close ties to the militant’s associates. This ‘new’ attack has not yet materialized.
2002 – A court in Pakistan sentenced British-born Islamic militant Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed to death for the kidnap and murder of U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl, drawing a threat of reprisals and calls for Muslims to respond. A Pakistani judge convicted four Islamic militants in the kidnap-slaying of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl.
2003 – Four US crew members were killed in a fiery crash of a Navy helicopter in Italy.
2004 – In Iraq attackers detonated a car bomb near police and government buildings in the western city of Haditha, killing 10 people. PM Alawi announced the formation of a new national security agency to fight the insurgency.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
MORRISON, JOHN G.
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Entered service at: Lansingburg, N.Y. Born: 3 November 1842, Ireland G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Serving as coxswain on board the U.S.S. Carondelet, Morrison was commended for meritorious conduct in general and especially for his heroic conduct and his inspiring example to the crew in the engagement with the rebel ram Arkansas, Yazoo River, 15 July 1862. When the Carondelet was badly cut up, several of her crew killed, many wounded and others almost suffocated from the effects of escaped steam, Morrison was the leader when boarders were called on deck, and the first to return to the guns and give the ram a broadside as she passed. His presence of mind in time of battle or trial is reported as always conspicuous and encouraging.
Rank and organizarion: Captain of the Afterguard, U.S. Navy. Born: 17 May 1837, Norway. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 77, 1 August 1866. Citation: For heroic efforts to save from drowning Wellington Brocar, landsman, of the Tallapoosa, off New Orleans, 15 July 1866.
BUCHANAN, DAVID M.
Rank and organization: Apprentice, U.S. Navy. Born: 1862, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 246, 22 July 1879. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Saratoga off Battery, New York Harbor, 15 July 1879. On the morning of this date, Robert Lee Robey, apprentice, fell overboard from the after part of the ship into the tide which was running strong ebb at the time and, not being an expert swimmer, was in danger of drowning. Instantly springing over the rail after him, Buchanan never hesitated for an instant to remove even a portion of his clothing. Both men were picked up by the ship’s boat following this act of heroism.
Rank and organization: Apprentice, U.S. Navy. Born: 1863, Washington, D.C. Accredited to: Washington, D.C. G.O. No.: 246, 22 July 1879. Citation: On board the U.S. Training Ship Saratoga. On the morning of 15 July 1879, while the Saratoga was anchored off the Battery, in New York Harbor, R. L. Robey, apprentice, fell overboard. As the tide was running strong ebb, the man, not being an expert swimmer, was in danger of drowning. David M. Buchanan, apprentice, instantly, without removing any of his clothing, jumped after him. Stripping himself, Hayden stood coolly watching the 2 in the water, and when he thought his services were required, made a dive from the rail and came up alongside them and rendered assistance until all 3 were picked up by a boat from the ship.
HAYS, GEORGE PRICE
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army 10th Field Artillery, 3d Division. Place and date: Near Greves Farm, France, 14-15 July 1918. Entered service at: Okarche, Oklahoma. Born: 27 September 1892, China. G.O. No.: 34, W.D., 1919. Citation: At the very outset of the unprecedented artillery bombardment by the enemy, his line of communication was destroyed beyond repair. Despite the hazard attached to the mission of runner, he immediately set out to establish contact with the neighboring post of command and further establish liaison with 2 French batteries, visiting their position so frequently that he was mainly responsible for the accurate fire therefrom. While thus engaged, 7 horses were shot under him and he was severely wounded. His activity under most severe fire was an important factor in checking the advance of the enemy.
Staff Sergeant Kazuo Otani distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 15 July 1944, near Pieve Di S. Luce, Italy. Advancing to attack a hill objective, Staff Sergeant Otani’s platoon became pinned down in a wheat field by concentrated fire from enemy machine gun and sniper positions. Realizing the danger confronting his platoon, Staff Sergeant Otani left his cover and shot and killed a sniper who was firing with deadly effect upon the platoon. Followed by a steady stream of machine gun bullets, Staff Sergeant Otani then dashed across the open wheat field toward the foot of a cliff, and directed his men to crawl to the cover of the cliff. When the movement of the platoon drew heavy enemy fire, he dashed along the cliff toward the left flank, exposing himself to enemy fire. By attracting the attention of the enemy, he enabled the men closest to the cliff to reach cover. Organizing these men to guard against possible enemy counterattack, Staff Sergeant Otani again made his way across the open field, shouting instructions to the stranded men while continuing to draw enemy fire. Reaching the rear of the platoon position, he took partial cover in a shallow ditch and directed covering fire for the men who had begun to move forward. At this point, one of his men became seriously wounded. Ordering his men to remain under cover, Staff Sergeant Otani crawled to the wounded soldier who was lying on open ground in full view of the enemy. Dragging the wounded soldier to a shallow ditch, Staff Sergeant Otani proceeded to render first aid treatment, but was mortally wounded by machine gun fire. Staff Sergeant Otani’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.