1498 – Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sets foot on the American mainland for the first time, at the Paria Peninsula in present-day Venezuela. Thinking it an island, he christened it Isla Santa and claimed it for Spain. Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. Little is known of his early life, but he worked as a seaman and then a sailing entrepreneur. He became obsessed with the possibility of pioneering a western sea route to Cathay (China), India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia. At the time, Europeans knew no direct sea route to southern Asia, and the route via Egypt and the Red Sea was closed to Europeans by the Ottoman Empire, as were many land routes. Contrary to popular legend, educated Europeans of Columbus’ day did believe that the world was round, as argued by St. Isidore in the seventh century. However, Columbus, and most others, underestimated the world’s size, calculating that East Asia must lie approximately where North America sits on the globe (they did not yet know that the Pacific Ocean existed). With only the Atlantic Ocean, he thought, lying between Europe and the riches of the East Indies, Columbus met with King John II of Portugal and tried to persuade him to back his “Enterprise of the Indies,” as he called his plan. He was rebuffed and went to Spain, where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella also rejected him at least twice. However, after the Spanish conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492, the Spanish monarchs, flush with victory, agreed to support his voyage. On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Marýa, the Pinta, and the Niýa. On October 12, the expedition sighted land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas, and went ashore the same day, claiming it for Spain. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men. The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and “Indian” captives in March 1493 and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He was given the title “admiral of the ocean sea,” and a second expedition was promptly organized. He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the 10th century. Fitted out with a large fleet of 17 ships with 1,500 colonists aboard, Columbus set out from Cýdiz in September 1493 on his second voyage to the New World. Landfall was made in the Lesser Antilles in November. Returning to Hispaniola, he found the men he left there slaughtered by the natives, and he founded a second colony. Sailing on, he explored Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and numerous smaller islands in the Caribbean. Columbus returned to Spain in June 1496 and was greeted less warmly, as the yield from the second voyage had fallen well short of its costs. Isabella and Ferdinand, still greedy for the riches of the East, agreed to a smaller third voyage and instructed Columbus to find a strait to India. In May 1498, Columbus left Spain with six ships, three filled with colonists and three with provisions for the colony on Hispaniola. This time, he made landfall on Trinidad. He entered the Gulf of Paria in Venezuela and planted the Spanish flag in South America on August 1, 1498. He explored the Orinoco River of Venezuela and, given its scope, soon realized he had stumbled upon another continent. Columbus, a deeply religious man, decided after careful thought that Venezuela was the outer regions of the Garden of Eden. Returning to Hispaniola, he found that conditions on the island had deteriorated under the rule of his brothers, Diego and Bartholomew. Columbus’ efforts to restore order were marked by brutality, and his rule came to be deeply resented by both the colonists and the native Taino chiefs. In 1500, Spanish chief justice Francisco de Bobadilla arrived at Hispaniola, sent by Isabella and Ferdinand to investigate complaints, and Columbus and his brothers were sent back to Spain in chains. He was immediately released upon his return, and Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to finance a fourth voyage, in which he was to search for the earthly paradise and the realms of gold said to lie nearby. He was also to continue looking for a passage to India. In May 1502, Columbus left Cýdiz on his fourth and final voyage to the New World. After returning to Hispaniola, against his patrons’ wishes, he explored the coast of Central America looking for a strait and for gold. Attempting to return to Hispaniola, his ships, in poor condition, had to be beached on Jamaica. Columbus and his men were marooned, but two of his captains succeed in canoeing the 450 miles to Hispaniola. Columbus was a castaway on Jamaica for a year before a rescue ship arrived. In November 1504, Columbus returned to Spain. Queen Isabella, his chief patron, died less than three weeks later. Although Columbus enjoyed substantial revenue from Hispaniola gold during the last years of his life, he repeatedly attempted (unsuccessfully) to gain an audience with King Ferdinand, whom he felt owed him further redress. Columbus died in Valladolid on May 20, 1506, without realizing the great scope of his achievement: He had discovered for Europe the New World, whose riches over the next century would help make Spain the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth.
1781 – English army under Lord Cornwallis occupied Yorktown, Virginia.
1789 – Already mindful of the markets, the freshly formed United States Government wheeled into action in 1789, passing the nation’s first tariff legislation. The tariff was designed to protect America’s burgeoning interests in foreign trade.
1790 – The first enumeration by the U.S. Census Bureau was completed. It showed a population of 3,939,326 located in 16 states and the Ohio territory with 697,624 slaves. Virginia was the most populous state with 747,610 inhabitants. The census compilation cost $44,377.
1799 – Secretary of Treasury described the ensign and pennant authorized to be flown by revenue cutters. They would be “consisting of 16 perpendicular stripes (one for each state in the Union at that time) alternate red and the Union of the Ensign to be the Arms of the United States in dark blue on a white field.”
1801 – The American schooner Enterprise captured the Barbary cruiser Tripoli.
1825 – William Beaumont, a US Army assistant surgeon at Fort Mackinac in the Michigan territory, began experiments to study the digestive system of Alexis St. Martin, a fur trader who was accidentally shot in the abdomen in 1822.
1861 – Captain John Baylor claims most of the territories of Arizona and New Mexico for the Confederacy after he routs a Union force at Fort Fillmore in southern New Mexico.
1863 – Confederate steamer Chesterfield, landing troops and ammunition at Cumming’s Point, Morris Island, Charleston harbor, was taken under fire by a Union gunboat. She was forced to seek safety at Fort Sumter before she completed the landing of her stores. Brigadier General Ripley noted that the Union was “for the first time, attempting to interrupt our communication with Morris Island.” Urging that some measures he taken to protect the Confederate transports, Ripley observed that if such actions continued, “our transportation, which is already of the weakest kind, will soon be cut up, and when that is gone our first requisite for carrying out the defense of Charleston is taken from us.” General Beauregard asked Flag Officer Tucker on 2 August to provide “at least one of the ironclad rams. . . to drive away such vessels as disturbed and interrupted our means of transportation last night.”
1864 – Union General Ulysses S. Grant appoints General Philip Sheridan commander of the Army of the Shenandoah. Within a few months, Sheridan drove a Confederate force from the Shenandoah Valley and destroyed nearly all possible sources of Rebel supplies, helping to seal the fate of the Confederacy. In the summer of 1864, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had sent part of his army at Petersburg, Virginia, commanded by Jubal Early, to harass Federal units in the area of the Shenandoah and threaten Washington, D.C. The Confederates had used the same strategy in 1862, when General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson effectively relieved Union pressure on Richmond with a campaign in the Shenandoah. In July, Early marched his army through the valley and down the Potomac to the outskirts of Washington, forcing Grant to take some of his troops away from the Petersburg defenses and protect the nation’s capital. Frustrated by the inability of Generals Franz Sigel and David Hunter to effectively deal with Early’s force in the Shenandoah, Grant turned to General Philip Sheridan, a skilled general who served with him in the west before Grant became the overall commander of Union forces in early 1864. Surprisingly, Grant had placed Sheridan, an effective infantry leader, in charge of the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry division for the campaign against Lee. Now Grant handed Sheridan command of the Army of the Shenandoah, comprising of 40,000 troops that included many demoralized veterans of the summer campaign. Sheridan wasted little time, beginning an offensive in September that routed Early’s army and then destroyed most of the agricultural resources of the region. Although this victory is not as famous as Union General William T. Sherman’s march through Georgia, which took place at the same time, it may have been even more complete. The Shenandoah Valley, so important throughout the war, was rendered useless to the Confederacy by the end of the fall.
1876 – Colorado was admitted as the 38th state. on July 1, 1876, Colorado voted 15,443 to 4,062 to adopt a state constitution proposed by a constitutional convention and to become a state. On August 1, 1876, President Ulysses Grant proclaimed Colorado the 38th state.
1914 – Four days after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Germany and Russia declare war against each other, France orders a general mobilization, and the first German army units cross into Luxembourg in preparation for the German invasion of France. During the next three days, Russia, France, Belgium, and Great Britain all lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and the German army invaded Belgium. The “Great War” that ensued was one of unprecedented destruction and loss of life, resulting in the deaths of some 20 million soldiers and civilians. On June 28, 1914, in an event that is widely regarded as sparking the outbreak of World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Ferdinand had been inspecting his uncle’s imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the threat of Serbian nationalists who wanted these Austro-Hungarian possessions to join newly independent Serbia. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austria-Hungary declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. On July 29, Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital of Belgrade, and Russia, Serbia’s ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary. France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral Luxembourg, the Germany army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4, prompting Great Britain, Belgium’s ally, to declare war against Germany. For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months. Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military strategy known as the “Schlieffen Plan,” which envisioned the conquest of France through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France. Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces while Germany attacked France. The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On the western front–the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium–the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition. In 1915, the Allies attempted to break the stalemate with an amphibious invasion of Turkey, which had joined the Central Powers in October 1914, but after heavy bloodshed the Allies were forced to retreat in early 1916. The year 1916 saw great offensives by Germany and Britain along the western front, but neither side accomplished a decisive victory. In the east, Germany was more successful, and the disorganized Russian army suffered terrible losses, spurring the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating peace with Germany. In 1918, the infusion of American troops and resources into the western front finally tipped the scale in the Allies’ favor. Bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with an imminent invasion, Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in November 1918. World War I was known as the “war to end all wars” because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict–the Treaty of Versailles of 1919–forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.
1914 – The government of Belgium proclaims that it will maintain its armed neutrality in any conflict, a position guaranteed by Britain and France.
1914 – French President Raymond Poincare agrees to issue a general mobilization order.
1921 – Successful tests of gyroscopic high level bombsight (Norden Bombsight) at Torpedo Station, Yorktown, VA. Carl Norden developed the bombsight for the Bureau of Ordnance.
1933 – The US National Recovery Administration (NRA) formed.
1941 – Parade magazine called it “…the Army’s most intriguing new gadget…a tiny truck which can do practically everything.” During World War I, the U.S. Army began looking for a fast, lightweight all-terrain vehicle, but the search did not grow urgent until early 1940. At this time, the Axis powers had begun to score victories in Europe and Northern Africa, intensifying the Allies’ need for an all-terrain vehicle. The U.S. Army issued a challenge to automotive companies, requesting a working prototype, fit to army specifications, in just 49 days. Willy’s Truck Company was the first to successfully answer the Army’s call, and the new little truck was christened “the Jeep.” General Dwight D. Eisenhower said that America could not have won World War II without it. Parade was so enthusiastic about the Jeep, that, on this day, it devoted three full pages to a feature on the vehicle.
1941 – The Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo plane made its first flight.
1941 – President Roosevelt forbids the export of oil and aviation fuel from the United States except to Britain, the British Commonwealth countries and countries of the Western Hemisphere. This decision is aimed at Japan. Roosevelt’s decision confirms steps taken recently when Japanese assets were frozen (on July 26th).
1941 – As a consequence of the American restrictions on oil exports, Japan is left with only limited stocks of oil. The position is such that Japan must either change her foreign policy very radically or decide to go to war and try to secure access to oil from the East Indies.
1942 – Ensign Henry C. White, while flying a J4F Widgeon plane, sank U-166 as it approaches the Mississippi River, the first U-boat sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard. In the summer of 1942, German submarines put saboteurs ashore on American beaches.
1943 – Race-related rioting erupted in New York City’s Harlem section. The start of the event was the arrest of Private Robert Bandy, a 26-year-old black soldier He was charged with attacking a white policeman who was arresting a black woman in a Harlem hotel . Rumors soon spread that police officers had killed a black soldier who was trying to protect his mother. This caused a momentous outburst of rioting destroying much of Harlem. The statistics of the riot vary depending on the source, but around 500 persons were injured, five dead, 400-500 arrested, and property damage estimated at 500,000 to a million dollars.
1943 – Operation Tidal Wave: The American Eighth Air Force began staging a series of heavy bomber air raids against the oil fields and refineries around Ploesti. These fields furnished about 80% of the Nazis’ petroleum requirements and were a key military target. Of the 177 B-24 Liberator bombers, 50 are lost.
1943 – A Japanese destroyer rams an American PT (patrol torpedo) boat, No. 109, slicing it in two. The destruction is so massive other American PT boats in the area assume the crew is dead. Two crewmen were, in fact, killed, but 11 survived, including Lt. John F. Kennedy. Japanese aircraft had been on a PT boat hunt in the Solomon Islands, bombing the PT base at Rendova Island. It was essential to the Japanese that several of their destroyers make it to the southern tip of Kolombangara Island to get war supplies to forces there. But the torpedo capacity of the American PTs was a potential threat. Despite the base bombing at Rendova, PTs set out to intercept those Japanese destroyers. In the midst of battle, Japan’s Amaqiri hit PT-109, leaving 11 crewmen floundering in the Pacific. After five hours of clinging to debris from the decimated PT boat, the crew made it to a coral island. Kennedy decided to swim out to sea again, hoping to flag down a passing American boat. None came. Kennedy began to swim back to shore, but strong currents, and his chronic back condition, made his return difficult. Upon reaching the island again, he fell ill. After he recovered, the PT-109 crew swam to a larger island, what they believed was Nauru Island, but was in fact Cross Island. They met up with two natives from the island, who agreed to take a message south. Kennedy carved the distress message into a coconut shell: “Nauru Is. Native knows posit. He can pilot. 11 alive need small boat.” The message reached Lieutenant Arthur Evans, who was watching the coast of Gomu Island, located next to an island occupied by the Japanese. Kennedy and his crew were paddled to Gomu. A PT boat then took them back to Rendova. Kennedy was ultimately awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, for gallantry in action. The coconut shell used to deliver his message found a place in history-and in the Oval Office. PT-109, a film dramatizing this story, starring Clift Robertson as Kennedy, opened in 1963.
1944 – The US 3rd Army (General Patton) becomes operational on the right flank and is tasked with clearing Brittany. American forces are now organized under US 12th Army Group (Bradley) and include US 1st Army (Hodges) as well as 3rd Army.
1944 – After nine days of fighting in a battle termed “the perfect amphibious operation of World War II,” MajGen Harry Schmidt, commander of V Amphibious Corps, declared the island of Tinian secured. The combination of surprise, heavy preassault bombardment, and effective logistical support was responsible for Tinian’s recapture with a much lower casualty rate (344 killed and 1550 wounded) than had been experienced in previous landings.
1945 – Allied mines, dropped by air, bring Japanese shipping on the Yangtze river to a halt. The Japanese have lost 36 ships (with 11 others damaged, for a total loss of 35,000 tons) as a result of Allied aerial mines.
1945 – On Bougainville, Allied troops seal off Japanese forces at Buin, on the southern tip of the island.
1945 – The American aircraft carrier Cabot attacks Japanese positions on Wake Island.
1946 – President Truman established the Atomic Energy Commission. Physicist John Simpson (d.2000 at 83) helped develop the 1946 McMahon Act, which called for civilian control of atomic energy.
1946 – Office of Naval Research established.
1950 – Lead elements of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division arrived in Korea from the United States.
1950 – Control of Guam transferred from the Navy to the Department of Interior.
1950 – Yakov Malik, Soviet delegate to the United Nations, ended Moscow’s boycott of the organization and took over the presidency of the Security Council.
1950 – Shipments of winter clothing and equipment to the Far East Command began.
1952 – The U.S. Coast Guard released a photograph of unidentified aerial phenomena (i.e. a UFO), taken by a 21-year old Coast Guard photographer on 16 July at the Salem Coast Guard Air Station.
1956 – Captain Norma Parsons becomes the first woman to join the National Guard when she was sworn in as a nurse in the 106th Tactical Hospital, New York Air National Guard. Only two days earlier, and after much debate, Congress finally enacted Public Law 845 allowing the participation of women in the Guard. But there were serious restrictions. Only female officers were allowed and they could only serve as nurses or in medically-related specialties such as dietitians, physical therapists or laboratory technicians. The Army Guard’s first female member was First Lieutenant Sylvia Marie Saint Charles Law who joined Alabama’s 109th Evacuation Hospital in January 1957. Not until November 1967 did Congress amend this law to allow the enlistment of women in Guard. Starting with just a few nurse-officers in the 1950s, women have steadily increased their numbers and job opportunities so that by the close of FY 2003 female soldiers in the Army Guard comprised 12.4% of its total strength while 17.4% of the Air Guard was female.
1957 – The United States and Canada reached agreement to create the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).
1958 – US atomic sub USS Nautilus 1st dove under the North Pole.
1962 – Marine helicopter unit Shoofly (HMM-362) is replaced by HMM-163 after flying 50 combat troop lifts involving 130 landings against the Vietcong. The Marines suffer no casualties this tour. HMM-163 relocates at Danang in September.
1964 – The North Vietnamese government accuses South Vietnam and the United States of having authorized attacks on Hon Me and Hon Ngu, two of their islands in the Tonkin Gulf. The North Vietnamese were partly correct; the attacks, conducted just after midnight on July 30, were part of a covert operation called Oplan 34A, which involved raids by South Vietnamese commandos operating under American orders against North Vietnamese coastal and island installations. Although American forces were not directly involved in the actual raids, U.S. Navy ships were on station to conduct electronic surveillance and monitor North Vietnamese defense responses under another program called Operation De Soto. The Oplan 34A attacks played a major role in events that led to what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. On August 2, North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the destroyer USS Maddox which was conducting a De Soto mission in the area. Two days after the first attack, there was another incident that still remains unclear. The Maddox, joined by destroyer USS C. Turner Joy, engaged what were thought at the time to be more attacking North Vietnamese patrol boats. Although it was questionable whether the second attack actually happened or not, the incident provided the rationale for retaliatory air attacks against the North Vietnamese and the subsequent Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which became the basis for the initial escalation of the war in Vietnam and ultimately the insertion of U.S. combat troops into the area.
1966 – Charles Whitman takes a stockpile of guns and ammunition to the observatory platform atop a 300-foot tower at the University of Texas and proceeds to shoot 46 people, killing 16. Whitman, who had killed both his wife and mother the night before, was eventually shot to death after courageous Austin police officers, including Ramiro Martinez, charged up the stairs of the tower to subdue the attacker. Whitman, a former Eagle Scout and Marine, began to suffer serious mental problems after his mother left his father in February 1966. On March 29, he told a psychiatrist that he was having uncontrollable fits of anger. He purportedly even told this doctor that he was thinking about going up to the tower with a rifle and shooting people. Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t follow up on this red flag. On July 31, Whitman wrote a note about his violent impulses, saying, “After my death, I wish an autopsy on me be performed to see if there’s any mental disorder.” The note then described his hatred for his family and his intent to kill them. That night, Whitman went to his mother’s home, where he stabbed and shot her. Upon returning to his own home, he then stabbed his wife to death. The following morning, Whitman headed for the tower with several pistols and a rifle after stopping off at a gun store to buy boxes of ammunition and a carbine. Packing food and other supplies, he proceeded to the observation platform, killing the receptionist and two tourists before unpacking his rifle and telescope and hunting the people below. An expert marksman, Whitman was able to hit people as far away as 500 yards. For 90 minutes, he continued firing while officers searched for a chance to get a shot at him. By the end of his rampage, 16 people were dead and another 30 were injured. The University of Texas tower remained closed for over 30 years before reopening in 1999.
1969 – The U.S. command in Saigon announces that 27 American aircraft were lost in the previous week, bringing the total losses of aircraft in the conflict to date to 5,690.
1975 – The United States, the Soviet Union, Canada and every European nation (except Albania) sign the Helsinki Final Act on the last day of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The act was intended to revive the sagging spirit of detente between the Soviet Union and the United States and its allies. During Richard M. Nixon’s presidency, he and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger fashioned a foreign policy toward the Soviet Union that came to be known as “detente”–literally, a lessening of tensions between Russia and America. The policy enjoyed some success during the early 1970s, as Nixon visited the Soviet Union and discussions about arms reduction began. By the summer of 1975, however, the spirit of detente was flagging. Nixon resigned in disgrace in August 1974 over the Watergate scandal. The United States withdrew from Vietnam without securing victory; in April 1975, South Vietnam fell to communist forces. Progress on arms reduction talks with the Soviets came to a standstill. In July 1975, however, the Soviet Union and the United States attempted to reinvigorate the policy of detente by calling the CSCE in Helsinki. On August 1, the attendees signed the Helsinki Final Act. The act established the CSCE as an ongoing consultative organization, and set out a number of issues (grouped together in what came to be known as “baskets”) to be discussed in the coming months and years. These included economic and trade issues, arms reduction, and the protection of human rights. For a brief moment, detente seemed to have been revived, but the CSCE soon became the cause for heated debates between the United States and the Soviet Union, primarily over the issue of human rights in Russia. After the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, dissidents and reformers in the Soviet Union formed what was known as the Helsinki Group, a watchdog organization to monitor the Russian government’s adherence to the protection of human rights. The Soviets crushed the Helsinki Group, arresting many of its top leaders. Human rights groups in the United States and elsewhere loudly protested the Soviet actions. The U.S. government criticized the Russians for not adhering to the spirit of the Helsinki agreement. The Soviets resented what they referred to as intrusions into their domestic matters. By mid-1978, the CSCE ceased to function in any important sense. It was revived by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, and served as a foundation for his policy of closer and friendlier relations with the United States.
1977 – Francis Gary Powers (47), US U-2 pilot, died in fiery helicopter crash.
1985 – The 49-year old cutter Ingham gained the distinction of being the oldest commissioned cutter in service when her sister, the Duane, was decommissioned.
1989 – The Revolutionary Justice Organization, a pro-Iranian group in Lebanon which had threatened to kill American hostage Joseph Cicippio, extended its deadline a day after another group released a videotape showing a body said to be that of hostage William R. Higgins.
1990 – An Iraqi delegation walks out of talks with its Kuwaiti counterparts without any agreement being reached. Iraq says that Kuwait was not dealing seriously with the problems between the two countries.
1995 – NATO threatened major air strikes if any more “safe areas” were attacked in Bosnia.
1997 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan approves Iraq’s request to add the Iraqi-Syrian border as an entry point for food and humanitarian aid under the oil-for-food program. The request provides further evidence of re-established official ties between the two countries. Ties were severed after Syria supported Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war, and this new link between Iraq and Syria follows the reopening in mid-June of three border points that were shut in 1980.
1999 – The CGC Hamilton attempted to seize the Russian fishing trawler Gissar in the Bering Sea for fishing in U.S. waters. The Gissar then attempted to return to Russian waters, whereupon a boarding team from the Hamilton boarded the trawler. Soon thereafter, up to 19 other Russian trawlers surrounded the two vessels, thereby prohibiting the Hamilton from taking the Gissar to a U.S. port. The Hamilton’s boarding crew was removed from the Gissar and the Gissar was turned over to the Russian Border Guard vessel Antius.
2000 – A US military court in Germany sentenced Army Staff Sergeant Frank Ronghi to life in prison without parole for sexually assaulting and killing Merita Shabiu, an eleven-year-old ethnic Albanian girl, while on peacekeeping duty in Kosovo.
2002 – The United States and a bloc of Southeast Asian nations signed a sweeping anti-terrorism treaty.
2002 – Iraq says the United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector, Hans Blix, is welcome in Baghdad for “technical talks”.
2002 – Opponents of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein shot and wounded his younger son, Qusai (35), in an assassination attempt in Baghdad. The Iraqi National Congress opposition group reported the event 2 weeks later.
2003 – The Belgian Senate gave final approval to a scaled-down war crimes law that the government hopes will repair relations with Washington and preserve Belgium’s role as NATO headquarters.
2003 – North Korea eased its insistence on one-on-one talks with Washington and agreed to join U.S.-proposed multilateral talks, where it will find little sympathy for its suspected nuclear weapons programs.
2004 – A militant group claiming links to al Qaeda has given Italy a 15-day deadline to withdraw its troops from Iraq or face attacks.
2004 – A Kenyan government spokesman said 7 truck drivers taken hostage in Iraq have been released.
2004 – A Lebanese hostage was freed unharmed after Iraqi police raided his kidnappers’ hideout in an operation that ended with the arrest of three terror suspects.
2005 – The Battle of Haditha was a battle fought between U.S. forces and Ansar al-Sunna in early August 2005 on the outskirts of the town of Haditha, Iraq, which was one of the many towns that were under insurgent control in the Euphrates River valley during 2005. On the first day of the battle, a six-man United States Marine Corps sniper unit in Haditha was attacked and overrun by a large insurgent force. All six men were found dead after the battle.
2007 – MSD St. Paul responded when the I-35W bridge collapsed in the Twin Cities. The Coast Guard established a security zone around the collapsed bridge and maintained a presence for 20 days. Boat crews from St. Louis, Milwaukee, Two Rivers, Wis., Duluth, Minn., Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., MSST 91106 (New York), Sector Lower Mississippi River, Sector New Orleans, Station Gulfport and Station Aransas assisted during the three weeks following the bridges collapse.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
*BAKER, ADDISON E. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Air Corps, 93d Heavy Bombardment Group. Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943. Entered service at: Akron, Ohio. Born: 1 January 1907, Chicago, Ill. G.O. No.: 20, 11 March 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on 1 August 1943. On this date he led his command, the 93d Heavy Bombardment Group, on a daring low-level attack against enemy oil refineries and installations at Ploesti, Rumania. Approaching the target, his aircraft was hit by a large caliber antiaircraft shell, seriously damaged and set on fire. Ignoring the fact he was flying over terrain suitable for safe landing, he refused to jeopardize the mission by breaking up the lead formation and continued unswervingly to lead his group to the target upon which he dropped his bombs with devastating effect. Only then did he leave formation, but his valiant attempts to gain sufficient altitude for the crew to escape by parachute were unavailing and his aircraft crashed in flames after his successful efforts to avoid other planes in formation. By extraordinary flying skill, gallant leadership and intrepidity, Lt. Col. Baker rendered outstanding, distinguished, and valorous service to our Nation.
*HUGHES, LLOYD H. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 564th Bomber Squadron, 389th Bomber Group, 9th Air Force. Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943. Entered service at: San Antonio, Tex. Born: 12 July 1921, Alexandria, La. G.O. No.: 17, 26 February 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On August 1943, 2d Lt. Hughes served in the capacity of pilot of a heavy bombardment aircraft participating in a long and hazardous minimum-altitude attack against the Axis oil refineries of Ploesti, Rumania, launched from the northern shores of Africa. Flying in the last formation to attack the target, he arrived in the target area after previous flights had thoroughly alerted the enemy defenses. Approaching the target through intense and accurate antiaircraft fire and dense balloon barrages at dangerously low altitude, his plane received several direct hits from both large and small caliber antiaircraft guns which seriously damaged his aircraft, causing sheets of escaping gasoline to stream from the bomb bay and from the left wing. This damage was inflicted at a time prior to reaching the target when 2d Lt. Hughes could have made a forced landing in any of the grain fields readily available at that time. The target area was blazing with burning oil tanks and damaged refinery installations from which flames leaped high above the bombing level of the formation. With full knowledge of the consequences of entering this blazing inferno when his airplane was profusely leaking gasoline in two separate locations, 2d Lt. Hughes, motivated only by his high conception of duty which called for the destruction of his assigned target at any cost, did not elect to make a forced landing or turn back from the attack. Instead, rather than jeopardize the formation and the success of the attack, he unhesitatingly entered the blazing area and dropped his bomb load with great precision. After successfully bombing the objective, his aircraft emerged from the conflagration with the left wing aflame. Only then did he attempt a forced landing, but because of the advanced stage of the fire enveloping his aircraft the plane crashed and was consumed. By 2d Lt. Hughes’ heroic decision to complete his mission regardless of the consequences in utter disregard of his own life, and by his gallant and valorous execution of this decision, he has rendered a service to our country in the defeat of our enemies which will everlastingly be outstanding in the annals of our Nation’s history.
*JERSTAD, JOHN L. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army Air Corps, 9th Air Force. Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943. Entered service at: Racine, Wis. Born: 12 February 1918, Racine, Wis. G.O. No.: 72, 28 October 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. On 1 August 1943, he served as pilot of the lead aircraft in his group in a daring low-level attack against enemy oil refineries and installations at Ploesti, Rumania. Although he had completed more than his share of missions and was no longer connected with this group, so high was his conception of duty that he volunteered to lead the formation in the correct belief that his participation would contribute materially to success in this attack. Maj. Jerstad led the formation into attack with full realization of the extreme hazards involved and despite withering fire from heavy and light antiaircraft guns. Three miles from the target his airplane was hit, badly damaged, and set on fire. Ignoring the fact that he was flying over a field suitable for a forced landing, he kept on the course. After the bombs of his aircraft were released on the target, the fire in his ship became so intense as to make further progress impossible and he crashed into the target area. By his voluntary acceptance of a mission he knew was extremely hazardous, and his assumption of an intrepid course of action at the risk of life over and above the call of duty, Maj. Jerstad set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.
JOHNSON, LEON W. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Army Air Corps, 44th Bomber Group, 9th Air Force. Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943. Entered service at: Moline, Kans. Born: 13 September 1904, Columbia, Mo. G.O. No.: 54, 7 September 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 1 August 1943. Col. Johnson, as commanding officer of a heavy bombardment group, let the formation of the aircraft of his organization constituting the fourth element of the mass low-level bombing attack of the 9th U.S. Air Force against the vitally important enemy target of the Ploesti oil refineries. While proceeding to the target on this 2,400-mile flight, his element became separated from the leading elements of the mass formation in maintaining the formation of the unit while avoiding dangerous cumulous cloud conditions encountered over mountainous territory. Though temporarily lost, he reestablished contact with the third element and continued on the mission with this reduced force to the prearranged point of attack, where it was discovered that the target assigned to Col. Johnson’s group had been attacked and damaged by a preceding element. Though having lost the element of surprise upon which the safety and success of such a daring form of mission in heavy bombardment aircraft so strongly depended, Col. Johnson elected to carry out his planned low-level attack despite the thoroughly alerted defenses, the destructive antiaircraft fire, enemy fighter airplanes, the imminent danger of exploding delayed action bombs from the previous element, of oil fires and explosions, and of intense smoke obscuring the target. By his gallant courage, brilliant leadership, and superior flying skill, Col. Johnson so led his formation as to destroy totally the important refining plants and installations which were the object of his mission. Col. Johnson’s personal contribution to the success of this historic raid, and the conspicuous gallantry in action, and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty demonstrated by him on this occasion constitute such deeds of valor and distinguished service as have during our Nation’s history formed the finest traditions of our Armed Forces.
KANE, JOHN R. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Army Air Corps, 9th Air Force. Place and date: Ploetsi Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943. Entered service at: Shreveport, La. Birth: McGregor, Tex. G.O. No.: 54, 9 August 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 1 August 1943. On this date he led the third element of heavy bombardment aircraft in a mass low-level bombing attack against the vitally important enemy target of the Ploesti oil refineries. En route to the target, which necessitated a round-trip flight of over 2,400 miles, Col. Kane’s element became separated from the leading portion of the massed formation in avoiding dense and dangerous cumulous cloud conditions over mountainous terrain. Rather than turn back from such a vital mission he elected to proceed to his target. Upon arrival at the target area it was discovered that another group had apparently missed its target and had previously attacked ??and damaged the target assigned to Col. Kane’s element. Despite the thoroughly warned defenses, the intensive antiaircraft fire, enemy fighter airplanes, extreme hazards on a low-level attack of exploding delayed action bombs from the previous element, of oil fires and explosions and dense smoke over the target area, Col. Kane elected to lead his formation into the attack. By his gallant courage, brilliant leadership, and superior flying skill, he and the formation under his command successfully attacked this vast refinery so essential to our enemies’ war effort. Through his conspicuous gallantry in this most hazardous action against the enemy, and by his intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Col. Kane personally contributed vitally to the success of this daring mission and thereby rendered most distinguished service in the furtherance of the defeat of our enemies.