1775 – The Continental Congress presents its petitions to the British Parliament.
1776 – James Wright (May 8, 1716 – November 20, 1785), an American colonial lawyer and jurist who was the last British Royal Governor of the Province of Georgia, was arrested by patriots for his enforcement of the Stamp Act. Wright had been appointed governor in November 1760, having previously served six months as Lieutenant Governor. When Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765, Georgia, under Wright’s administration and despite efforts of teh Sons of Liberty, was the only colony to actually use the revenue stamps. Wright would escape in February and in 1778, he became the only royal governor to regain control of his colony which he would maintain until the British loss in 1782 when he retired to England.
1778 – Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands when he sails past the island of Oahu. Two days later, he landed at Waimea on the island of Kauai and named the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of John Montague, who was the earl of Sandwich and one his patrons. In 1768, Cook, a surveyor in the Royal Navy, was commissioned a lieutenant in command of the H.M.S. Endeavor and led an expedition that took scientists to Tahiti to chart the course of the planet Venus. In 1771, he returned to England, having explored the coast of New Zealand and Australia and circumnavigated the globe. Beginning in 1772, he commanded a major mission to the South Pacific and during the next three years explored the Antarctic region, charted the New Hebrides, and discovered New Caledonia. In 1776, he sailed from England again as commander of the H.M.S. Resolution and Discovery and in 1778 made his first visit to the Hawaiian Islands. Cook and his crew were welcomed by the Hawaiians, who were fascinated by the Europeans’ ships and their use of iron. Cook provisioned his ships by trading the metal, and his sailors traded iron nails for sex. The ships then made a brief stop at Ni’ihau and headed north to look for the western end of a northwest passage from the North Atlantic to the Pacific. Almost one year later, Cook’s two ships returned to the Hawaiian Islands and found a safe harbor in Hawaii’s Kealakekua Bay. It is suspected that the Hawaiians attached religious significance to the first stay of the Europeans on their islands. In Cook’s second visit, there was no question of this phenomenon. Kealakekua Bay was considered the sacred harbor of Lono, the fertility god of the Hawaiians, and at the time of Cook’s arrival the locals were engaged in a festival dedicated to Lono. Cook and his compatriots were welcomed as gods and for the next month exploited the Hawaiians’ good will. After one of the crewmembers died, exposing the Europeans as mere mortals, relations became strained. On February 4, 1779, the British ships sailed from Kealakekua Bay, but rough seas damaged the foremast of the Resolution, and after only a week at sea the expedition was forced to return to Hawaii. The Hawaiians greeted Cook and his men by hurling rocks; they then stole a small cutter vessel from the Discovery. Negotiations with King Kalaniopuu for the return of the cutter collapsed after a lesser Hawaiian chief was shot to death and a mob of Hawaiians descended on Cook’s party. The captain and his men fired on the angry Hawaiians, but they were soon overwhelmed, and only a few managed to escape to the safety of the Resolution. Captain Cook himself was killed by the mob. A few days later, the Englishmen retaliated by firing their cannons and muskets at the shore, killing some 30 Hawaiians. The Resolution and Discovery eventually returned to England.
1787 – The newly activated Massachusetts militia force of 4400 men led by General Benjamin Lincoln assembles to combat the insurgents led by Daniel Shays in Springfield. This new force was called up by the governor in response to Shays’ march from Wocester to Springfiled on December 26, 1786. There Shays linked up with forces lead by Lucas Day and together they out number the troops of General Shepherd. Shepherd’s men are guarding the federal arsenal in Springfield which Shays and Day have been menacing ever since.
1803 –Determined to begin the American exploration of the vast mysterious regions of the Far West, President Thomas Jefferson sends a special confidential message to Congress asking for money to fund the journey of Lewis and Clark. Jefferson had been trying to mount a western expedition of exploration since the 1790s, and his determination to do so had only grown since he became president in 1801. In summer 1802, Jefferson began actively preparing for the mission, recruiting his young personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to be its leader. Throughout 1802, Jefferson and Lewis discussed the proposed mission, telling no one-not even Congress, which would have to approve the funds-of what they were contemplating. Jefferson directed Lewis to draw up an estimate of expenses. Basing his calculations on a party of one officer and 10 enlisted men-the number was deliberately kept small to avoid inspiring both congressional criticisms and Indian fears of invasion-Lewis carefully added up the costs for provisions, weapons, gunpowder, scientific instruments, and a large boat. The final tally came to $2,500. The largest item was $696, earmarked for gifts to Indians. Following the advice of his secretary of the treasury, Albert Gallatin, Jefferson decided not to include the request in his general proposed annual budget, since it involved exploration outside of the nation’s own territory. Instead, on January 18, 1803, he sent a special secret message to Congress asking for the money, taking pains to stress that the proposed exploration would be an aid to American commerce. Jefferson noted that the Indians along the proposed route of exploration up the Missouri River “furnish a great supply of furs & pelts to the trade of another nation carried on in a high latitude.” If a route into this territory existed, “possibly with a single portage, from the Western ocean,” Jefferson suggested Americans might have a superior means of exploiting the fur trade. Though carefully couched in diplomatic language, Jefferson’s message to Congress was clear: a U.S. expedition might be able to steal the fur trade from the British and find the long hoped-for Northwest passage to the Pacific. Despite some mild resistance from Federalists who never saw any point in spending money on the West, Jefferson’s carefully worded request prevailed, and Congress approved the $2,500 appropriation by a sizeable margin. It no doubt seemed trivial in comparison to the $9,375,000 they had approved a week earlier for the Louisiana Purchase, which brought much of the territory Jefferson was proposing to explore under American control. With financing now assured, Lewis immediately began preparing for the expedition. Recruiting his old military friend, William Clark, to be his co-captain, the Corps of Discovery departed on their epic exploration of the uncharted regions in spring 1804.
1813 – Joseph Farwell Glidden, inventor of barbed wire, was born. Glidden grew up on his father’s farms in New Hampshire and (later) New York State. In 1837 he married Clarissa Foster, and the couple bought a farm in De Kalb, Illinois. Glidden’s two sons with Clarissa later died in an epidemic, and Clarissa herself died in childbirth. In 1851 Glidden married Lucinda Warne. In 1873 Glidden saw an ineffective example of barbed wire, a “thorn hedge,” designed to keep cattle from trampling crops. Glidden began experimenting with ways to improved barbed wire, and the next year he received a patent for a machine that added the barbs to the wire mechanically, thus allowing for mass production. Glidden and his partner, Isaac L. Ellwood, established the Barb Fence Company in De Kalb, and in a few years, barbed wire was being used all over the West. Barbed wire accelerated the development of the region, closed the open range, and ended the golden age of the cowboy, who had roamed freely over wide stretches of land. Glidden was soon one of the richest men in America. He invested in the fancy Glidden Hotel in De Kalb and bought 180,000 acres of land in Texas, where he raised 15,000 head of cattle.
1836 – Jim Bowie arrives at the Alamo to assist its Texas defenders.
1836 – Marines reinforced Army to repulse Indians at Ft. Brooke, Florida the Army’s headquarters during the Second Seminole War.
1854 – William Walker, a US citizen, establishes himself as president of a new republic, Sonora, made up of the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California. He will be tried in the US for breaching neutrality in the area.
1862 – John Tyler (71), the 10th president of the United States (1841-1845), was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Va. He drank a mint julep every morning for breakfast. Tyler had joined the Confederacy after his presidency, serving as a member of the Confederate House of Representatives, and was designated a “sworn enemy of the United States.”
1862 – After marching for six hours through a cold rain that turned the road into a sea of mud, the vanguard of the Confederate force arrived near Logan’s Crossroads about 6:30am on January 19. At the foot of a ridge a mile-and-a-half from the crossroads, the advance Confederate cavalry met a strong picket force of Thomas’ 10th Indiana Infantry and 1st Kentucky Cavalry regiments. Far from being surprised in their camps, the Federals were on the watch, and this picket force stubbornly resisted the Confederate advance up the hill. When they reached the high ground, the pickets were reinforced by the rest of the 10th Indiana, and this force stood its ground against the advancing Confederates. Crittenden advanced with Zollicoffer’s own brigade in the lead. Zollicoffer put the 15th Mississippi Infantry in line of battle advancing up the road, with his other regiments following. This force was sufficient to push the Federals off the hill and into the woods below. However, the dawn was dark and misty, and the Confederates were spread out for miles along the narrow muddy road, slowing their advance. After fighting for nearly an hour on their own, the 10th Indiana and 1st Kentucky Cavalry were almost out of ammunition and in danger of being overrun. They fell back to a rail fence bordering a corn field, on a low ridge running perpendicular to the road. Here they were finally reinforced by the 4th Kentucky Infantry, and this fence line and ridge formed the basis for the main Federal battle line. The 10th Indiana fell back a short distance to regroup, and the troopers of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry sent their horses to the rear and fell in beside their infantry comrades in the 4th Kentucky. Unable to push this force further back, the 15th Mississippi began to move to their right under cover of a deep wooded ravine. From here, they could approach the Federal lines before engaging their enemy at close range. This infuriated the commander of the 4th Kentucky, Col. Speed S. Fry, who climbed up on the fence and brandished his sword at the enemy, demanding that they stand up and fight like men. The Mississippians were eager to oblige him. After advancing nearly to the ridge line on the west of the road, almost flanking the Federals on their right, the Confederate advance stalled. Most of the soldiers had never been in a battle before, and the dark rainy morning, coupled with the smoke and din of battle and the lack of visibility in the dense woods, produced quite a bit of confusion. Gen. Zollicoffer, leading his brigade from the front with the 19th Tennessee Infantry, was sure that his men were firing on another Confederate regiment, and he rode forward in the road to reconnoiter. There he met Col. Fry, who had ridden to his right for the same purpose. Neither recognized the other (Zollicoffer was said to have been extremely nearsighted, and his own uniform was hidden from Fry’s view by a raincoat), and Zollicoffer ordered Fry to cease firing on his friends. Fry, assuming Zollicoffer was a Federal officer whom he did not know, and also unsure of who the troops to his right were, answered that he would never intentionally fire on a friendly unit. As Fry moved back toward his own regiment, Capt. Henry M.R. Fogg of Zollicoffer’s staff suddenly rode out of the woods to warn Zollicoffer, firing his pistol at Fry. Fry and the Union soldiers near him immediately returned the fire, and Zollicoffer fell dead in the road. (Capt. Fogg was also killed in the battle, probably at this time.) Zollicoffer’s death threw his troops on that part of the field into confusion, and with no brigade commander to lead them, they made no further significant advances on the west of the road. However, the 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee regiments launched a series of furious attacks on Fry’s position, some even reaching the fence, where they fought the Federals hand-to-hand. Bayonets were poked through the fence rails, and the Mississippians attacked swinging their long “cane” knives. The Confederates moved ever toward their right, threatening to turn the Federal left flank. But a section of Federal artillery appeared at the crucial moment and threw shells toward the Confederates, and the 2nd Minnesota and 9th Ohio regiments arrived to bolster the Union defenses. The Federals now had over four regiments at the point of action, opposing three Confederate regiments in direct contact with their enemy — less than ideal odds for the Southern attackers. For over an hour, the 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee battled the Federals almost alone. Rutledge’s Confederate artillery fired a few rounds, and the 25th and 28th Tennessee regiments moved up to reinforce the troops fighting on the front line, but Crittenden was never able to bring up all the rest of his infantry and bring all of his forces to bear. Nor did he make use of his cavalry for any flanking movements. (Crittenden was severely criticized for his handling of the battle, and indeed, he may have been drinking at the time. He resigned his commission later in 1862.) The Confederates were further demoralized by the failure of many of their weapons to fire in the intermittent rain. Most of the Confederate force, particularly the Tennessee regiments, were armed with obsolete flintlock muskets. Only the 15th Mississippi, 16th Alabama, and 29th Tennessee were partially armed with percussion muskets and rifles. One participant estimated that only a fifth of the Confederate muskets would fire. In their frustration, many of the Tennesseans were seen to smash their useless flintlocks against trees. In contrast to the Confederates, the Federals were finally able to concentrate their forces. The 1st and 2nd Tennessee and 12th Kentucky US regiments arrived to outflank and outnumber the hard fighting 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee, and Gen. Thomas, sensing the imminent collapse of the Confederate line, ordered a general advance of the Union force. (Some accounts indicate that this advance was less at the orders of Thomas, than it was simply a spirited action on the part of the subordinate Union leadership.) The 9th Ohio Infantry, a German regiment from Cincinnati, charged the Confederates with fixed bayonets. The Confederate left crumbled under the Ohioans’ bayonet charge, and the 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee were forced to retreat to keep from being surrounded. The courageous Lt. Bailie Peyton, Jr., commanding a company in the 20th Tennessee, was killed when he refused to retreat or surrender, but stood firing his pistol at the advancing enemy. The entire Union line advanced, forcing what was left of the Confederate army back to the top of the hill from which they had attacked. Here, the 16th Alabama and 17th and 29th Tennessee regiments opened a heavy fire on the Federals, momentarily halting their pursuit and allowing the front-line Confederate units to safely retreat. But for most of the Southern soldiers, their retreat turned into a rout. Many of the men simply turned and ran, throwing away their muskets and other implements of war in their haste to escape capture. Their courage and determination were simply not enough to overcome their fatigue from marching all night over muddy roads and fighting since dawn, their despair when their outmoded flintlocks refused to fire in the rain, and the confusion and lack of decisive leadership at their command level. After some three or four hours of hard fighting on a dark, rainy morning, the battle was over. The outmatched Southerners withdrew back down the road toward their camps. They rallied at their Beech Grove entrenchments, but Gen. Thomas arrived with his forces in the afternoon and promptly opened a bombardment on the Confederate camp, including a steamboat at the ferry on the river below. This fire was from a rifle battery that the Southern artillery could not match in range or accuracy. With their backs to the river, this steamboat was the Confederates’ only lifeline for any withdrawal. Recognizing that his position was untenable, Crittenden ordered a withdrawal across the river that night. The Confederates left behind all of their artillery pieces and wagons, and most of their horses and camp equipment. When dawn on January 20th arrived and the Federals moved against the Confederate works, they found the camps abandoned and Crittenden’s force safely across the river. The Federal forces reported 246 casualties of the battle, including 39 killed in action (most of these are buried in the Mill Springs National Cemetery in Nancy). The Confederates suffered 533 casualties, including more than 120 killed in action. The bodies of Gen. Zollicoffer and Lt. Peyton were returned to their families, who had them buried with honor in Nashville. The remaining Southern dead were left on the field to be buried in mass graves, many near the site of Zollicoffer’s death.
1902 –The Isthmus Canal Commission in Washington shifted its support to Panama as the canal site. Following President McKinley’s assassination, Theodore Roosevelt became president. For him, there was no romance about the project, none of this nonsense about following a dream. The canal was practical, vital and indispensable to the U.S. destiny as a global power with supremacy over both its coastal oceans. Roosevelt was a proponent of a doctrine proposed by U.S. naval officer and scholar Thayer Mahan, who explained his theory in the 1890 book “Influence of Sea Power upon History.” The theory was that supremacy at sea was an integral part of commercial and military prowess. For Roosevelt, this made a U.S.-controlled canal an absolute necessity. A timely incident clearly demonstrated this truth to Roosevelt and the world. A naval base had been established in Cuba as a result of the Spanish-American War. The battleship Maine, which was stationed there, was blown up on February 15, 1898, with 260 lives lost. At the time, another battleship, the Oregon had been stationed in San Francisco. To save the day, the Oregon was ordered to proceed at once to the Atlantic, a 12,000-mile course around the Horn. Sixty-seven days later, but fortunately, still in time, the vessel arrived off Florida to join in the Battle of Santiago Bay. The experience clearly showed the military significance of an Isthmian canal. As mentioned before, popular sentiment and the second Walker Commission were in favor of a Canal in Nicaragua, and the actions along those lines were being hastened through the U.S. House. At about this same time, the Compagnie Nouvelle held a stockholders meeting in Paris, and, fearing to get left out in the cold with their proposed deal with the Americans, ascribed a new value to their Panama assets of $40,000,000. This just happened to be the value put upon them by the Americans. Admiral Walker was quoted saying, “It put things on a very different footing.” The House, however, passed the Hepburn Bill favoring Nicaragua – two votes short of unanimous. Through this, the White House had maintained silence; however, following the House vote, Roosevelt summoned the members of the Walker Commission for a closed-door meeting. There he let it be known that he wanted the French offer accepted and that the Commission was to provide a supplementary report unanimously favoring the Panama route. The Commission prepared the supplementary report reversing its original decision and coming out unanimously for Panama. President Roosevelt submitted the supplementary report to Congress in January 1902. Wisconsin Senator John Coit Spooner introduced an amendment to the Hepburn Bill authorizing the president to acquire the French company’s assets and concessions for a maximum price of $40,000,000. The bill stated that if arrangements could not be agreed upon between the United States and Colombia within “a reasonable time,” the President would be authorized to seek an agreement for the alternate route through Nicaragua.
1902 – The famous “March Across Samar” ended during the Philippine Insurrection. In the morning of Sept. 28, 1901, hundreds of native fighters armed with bolos staged a successful surprise attack on U.S. Marines mostly eating breakfast in the town of Balangiga, on the southern coast of Samar Island in eastern Philippines. That event, described as the “worst single defeat” of the US military in the Philippines, became known to history as the “Balangiga Massacre.” The massacred troops were members of Company C, Ninth U.S. Infantry Regiment, who were stationed in Balangiga to keep its small port closed and prevent any trading. Their mission was intended to deprive the Filipino revolutionary forces of supplies during the Philippine-American War, which had spread to the Visayas. The U.S. military authorities retaliated with a “kill and burn” policy to take back Samar, deliberately equating a victorious town with an entire island, from Oct. 1901 to March 1902. Implemented by Brig. Gen. Jacob H. Smith of the U.S. Army, the campaign resulted in the disappearance of some 50,000 people, the minimum increment of Samar’s population between 1896 and 1903. Among this human loss were the numerous civilian men, women, and children 10 years old and above, who were reported killed during combat operations to reduce Samar into a “howling wilderness.” “Of the 74 men of Company C, only 5 were uninjured: 12 were slightly wounded, 19 severely wounded, and 38 dead, including the three officers.” Nine more died during the boat escape towards Basey (Young). “A grand total of 26 [Americans] would survive the attack” and 250 natives were killed during the fight in the Balangiga plaza, excluding the many others who were killed while pursuing the escaping survivors. The church-and-convent was burned by some of the survivors before they escaped on bancas. The rest of the town had been burned by the “insurgents” when reinforcement troops from Basey arrived the day after the attack. They latter claimed the American dead were mutilated and treated with indescribable indignities (Schott). Weeks later, soldiers of the Eleventh Infantry entered the unoccupied town and took with them the two “Bells of Balangiga,” now displayed near the flagpole at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. After the relief of the 9th Infantry following the Balangiga Massacre, Basey became the headquarters of a battalion of U.S. Marines (attached to the Sixth Separate Brigade) under the command of Major Littleton W.T. Waller. At the end of 1901, the U.S. Marines undertook a disastrous forced march across the jungle of southern Samar, from Lanang in the east coast to Basey in the west, in their effort to break the back of the Filipino resistance. After their arrival in Basey, the tired, sick, and frustrated Marines, who lost ten of their comrades, executed by firing squad their nine remaining conscripted native carriers and two native guides. According to then U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, “the shooting of the native bearers by the orders of Major Waller was an act which sullied the American name.” Gen. Smith and Maj. Waller were both court-martialed. Gen. Smith was retired from the U.S. Army. But Major Waller rose to eventually become Major General of the U.S. Marines.
1903 – President Theodore Roosevelt sends a radio message to King Edward VII: the first transatlantic radio transmission originating in the United States.
1911 – Naval aviation was born when pilot Eugene B. Ely flew a Curtis biplane onto the deck of the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco harbor.
1919 – The World War I Peace Congress opened in Versailles, France.
1943 – A wartime ban on the sale of pre-sliced bread in the United States — aimed at reducing bakeries’ demand for metal replacement parts — went into effect.
1943 – Tiger tanks are used for the first time at Bau Arada, Tunisia. Neither the British nor the US have anything which can face them on equal terms.
1943 – Two American cruisers and four destroyers bombard Japanese-held Attu Island.
1950 – People’s Republic of China formally recognizes the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam and agrees to furnish it military assistance; the Soviet Union extended diplomatic recognition to Hanoi on January 30. China and the Soviet Union provided massive military and economic aid to North Vietnam, which enabled North Vietnam to fight first the French and then the Americans. Chinese aid to North Vietnam between 1950 and 1970 is estimated at $20 billion. It is thought that China provided approximately three-quarters of the total military aid given to Hanoi since 1949, with the Soviets providing most of the rest. It would have been impossible for the North Vietnamese to continue the war without the aid from both the Chinese and Soviets.
1951 – FEAF Combat Cargo Command flew an extraordinary 109 C-119 sorties to drop more than 550 tons of supplies to front-line troops in Korea
1951 – China rejected the U.N. cease-fire proposal as the Eighth Army re-entered Wonju without opposition.
1951 – Marines of the 1st Marine Division began mopping-up operations against guerrillas in the Pohang area, South Korea, following the Division’s return from its epic battle with Communist Chinese troops at the Chosin (Changjin) Reservoir.
1953 – The U.S. Coast Guards were dispatched from Sangley Point to save the crew of a Navy Lockheed P2V reconnaissance plane. They landed in 12-foot seas, risking their own crew to save their Navy counterparts. The Coast Guard fished 11 survivors from the wrecked plane. Tragically the Coast Guard’s port engine failed during take off, slamming the plane back into the cold waters of the South China Sea. Seven of the rescued Navy fliers survived this second crash; however, most of the Coast Guard crew was lost.
1953 – U.S. Navy carrier aircraft hit targets at Wonsan, Songjin, Hungnam and Changyon on the North Korea’s east coast while surface elements fired on Sinchon and Kosong targets.
1957 – Averaging speeds of over 500 miles per hour, three US Air Force jets complete a nonstop around-the-world flight.
1962 – The United States begins spraying foliage with herbicides in South Vietnam, in order to reveal the whereabouts of Vietcong guerrillas.
1968 – Operation Coronado X begins in Mekong Delta, Vietnam. This was a reaction operation where the Mobile Riverine Force drives the enemy from My Tho, Cai Lay, and Vinh Long cities during the Tet offensive. Prior to Tet, the MRF was operating in western Binh Tuong Province hoping to make contact with another large VC force as it had done there in early December. Thus the MRF was widely dispersed and well removed from the scene of the major battles that erupted during Tet; however, mobility was its great asset and the MRF moved quickly to participate in several sharp battles connected with Tet
1977 – Scientists identify a previously unknown bacterium as the cause of the mysterious Legionnaires’ disease. Legionellosis or Legion Fever) is a form of pneumonia caused by any species of Gram negative aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Over 90% of cases of Legionnaires’ disease are caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in July 1976, when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. Of the 182 reported cases, mostly men, 29 died.
1977 – The Trident (C-4) missile development flight test program commenced when C4X-1 was launched from a flight pad at Cape Canaveral, FL.
1977 – President Gerald Ford pardons Tokyo Rose, convicted during WWII for making propaganda broadcasts to US troops.
1985 –For the first time since joining the World Court in 1946, the United States walks out of a case. The case that caused the dramatic walkout concerned U.S. paramilitary activities against the Nicaraguan government. For the Reagan administration, efforts to undermine the Sandinista government in Nicaragua had been a keystone of its anticommunist foreign policy since it took office in 1981. Policies designed to economically and diplomatically isolate the Nicaraguan government were combined with monetary and material aid to the “Contras,” a paramilitary anti-Sandinista force that carried out armed attacks against the Sandinistas. Although some of these U.S. efforts were public knowledge, others were covert and remained hidden from public view. Charging that the Nicaraguan government was receiving weapons from the communist bloc and was using those arms to aid revolutions elsewhere in Central America, the Reagan administration even resorted to mining Nicaragua’s harbors. Infuriated by these acts, the Nicaraguan government appeared before the World Court and asked that orders be issued to the United States to cease the hostile activity and pay reparations for the damage. On January 18, 1985, the United States walked out of the World Court, charging that the case was a “misuse of the court for political and propaganda purposes.” A State Department spokesperson stated that, “We profoundly hope that court does not go the way of other international organizations that have become politicized against the interests of the Western democracies.” Opponents of the Reagan policies roundly condemned the decision to walk out. Congressman Michael Barnes stated that he was “shocked and saddened that the Reagan Administration has so little confidence in its own policies that it chooses not even to defend them.” The Reagan administration’s decision in regards to the World Court had little impact on the continuing conflict in Central America. The Court heard Nicaragua’s case and decided against the United States; it charged that the U.S. violated international law with its actions against the Sandinistas, and ordered it to pay reparations to Nicaragua in June 1986. The U.S. government ignored the decision. Meanwhile, the Contra actions in Nicaragua achieved little more than death and destruction, and Congress banned further U.S. military aid to the Contras in 1988.
1991 – Iraq starts firing Scud missiles at Israeli cities
1991 – Round-the-clock bombing of Iraqi targets continued in Operation Desert Storm.
1991 – USS Nicholas attacks and captures Iraqi offshore oil platforms.
1993 – Allied warplanes attacked targets in “no fly” zones in southern and northern Iraq.
1997 – Iraq agrees to export 25 million barrels of crude oil and 7 million barrels of petroleum products to Jordan in 1997. The total, which equates to 88,000 barrels per day, is 7% more than in 1996. Jordan relies entirely on Iraqi crude oil, which is shipped under a special exemption from United Nations’ sanctions against Iraq. Part of the oil is paid for at a reduced price ($19.10 per barrel in 1997, 25% higher than in 1996) and the rest of the oil goes toward reducing Iraq’s $1.3 billion debt to Jordan and paying for Jordanian exports of food and medicine to Iraq (slated to increase by 17% to $255 million in 1997).
2000 – A US test missile fired from the Marshall Islands failed to shoot down a mock warhead fired from a California air base. In a blow to the Pentagon’s push to develop a national missile defense by 2005, officials announced that a prototype missile interceptor had roared into space in search of a mock warhead over the Pacific, but had failed to hit it.
2002 – US forces took 6 terrorism suspects, held since October, from Bosnia after local courts ruled that there was too little evidence to hold them. The suspects included Bensayah Belkacem, a key European al Qaeda lieutenant.
2002 – Five Colombian police officers died while protecting a downed UH-1N helicopter. The US helicopter was destroyed to keep it out of rebel hands.
2003 – CGC Walnut departed from her homeport in Honolulu, Hawaii and began her 10,000 mile transit to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This 45 day transit was completed as quickly as possible with brief stops for fuel and food along the way in Guam, Singapore, Kuwait. The cutter deployed with an oil spill recovery system in the event the regime of Saddam Hussein committed any acts of environmental terrorism. When those threats did not materialize, the cutter then conducted maritime interception operations enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions, participated in the search for two downed United Kingdom helicopters, and patrolled and provided assistance to captured Iraqi offshore oil terminals being secured by Coast Guard port security personnel. The cutter’s crew completely replaced 30 buoys and repaired an additional five along the 41-mile Khawr Abd Allah Waterway. This ATON mission vastly improved the navigational safety of the waterway for humanitarian aid, commercial, and military vessels sailing to the port and was a critical step to economic recovery for the people of Iraq.
2004 – Pakistani agents arrested seven al-Qaida suspects and confiscated weapons during a raid in the southern city of Karachi.
2007 – Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki suggests that if the United States better armed the Iraqi armed forces, they would be able to dramatically draw back U.S. troops “in three to six months”.
2014 – The United States will officially recognize Somalia’s new government and officially open diplomatic relations with Somalia for the first time since the Battle of Mogadishu.
2014 – NASA scientists beam a picture of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft orbiting the Moon, marking a first in laser communication.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1864, Lynn, Mass. Accredited to: Massachusetts. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Ranger off Ensenada, Mexico, 18 January 1886. Jumping overboard from that vessel, Enright rescued John Bell, ordinary seaman, and George Svensson, ordinary seaman, from drowning.
WALKER, FRANK O.
Rank and organization. Private, Company F, 46th Infantry, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: Near Taal, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 18 January 1900. Entered service at: Burlington, Mass. Birth: South Boston, Mass. Date of issue: 11 March 1902. Citation: Under heavy fire of the enemy he rescued a dying comrade who was sinking beneath the water.
*YNTEMA, GORDON DOUGLAS
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Place and date: Near Thong Binh, Republic of Vietnam, 16-18 January 1968. Entered service at: Detroit, Mich. Born: 26 June 1945, Bethesda, Md. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life and above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Yntema, U.S. Army, distinguished himself while assigned to Detachment A-431, Company D. As part of a larger force of civilian irregulars from Camp Cai Cai, he accompanied 2 platoons to a blocking position east of the village of Thong Binh, where they became heavily engaged in a small-arms fire fight with the Viet Cong. Assuming control of the force when the Vietnamese commander was seriously wounded, he advanced his troops to within 50 meters of the enemy bunkers. After a fierce 30 minute fire fight, the enemy forced Sgt. Yntema to withdraw his men to a trench in order to afford them protection and still perform their assigned blocking mission. Under cover of machinegun fire, approximately 1 company of Viet Cong maneuvered into a position which pinned down the friendly platoons from 3 sides. A dwindling ammunition supply, coupled with a Viet Cong mortar barrage which inflicted heavy losses on the exposed friendly troops, caused many of the irregulars to withdraw. Seriously wounded and ordered to withdraw himself, Sgt. Yntema refused to leave his fallen comrades. Under withering small arms and machinegun fire, he carried the wounded Vietnamese commander and a mortally wounded American Special Forces advisor to a small gully 50 meters away in order to shield them from the enemy fire. Sgt. Yntema then continued to repulse the attacking Viet Cong attempting to overrun his position until, out of ammunition and surrounded, he was offered the opportunity to surrender. Refusing, Sgt. Yntema stood his ground, using his rifle as a club to fight the approximately 15 Viet Cong attempting his capture. His resistance was so fierce that the Viet Cong were forced to shoot in order to overcome him. Sgt. Yntema’s personal bravery in the face of insurmountable odds and supreme self-sacrifice were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect the utmost credit upon himself, the 1st Special Forces, and the U.S. Army.