January 31

31 January

1620 – Virginia colony leaders wrote to the Virginia Company in England, asking for more orphaned apprentices for employment.
1795Wounded by the sharp criticism of his colleagues, Alexander Hamilton resigned his post as the Secretary of the Treasury on this day in 1795. During his run as the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, Hamilton put his conservative stamp on the young nation’s finances, establishing a national bank and a tax-based system to fuel the repayment of national and foreign debts. Hamilton also pushed for the Federal government to assume full responsibility for debts incurred by the states during the Revolutionary War. However, Hamilton’s Federalist ardor was a frequent target for controversy, as was his role in meting out the country’s neutrality stance during the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars. Hamilton’s involvement in the latter bit of policy drew particularly heavy fire and helped seal his departure from office. And so, Hamilton putatively retired to lick his wounds and count his vast personal fortune. But, the siren call of politics proved irresistible and Hamilton served a long stint as an unofficial presidential advisor.
1846After the Milwaukee Bridge War, Juneautown and Kilbourntown unify as the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Bridge War, sometimes simply the Bridge War, was an 1845 conflict between people from different regions of what is now Milwaukee, Wisconsin over the construction of a bridge crossing the Milwaukee River. By the 1840s, there had grown a great rivalry between Juneautown—east-side Milwaukee—and Kilbourntown—west-side Milwaukee—mostly due to the actions of Byron Kilbourn, Kilbourntown’s founder, who had been trying to isolate Juneautown to make it more dependent on Kilbourntown. In 1840, the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, finding the ferry system on the Milwaukee River to be “inadequate”, ordered the construction of a bridge. Kilbourn and his supporters viewed the bridge as a threat to their plans. Furthermore, the two towns disputed over the funding for the bridge; ultimately, this led to Kilbourn destroying part of the bridge in 1845. Mobs formed on the east side of the river, but further violence was prevented for two more weeks when two smaller bridges were destroyed by men from Juneautown in an attempt to cut Kilbourntown off from the east and south side. Eventually, skirmishes broke out between the inhabitants of the two towns; no one was killed, although several people were injured, some seriously. It was in the aftermath of the Bridge War that Juneautown and Kilbourntown began making greater attempts at cooperation, ultimately resulting in their unification as the City of Milwaukee.
1848John C. Frémont is Court-martialed for mutiny and disobeying orders. On January 16, 1847, Commodore Stockton had appointed Frémont military governor of California following the Treaty of Cahuenga. However, U.S. Army Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny, who allegedly outranked both Stockton and Frémont, had orders from President Polk and secretary of war William L. Marcy to serve as military governor. (In reality, Stockton’s rank was equivalent to a rear admiral (lower half) today. Therefore, Stockton and Kearny had the same equivalent rank (one star,) and the War Department had not worked out a protocol for who would be in charge.) He asked Frémont to give up the governorship, which the latter stubbornly refused to do before finally relenting. Ordered to march with Kearny’s army back east, Frémont was arrested on August 22, 1847 when they arrived at Fort Leavenworth. He was charged with mutiny, disobedience of orders, assumption of powers, along with several other military offenses. Ordered by Kearny to report to the adjutant general in Washington to stand for court-martial, Frémont was convicted of mutiny, disobedience of a superior officer and military misconduct.
1863 – The 1st South Carolina Volunteers, later called the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops was officially recognized. Components of the regiment had been in training since early 1962.
1864An expedition comprising some 40 sailors and 350 soldiers with a 12-pound howitzer, under command of Lieutenant Commander Charles W. Flusser, marched inland from the Roanoke River North Carolina. They “held the town of Windsor several hours, and marched back 8 miles to our boats without a single shot from the enemy.”
1865The U.S. House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States. It read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” When the Civil War began, President Lincoln’s professed goal was the restoration of the Union. But early in the war, the Union began keeping escaped slaves rather than returning them to their owners, so slavery essentially ended wherever the Union army was victorious. In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in areas that were still in rebellion against the Union. This measure opened the issue of what to do about slavery in border states that had not seceded or in areas that had been captured by the Union before the proclamation. In 1864, an amendment abolishing slavery passed the Senate but died in the House as Democrats rallied in the name of states’ rights. The election of 1864 brought Lincoln back to the White House and significant Republican majorities in both houses, so it appeared the amendment was headed for passage when the new Congress convened in March 1865. Lincoln preferred that the amendment receive bipartisan support–some Democrats indicated support for the measure, but many still resisted. The amendment passed 119 to 56, seven votes above the necessary two-thirds majority. Several Democrats abstained, but the 13th Amendment was sent to the states for ratification, which came in December 1865. With the passage of the amendment, the institution that had indelibly shaped American history and had started the Civil War was eradicated.
1865 – Gen. Robert E. Lee was named general-in-chief of the Confederate armies.
1916 – President Woodrow Wilson refused the compromise on Lusitania reparations.
1917Germany announces the renewal of unlimited submarine warfare in the Atlantic, and German torpedo-armed submarines prepare to attack any and all ships, including civilian passenger carriers, said to be sited in war-zone waters. Three days later, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany, and just hours after that the American liner Housatonic was sunk by a German U-boat. None of the 25 Americans on board were killed, and all were later picked up by a British steamer. When World War I erupted in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that the vast majority of Americans favored. Britain, however, was one of America’s closest trading partners, and tension soon arose between the United States and Germany over the latter’s attempted quarantine of the British isles. Several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were damaged or sunk by German mines, and in February 1915 Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships, neutral or otherwise, that entered the war zone around Britain. One month later, Germany announced that a German cruiser had sunk the William P. Frye, a private American vessel that was transporting grain to England when it disappeared. President Wilson was outraged, but the German government apologized and called the attack an unfortunate mistake. The Germans’ most formidable naval weapon was the U-boat, a submarine far more sophisticated than those built by other nations at the time. The typical U-boat was 214 feet long, carried 35 men and 12 torpedoes, and could travel underwater for two hours at a time. In the first few years of World War I, the U-boats took a terrible toll on Allied shipping. In early May 1915, several New York newspapers published a warning by the German embassy in Washington that Americans traveling on British or Allied ships in war zones did so at their own risk. The announcement was placed on the same page as an advertisement of the imminent sailing of the British-owned Lusitania ocean liner from New York to Liverpool. On May 7, the Lusitania was torpedoed without warning just off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,959 passengers, 1,198 were killed, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the U.S. demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. In August, Germany pledged to see to the safety of passengers before sinking unarmed vessels but in November sunk an Italian liner without warning, killing 272 people, including 27 Americans. Public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany. In 1917, Germany, determined to win its war of attrition against the Allies, announced the resumption of unrestricted warfare. The United States broke off relations with Germany, and on February 22 Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. Two days later, British authorities gave the U.S. ambassador to Britain a copy of the “Zimmermann Note,” a coded message from German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to Mexico. In the telegram, intercepted and deciphered by British intelligence, Zimmermann stated that, in the event of war with the United States, Mexico should be asked to enter the conflict as a German ally. In return, Germany promised to restore to Mexico the lost territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. On March 1, the U.S. State Department published the note, and American public opinion was galvanized against Germany. In late March, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships, and on April 2 President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted 82 to six to declare war against Germany. Two days later, the House of Representatives endorsed the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally entered World War I. On June 26, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. After four years of bloody stalemate along the western front, the entrance of America’s well-supplied forces into the conflict was a major turning point in the war. When the war finally ended, on November 11, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of these men had lost their lives.
1942 – HMS Culver (ex-CGC Mendota–she was one of the “Lake” Class cutters transferred to the Royal Navy in 1941 under the Lend-Lease program) was torpedoed with 13 survivors.
1944 – Operation Overlord (D-Day) was postponed until June.
1944American landings begin on the islands of Kwajalein Atoll. Admiral Spruance is in overall command and General Holland Smith commands the various landing forces. Elements of US 4th Marine Division (Smith) land on Roi, Namur and nearby islets. Task Force 53 (Admiral Connolly) provides transport and naval support, including battleships and escort carriers. The landing on Roi makes rapid progress. On Namur there is heavy Japanese resistance. Meanwhile, there are also landings on Majuro Atoll by the US 27th Infantry Regiment. Admiral Hill’s task force provides naval support. The Majuro Atoll is captured quickly and is immediately prepared to become a base for American forces. Also, the carriers of Task Force 58 (Admiral Mitscher) continue attacks on Eniwetok and Maleolap.
1944 – The US 5th Army continues offensive operations against the German-held Gustav Line. Caira is captured by forces of US 2nd Corps. The Free French Corps recaptures Monte Abate.
1944 – During the Anzio campaign the 1st Ranger Battalion (Darby’s Rangers) is destroyed behind enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Battle of Cisterna, Italy.
1945 – Units of US 18th Corps from US 1st Army enter Germany east of St. Vith as they continue their advance from the Ardennes. To the south, in Alsace, French 1st Army attacks near Colmar also make some ground.
1945On Luzon, two regiments of General Swing’s 11th Airborne Division are landed by sea near Nasugbu southwest of Manila. Admiral Fechteler leads the naval support with a cruiser and eight destroyers. There is little opposition to the landing. North of Manila, the US advance is still making progress. US 14th Corps units have nearly reached Calumpit in a converging attack.
1945Pvt. Eddie Slovik becomes the first American soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion-and the only one who suffered such a fate during World War II. Pvt. Eddie Slovik was a draftee. Originally classified 4-F because of a prison record (grand theft auto), he was reclassified 1-A when draft standards were lowered to meet growing personnel needs. In January 1944, he was trained to be a rifleman, which was not to his liking, as he hated guns. In August of the same year, Slovik was shipped to France to fight with the 28th Infantry Division, which had already suffered massive casualties in France and Germany. Slovik was a replacement, a class of soldier not particular respected by officers. As he and a companion were on the way to the front lines, they became lost in the chaos of battle and stumbled upon a Canadian unit that took them in. Slovik stayed on with the Canadians until October 5, when they turned him and his buddy over to the American military police. They were reunited with the 28th Division, which had been moved to Elsenborn, Belgium. No charges were brought, as replacements getting lost early on in their tours of duty were not unusual. But exactly one day after Slovik returned to his unit, he claimed he was “too scared and too nervous” to be a rifleman, and threatened to run away if forced into combat. His confession was ignored-and Slovik took off. One day later he returned and signed a confession of desertion, claiming he would run away again if forced to fight, and submitted it to an officer of the 28th. The officer advised Slovik to take the confession back, as the consequences were serious. Slovik refused and was confined to the stockade. The 28th Division had many cases of soldiers wounding themselves or deserting in the hopes of a prison sentence that might protect them from the perils of combat. A legal officer of the 28th offered Slovik a deal: dive into combat immediately and avoid the court-martial. Slovik refused. He was tried on November 11 for desertion and was convicted in less than two hours. The nine-officer court-martial panel passed a unanimous sentence of execution, “to be shot to death with musketry.” Slovik’s appeal failed. It was held that he “directly challenged the authority” of the United States and that “future discipline depends upon a resolute reply to this challenge.” Slovik had to pay for his recalcitrant attitude, and the military made an example of him. One last appeal was made-to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander-but the timing was bad for mercy. The Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes forest was resulting in literally thousands of American casualties, not to mention the second largest surrender of an U.S. Army unit during the war. Eisenhower upheld the death sentence. Slovik was shot and killed by a 12-man firing squad in eastern France. None of the rifleman even flinched, firmly believing Slovik had gotten what he deserved.
1948Mrs. Fannie M. Salter, keeper of the Turkey Point Lighthouse in upper Chesapeake Bay since 1925 and the last woman keeper of a lighthouse in the United States, retired from active service. The first woman had been hired as a lighthouse keeper 150 years before. Salter’s retirement temporarily closed the tradition of women serving as keepers at lighthouses.
1950U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly announces his decision to support the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. Five months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan. Then, several weeks after that, British and U.S. intelligence came to the staggering conclusion that German-born Klaus Fuchs, a top-ranking scientist in the U.S. nuclear program, was a spy for the Soviet Union. These two events, and the fact that the Soviets now knew everything that the Americans did about how to build a hydrogen bomb, led Truman to approve massive funding for the superpower race to complete the world’s first “superbomb,” as he described it in his public announcement on January 31. On November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated “Mike,” the world’s first hydrogen bomb, on the Elugelab Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The 10.4-megaton thermonuclear device, built upon the Teller-Ulam principles of staged radiation implosion, instantly vaporized an entire island and left behind a crater more than a mile wide. The incredible explosive force of Mike was also apparent from the sheer magnitude of its mushroom cloud–within 90 seconds the mushroom cloud climbed to 57,000 feet and entered the stratosphere. One minute later, it reached 108,000 feet, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 120,000 feet. Half an hour after the test, the mushroom stretched 60 miles across, with the base of the head joining the stem at 45,000 feet. Three years later, on November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion. Both superpowers were now in possession of the “hell bomb,” as it was known by many Americans, and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war for the first time in history.
1954 – Edwin H. Armstrong (d.1890), US radio inventor of frequency modulation (FM), committed suicide.
1955 – A document thus dated stated that Yuri Rastvorov, a Soviet defector, told Eisenhower administration officials in a private Jan 28 meeting that US and other UN POWs were held in Siberia during the 1950-1953 Korean War.
1957 – Eight people on the ground in Pacoima, California are killed following the mid-air collision between a Douglas DC-7 airliner and a Northrop F-89 Scorpion fighter jet.
1958Explorer 1, the first successful US satellite, was launched by a Jupiter-C rocket and the United States entered the Space Age. It discovered the “Van Allen radiation belts” around Earth named after James Van Allen. Radio signals from the transmitter aboard the 30.8 pound satellite were picked up in California within a few minutes after the launch. Two months earlier, the first attempt to launch a satellite had failed.
1958 – James Van Allen discovers the Van Allen radiation belt.
1961 – Ham became the 1st primate in space (158 miles) aboard Mercury-Redstone 2.
1961 – Lieutenant Commander Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr. becomes first African-American to command a combat ship, USS Falgout.
1961Mercury-Redstone 2 – Ham the Chimp travels into outer space. Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) was the penultimate test flight of the Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle prior to the first manned American space mission in Project Mercury. It was launched at 16:55 UTC on January 31, 1961 from LC-5 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Mercury spacecraft No. 5 carried Ham the Chimp, a chimpanzee, on a suborbital flight, landing in the Atlantic Ocean 16 minutes and 39 seconds after launch.
1962 – The United States has installed a tactical air control system in South Vietnam and furnishes additional aircraft for combat and airlift support.
1966 – U.S. planes resumed bombing of North Vietnam after a 37-day pause.
1968As part of the Tet Offensive, Viet Cong soldiers attack the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. A 19-man suicide squad seized the U.S. Embassy and held it for six hours until an assault force of U.S. paratroopers landed by helicopter on the building’s roof and routed them. The offensive was launched on January 30, when communist forces attacked Saigon, Hue, five of six autonomous cities, 36 of 44 provincial capitals, and 64 of 245 district capitals. The timing and magnitude of the attacks caught the South Vietnamese and American forces off guard, but eventually the Allied forces turned the tide. Militarily, the Tet Offensive was a disaster for the communists. By the end of March 1968, they had not achieved any of their objectives and had lost 32,000 soldiers and had 5,800 captured. U.S. forces suffered 3,895 dead; South Vietnamese losses were 4,954; non-U.S. allies lost 214. More than 14,300 South Vietnamese civilians died. While the offensive was a crushing military defeat for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, the early reporting of a smashing communist victory went largely uncorrected in the media and this led to a great psychological victory for the communists. The heavy U.S. casualties incurred during the offensive coupled with the disillusionment over the earlier overly optimistic reports of progress in the war accelerated the growing disenchantment with President Johnson’s conduct of the war. Johnson, frustrated with his inability to reach a solution in Vietnam announced on March 31, 1968, that he would neither seek nor accept the nomination of his party for re-election.
1971Apollo 14, piloted by astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr., Edgar D. Mitchell, and Stuart A. Roosa, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a manned mission to the moon. On February 5, after suffering some initial problems in docking the lunar and command modules, Shepard and Mitchell descended to the lunar surface on the third U.S. moon landing. Upon stepping out of the lunar module, Shepard, who in 1961, aboard Freedom 7, was the first American in space, became the fifth astronaut to walk on the moon. Shepard and Mitchell remained on the lunar surface for nearly 34 hours, conducting simple scientific experiments, such as hitting golf balls into space with Shepard’s golf club, and collecting 96 pounds of lunar samples. On February 9, Apollo 14 safely returned to Earth.
1972In a communique charging President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger with “unilaterally” divulging the substance of the secret talks, creating the impasse at the secret meeting, and distorting the facts, North Vietnam publishes the nine-point plan they submitted during the secret talks. Since August 1969, talks between Kissinger and North Vietnamese representatives had been going on secretly in Paris. On January 25, Nixon, in response to criticism that his administration had not made its best efforts to end the war, revealed that Kissinger had been involved in the secret talks. Nixon also disclosed the text of an eight-point peace proposal presented privately to the North Vietnamese on October 11, 1971. In their communiquý, the North Vietnamese answered with their own peace plan. While Washington requested the withdrawal of all foreign forces from South Vietnam with the condition of an agreement in principle on a final solution, Hanoi insisted on the withdrawal of U.S. and Allied troops from all of Indochina without condition. Hanoi also demanded the immediate resignation of the South Vietnamese Thieu regime. With the secret talks made public and at an impasse, the North Vietnamese leadership decided to launch a massive invasion of South Vietnam in March 1972.
1981 – Era of Enlisted Naval Aviators ends when last pilot retired.
1989 – Jury selection began in the trial of former National Security Council aide Oliver North, charged in connection with the Iran-Contra affair. He was later convicted on three counts, but those convictions were set aside, and the case was not retried.
1990The Soviet Union’s first McDonald’s fast food restaurant opens in Moscow. Throngs of people line up to pay the equivalent of several days’ wages for Big Macs, shakes, and french fries. The appearance of this notorious symbol of capitalism and the enthusiastic reception it received from the Russian people were signs that times were changing in the Soviet Union. An American journalist on the scene reported the customers seemed most amazed at the “simple sight of polite shop workers…in this nation of commercial boorishness.” A Soviet journalist had a more practical opinion, stating that the restaurant was “the expression of America’s rationalism and pragmatism toward food.” He also noted that the “contrast with our own unrealized pretensions is both sad and challenging.” For the average Russian customer, however, visiting the restaurant was less a political statement than an opportunity to enjoy a small pleasure in a country still reeling from disastrous economic problems and internal political turmoil. The arrival of McDonald’s in Moscow was a small but certain sign that change was on the horizon. In fact, less than two years later, the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a nation, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as leader of the country, and various Soviet republics proclaimed their independence. As the American newsman reported, the first Russian McDonald’s customers “had seen the future, and it works, at least as far as their digestive tract.”
1991 – During the Gulf War, Army Specialist Melissa Rathbun-Nealy and Army Specialist David Lockett were captured by Iraqi forces near the Kuwaiti-Saudi border; both were eventually released.
1992 – Leaders of the U.N. Security Council’s member states held an unprecedented summit, after which they issued a declaration on collective security, arms control and nuclear non-proliferation.
1996 – The last Cubans held in refugee camps at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base boarded a plane for Florida.
1996In Sri Lanka an explosive-packed truck crashed into the Central Bank in Colombo and killed at least 55 and injured at least 1400 people. The Tamil Tigers rebel group were blamed. They had been fighting for independence for 12 years. A Tiger suicide bomber blew up the Central Bank and killed almost 100 people. The bombing killed 88 and injured 1,400. After 73 people were killed in the Central Bank bombing the US declared the Tamil Tigers a terrorist organization.
1998 – The space shuttle Endeavour returned from Mir with its crew of 7. Astronaut David Wolf returned to Earth after four months on the Russian space station Mir.
1999 – From Azerbaijan it was reported that Vafa Gulkuzade, chief foreign affairs advisor, had asserted that the country needed a military protector. He said Turkish or American military bases would be welcomed.
1999 – A series of almost daily U.S. missile air strikes on Iraq’s air defences has had a “grave impact” on President Saddam Hussein’s ability to challenge allied enforcement of the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq.
1999 – Marshall Islands foreign minister, Phillip Muller, said his government would seek a rent increase from the US for the use of the Kwajalein Atoll.
2000The US persuaded Puerto Rico to continue use of the Navy firing range off Vieques Island with dummy bombs in exchange for $40 million. A vote by islanders to approve live ammunition would bring Puerto Rico an additional $50 million. A no vote would require clean up and a halt to training by May 1, 2003.
2001 – In the Netherlands a Scottish court sentenced Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, to life in a Scottish prison for the 1998 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. A second Libyan was acquitted.
2002 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a speech that the United States had to prepare for potential surprise attacks “vastly more deadly” than the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings.
2002 – It was reported that the US and Kazakstan planned a joint venture to use a former Soviet nuclear weapons plant to process uranium for power plants and absorb atomic workers.
2002 – US troops began a 6-month exercise for Filipino soldiers on Zamboanga, who were hunting Abu Sayyaf extremists.
2002 – In Afghanistan warlord Saifullah defeated troops under Padsha Khan Zadran in Gardez and some 50 people were killed.
2003President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair met at the White House; Bush said he would welcome a second U.N. resolution on Iraq but only if it led to the prompt disarming of Saddam Hussein. Pushing for a new resolution, Blair called confronting Iraq “a test of the international community.”
2003 – In Afghanistan, a bomb destroyed the Rambasi Bridge near Kandahar, and killed at least 15 people travelling by bus. Police blamed Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives.
2003 – Top UN arms inspectors said they would not agree to new talks in Baghdad unless Iraq demonstrated more cooperation and met unspecified conditions.
2004 – The Mars rover Opportunity rolled off its landing pad onto the surface of Mars.
2004 – The crews of a 47-foot MLB from Station Chincoteague and a rescue helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City combined to rescue five men after their vessel began taking on water 25 miles east of Chincoteague.
2005 – US guards in southern Iraq opened fire on prisoners during a riot at the detention facility for security detainees at Umm Qasr, killing 4 of them. 6 other prisoners were injured.
2005 – Iraqis elected the Iraqi Transitional Government in order to draft a permanent constitution. Although some violence and a widespread Sunni boycott marred the event, most of the eligible Kurd and Shia populace participated.
2007Boston transit officials and the U.S. Coast Guard shut down parts of Interstate 93, two bridges, and a section of the Charles River after the discovery of suspicious devices placed around the city. Turner Broadcasting released a statement that the items were marketing tools placed within ten U.S. cities for the cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force. One arrest was made Wednesday.
2009 – Iraq held provincial elections. Provincial candidates and those close to them faced some political assassinations and attempted assassinations, and there was also some other violence related to the election.
2013 – NASA unveils the prototype of a lunar mining robot called the Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR).

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

Rank and Organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Marine Fighting Squadron 112. Place and date: Off Kolombangara Island in the Solomons group, 31 January 1943. Entered service at: Louisiana. Born: 15 February 1921, Lockport, La. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a section of 6 fighter planes in Marine Fighting Squadron 112, during aerial operations against enemy Japanese forces off Kolombangara Island in the Solomons group, 31 January 1943. Taking off with his section as escort for a strike force of dive bombers and torpedo planes ordered to attack Japanese surface vessels, 1st Lt. DeBlanc led his flight directly to the target area where, at 14,000 feet, our strike force encountered a large number of Japanese Zeros protecting the enemy’s surface craft. In company with the other fighters, 1st Lt. DeBlanc instantly engaged the hostile planes and aggressively countered their repeated attempts to drive off our bombers, persevering in his efforts to protect the diving planes and waging fierce combat until, picking up a call for assistance from the dive bombers, under attack by enemy float planes at 1,000 feet, he broke off his engagement with the Zeros, plunged into the formation of float planes and disrupted the savage attack, enabling our dive bombers and torpedo planes to complete their runs on the Japanese surface disposition and withdraw without further incident. Although his escort mission was fulfilled upon the safe retirement of the bombers, 1st Lt. DeBlanc courageously remained on the scene despite a rapidly diminishing fuel supply and, boldly challenging the enemy’s superior number of float planes, fought a valiant battle against terrific odds, seizing the tactical advantage and striking repeatedly to destroy 3 of the hostile aircraft and to disperse the remainder. Prepared to maneuver his damaged plane back to base, he had climbed aloft and set his course when he discovered 2 Zeros closing in behind. Undaunted, he opened fire and blasted both Zeros from the sky in a short, bitterly fought action which resulted in such hopeless damage to his own plane that he was forced to bail out at a perilously low altitude atop the trees on enemy-held Kolombangara. A gallant officer, a superb airman, and an indomitable fighter, 1st Lt. DeBlanc had rendered decisive assistance during a critical stage of operations, and his unwavering fortitude in the face of overwhelming opposition reflects the highest credit upon himself and adds new luster to the traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, 311th Infantry, 78th Infantry Division. Place and date: Kesternich, Germany, 30-31 January 1945. Entered service at: Keyser, W. Va. Birth: Roda, W. Va. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945. Citation: In charge of the leading squad of Company E, he heroically spearheaded the attack in furious house-to-house fighting. Early on 30 January, he led his men through intense mortar and small arms fire in repeated assaults on barricaded houses. Although twice wounded, once when struck in the back, the second time when a mortar shell fragment passed through his left hand and rendered it practically useless, he refused to withdraw and continued to lead his squad after hasty dressings had been applied. His serious wounds forced him to fire his rifle with 1 hand, resting it on rubble or over his left forearm. To blast his way forward with hand grenades, he set aside his rifle to pull the pins with his teeth while grasping the missiles with his good hand. Despite these handicaps, he created tremendous havoc in the enemy ranks. He rushed l house, killing 3 of the enemy and clearing the way for his squad to advance. On approaching the next house, he was fired upon from an upstairs window. He killed the sniper with a single shot and similarly accounted for another enemy soldier who ran from the cellar of the house. As darkness came, he assigned his men to defensive positions, never leaving them to seek medical attention. At dawn the next day, the squad resumed the attack, advancing to a point where heavy automatic and small arms fire stalled them. Despite his wounds, S/Sgt. Kelley moved out alone, located an enemy gunner dug in under a haystack and killed him with rifle fire. He returned to his men and found that a German machinegun, from a well-protected position in a neighboring house, still held up the advance. Ordering the squad to remain in comparatively safe positions, he valiantly dashed into the open and attacked the position single-handedly through a hail of bullets. He was hit several times and fell to his knees when within 25 yards of his objective; but he summoned his waning strength and emptied his rifle into the machinegun nest, silencing the weapon before he died. The superb courage, aggressiveness, and utter disregard for his own safety displayed by S/Sgt. Kelley inspired the men he led and enabled them to penetrate the last line of defense held by the enemy in the village of Kesternich .

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 7th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy, 30-31 January 1944. Entered service at: Cambridge, Wis. Birth: Christiana, Wis. G.O. No.: 6, 24 January 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Olson, a light machine gunner, elected to sacrifice his life to save his company from annihilation. On the night of 30 January 1944, after a 16-hour assault on entrenched enemy positions in the course of which over one-third of Company B became casualties, the survivors dug in behind a horseshoe elevation, placing Sgt. Olson and his crew, with the 1 available machinegun, forward of their lines and in an exposed position to bear the brunt of the expected German counterattack. Although he had been fighting without respite, Sgt. Olson stuck grimly to his post all night while his guncrew was cut down, 1 by 1, by accurate and overwhelming enemy fire. Weary from over 24 hours of continuous battle and suffering from an arm wound, received during the night engagement, Sgt. Olson manned his gun alone, meeting the full force of an all-out enemy assault by approximately 200 men supported by mortar and machinegun fire which the Germans launched at daybreak on the morning of 31 January. After 30 minutes of fighting, Sgt. Olson was mortally wounded, yet, knowing that only his weapons stood between his company and complete destruction, he refused evacuation. For an hour and a half after receiving his second and fatal wound he continued to fire his machinegun, killing at least 20 of the enemy, wounding many more, and forcing the assaulting German elements to withdraw.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant (then 2d Lt.), U.S. Army, Company E, 5th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Subuk, Korea, 30 and 31 January 1951. Entered service at: Kenvir, Ky. Born: 21 April 1925, Evarts, Ky. G.O. No.: 37, 4 June 1951. Citation: 1st Lt. Dodd, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. First Lt. Dodd, given the responsibility of spearheading an attack to capture Hill 256, a key terrain feature defended by a well-armed, crafty foe who had withstood several previous assaults, led his platoon forward over hazardous terrain under hostile small-arms, mortar, and artillery fire from well-camouflaged enemy emplacements which reached such intensity that his men faltered. With utter disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Dodd moved among his men, reorganized and encouraged them, and then single-handedly charged the first hostile machine gun nest, killing or wounding all its occupants. Inspired by his incredible courage, his platoon responded magnificently and, fixing bayonets and throwing grenades, closed on the enemy and wiped out every hostile position as it moved relentlessly onward to its initial objective. Securing the first series of enemy positions, 1st Lt. Dodd again reorganized his platoon and led them across a narrow ridge and onto Hill 256. Firing his rifle and throwing grenades, he advanced at the head of his platoon despite the intense concentrated hostile fire which was brought to bear on their narrow avenue of approach. When his platoon was still 200 yards from the objective he moved ahead and with his last grenade destroyed an enemy mortar killing the crew. Darkness then halted the advance but at daybreak 1st Lt. Dodd, again boldly advancing ahead of his unit, led the platoon through a dense fog against the remaining hostile positions. With bayonet and grenades he continued to set pace without regard for the danger to his life, until he and his troops had eliminated the last of the defenders and had secured the final objective. First Lt. Dodd’s superb leadership and extraordinary heroism inspired his men to overcome this strong enemy defense reflecting the highest credit upon himself and upholding the esteemed traditions of the military service.

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263, Marine Aircraft Croup 16, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 31 January 1970. Entered service at: New Orleans, La. Born: 14 October 1947, New Orleans, La. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 during operations against enemy forces. Participating in a helicopter rescue mission to extract elements of a platoon which had inadvertently entered a minefield while attacking enemy positions, Pfc. Clausen skillfully guided the helicopter pilot to a landing in an area cleared by 1 of several mine explosions. With 11 marines wounded, 1 dead, and the remaining 8 marines holding their positions for fear of detonating other mines, Pfc. Clausen quickly leaped from the helicopter and, in the face of enemy fire, moved across the extremely hazardous mine laden area to assist in carrying casualties to the waiting helicopter and in placing them aboard. Despite the ever-present threat of further mine explosions, he continued his valiant efforts, leaving the comparatively safe area of the helicopter on 6 separate occasions to carry out his rescue efforts. On 1 occasion while he was carrying 1 of the wounded, another mine detonated, killing a corpsman and wounding 3 other men. Only when he was certain that all marines were safely aboard did he signal the pilot to lift the helicopter. By the courageous, determined and inspiring efforts in the face of the utmost danger, Pfc. Clausen upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the U.S. Naval Service.

Rank and Organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, U.S. Senior Advisor Group, IV Corps, Military Assistance Command. Place and date: Chau Doc Province, Republic of Vietnam, 31 January and 1 February 1968. Entered service at: Denver, Colo. Born: 14 December 1944, West Point, N.Y. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Dix distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while serving as a unit adviser. Two heavily armed Viet Cong battalions attacked the Province capital city of Chau Phu resulting in the complete breakdown and fragmentation of the defenses of the city. S/Sgt. Dix, with a patrol of Vietnamese soldiers, was recalled to assist in the defense of Chau Phu. Learning that a nurse was trapped in a house near the center of the city, S/Sgt. Dix organized a relief force, successfully rescued the nurse, and returned her to the safety of the Tactical Operations Center. Being informed of other trapped civilians within the city, S/Sgt. Dix voluntarily led another force to rescue 8 civilian employees located in a building which was under heavy mortar and small-arms fire. S/Sgt. Dix then returned to the center of the city. Upon approaching a building, he was subjected to intense automatic rifle and machine gun fire from an unknown number of Viet Cong. He personally assaulted the building, killing 6 Viet Cong, and rescuing 2 Filipinos. The following day S/Sgt. Dix, still on his own volition, assembled a 20-man force and though under intense enemy fire cleared the Viet Cong out of the hotel, theater, and other adjacent buildings within the city. During this portion of the attack, Army Republic of Vietnam soldiers inspired by the heroism and success of S/Sgt. Dix, rallied and commenced firing upon the Viet Cong. S/Sgt. Dix captured 20 prisoners, including a high ranking Viet Cong official. He then attacked enemy troops who had entered the residence of the Deputy Province Chief and was successful in rescuing the official’s wife and children. S/Sgt. Dix’s personal heroic actions resulted in 14 confirmed Viet Cong killed in action and possibly 25 more, the capture of 20 prisoners, 15 weapons, and the rescue of the 14 United States and free world civilians. The heroism of S/Sgt. Dix was in the highest tradition and reflects great credit upon the U.S. Army.

Rank and organization: Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Army, Company C, 227th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Place and date: Hue, Republic of Vietnam, 31 January 1968. Entered service at: Phoenix, Ariz. Born: 18 August 1939, Pilot Point, Tex. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. CWO Ferguson, U.S. Army distinguished himself while serving with Company C. CWO Ferguson, commander of a resupply helicopter monitoring an emergency call from wounded passengers and crewmen of a downed helicopter under heavy attack within the enemy controlled city of Hue, unhesitatingly volunteered to attempt evacuation. Despite warnings from all aircraft to stay clear of the area due to heavy antiaircraft fire, CWO Ferguson began a low-level night at maximum airspeed along the Perfume River toward the tiny, isolated South Vietnamese Army compound in which the crash survivors had taken refuge. Coolly and skillfully maintaining his course in the face of intense, short range fire from enemy occupied buildings and boats, he displayed superior flying skill and tenacity of purpose by landing his aircraft in an extremely confined area in a blinding dust cloud under heavy mortar and small-arms fire. Although the helicopter was severely damaged by mortar fragments during the loading of the wounded, CWO Ferguson disregarded the damage and, taking off through the continuing hail of mortar fire, he flew his crippled aircraft on the return route through the rain of fire that he had experienced earlier and safely returned his wounded passengers to friendly control. CWO Ferguson’s extraordinary determination saved the lives of 5 of his comrades. His actions are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself and the U.S. Army .

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Infantry Brigade. Place and date: Binh Tuy Province, Republic of Vietnam, 31 January 1970. Entered service at: Oakland, Calif. Born: 18 November 1948, Petaluma. Calif. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Penry, Company C, distinguished himself while serving as a rifleman during a night ambush mission. As the platoon was preparing the ambush position, it suddenly came under an intense enemy attack from mortar, rocket, and automatic weapons fire which seriously wounded the company commander and most of the platoon members, leaving small isolated groups of wounded men throughout the area. Sgt. Penry, seeing the extreme seriousness of the situation, worked his way through the deadly enemy fire to the company command post where he administered first aid to the wounded company commander and other personnel. He then moved the command post to a position which provided greater protection and visual communication and control of other platoon elements. Realizing the company radio was damaged and recognizing the urgent necessity to reestablish communications with the battalion headquarters, he ran outside the defensive perimeter through a fusillade of hostile fire to retrieve a radio. Finding it inoperable, Sgt. Penry returned through heavy fire to retrieve 2 more radios. Turning his attention to the defense of the area, he crawled to the edge of the perimeter, retrieved needed ammunition and weapons and resupplied the wounded men. During a determined assault by over 30 enemy soldiers, Sgt. Penry occupied the most vulnerable forward position placing heavy, accurate fire on the attacking enemy and exposing himself several times to throw hand grenades into the advancing enemy troops. He succeeded virtually single-handedly in stopping the attack. Learning that none of the radios were operable, Sgt. Penry again crawled outside the defensive perimeter, retrieved a fourth radio and established communications with higher headquarters. Sgt. Penry then continued to administer first aid to the wounded and repositioned them to better repel further enemy attacks. Despite continuous and deadly sniper fire, he again left the defensive perimeter, moved to within a few feet of enemy positions, located 5 isolated wounded soldiers, and led them to safety. When evacuation helicopters approached, Sgt. Penry voluntarily left the perimeter, set up a guiding beacon, established the priorities for evacuation and successively carried 18 wounded men to the extraction site. After all wounded personnel had been evacuated, Sgt. Penry joined another platoon and assisted in the pursuit of the enemy. Sgt. Penry’s extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

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