February 24

24 February

1582Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull, or edict, outlining his calendar reforms. The old Julian Calendar had an error rate of one day in every 128 years. This was corrected in the Gregorian Calendar of Pope Gregory XIII, but Protestant countries did not accept the change till 1700 and later.
1761James Otis voices opposition to English colonial rule in a speech before the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. In 1761 the merchants of Boston hired attorney James Otis to give a speech against the writs of assistance a general warrant which was issued for the life of the sovereign to search “any House, shop, Cellar, Warehouse or Room or other Place. Customs officers could ask anyone to help with the writ, which was the reason for its name. Young attorney John Adams, who later became the second President of the United States, heard the speech, and was so inspired by it that he wrote a provision for the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights based on the arguments Mr. Otis made. The language later formed the basic language of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The battle against the writs of assistance, and the Otis speech, was one of the major opening chapters in the American colonists’ struggles against tax tyranny that led to the American Revolution. The speech generated much excitement.
1786 – Charles Cornwallis, whose armies had surrendered to US at Yorktown, was appointed governor-general of India.
1803The Supreme Court ruled itself the final interpreter of constitutional issues. Chief Justice John Marshall, by refusing to rule on the case of Marbury vs. Madison, asserted the authority of the judicial branch. The US Supreme Court 1st ruled a law unconstitutional (Marbury v Madison).
1813 – Off Guiana’s Demerara River, the American 18-gun sloop Hornet under Captain James Lawrence sinks the 20-gun British sloop Peacock. Hornet suffered few damages or casualties, but Peacock was so badly shattered that it sank during the transfer of prisoners.
1831The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, the first removal treaty in accordance with the Indian Removal Act, is proclaimed. The Choctaws in Mississippi cede land east of the river in exchange for payment and land in the West. The treaty ceded about 11 million acres (45,000 km2) of the Choctaw Nation (now Mississippi) in exchange for about 15 million acres (61,000 km2) in the Indian territory (now the state of Oklahoma). The principal Choctaw negotiators were Chief Greenwood LeFlore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee; the U.S. negotiators were Colonel John Coffee and Secretary of War John Eaton. The site of the signing of this treaty is in the southwest corner of Noxubee County; the site was known to the Choctaw as Bok Chukfi Ahilha (creek “bok” rabbit “chukfi” place to dance “a+hilha” or Dancing Rabbit Creek). The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was the last major land cession treaty signed by the Choctaw. With ratification by the U.S. Congress in 1831, the treaty allowed those Choctaw who chose to remain in Mississippi to become the first major non-European ethnic group to gain recognition as U.S. citizens.
1836Texian Colonel William Travis sends a desperate plea for help for the besieged defenders of the Alamo, ending the message with the famous last words, “Victory or Death.” Travis’ path to the Alamo began five years earlier when he moved to the Mexican state of Texas to start fresh after a failed marriage in Alabama. Trained as a lawyer, he established a law office in Anahuac, where he quickly gained a reputation for his willingness to defy the local Mexican officials. In 1832, a minor confrontation with the Mexican government landed Travis in jail. When he was freed a month later, many Anglo settlers hailed him as a hero. As Anglo-American resentment toward the Mexican government grew, Travis was increasingly viewed as a strong leader among those seeking an independent Texan republic. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis joined the revolutionary army. In February 1836, he was made a lieutenant colonel and given command of the regular Texas troops in San Antonio. On February 23, the Mexican army under Santa Ana arrived in the city unexpectedly. Travis and his troops retreated to the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress, where they were soon joined by James Bowie’s volunteer force. The Mexican army of 5,000 soldiers badly outnumbered the several hundred defenders of the Alamo. Their determination was fierce, though, and when Santa Ana asked for their surrender the following day, Travis answered with a cannon shot. Furious, Santa Ana began a siege. Recognizing he was doomed to defeat without reinforcements, Travis dispatched via couriers several messages asking for help. The most famous was addressed to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the World” and was signed “Victory or Death.” Unfortunately, it was to be death for the defenders: only 32 men from nearby Gonzales responded to Travis’ call for reinforcements. On March 6, the Mexicans stormed the Alamo and Travis, Bowie, and about 190 of their comrades were killed. The Texans made Santa Ana pay for his victory, though, having claimed at least 600 of his men during the attack. Although Travis’ defense of the Alamo was a miserable failure militarily, symbolically it was a tremendous success. “Remember the Alamo” quickly became the rallying cry for the Texas revolution. By April, Travis’ countrymen had beaten the Mexicans and won their independence. Travis’ daring defiance of the overwhelmingly superior Mexican forces has since become the stuff of myth, and a facsimile of his famous call for help is on permanent display at the Texas State Library in Austin.
1838Thomas Benton Smith, Brig. General (Confederate Army), was born in Mechanicsville, Tennessee. He was wounded at Stone’s River/Murfreesboro and again at Chickamauga. He was captured at the Battle of Nashville (1864) where he was beaten over the head with a sword by Col. William Linn McMillen of the 95th Ohio Infantry. His brain was exposed and it was believed he would die. He recovered partially and spent the last 47 years of his life in the State Asylum in Nashville, Tennessee, where he died on May 21, 1923. He’s buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.
1841 – John Phillip Holland, inventor of the modern submarine, is born to John and Mary Scanlon Holland in Liscannor, Co. Clare, Ireland. His mother was an Irish speaker, so John and his brothers learned English only after they were old enough to attend school. The Potato Famine made Co. Clare was a rough place to be living during the 1840s but the Holland family was secure in their home because their father was a Coast Guard provided with a government house as part of his earnings for patrolling the Irish coast on horseback. Still, they did not escape the tragedy as John’s younger brother Robert died of Cholera in 1847. His father also died in the 1840s and his mother moved with her three remaining sons to Limerick in 1853. John began his education in the National School system and likely continued it at the Christian Brothers School. The Christian Brothers encouraged his interest in science and inventions, particularly Brother Dominic Burke who encouraged him in his early research. He eventually joined the Christian Brothers and became a teacher in their schools, continuing to work on his submarine designs. Ill health forced him to resign from the order in 1873. He left Ireland, joining his mother and brothers in Boston, Massachusetts. Before long, John left his family to teach at St. John’s school in Paterson, New Jersey. Once in New Jersey, Holland began work on a submarine design and entered a Navy submarine design contest. His brother Michael was active in the Fenian Brotherhood and introduced the inventor to the revolutionary group. The Fenians’ goal was to develop a small submarine that could be sealifted on a large merchant ship to an area near an unsuspecting British warship. The submarine would then be released from the bottom of the merchant vessel, attack the warship and return to its base. The Fenians believed in Holland enough that they funded his research and development expenses at a level that allowed him to resign from his teaching post. The result of his efforts was the Fenian Ram that was launched in 1881. Holland and the Fenians had several disagreements and they parted company, leaving Holland to seek other sources of funding for his work. Holland’s next boat (Holland IV) was built during his tenure at the Zalinski Pneumatic Gun Company. Then, in 1888, Holland entered and won a U.S. Navy submarine design competition. His design wasn’t funded but he entered, and won, another competition in 1890. He formed the Holland Motor Torpedo Boat Company and set out to build the Plunger for the U.S. Navy. He and the Navy’s engineers disagreed over the design and sadly the project was a failure. Turning again to private funding for his ventures, Holland built another ship which would be known as Holland VI. Facing financial ruin, he sold his company to the Electric Boat Company (now part of General Dynamics) and eventually the Navy bought the Holland VI for $150,000, about half of its design cost. In the process, however, Holland forfeited rights to most of his patents and when he and the Electric Boat Company had a falling out he was limited in his efforts to continue his work. The Navy renamed his boat the USS Holland. Other countries, including Great Britain, Japan and the Netherlands, purchased Holland’s submarine designs. Holland died in August 1914, just months before a German submarine sank a British vessel at the start of World War I. He died a poor man, with recognition of his contributions coming years after his death.
1863Arizona was organized as a territory. The Arizona Territory was an organized territory of the United States that existed until 1912, when the state of Arizona was admitted to the US. The territory was created after numerous debates about splitting the New Mexico Territory. During the American Civil War, the United States and the Confederate States had different motives for dividing the New Mexico Territory. Each claimed a territory named Arizona that was a portion of the former New Mexico Territory. The two Arizona territories played a significant role in the western campaign of the Civil War.
1863 – Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest made a raid on Brentwood, Tennessee.
1863C.S.S. William H. Webb and Queen of the West, with C.S.S. Beatty in company, engaged U.S.S. Indianola, Lieutenant Commander G. Brown, below Wartenton, Mississippi. The Confederate squadron, under Major Joseph L. Brent, CSA, had reached Grand Gulf just 4 hours behind the Northern vessel which was returning upstream to communicate with Rear Admiral Porter above Vicksburg. Knowing his speed was considerably greater than that of Indianola, Brent determined to attempt overtaking the ironclad and attacking her that night Shortly before 10 pm. the Confederate vessels were seen from Indianola and Brown “immediately cleared for action. . . Queen of the West opened the action, attempting to ram the Indianola; she knifed into the coal barge lashed to the ship’s port side and cut it in two but did little damage to Indianola. Webb dashed up and rammed Indianola at full speed. The impact swung Indianola around; Queen of the West again struck only a glancing blow. Queen of the West maneuvered into a position to ram, this time astern, and succeeded in shattering the framework of the starboard wheelhouse and loosening iron plating. At this time Webb completed circling upstream in order to gain momentum and rammed Indianola, crushing the starboard wheel, disabling the starboard rudder, and starting a number of leaks.Being in what Brown termed “an almost powerless condition,” Indianola was allowed to fill with water to assure her sinking, run on to the west bank of the river and surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Frederick B. Brand of C.S.S. Beatty, which had been “hovering round to enter the fight when an opportunity offered.
1863A deserter from Confederate receiving ship Selma gave the following information about submarine experiments and operations being conducted by Horace L. Hunley, James R. McClintock, B. A. Whitney, and others, at Mobile, where the work was transferred following the fall of New Orleans to Rear Admiral Farragut: ”On or about the 14th an infernal machine, consisting of a submarine boat propelled by a screw which is turned by hind, capable of holding five persons. and having a torpedo which was to be attached to the bottom of the vessel, left Fort Morgan at 8 p.m. in charge of a Frenchman who invented it. The invention was to come up at Sand Island, get the bearing and distance of the neatest vessel.” He added that this failed but that other attempts would be made. This submarine went down in rough weather off Fort Morgan, but no lives were lost. Hunley and his colleagues built another in the machine shop of Park and Lyons, Mobile; this was to be the celebrated H. P. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel in combat.
1864Union General George Thomas attacks Joseph Johnston’s Confederates near Dalton, Georgia, as the Yankees probe Johnston’s defenses in search of a weakness. Thomas found the position too strong and he ceased the offensive the next day, but the Yankees learned a lesson they would apply during the Atlanta campaign that summer. General Ulysses S. Grant, the overall commander of Union troops in the west, drove the Confederates out of Tennessee at the Battle of Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain in November 1863. The Army of Tennessee, then commanded by General Braxton Bragg, fell back to northern Georgia, where Bragg was replaced by Johnston. The defensive-minded Johnston arranged his force along the imposing Rocky Face Ridge near Dalton. Grant sent part of his army under General William T. Sherman to Mississippi for a campaign against Meridian, a major supply center. This forced Johnston to send part of his army to reinforce Leonidas Polk, who was defending Meridian against Sherman. When Grant became aware of this transfer, he sent Thomas to probe Johnston’s defenses in hopes of finding a weak spot among the depleted Confederates. The Yankees enjoyed initial success but soon found that Johnston’s troops were strong. The reinforcements sent towards Mississippi were no longer needed after Polk abandoned Meridian, so they returned to Johnston’s army. Now, Thomas was outnumbered and was forced to retreat after February 25. Casualties were light. Thomas suffered just fewer than 300 men killed, wounded, or captured, while Johnston lost 140. The Union generals did learn a valuable lesson, though-a direct attack against Rocky Face Ridge was foolish. Three months later, Sherman, in command after Grant was promoted to commander of all forces, sent part of his army further south to another gap that was undefended by the Confederates. The intelligence garnered from the Battle of Dalton helped pave the way for a Union victory that summer.
1865Captain Henry S. Stellwagen in the U.S.S. Pawnee sent Ensign Allen K. Noyes with the U.S.S. Catalpa and Mingoe up the Peedee River to accept the surrender of the evacuated city of Georgetown. Noyes led a small party ashore and received the surrender of the city from civil authorities while a group of his seamen climbed to the city hall dome and ran up the Stars and Stripes. This action was presently challenged by a group of Confederate horsemen. More sailors were landed. A skirmish ensued in which the bluejackets drove off the mounted guerrillas. Subsequently, the city was garrisoned by five companies of Marines who were in turn relieved by the soldiers on 1 March.
1868The U.S. House of Representatives votes 11 articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson, nine of which cite Johnson’s removal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. The House vote made President Johnson the first president to be impeached in U.S. history. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Andrew Johnson, a senator from Tennessee, was the only U.S. senator from a seceding state who remained loyal to the Union. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee, and in 1864 he was elected vice president of the United States. Sworn in as president after Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, President Johnson enacted a lenient Reconstruction policy for the defeated South, including almost total amnesty to ex-Confederates, a program of rapid restoration of U.S.-state status for the seceded states, and the approval of new, local Southern governments, which were able to legislate “Black Codes” that preserved the system of slavery in all but its name. The Republican-dominated Congress greatly opposed Johnson’s Reconstruction program and in March 1867 passed the Tenure of Office Act over the president’s veto. The bill prohibited the president from removing officials confirmed by the Senate without senatorial approval and was designed to shield members of Johnson’s Cabinet like Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who had been a leading Republican radical in the Lincoln administration. In the fall of 1867, President Johnson attempted to test the constitutionality of the act by replacing Stanton with General Ulysses S. Grant. However, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rule on the case, and Grant turned the office back to Stanton after the Senate passed a measure in protest of the dismissal. On February 21, 1868, Johnson decided to rid himself of Stanton once and for all and appointed General Lorenzo Thomas, an individual far less favorable to the Congress than Grant, as secretary of war. Stanton refused to yield, barricading himself in his office, and the House of Representatives, which had already discussed impeachment after Johnson’s first dismissal of Stanton, initiated formal impeachment proceedings against the president. On February 24, Johnson was impeached, and on March 13 his impeachment trial began in the Senate under the direction of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. The trial ended on May 26 with Johnson’s opponents narrowly failing to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary to convict him.
1885Chester Nimitz is born. During World War II, he was in charge of assembling the Pacific force of two million men and 1,000 ships that drove the Japanese back to their homeland. When Admiral Nimitz took over the Pacific Fleet on Dec. 31, 1941, many of its ships lay at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, sunk by the Japanese in the surprise attack of Dec. 7 on Hawaii. Without haste–Admiral Nimitz always proceeded with care–he directed the deployment of such carriers and cruises as were left, to hold the line until that moment perhaps two years away, when new battleships could be ready. Eight months after announcing on New Year’s Day that 1945 would be a sad year for the Japanese, Admiral Nimitz sat at a table on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri on Sept. 2 to sign the Japanese capitulation. Chester William Nimitz was born in a gingerbread hotel in Fredericksburg, Tex., built by his grandfather, Charles Nimitz, a retired sea captain. The captain had equipped his hotel with a ship’s bridge and a pilot house from which he could scan the hills and prairies. Young Chester’s father died five months before he was born. In his young years, while staying on occasions with his grandfather, the future admiral heard many tall tales about the sea. But he dreamed of being a soldier, not a sailor, and while in high school tried for an appointment to West Point. When none was available he took a competitive examination for Annapolis, and was accepted when he was only 15 years old. He left high school to enter the Naval Academy and was not awarded his high school diploma until many years later, when he had retired from active Navy duty. He probably was the only person ever to graduate from high school in the uniform of a fleet admiral. At the Naval Academy, Chester Nimitz excelled in mathematics and in physical exercise. After the two years’ sea duty required by law, he became an ensign. He said later that he was not overly enthusiastic at his first experience with the sea. “I got frightfully seasick, and must confess to some chilling of enthusiasm for the sea,” he said. Ensign Nimitz was a handsome, self-assured young officer, who saw to it that he knew the technical phases of his profession. In his early days in the Navy he commanded an assortment of obsolete minor vessels, and was much pleased when he received command of the old destroyer Stephen Decatur. During a storm, the engineer of the destroyer telephoned from the engine room that the vessel was taking on water rapidly and soon would sink. Lieutenant Nimitz replied soothingly: “Just look on page 84 of ‘Barton’s Engineering Manual.’ It will tell you what to do.” The vessel was saved. In 1912, Lieutenant Nimitz was awarded the Navy’s Silver Life Saving Medal for saving a shipmate from drowning. He wore this medal throughout the remainder of his career, along with the five Distinguished Service Medal awards for wartime exploits. In 1913, Lieutenant Nimitz wrote a friend: “On April 9, I had the good sense to marry Catherine Vance Freeman of Wollaston, Mass.” Miss Freeman was the daughter of a shipping broker. By way of a honeymoon, the young officer was assigned to study diesel engines in Germany and Belgium for a year. On his return to the United States, he built the Navy’s first diesel engine at the New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn. While he was demonstrating the engine his left hand was caught in the mechanism, and one of his fingers was severed. During World War I, Lieutenant Commander Nimitz served as Chief of Staff to Rear Admiral Samuel S. Robinson, commander of the submarine division of the Atlantic Fleet. He saw no battle action. Submarines at that time, he said, were still regarded “as a cross between a Jules Verne fantasy and a whale.” From 1926 to 1929, he was assigned to the University of California to establish the first Naval Reserve Officers’ training unit. The between-wars period included service on battleships and as a cruiser commander as well as study at various advanced naval schools. By 1938 he was a rear admiral. In 1940, Admiral Nimitz’s name was one of two submitted for the post of Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet. The other was that of Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, who got the assignment. Admiral Nimitz was in his home in Washington listening to a symphony on the radio when he heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. He picked up his hat and went down to the office of the Chief of Naval Operations for orders. A few days later, Admiral Kimmel was relieved and Admiral Nimitz was on his way to Pearl Harbor. Admiral Nimitz made the train trip to the West Coast in civilian clothes under an assumed name. Mrs. Nimitz missed her sewing bag, and it was not until many months later that she learned that her husband had used it to carry secret documents dealing with the extent of damage to the fleet in the Pearl Harbor attack. The 65 million square miles of the Pacific became well known to Admiral Nimitz as he contemplated the operations charts that were to carry the story of defeat and victory in the next few years. While waiting for United States yards to turn out the ships he needed, Admiral Nimitz built up his combat teams. These were commanded by Admirals William F. Halsey, Mare A. Mitschner, Richmond K. Turner, Raymond A. Spruance, and Thomas C. Kincaid. He flew to Australia to call on General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, to avoid any protocol friction. When he took over command of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Nimitz was quick to see that a great weakness lay in the lack of forward repair stations and maintenance squadrons. When those squadrons came into being at his insistence, the Navy was prepared to take the fight to the Japanese. During the first half of 1944, Admiral Nimitz employed the main fighting strength of the Pacific Navy in the central Pacific. The bloody victory at Tarawa was followed by the “great turkey shoot” in the Marianas, where United States aviators downed 402 out of 545 Japanese planes sighted. At his headquarters at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Nimitz set an example to his staff by keeping in the peak of physical condition. He swam and took long walks, his pet schnauzer dog trotting along with him. Sometimes at night, he took a drink of bourbon whisky to relax. While waiting for news of a Navy engagement, he would go to the firing range and grimly fire his pistol, or stand in his kitchen and make jelly from prickly pears he grew outside his quarters. Subordinates dutifully tasted the jelly, which he made by a recipe from his boyhood days. In November, 1945, with the war over, Admiral Nimitz became one of the senior naval officers elevated to the newly created rank of Admiral of the Fleet, a rank equivalent to that of General of the Army, or Field Marshal in the service of other countries. After the war, Admiral Nimitz continued to be honored for his brilliant wartime service. He received major decorations from 11 foreign countries, including the British Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. Fifteen universities and colleges awarded him honorary degrees. In 1949, Admiral Nimitz was named by the United Nations secretariat to supervise a proposed plebiscite to determine whether Kashmir should become part of India or should be linked to Pakistan. International complications kept the plebiscite commission from functioning. President Harry S. Truman appointed Admiral Nimitz to head a committee on Internal Security and Individual Rights. Because of opposition in Congress the committee never functioned.
1895Cuban insurgents are supplied with money by US sugar planters in a move designed both to assist overthrow Spanish domination of Cuba and to prevent the insurrectos from burning the sugar plantaions. When the Cubans attack Spanish forces, General Weyler is sent from Spaint o quell the revolt. Rounding up the people he squashes them into reconcentrado camps so that he can more easily go after the guerrillas. Many die in the camps. Sympathy for the Cubans is roused in the US and later fanned by the “yellow journalism” of Hearst and Pulitzer.
1903The United States signed its first lease agreement acquiring naval stations at Guantanamo Bay and Bahia Honda in Cuba. In June the payment will be agreed upon, Pres.Roosevelt leased the site for $2,000 in gold a year. The lease was negotiated to implement an act of Congress of the United States approved 2 March 1901. The agreement had been signed by Cuban President Estrada Plama on 19 February. Bahia Honda would be abandoned after 9 years.
1914Civil War soldier Joshua Chamberlain dies. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was born Sept. 8, 1828, in Brewer, Maine, the eldest of five children. Facing the much larger city of Bangor across the Penobscot River, Brewer was in Chamberlain’s youth a small farming and ship-building community. Lawrence — as his family called him — worked on his father’s farm and, like many other promising young men of the time, had some experience of teaching school. Entering Bowdoin College in Brunswick in 1848, Chamberlain studied the traditional classical curriculum and showed particular skill at languages. He joined a “secret society,” Alpha Delta Phi, and appears to have been a pious, serious-minded youth — he recalled, years later, visiting the Stowe family on Federal Street in 1851 and hearing Harriet Beecher Stowe read aloud from chapters she had just completed of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. At First Parish Church, he met Fannie Adams, the adopted daughter of the minister; they were to marry in 1855, after a long courtship. But first Chamberlain took his Bowdoin A. B. degree, in the Class of 1852, and returned north for three more years of study at Bangor Theological Seminary. Turning down the opportunity to become a minister or missionary, he accepted a position at Bowdoin teaching rhetoric (which combined elements of what we would now call speech with English literature and persuasive writing) and, later, modern languages (i.e., German and French). A good scholar, he was also an orthodox Congregationalist — an important factor to his Bowdoin colleagues, for the College was embroiled in the denominational quarrels of the day. Chamberlain knew little of soldiering — despite a short time as a boy at a military school at Ellsworth — but he was keenly aware that his father had commanded troops in the bloodless Aroostook War of 1839 with Canada, his grandfather had been locally prominent in the War of 1812, and his great-grandfathers had participated in the Revolution. When the sectional crisis led to civil war in 1861, Chamberlain felt a strong urge to fight to save the union. (Although sympathetic to the plight of the slaves, he is not known to have been an abolitionist and showed little interest, after the war, in the cause of the freedmen.) But the college was reluctant to lose his services. Offered a year’s travel with pay in Europe in 1862 to study languages, Chamberlain instead volunteered his military services to Maine’s governor. He was soon made lieutenant colonel of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. From Antietam in 1862 to the triumphal grand review of the armies in May of 1865, Chamberlain saw much of the war in the East, including 24 battles and numerous skirmishes. He was wounded six times — once, almost fatally — and had six horses shot from under him. He is best remembered for two great events: the action at Little Round Top, on the second day of Gettysburg (2 July 1863), when then-Colonel Chamberlain and the 20th Maine held the extreme left flank of the Union line against a fierce rebel attack, and the surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, when Grant chose Chamberlain to receive the formal surrender of weapons and colors (12 April 1865). Always a chivalrous man, Chamberlain had his men salute the defeated Confederates as they marched by, evidence of his admiration of their valor and of Grant’s wish to encourage the rebel armies still in the field to accept the peace. Brevet Major General Chamberlain returned briefly to his academic duties at Bowdoin, but was soon elected as a popular war hero to four terms as governor of Maine — helping establish a century of domination of Maine politics by the Republican Party. Chamberlain was never a member of the inner circle of the party and was distrusted by its leading politicians, but in his years as chief executive he helped establish the new agricultural and technical college at Orono (eventually to grow into the University of Maine), tried to attract investment into a state whose economy was beginning to decline, and persuaded Scandinavian immigrants to take up farming at New Sweden and elsewhere in Maine. He continued to live in Brunswick, taking the train to Augusta as state business required. Rather than go into finance or railroads like so many young Civil War generals, former Governor Chamberlain returned to Bowdoin; he was to spend far more of his life as an educator than as a soldier. In 1871, he was persuaded to accept the presidency of the college at a low point in its fortunes. Remembering the engineering skills of West Point-trained officers and trying to adjust to a new age, Chamberlain reshaped the curriculum to include modern scientific and engineering subjects — a short-lived experiment that produced at least one very famous alumnus, the polar explorer Admiral Robert Peary, Class of 1877. Chamberlain’s wartime experience had made him accustomed to giving orders and seeing them obeyed. This inflexibilty in his character was less suited to civilian life, however, and led to the biggest defeat of his career — at the hands of his students. Part of Chamberlain’s reforms had included regular military drill in uniform. At first the students were intrigued; soon, they were openly hostile to what they saw as an attempt to change “old Bowdoin” into a military school. Chamberlain won the “Drill Rebellion of 1874” in the short run — he threatened to expel the students unless they agreed to submit — but he lost the support of the college’s Governing Boards, and drill was soon eliminated. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, he continued to write, teach, lecture, and participate actively in veterans’ groups. He represented the United States at the Paris Exposition of 1878 and wrote a long report on education in France. His reputation for coolness and courage was confirmed in 1880 when, as commander of the militia, he was called to keep order in Augusta amid an angrily disputed state election. Despite several operations, Chamberlain had never fully recovered from the wound in his groin he had received in 1864 at Petersburg (where a minie ball had pierced both hipbones), and in 1883 ill health led to his resignation as Bowdoin’s president. In 1893 Congress finally gave him the Medal of Honor for gallantry at Gettysburg. Chamberlain spent much of the final three decades of his life in business ventures (including speculation in Florida real estate) and in writing accounts of his battles. The Civil War to him was not the grim business of Sherman’s memoirs or the battlefield photographs, but an idealized struggle where “manhood” — by which he seemed to mean courage, steadfastness, and compassion — was put to the test and where an individual’s fate was entirely in the hands of Providence. In more private moments, he enjoyed rusticating and sailing at his summer retreat, Domhegan, on Simpson’s Point. In 1905 Fannie Chamberlain died. Of their five children, two had survived to adulthood. In 1900 Chamberlain was appointed Surveyor of the Port of Portland, where he lived until his death in 1914 at age 85.
1917During World War I, British authorities give Walter H. Page, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, a copy of the “Zimmermann Note,” a coded message from Arthur Zimmermann, the German foreign secretary, to Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to Mexico. In the telegram, intercepted and deciphered by British intelligence in late January, 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. After receiving the telegram, Page promptly sent a copy to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who in early March allowed the U.S. State Department to publish the note. The press initially treated the telegram as a hoax, but Arthur Zimmermann himself confirmed its authenticity. The Zimmermann Note helped turn U.S. public opinion, already severely strained by repeated German attacks on U.S. ships, firmly against Germany. On April 2, President Wilson, who had initially sought a peaceful resolution to end World War I, urged the immediate U.S. entrance into the war. Four days later, Congress formally declared war against Germany.
1920 – A fledgling German political party held its first meeting of importance at Hofbrauhaus in Munich; it became known as the Nazi Party, and its chief spokesman was Adolf Hitler.
1933 – League of Nations told the Japanese to pull out of Manchuria.
1942The Battle of Los Angeles, also known as The Great Los Angeles Air Raid, is the name given by contemporary sources to the rumored enemy attack and subsequent anti-aircraft artillery barrage which took place from late 24 February to early 25 February 1942 over Los Angeles, California. The incident occurred less than three months after the United States entered World War II as a result of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor, and one day after the bombardment of Ellwood on 23 February. Initially, the target of the aerial barrage was thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but speaking at a press conference shortly afterward, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox called the incident a “false alarm.” Newspapers of the time published a number of reports and speculations of a cover-up. Some modern-day UFOlogists have suggested the targets were extraterrestrial spacecraft. When documenting the incident in 1983, the U.S. Office of Air Force History attributed the event to a case of “war nerves” likely triggered by a lost weather balloon and exacerbated by stray flares and shell bursts from adjoining batteries.
1942 – The Voice of America went on the air for the first time with broadcasts in German. The US State Dept. made William Winter (d.1999) its first Voice of America three months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
1942 – Admiral Halsey on board the USS Enterprise leads task force in a successful attack on Wake Island.
1942 – Some 1,600 Pittsburg, Ca., residents of Italian descent were evacuated. Nationwide some 600,000 of 5 million Italians were undocumented and deemed “enemy aliens” until Oct 12.
1944Maj. Gen. Frank Merrill’s guerrilla force, nicknamed “Merrill’s Marauders,” begin a campaign in northern Burma. In August 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed to create an American ground unit whose sole purpose would be to engage in a “long-range penetration mission” in Japanese-occupied Burma. This mission would consist of cutting Japanese communications and supply lines and otherwise throwing the enemy’s positions into chaos. It was hoped that this commando force could thus prepare the way for Gen. Joseph Stillwell’s Chinese American Force to reopen the Burma Road, which was closed in April 1942 by the Japanese invaders, and once again allow supplies and war material into China through this route. Within the military, a type of “Help Wanted” ad was put up with the president’s authority, an appeal for applicants to participate in a “dangerous and hazardous mission.” About 3,000 soldiers volunteered from stateside units to create what was officially called the 5307th Composite Unit, code named “Galahad.” It would go into history as Merrill’s Marauders, after Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill, their commander. Brigadier General Merrill trained his men in the art of guerrilla warfare in the jungles of India, for secrecy’s sake. The commando force was formed into six combat units–Red, White, Blue, Green, Orange, and Khaki–with 400 men in each (the remaining 600 men or so were part of a rear-echelon headquarters that remained in India to coordinate the air-drops of equipment to the men in the field). The Marauders’ mission began with a 1,000-mile walk through dense jungle, without artillery support, into Burma. On February 24, 1944, they began their Burmese campaign, which, when done, consisted of five major and 30 minor engagements with a far more numerous Japanese enemy. They had to carry their supplies on their backs and on pack mules, and were resupplied only with airdrops in the middle of the jungle. Merrill’s Marauders succeeded in maneuvering behind Japanese forces to cause the disruptions necessary to throw the enemy into confusion. They were so successful, the Marauders managed even to capture the Myitkyina Airfield in northern Burma. When their mission was completed, all surviving Merrill’s Marauders had to be evacuated to hospitals to be treated for everything from exhaustion and various tropical diseases to malnutrition or A.O.E. (“Accumulation of Everything”). They were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation in July 1944, which was re-designated the Presidential Unit Citation in 1966. Every member of the commando force also received the Bronze Star, a very rare distinction for an entire unit. Merrill remained in the Far East and was made an aide to General Stillwell.
1944Attacks by the US 5th Army and the British 8th Army continue. The Canadian 1st Corps captures Pontecorvo and elements reach the Melfa River and establish a bridgehead. The US 2nd Corps takes Terracina against heavy opposition from the German 29th Panzergrenadier Division. At Anzio forces of US 6th Corps reach Route 7 near Latina, to the south of German-held Cisterna. Meanwhile, north of Rome, RAF Spitfires shoot down 8 German Fw190 fighter bombers.
1945 – Julich is captured by units of the US 19th Corps as the US 9th Army begins to extend its advance over the Roer River. To the south, the US 1st and 3rd Armies also push forward.
1945 – On Iwo Jima, forces of US 5th Amphibious Corps continue to advance northward and capture part of the island’s second airfield.
1945 – On Luzon, American forces eliminate desperate Japanese resistance in the Intramuros — the old walled quarter of Manila.
1947 – Franz von Papen was sentenced to eight years in a labor camp for war crimes. Pompous scion of an old aristocratic family, he became chancellor of Germany in 1932.
1949 – A V-2 WAC-Corporal was the 1st rocket to outer space. It was fired at White Sands, NM, and reached 400 km.
1951 – Army Major General Bryant E. Moore, commander of IX Corps, died suddenly of a heart attack. Major General O. P. Smith assumed command, becoming the only Marine to command a major Army unit during the Korean War.
1951 – The 315th Air Division dropped a record 333 tons of cargo to front-line troops using 67 C-119 and two C-46 aircraft.
1952 – The U.S. 40th Infantry Division (CAARNG) launched the largest tank raid since the beginning of the Korean War. It was the largest deployment of armor without infantry support in a single engagement during the war.
1955 – Ike Eisenhower met with newspaper publisher Roy Howard and expressed his resistance under pressure to commit American troops to Vietnam. The conversation was recorded on a dictabelt machine that Eisenhower had secretly installed in the president’s office.
1959 – Khrushchev rejected the Western plan for the Big Four meeting on Germany.
1968The Tet Offensive ends as U.S. and South Vietnamese troops recapture the ancient capital of Hue from communist forces. Although scattered fighting continued across South Vietnam for another week, the battle for Hue was the last major engagement of the offensive, which saw communist attacks on all of South Vietnam’s major cities. In the aftermath of Tet, public opinion in the United States decisively turned against the Vietnam War. As 1968 began–the third year of U.S. ground-troop fighting in Vietnam–U.S. military leadership was still confident that a favorable peace agreement would soon be forced on the North Vietnamese and their allies in South Vietnam, the Viet Cong. Despite growing calls at home for an immediate U.S. withdrawal, President Lyndon Johnson’s administration planned to keep the pressure on the communists through increased bombing and other attrition strategies. General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. operations in Vietnam, claimed to see clearly “the light at the end of the tunnel,” and Johnson hoped that soon the shell-shocked communists would stumble out of the jungle to the bargaining table. However, on January 30, 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese launched their massive Tet Offensive all across South Vietnam. It was the first day of Tet–Vietnam’s lunar new year and most important holiday–and many South Vietnamese soldiers, expecting an unofficial truce, had gone home. The Viet Cong were known for guerrilla tactics and had never launched an offensive on this scale; consequently, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces were caught completely by surprise. In the first day of the offensive, tens of thousands of Viet Cong soldiers, supported by North Vietnamese forces, overran the five largest cities of South Vietnam, scores of smaller cities and towns, and a number of U.S. and South Vietnamese bases. The Viet Cong struck at Saigon–South Vietnam’s capital–and even attacked, and for several hours held, the U.S. embassy there. The action was caught by U.S. television news crews, which also recorded the brutal impromptu street execution of a Viet Cong rebel by a South Vietnamese military official. As the U.S. and South Vietnamese fought to regain control of Saigon, the cities of Hue, Dalat, Kontum, and Quangtri fell to the communists. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces recaptured most of these cities within a few days, but Hue was fiercely contested by the communist soldiers occupying it. After 26 days of costly house-to-house fighting, the South Vietnamese flag was raised again above Hue on February 24, and the Tet Offensive came to an end. During the communist occupation of Hue, numerous South Vietnamese government officials and civilians were massacred, and many civilians died in U.S. bombing attacks that preceded the liberation of the city. In many respects, the Tet Offensive was a military disaster for the communists: They suffered 10 times more casualties than their enemy and failed to control any of the areas captured in the opening days of the offensive. They had hoped that the offensive would ignite a popular uprising against South Vietnam’s government and the presence of U.S. troops. This did not occur. In addition, the Viet Cong, which had come out into the open for the first time in the war, were all but wiped out. However, because the Tet Offensive crushed U.S. hopes for an imminent end to the conflict, it dealt a fatal blow to the U.S. military mission in Vietnam. In Tet’s aftermath, President Johnson came under fire on all sides for his Vietnam policy. General Westmoreland requested 200,000 more troops to overwhelm the communists, and a national uproar ensued after this request was disclosed, forcing Johnson to recall Westmoreland to Washington. On March 31, Johnson announced that the United States would begin de-escalation in Vietnam, halt the bombing of North Vietnam, and seek a peace agreement to end the conflict. In the same speech, he also announced that he would not seek reelection to the presidency, citing what he perceived to be his responsibility in creating the national division over Vietnam.
1968 – Task Force Clearwater established in I Corps.
1972 – Hanoi negotiators walked out of the peace talks in Paris to protest U.S. air raids on North Vietnam.
1977 – President Carter announced US foreign aid would be conditional on human rights.
1982President Ronald Reagan announces a new program of economic and military assistance to nations of the Caribbean designed to “prevent the overthrow of the governments in the region” by the “brutal and totalitarian” forces of communism. The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) was part of the Reagan administration’s effort to curb what it perceived to be the dangerous rise in communist activity in Central America and the Caribbean. In the course of an address to the Organization of American States, Reagan argued that a massive new aid program to the Caribbean region was vitally necessary. “If we do not act promptly and decisively in defense of freedom, new Cubas will arise from the ruins of today’s conflicts. We will face more totalitarian regimes tied militarily to the Soviet Union, more regimes exporting subversion, more regimes so incompetent yet so totalitarian that their citizens’ only hope becomes that of one day migrating to other American nations as in recent years they have come to the United States.” Specifically, the President called for increases of $350 million in economic aid and $60 million in military assistance to the Caribbean. He also pledged U.S. assistance in increasing Caribbean trade with the United States and encouraging private investment in the Caribbean. Reagan’s proposal was in response to what he and his advisors believed to be an increasing Soviet presence in the Caribbean and Central America. In Nicaragua, the leftist Sandinista regime had come to power in 1979. El Salvador was involved in a bloody and brutal conflict between government forces supported by the United States and leftist rebels. And on the island nation of Grenada, the government of Maurice Bishop was establishing close ties to Cuba and Fidel Castro. The CBI, however, had little impact on improving the economic situation of the nations it was trying to aid. Eventually the entire concept was allowed to simply fade away, and the Reagan administration chose to employ more forceful anti-communist measures in the region. These included support of the anti-Sandinista Contras, massive military aid to the Salvadoran government, and, in 1983, the invasion of Grenada to remove its leftist government.
1983 – A congressional commission released a report condemning the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as a “grave injustice.”
1984 – Last of U.S. Marines are withdrawn form Lebanon.
1987 – Coast Guard attorney LCDR Robert W. Bruce, Jr., became the first member of the armed forces to argue a case before the Supreme Court in uniform when he represented the Coast Guard in Solorio vs. United States on 24 February 1987.
1989 – A state funeral was held in Japan for Emperor Hirohito, who died the month before at age 87.
1991After six weeks of intensive bombing against Iraq and its armed forces, U.S.-led coalition forces launch a ground invasion of Kuwait and Iraq. On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, its tiny oil-rich neighbor, and within hours had occupied most strategic positions in the country. One week later, Operation Shield, the American defense of Saudi Arabia, began as U.S. forces massed in the Persian Gulf. Three months later, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq if it failed to withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991. At 4:30 p.m. EST on January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm, a massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, began as the first fighter aircraft were launched from Saudi Arabia and off U.S. and British aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. All evening, aircraft from the U.S.-led military coalition pounded targets in and around Baghdad as the world watched the events transpire in television footage transmitted live via satellite from Baghdad and elsewhere. Operation Desert Storm was conducted by an international coalition under the command of U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf and featured forces from 32 nations, including Britain, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. During the next six weeks, the allied force engaged in a massive air war against Iraq’s military and civil infrastructure, encountering little effective resistance from the Iraqi air force. Iraqi ground forces were also helpless during this stage of the war, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s only significant retaliatory measure was the launching of SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saddam hoped that the missile attacks would provoke Israel, and thus other Arab nations, to enter the conflict; however, at the request of the United States, Israel remained out of the war. On February 24, a massive coalition ground offensive began, and Iraq’s outdated and poorly supplied armed forces were rapidly overwhelmed. By the end of the day, the Iraqi army had effectively folded, 10,000 of its troops were held as prisoners, and a U.S. air base had been established deep inside Iraq. After less than four days, Kuwait was liberated, and a majority of Iraq’s armed forces had either been destroyed or had surrendered or retreated to Iraq. On February 28, U.S. President George Bush declared a cease-fire, and Iraq pledged to honor future coalition and U.N. peace terms. One hundred and twenty-five American soldiers were killed in the Persian Gulf War, with another 21 regarded as missing in action.
1993 – Kismaayo, Somalia Ablaze. 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry engages Somali militias in dozens of firefights: at least 23 Somalis are killed. No US casualties.
1996 – Cuban war planes shot down two unarmed private planes flown by a refugee group in Florida. Cuba claimed the planes violated Cuban airspace. Four men were killed and 3 were US citizens. In 2001 Gerardo Hernandez was convicted of conspiracy in the deaths of the 4 aviators.
2001 – The US Navy and Coast Guard captured 10 men and 8.8 tons of cocaine on a Belize-flagged fishing boat 250 miles west of Acapulco.
2002 – The U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan says the U.S. would be “unwise” to launch an attack aimed at removing Saddam Hussein.
2003The US, Britain and Spain propose a UN resolution declaring that Iraq “has failed to take the final opportunity” to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction. Australian Prime Minister John Howard backs the resolution, saying that if it was not carried then the credibility of the Security Council would be weakened. Germany, France and Russia present a rival initiative saying that “the military option should be the last resort”.
2003 – Dan Rather interviewed Saddam Hussein via satellite and Hussein proposed a live debate with Pres. Bush. Hussein said he would rather die than leave his country and that he would not destroy its wealth by setting fire to its oil wells in the event of a U.S.-led invasion.
2003 – Turkey’s Cabinet agrees to let US troops use Turkish bases to launch an attack on Iraq in exchange for billions of dollars in US aid. The measure is sent to parliament for approval.
2004 – The 1st charges were filed against 2 detainees in Guantanamo.
2008 – The National Assembly of People’s Power unanimously selects Raúl Castro to succeed his brother Fidel as President of Cuba.
2011Final Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery (OV-103). STS-133 (ISS assembly flight ULF5) was the 133rd mission in NASA’s Space Shuttle program; during the mission, Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station. It was Discovery’s 39th and final mission. The mission landed on 9 March 2011. The crew consisted of six American astronauts, all of whom had been on prior spaceflights, headed by Commander Steven Lindsey. The crew joined the long-duration six person crew of Expedition 26, who were already aboard the space station. About a month before lift-off, one of the original crew members, Tim Kopra, was injured in a bicycle accident. He was replaced by Stephen Bowen. The mission transported several items to the space station, including the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo, which was left permanently docked to one of the station’s ports. The shuttle also carried the third of four ExPRESS Logistics Carriers to the ISS, as well as a humanoid robot called Robonaut. The mission marked both the 133rd flight of the Space Shuttle program and the 39th and final flight of Discovery, with the orbiter completing a cumulative total of a whole year (365 days) in space.
2011 – A Saudi Arabian student, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, is arrested in Texas for allegedly planning a terrorist attack against the Dallas home of former President of the United States George W. Bush as a target as well as New York City and dams in California and Colorado.
2012 – 4 Al-Shabaab fighters, including a white Kenyan and a Moroccan jihadist named Abu Ibrahim, were killed in a drone strike in the K60 area (60 miles south of Mogadishu) of the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia.
2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two. Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently. Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired.
2015 – Eddie Ray Routh is found guilty of the 2013 murder of United States Navy SEALs’ sniper Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield in Texas. Routh is automatically sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
2015 – U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald admits that he lied when he claimed that he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Lumboy, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 24 February 1945. Entered service at: Richard City, Tenn. Born: 7 May 1914, Dunlap, Tenn. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945. Citation: He was a platoon guide in an assault on a camouflaged entrenchment defended by machineguns, rifles, and mortars. When his men were pinned down by 2 enemy machineguns, he voluntarily advanced under heavy fire to within 20 yards of 1 of the guns and attacked it with a hand grenade. The enemy, however, threw the grenade back at him before it could explode. Arming a second grenade, he held it for several seconds of the safe period and then hurled it into the enemy position, where it exploded instantaneously, destroying the gun and crew. He then moved toward the remaining gun, throwing grenades into enemy foxholes as he advanced. Inspired by his actions, 1 squad of his platoon joined him. After he had armed another grenade and was preparing to throw it into the second machinegun position, 6 enemy soldiers rushed at him. Knowing he could not dispose of the armed grenade without injuring his comrades, because of the intermingling in close combat of the men of his platoon and the enemy in the melee which ensued, he deliberately covered the grenade with his body and was severely wounded as it exploded. By his heroic actions, S/Sgt. Cooley not only silenced a machinegun and so inspired his fellow soldiers that they pressed the attack and destroyed the remaining enemy emplacements, but also, in complete disregard of his own safety, accepted certain injury and possible loss of life to avoid wounding his comrades.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, 3d Special Operations Squadron. place and date: Long Binh Army post, Republic of Vietnam, 24 February 1969. Entered service at: New Haven, Conn. Born: 1 November 1945, Hartford, Conn. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Levitow (then A1c.), U.S. Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while assigned as a loadmaster aboard an AC-47 aircraft flying a night mission in support of Long Binh Army post. Sgt. Levitow’s aircraft was struck by a hostile mortar round. The resulting explosion ripped a hole 2 feet in diameter through the wing and fragments made over 3,500 holes in the fuselage. All occupants of the cargo compartment were wounded and helplessly slammed against the floor and fuselage. The explosion tore an activated flare from the grasp of a crewmember who had been launching flares to provide illumination for Army ground troops engaged in combat. Sgt. Levitow, though stunned by the concussion of the blast and suffering from over 40 fragment wounds in the back and legs, staggered to his feet and turned to assist the man nearest to him who had been knocked down and was bleeding heavily. As he was moving his wounded comrade forward and away from the opened cargo compartment door, he saw the smoking flare ahead of him in the aisle. Realizing the danger involved and completely disregarding his own wounds, Sgt. Levitow started toward the burning flare. The aircraft was partially out of control and the flare was rolling wildly from side to side. Sgt. Levitow struggled forward despite the loss of blood from his many wounds and the partial loss of feeling in his right leg. Unable to grasp the rolling flare with his hands, he threw himself bodily upon the burning flare. Hugging the deadly device to his body, he dragged himself back to the rear of the aircraft and hurled the flare through the open cargo door. At that instant the flare separated and ignited in the air, but clear of the aircraft. Sgt. Levitow, by his selfless and heroic actions, saved the aircraft and its entire crew from certain death and destruction. Sgt. Levitow’s gallantry, his profound concern for his fellowmen, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Air Force, 21st. Tactical Air Support Squadron, Nha Trang AFB, RVN. Place and date: Near Dalat, Republic of Vietnam, 24 February 1967. Entered service at: Atlanta, Ga. Born: 26 July 1933, Cornelia, Ga. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. As a forward air controller Capt. Wilbanks was pilot of an unarmed, light aircraft flying visual reconnaissance ahead of a South Vietnam Army Ranger Battalion. His intensive search revealed a well-concealed and numerically superior hostile force poised to ambush the advancing rangers. The Viet Cong, realizing that Capt. Wilbanks’ discovery had compromised their position and ability to launch a surprise attack, immediately fired on the small aircraft with all available firepower. The enemy then began advancing against the exposed forward elements of the ranger force which were pinned down by devastating fire. Capt. Wilbanks recognized that close support aircraft could not arrive in time to enable the rangers to withstand the advancing enemy, onslaught. With full knowledge of the limitations of his unarmed, unarmored, light reconnaissance aircraft, and the great danger imposed by the enemy’s vast firepower, he unhesitatingly assumed a covering, close support role. Flying through a hail of withering fire at treetop level, Capt. Wilbanks passed directly over the advancing enemy and inflicted many casualties by firing his rifle out of the side window of his aircraft. Despite increasingly intense antiaircraft fire, Capt. Wilbanks continued to completely disregard his own safety and made repeated low passes over the enemy to divert their fire away from the rangers. His daring tactics successfully interrupted the enemy advance, allowing the rangers to withdraw to safety from their perilous position. During his final courageous attack to protect the withdrawing forces, Capt. Wilbanks was mortally wounded and his bullet-riddled aircraft crashed between the opposing forces. Capt. Wilbanks’ magnificent action saved numerous friendly personnel from certain injury or death. His unparalleled concern for his fellow man and his extraordinary heroism were in the highest traditions of the military service, and have reflected great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.

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