April 11

11 April

1713 – War of the Spanish Succession, known as Queen Anne’s War in North America, ends with the Treaty of Utrecht. The Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht, is a series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of the Spanish Succession, in the Dutch city of Utrecht in March and April 1713. The treaties between several European states, including Spain, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Savoy and the Dutch Republic, helped end the war. The treaties were concluded between the representatives of Louis XIV of France and of his grandson Philip V of Spain on one hand, and representatives of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, the Duke of Savoy, the King of Portugal and the United Provinces of the Netherlands on the other. They marked the end of French ambitions of hegemony in Europe expressed in the wars of Louis XIV and preserved the European system based on the balance of power. Under terms of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, Britain gained Acadia (which they renamed Nova Scotia), sovereignty over Newfoundland, the Hudson Bay region, and the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. France recognized British suzerainty over the Iroquois, and agreed that commerce with Native Americans further inland would be open to all nations. It retained all of the islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, including Cape Breton Island, and retained fishing rights in the area, including rights to dry fish on the northern shore of Newfoundland. By the later years of the war many Abenakis had tired of the conflict despite French pressures to continue raids against New England targets. The peace of Utrecht, however, had ignored Native American interests, and some Abenaki expressed willingness to negotiate a peace with the New Englanders. Governor Dudley organized a major peace conference at Portsmouth, New Hampshire (of which he was also governor). In negotiations there and at Casco Bay, the Abenakis orally objected to British assertions that the French had ceded their territory (present-day eastern Maine and New Brunswick) to Britain, and agreed to a confirmation of boundaries at the Kennebec River and the establishment of government-run trading posts in their territory. The Treaty of Portsmouth, ratified on July 13, 1713 by eight representatives of some of the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy, however, included language asserting British sovereignty over their territory. Over the next year other Abenaki tribal leaders also signed the treaty.
1781At Wiggin’s Hill, Barnwell County, South Carolina, Col. Thomas Brown with a combined British and Cherokee force of 5 to 600, went out from Augusta, GA on an expedition to catch patriot Col. William Harden, who by one account had only 76 rangers. The two forces skirmished at Wiggins’ Hill, and Harden, outnumbered, was beaten off. Harden possibly tried to attack again next day, yet, if so it is assumed he was repulsed. Harden lost 7 killed and 11 wounded, and Brown’s losses are not known.
1783 – After receiving a copy of the provisional treaty on 13 March, Congress proclaimed a formal end to hostilities with Great Britain.
1803In one of the great surprises in diplomatic history, French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand makes an offer to sell all of Louisiana Territory to the United States. Talleyrand was no fool. As the foreign minister to French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, he was one of the most powerful men in the world. Three years earlier, Talleyrand had convinced Napoleon that he could create a new French Empire in North America. The French had long had a tenuous claim to the vast area west of the Mississippi River known as Louisiana Territory. In 1800, Napoleon secretly signed a treaty with Spain that officially gave France full control of the territory. Then he began to prepare France’s mighty army to occupy New Orleans and bolster French dominion. When President Thomas Jefferson learned of Napoleon’s plans in 1802, he was understandably alarmed. Jefferson had long hoped the U.S. would expand westward beyond the Mississippi, but the young American republic was in no position militarily to challenge France for the territory. Jefferson hoped that his minister in France, Robert Livingston, might at least be able to negotiate an agreement whereby Napoleon would give the U.S. control of New Orleans, the gateway to the Mississippi River. At first, the situation looked bleak because Livingston’s initial attempts at reaching a diplomatic agreement failed. In early 1803, Jefferson sent his young Virginia friend James Monroe to Paris to assist Livingston. Fortunately for the U.S., by that time Napoleon’s situation in Europe had changed for the worse. War between France and Great Britain was imminent and Napoleon could no longer spare the military resources needed to secure control of Louisiana Territory. Realizing that the powerful British navy would probably take the territory by force, Napoleon reasoned it would be better to sell Louisiana to the Americans than have it fall into the hands of his enemy. After months of having fruitlessly negotiated over the fate of New Orleans, Livingston again met with Talleyrand on this day in 1803. To Livingston’s immense surprise, this time the cagey French minister coolly asked, “What will you give for the whole?” He meant not the whole of New Orleans, but the whole of Louisiana Territory. Quickly recognizing that this was an offer of potentially immense significance for the U.S., Livingston and Monroe began to discuss France’s proposed cost for the territory. Several weeks later, on April 30, 1803, the American emissaries signed a treaty with France for a purchase of the vast territory for $11,250,000. A little more than two weeks later, Great Britain declared war on France. With the sale of the Louisiana Territory, Napoleon abandoned his dreams of a North American empire, but he also achieved a goal that he thought more important. “The sale [of Louisiana] assures forever the power of the United States,” Napoleon later wrote, “and I have given England a rival who, sooner or later, will humble her pride.”
1856 – Battle of Rivas; Costa Rica beat William Walker’s invading Nicaraguans. The Second Battle of Rivas between Costa Rican militia under General Mora and the Nicaraguan forces of William Walker. The lesser known First Battle of Rivas took place on 29 June 1855 between Walker’s forces and the forces of the Chamorro government of Nicaragua. At the time, a major trade route between New York City and San Francisco ran through southern Nicaragua. Ships from New York would enter the San Juan River from the Atlantic and sail across Lake Nicaragua. People and goods would then be transported by stagecoach over a narrow strip of land near the city of Rivas, before reaching the Pacific and being shipped to San Francisco. The commercial exploitation of this route had been attained from a previous Nicaraguan administration to Wall Street tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Accessory Transit Company. Garrison and Morgan had wrested control of the company from Vanderbilt and then supported Walker’s expedition. Vanderbilt spread rumors that the company was issuing stock illegally in order to depress its value, allowing him to regain controlling interest. In July 1856, Walker set himself up as president of Nicaragua, after conducting a farcical election. As ruler of Nicaragua, Walker then revoked the Transit Company’s charter, claiming that it had violated the agreement, and granted use of the route back to Garrison and Morgan. Outraged, Vanderbilt successfully pressured the U.S. government to withdraw its recognition of Walker’s regime. Walker had also scared his neighbors and American and European investors with talk of further military conquests in Central America. Vanderbilt finance and train a military coalition of these states, led by Costa Rica, and worked to prevent men and supplies from reaching Walker. He also provided defectors from Walker’s army with payments and free passage back to the U.S. Realizing that his position was becoming precarious, he sought support from the Southerners in the U.S. by recasting his campaign as a fight to spread the institution of black slavery, which many American Southern businessmen saw as the basis of their agrarian economy. With this in mind, Walker revoked Nicaragua’s emancipation edict of 1824. This move did increase Walker’s popularity in the South and attracted the attention of Pierre Soulé, an influential New Orleans politician, who campaigned to raise support for Walker’s war. Nevertheless, Walker’s army, thinned by an epidemic of cholera and massive defections, was no match for the Central American coalition and Vanderbilt’s agents. Costa Rican President Juan Rafael Mora watched with great interest as Walker consolidated his forces and power in Nicaragua. Fearing that Walker would become unbeatable and at the urging and backing of Vanderbilt’s business empire Mora declared war, not on Nicaragua, but on Walker and his filibusters, on March 1, 1856. Having been talking about the filibusters for a while, Mora’s (or Don Juanito as he was called) made this declaration in a famous speech that begins with the words, “Countrymen, take your weapons, the time that I’ve been warning you has arrived” (a paraphrase of the opening words of the Marseillaise). Enraged Walker ordered the invasion of Costa Rica and a filibuster force crossed the border into Guanacaste, while the Costa Rican army moved down from the Central Valley in the same direction. With the army traveled the President but command was in the hands of his brothers Jose Joaquin Mora and his brother in law General Cañas. Upon hearing that a small contingent of men were encamped near the city of Guanacaste’s Hacienda Santa Rosa Mora led three thousand of his men to attack. Walker’s men were under the command of Colonel Louis Schlessinger, an inexperienced officer. On March 20, with no sentries posted, Mora’s Costa Ricans surprised and attacked the small group; Schlessinger himself ran away, leaving his troops vulnerable, disorganized, and without leadership. Walker alarmed by the defeat heard unfounded rumors that Mora’s army was going to attack from the North. So he foolishly decided to abandon the key city of the Nicaragua at that time and meet the army from the north. Mora quickly slipped into Rivas with 3,000 men. Walker then, just four days after giving up the city, marched his men back into Rivas to try to take it back. His small force was able to score a number of victories through street to street fighting and were able to create a stalemate at a key building in town, El Mesón de Guerra, the Guerra family home, which was located in the corner of the park, covered the approach to Rivas church; from the towers of the church Walker’s snipers enjoyed a wide firing range. Walker and his surviving soldiers fled to Granada during the night. Several factions inside the Costa Rican Army sought to pursue and kill Walker, thus ending the war. President Mora cancelled the plan, seeing his troops were already battle-worn. Mora wanted to use his resources to bury the dead and take care of the wounded and sick. Although Costa Rica was victorious in the Battle of Rivas, the country could not enjoy the victory. Bodies from the fighting were dumped in the wells of the city causing a huge outbreak of cholera.
1861Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard ordered the Federals under the command of Major Robert Anderson to surrender Fort Sumter, but Anderson refused. Anticipating war between North and South, Confederate President Jefferson Davis had ordered Beauregard to clear the harbor forts in Charleston, South Carolina, of Union troops. For three long months, Anderson and his besieged troops had waited for reinforcements at Fort Sumter. Back in Washington, Union naval officer Gustavus Fox raced against time to organize just such a mission.
1862Fort Pulaski, guarding the mouth of the Savannah River in Georgia, surrenders after a two-day Union bombardment tears great holes in the massive fort. Fort Pulaski was constructed in 1847 as part of the country’s coastal defense network. The imposing masonry stronghold was named for Polish Count Casimir Pulaski, who was killed at Savannah by British troops during the American Revolution. The Union landed troops on Tybee Island, a mile south of Pulaski, in early 1862 and prepared for an attack. An engineering officer, Captain Quincy Gilmore, spent two months moving heavy artillery into place. These included large smoothbore cannon and smaller, rifled guns that shot conical shells at high speed and with greater accuracy than the larger pieces. The attack began on April 10, and Gilmore’s work paid off. The rifled cannon fired shots that penetrated two feet into Fort Pulaski’s seven-foot-thick walls. By the morning of April 11, two huge gaps had been torn in the fort walls and a group of Federal infantry was poised for an attack. Colonel Charles Olmstead, commander of Fort Pulaski, recognized that further resistance was futile, and he surrendered the fort to Union troops. The Savannah River was sealed and a vital Confederate port was closed, although Savannah itself would not be captured until General William T. Sherman marched across Georgia two and a half years later. The destruction of Fort Pulaski signaled an end to the era of brick fortifications, though, which had been made obsolete by the new rifled artillery.
1862 – The Revenue steamer E. A. Stevens, laying close aboard the USS Monitor, fired four or five rounds at the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia when the latter approached the Union fleet in Hampton Roads. The Virginia had fired a single round at the Stevens. After a historic battle between the Monitor and the Virginia, the first ever between two “ironclads,” the Virginia retreated.
1863 – Battle of Suffolk, VA (Norfleet House).
1865 – Lincoln urged a spirit of generous conciliation during reconstruction.
1865 – Battle of Mobile, AL., evacuated by Confederates.
1890 – Ellis Island was designated as an immigration station.
1898 – American President McKinley asked Congress for a declaration of war against Spain.
1899 – The Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish-American War was declared in effect. Spain ceded Puerto Rico to US.
1899 The Battle of Pagsanjan was a small skirmish between the 1st Battalion of Sharpshooters, under the command of Brigadier General Charles King, and Philippine Nationalists led by Col. Pedro Caballes during the Laguna Campaign of the Philippine Insurrection. Upon capturing Santa Cruz, General Henry W. Lawton then moved to capture the town of Pagsanjan from the Filipinos. The expedition began at 6 a.m. A battalion of sharpshooters was sent ahead of the command as an advance guard, and as they came within 1.5 miles (2 km) of Pagsanjan, they were fired upon by a small force of Filipinos from hastily built breastworks blocking the road. The sharpshooters returned fire and caused considerable losses to the Filipinos. An artillery piece was then brought up and fired two shrapnel rounds into the breastworks, which were soon abandoned by most of the Filipinos. Some Filipinos remained in the breastworks after the bombardment and were driven out as well after the sharpshooters gave the breastworks another heavy volley. General Lawton and his command then went on to capture Pagsanjan with no further resistance. The next day, Lawton’s command succeeded in capturing Paete and the Laguna Campaign was over and deemed a success.
1900 – US Navy’s 1st submarine made its debut. Navy accepted delivery of USS Holland.
1904 – One officer and 20 enlisted men became the first Marines to garrison Midway Island.
1917With the outbreak of World War I, the President issued an executive order transferring 30 lighthouse tenders to the War Department. All were subsequently assigned to the Navy Department and 15 lighthouse tenders, four lightships, and 21 light stations to the Navy Department. One more tender was transferred on 31 January 1918 making a total of 50 vessels and 1,132 persons. The War Department used those assigned in laying submarine defense nets during and in removing these defenses after the war. Other duties performed by these vessels were placing practice targets, buoys to mark wrecks of torpedoed vessels and other marks for military purposes, as well as being employed on patrols and special duty assignments.
1941Roosevelt tells Churchill that the US Navy will extend the American Defense Zone up to the line of 26 degrees West. The Red Sea is declared to be no longer a “combat zone” and under the terms of American law US ships may now carry cargos to ports there including supplies for the British in Egypt.
1941During the early 1940s, President Franklin Roosevelt set about readying the nation for its entrance into World War II. Along with converting American industry to the cause of wartime production, Roosevelt also moved to safeguard the nation’s economy. Towards this end, Roosevelt issued an executive order on April 11, 1941, that created the Office of Price Administration (OPA). Charged with waging war against inflation, the OPA imposed price caps on a vast array of goods and attempted to keep a tight fist on key items with low inventories. Though under other circumstances such measures might have stirred controversy, Americans generally complied with the OPA. However, the agency could not quell the spread of black markets for certain items, including meat, gas and cigarettes. Following the close of the war, the OPA also proved impotent against the attacks of corporate leaders and business-friendly legislators who were itching to kill off price controls. Thus, in 1946, the OPA began curtailing its efforts and slashing its then sizable staff of 73,000 paid employees and 200,000 volunteers. Coupled with the demise of price controls, the closing of the OPA led to a heady spate of inflation.
1942 – Detachment 101 of the OSS, a guerrilla force, was activated in Burma.
1942US Army Brigadier General Ralph Royce led 10 B-25 bombers and 3 B-17 bombers from Darwin, Australia to Mindanao, Philippine Islands; they were to be used for bombing Japanese forward positions. On the Bataan peninsula on the island of Luzon, 350 Filipino prisoners of war were killed by the Japanese north of Mount Samat during the Bataan Death March.
1942 – The Battle of Yenangyaung was fought in Burma, now Myanmar, during the Burma Campaign in World War II. The battle of Yenaungyaung was fought in the vicinity of Yenangyaung and its oil fields.
1943 – 73 Zero fighters and 27 D3A carrier dive bombers attacked Oro Bay near Dobodura, Australian Papua, sinking 1 US cargo ship, sinking 1 US destroyer, damaging 1 transport, and damaging 1 Australian minesweeper.
1942Eight B-26 Marauder bombers took off from Port Moresby, Australian Papua at 0900 hours; one of them would return to base due to engine trouble. The remaining seven attacked Vunakanau airfield and Lakunai airfield near Rabaul, New Britain, causing minimal damage. As the bomber crews returned to base, they reported a sighting of a fleet carrier (most likely mis-identified Kasuga Maru), causing the commanders to scramble to prepare a major against the target.
1943USS Tunny was observed by a Japanese ship 40 kilometers off of Truk, Caroline Islands, but there was no subsequent attack. Early in the afternoon, she intercepted Japanese submarine I-9; she fired three forward torpedoes, and the Japanese submarines fired two; all torpedoes missed. Japanese aircraft arrived to hunt USS Tunny, but the bombs dropped caused no damage. USS Tunny would remain submerged until sundown. After dark, while on the surface, she made radar contact with a Japanese destroyer; as she moved to attack, the destroyer also detected her, attacking with nine depth charges; Tunny would remain submerged for hours to escape the attack.
1944Marlene Dietrich gives the first of her many shows for U.S. servicemen overseas. Born in Berlin, Dietrich came to the United States in 1930 to make movies after considerable success on the German screen. She allegedly refused several offers to return to Germany to star in Nazi films. She became a U.S. citizen in 1939 and worked tirelessly during and after World War II to sell war bonds and entertain troops. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom and named Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.
1945American Third Army liberates the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany, a camp that will be judged second only to Auschwitz in the horrors it imposed on its prisoners. As American forces closed in on the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Gestapo headquarters at Weimar telephoned the camp administration to announce that it was sending explosives to blow up any evidence of the camp–including its inmates. What the Gestapo did not know was that the camp administrators had already fled in fear of the Allies. A prisoner answered the phone and informed headquarters that explosives would not be needed, as the camp had already been blown up, which, of course, was not true. The camp held thousands of prisoners, mostly slave laborers. There were no gas chambers, but hundreds, sometimes thousands, died monthly from disease, malnutrition, beatings, and executions. Doctors performed medical experiments on inmates, testing the effects of viral infections and vaccines. Among the camp’s most gruesome characters was Ilse Koch, wife of the camp commandant, who was infamous for her sadism. She often beat prisoners with a riding crop, and collected lampshades, book covers, and gloves made from the skin of camp victims. Among those saved by the Americans was Elie Wiesel, who would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
1945 – Leading armored units of the US 9th Army reach the Elbe River, south of Magdeburg. Forces of US 3rd Army capture Weimar. Other elements capture the Mittlewerke underground V2 factory at Nordhausen.
1945 – Carrara is captured by the US 92nd Infantry Division (an element of US 5th Army) in its advance from Massa.
1945 – Japanese Kamikaze attacks damage the battleship USS Missouri and the carrier Enterprise.
1945 – Units of the Americal Division land on Bohol.
1945 – American troops captured an intact V-weapon plant in Nordhausen, Germany; top American leadership soon sent in engineers to remove as much equipment as possible ahead of the arrival of Soviet troops.
1950 – A US B-29 bomber was shot down above Latvia.
1951In perhaps the most famous civilian-military confrontation in the history of the United States, President Harry S. Truman relieves General Douglas MacArthur of command of the U.S. forces in Korea. The firing of MacArthur set off a brief uproar among the American public, but Truman remained committed to keeping the conflict in Korea a “limited war.” Problems with the flamboyant and egotistical General MacArthur had been brewing for months. In the early days of the war in Korea (which began in June 1950), the general had devised some brilliant strategies and military maneuvers that helped save South Korea from falling to the invading forces of communist North Korea. As U.S. and United Nations forces turned the tide of battle in Korea, MacArthur argued for a policy of pushing into North Korea to completely defeat the communist forces. Truman went along with this plan, but worried that the communist government of the People’s Republic of China might take the invasion as a hostile act and intervene in the conflict. In October 1950, MacArthur met with Truman and assured him that the chances of a Chinese intervention were slim. Then, in November and December 1950, hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops crossed into North Korea and flung themselves against the American lines, driving the U.S. troops back into South Korea. MacArthur then asked for permission to bomb communist China and use Nationalist Chinese forces from Taiwan against the People’s Republic of China. Truman flatly refused these requests and a very public argument began to develop between the two men. In April 1951, President Truman fired MacArthur and replaced him with Gen. Matthew Ridgeway. On April 11, Truman addressed the nation and explained his actions. He began by defending his overall policy in Korea, declaring, “It is right for us to be in Korea.” He excoriated the “communists in the Kremlin [who] are engaged in a monstrous conspiracy to stamp out freedom all over the world.” Nevertheless, he explained, it “would be wrong-tragically wrong-for us to take the initiative in extending the war. …Our aim is to avoid the spread of the conflict.” The president continued, “I believe that we must try to limit the war to Korea for these vital reasons: To make sure that the precious lives of our fighting men are not wasted; to see that the security of our country and the free world is not needlessly jeopardized; and to prevent a third world war.” General MacArthur had been fired “so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy.” MacArthur returned to the United States to a hero’s welcome. Parades were held in his honor, and he was asked to speak before Congress (where he gave his famous “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away” speech). Public opinion was strongly against Truman’s actions, but the president stuck to his decision without regret or apology. Eventually, MacArthur did “just fade away,” and the American people began to understand that his policies and recommendations might have led to a massively expanded war in Asia. Though the concept of a “limited war,” as opposed to the traditional American policy of unconditional victory, was new and initially unsettling to many Americans, the idea came to define the U.S. Cold War military strategy.
1957 – The Ryan X-13 Vertijet became the 1st jet to take-off and land vertically.
1963One hundred U.S. troops of the Hawaiian-based 25th Infantry Division are ordered to temporary duty with military units in South Vietnam to serve as machine gunners aboard Army H-21 helicopters. This was the first commitment of American combat troops to the war and represented a quiet escalation of the U.S. commitment to the war in Vietnam.
1964 – A five day battle begins at Kien Long, 135 miles south of Saigon.
1966 – Operation “Orange” southwest of DaNang, Vietnam, ended.
1966 – The US Air Force announces a new policy of limiting pilots and crews in Vietnam to 12-month tours or 100 combat missions. The Marines and Navy continue their no limit policies.
1968 – President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1968, a week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
1968 – The US mobilizes additional troops for Vietnam. At his first Pentagon press conference, Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford announces a call-up of 24,500 reservists and a ne troop ceiling of for US strength in Vietnam of 549,500.
1968 – The US rejects a North Vietnamese proposal to hold talks in Warsaw, expressing a desire for a neutral location.
1970Apollo 13, the third lunar landing mission, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The spacecraft’s destination was the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon, where the astronauts were to explore the Imbrium Basin and conduct geological experiments. After an oxygen tank exploded on the evening of April 13, however, the new mission objective became to get the Apollo 13 crew home alive. At 9:00 p.m. EST on April 13, Apollo 13 was just over 200,000 miles from Earth. The crew had just completed a television broadcast and was inspecting Aquarius, the Landing Module (LM). The next day, Apollo 13 was to enter the moon’s orbit, and soon after, Lovell and Haise would become the fifth and sixth men to walk on the moon. At 9:08 p.m., these plans were shattered when an explosion rocked the spacecraft. Oxygen tank No. 2 had blown up, disabling the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water. Lovell reported to mission control: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” and the crew scrambled to find out what had happened. Several minutes later, Lovell looked out of the left-hand window and saw that the spacecraft was venting a gas, which turned out to be the Command Module’s (CM) oxygen. The landing mission was aborted. As the CM lost pressure, its fuel cells also died, and one hour after the explosion mission control instructed the crew to move to the LM, which had sufficient oxygen, and use it as a lifeboat. The CM was shut down but would have to be brought back on-line for Earth reentry. The LM was designed to ferry astronauts from the orbiting CM to the moon’s surface and back again; its power supply was meant to support two people for 45 hours. If the crew of Apollo 13 were to make it back to Earth alive, the LM would have to support three men for at least 90 hours and successfully navigate more than 200,000 miles of space. The crew and mission control faced a formidable task. To complete its long journey, the LM needed energy and cooling water. Both were to be conserved at the cost of the crew, who went on one-fifth water rations and would later endure cabin temperatures that hovered a few degrees above freezing. Removal of carbon dioxide was also a problem, because the square lithium hydroxide canisters from the CM were not compatible with the round openings in the LM environmental system. Mission control built an impromptu adapter out of materials known to be onboard, and the crew successfully copied their model. Navigation was also a major problem. The LM lacked a sophisticated navigational system, and the astronauts and mission control had to work out by hand the changes in propulsion and direction needed to take the spacecraft home. On April 14, Apollo 13 swung around the moon. Swigert and Haise took pictures, and Lovell talked with mission control about the most difficult maneuver, a five-minute engine burn that would give the LM enough speed to return home before its energy ran out. Two hours after rounding the far side of the moon, the crew, using the sun as an alignment point, fired the LM’s small descent engine. The procedure was a success; Apollo 13 was on its way home. For the next three days, Lovell, Haise, and Swigert huddled in the freezing lunar module. Haise developed a case of the flu. Mission control spent this time frantically trying to develop a procedure that would allow the astronauts to restart the CM for reentry. On April 17, a last-minute navigational correction was made, this time using Earth as an alignment guide. Then the repressurized CM was successfully powered up after its long, cold sleep. The heavily damaged service module was shed, and one hour before re-entry the LM was disengaged from the CM. Just before 1 p.m., the spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere. Mission control feared that the CM’s heat shields were damaged in the accident, but after four minutes of radio silence Apollo 13’s parachutes were spotted, and the astronauts splashed down safely into the Pacific Ocean.
1972B-52 strikes against communist forces attacking South Vietnamese positions in the Central Highlands near Kontum remove any immediate threat to that city. Air strikes against North Vietnam continued, but were hampered by poor weather. Also on this day, the Pentagon ordered two more squadrons of B-52s to Thailand. These actions were part of the U.S. response to the ongoing North Vietnamese Nguyen Hue Offensive, which had begun on March 30. This offensive, later more commonly known as the “Easter Offensive,” was a massive invasion by North Vietnamese forces designed to strike the blow that would win the war for the communists. The attacking force included 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, with more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. The main North Vietnamese objectives, in addition to Quang Tri in the north, were Kontum in the Central Highlands, and An Loc farther to the south. The fighting, which continued into the fall, was some of the most desperate of the war. The South Vietnamese prevailed against the invaders with the help of U.S. advisors and massive American airpower.
1974 – The Judiciary committee presented a subpoena to President Richard Nixon to produce tapes for impeachment inquiry.
1976 – The Apple I is created.
1980 – “The Viking 2 Mars Lander ended communications.
1981 – President Reagan returned to the White House from the hospital, 12 days after John W. Hinckley Jr. shot him in an assassination attempt.
1991 – The space shuttle “Atlantis” landed safely after an extended, 93-orbit mission that included deployment of an observatory.
1991 – U.N. Security Council issued a formal cease fire with Iraq to end the Gulf War.
1995 – President Clinton expressed sympathy for Pakistan’s anger over the blocked sale of American fighter jets, telling visiting Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that it was “not right” for the United States to keep the planes and refuse to give the money back.
1997 – The Air Force announced that that despite an intensive nine-day search, it couldn’t find a bomb-laden A-10 warplane that had disappeared with its pilot during a training mission over Arizona. Wreckage was later found on a Colorado mountainside.
1999 – NATO restrained bombing over the Orthodox Easter but dropped at struck at least 50 targets in Kosovo alone. 3 Serbian civilians were reported killed.
1999 – Albania decided to hand over control of its airspace, ports and military infrastructure to NATO and to accept more NATO troops.
2001Ending a tense 11-day standoff, China released the 24 US spy plane crew members detained since April 1. US text was released with the words “sincerely regret” and translated to “chengzhi yihan.” In China the text was translated to ”shenbiao qianyi” meaning “deeply sorry.” Beijing kept the spy plane pending an investigation and more talks.
2002 – The UN sponsored Int’l. Criminal Court was ratified without US approval. Temporary headquarters will be in the Hague, Netherlands.
2003In the 24th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom the northern city of Mosul fell into US and Kurdish hands after an entire corps of the Iraqi army surrendered. The Pentagon said no major military forces remain in the country. Defense Sec. Rumsfeld called Iraqi looting and chaos a natural “untidiness” that accompanies the transition from tyranny to freedom. The US military issued a most-wanted list in the form of a deck of 55 cards.
2003 – NATO-led peacekeepers in Bosnia arrested Naser Oric (35), a Bosnian Muslim wanted by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal and flew him to The Hague. He was the wartime army commander in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
2003 – In Yemen 10 suspects in the bombing of the US destroyer Cole escaped from prison.
2003The Coast Guard Cutter Wrangell and the USS Firebolt, with embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 406, escorted the first commercially transported humanitarian aid shipment into the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. The Motor Vessel Manar, owned by Manar Marine Services of the United Arab Emirates, delivered almost 700 tons of humanitarian aid including food, water, first aid and transport vehicles. This aid shipment was supplied and coordinated by the UAE Red Crescent Society. This is the fourth aid shipment to arrive in Umm Qasr since the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2004Gunmen shot down a U.S. attack helicopter during fighting in western Baghdad, killing its two crew members. The bloodied bodies of two men, purportedly Americans killed during fighting in Fallujah, were shown on Arab TV. US forces and insurgents agreed to a cease-fire in Fallujah.
2011Farooque Ahmed is sentenced to 23 years in jail in the US for plotting attacks on the Washington Metro system. He was charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to help carry out multiple bombings.
2013 – The United States military places a Sea-based X-band Radar in a position where it can detect any possible missile launches by North Korea.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 1st Louisiana Cavalry. Place and date: At Mount Pleasant, Ala., 11 April 1865. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: Unknown. Citation: Capture of flag.

MICHAEL, EDWARD S. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 364th Bomber Squadron, 305th Bomber Group. Place and date: Over Germany, 11 April 1944. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 2 May 1918, Chicago, Ill. G.O. No.: 5, 15 January 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as pilot of a B17 aircraft on a heavy-bombardment mission to Germany, 11 April 1944. The group in which 1st Lt. Michael was flying was attacked by a swarm of fighters. His plane was singled out and the fighters pressed their attacks home recklessly, completely disregarding the Allied fighter escort and their own intense flak. His plane was riddled from nose to tail with exploding cannon shells and knocked out of formation, with a large number of fighters following it down, blasting it with cannon fire as it descended. A cannon shell exploded in the cockpit, wounded the copilot, wrecked the instruments, and blew out the side window. 1st Lt. Michael was seriously and painfully wounded in the right thigh. Hydraulic fluid filmed over the windshield making visibility impossible, and smoke filled the cockpit. The controls failed to respond and 3,000 feet were lost before he succeeded in leveling off. The radio operator informed him that the whole bomb bay was in flames as a result of the explosion of 3 cannon shells, which had ignited the incendiaries. With a full load of incendiaries in the bomb bay and a considerable gas load in the tanks, the danger of fire enveloping the plane and the tanks exploding seemed imminent. When the emergency release lever failed to function, 1st Lt. Michael at once gave the order to bail out and 7 of the crew left the plane. Seeing the bombardier firing the navigator’s gun at the enemy planes, 1st Lt. Michael ordered him to bail out as the plane was liable to explode any minute. When the bombardier looked for his parachute he found that it had been riddled with 20mm. fragments and was useless. 1st Lt. Michael, seeing the ruined parachute, realized that if the plane was abandoned the bombardier would perish and decided that the only chance would be a crash landing. Completely disregarding his own painful and profusely bleeding wounds, but thinking only of the safety of the remaining crewmembers, he gallantly evaded the enemy, using violent evasive action despite the battered condition of his plane. After the plane had been under sustained enemy attack for fully 45 minutes, 1st Lt. Michael finally lost the persistent fighters in a cloud bank. Upon emerging, an accurate barrage of flak caused him to come down to treetop level where flak towers poured a continuous rain of fire on the plane. He continued into France, realizing that at any moment a crash landing might have to be attempted, but trying to get as far as possible to increase the escape possibilities if a safe landing could be achieved. 1st Lt. Michael flew the plane until he became exhausted from the loss of blood, which had formed on the floor in pools, and he lost consciousness. The copilot succeeded in reaching England and sighted an RAF field near the coast. 1st Lt. Michael finally regained consciousness and insisted upon taking over the controls to land the plane. The undercarriage was useless; the bomb bay doors were jammed open; the hydraulic system and altimeter were shot out. In addition, there was no airspeed indicator, the ball turret was jammed with the guns pointing downward, and the flaps would not respond. Despite these apparently insurmountable obstacles, he landed the plane without mishap.

Rank and organization: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company E, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Near Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam, 11 April 1970. Entered service at: Chicago, 111. Born: 23 June 1949, East Chicago, Ind. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with Company E. Returning with his squad from a night ambush operation, L/Cpl. De La Garza joined his platoon commander and another marine in searching for 2 enemy soldiers who had been observed fleeing for cover toward a small pond. Moments later, he located 1 of the enemy soldiers hiding among the reeds and brush. As the 3 marines attempted to remove the resisting soldier from the pond, L/Cpl. De La Garza observed him pull the pin on a grenade. Shouting a warning, L/Cpl. De La Garza placed himself between the other 2 marines and the ensuing blast from the grenade, thereby saving the lives of his comrades at the sacrifice of his life. By his prompt and decisive action, and his great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, L/Cpl. De La Garza upheld and further enhanced the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Airman First Class Pitsenbarger distinguished himself by extreme valor on 11 April 1966 near Cam My, Republic of Vietnam, while assigned as a Pararescue Crew Member, Detachment 6, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron. On that date, Airman Pitsenbarger was aboard a rescue helicopter responding to a call for evacuation of casualties incurred in an ongoing firefight between elements of the United States Army’s 1st Infantry Division and a sizeable enemy force approximately 35 miles east of Saigon. With complete disregard for personal safety, Airman Pitsenbarger volunteered to ride a hoist more than one hundred feet through the jungle, to the ground. On the ground, he organized and coordinated rescue efforts, cared for the wounded, prepared casualties for evacuation, and insured that the recovery operation continued in a smooth and orderly fashion. Through his personal efforts, the evacuation of the wounded was greatly expedited. As each of the nine casualties evacuated that day was recovered, Airman Pitsenbarger refused evacuation in order to get more wounded soldiers to safety. After several pick-ups, one of the two rescue helicopters involved in the evacuation was struck by heavy enemy ground fire and was forced to leave the scene for an emergency landing. Airman Pitsenbarger stayed behind on the ground to perform medical duties. Shortly thereafter, the area came under sniper and mortar fire. During a subsequent attempt to evacuate the site, American forces came under heavy assault by a large Viet Cong force. When the enemy launched the assault, the evacuation was called off and Airman Pitsenbarger took up arms with the besieged infantrymen. He courageously resisted the enemy, braving intense gunfire to gather and distribute vital ammunition to American defenders. As the battle raged on, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to care for the wounded, pull them out of the line of fire, and return fire whenever he could, during which time he was wounded three times. Despite his wounds, he valiantly fought on, simultaneously treating as many wounded as possible. In the vicious fighting that followed, the American forces suffered 80 percent casualties as their perimeter was breached, and Airman Pitsenbarger was fatally wounded. Airman Pitsenbarger exposed himself to almost certain death by staying on the ground, and perished while saving the lives of wounded infantrymen. His bravery and determination exemplify the highest professional standards and traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Air Force.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 11 April 1966. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 30 August 1940, Hinsdale, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Company C was engaged in fierce combat with a Viet Cong battalion. Despite the heavy fire, Sgt. Robinson moved among the men of his fire team, instructing and inspiring them, and placing them in advantageous positions. Enemy snipers located in nearby trees were inflicting heavy casualties on forward elements of Sgt. Robinson’s unit. Upon locating the enemy sniper whose fire was taking the heaviest toll, he took a grenade launcher and eliminated the sniper. Seeing a medic hit while administering aid to a wounded sergeant in front of his position and aware that now the 2 wounded men were at the mercy of the enemy, he charged through a withering hail of fire and dragged his comrades to safety, where he rendered first aid and saved their lives. As the battle continued and casualties mounted, Sgt. Robinson moved about under intense fire to collect from the wounded their weapons and ammunition and redistribute them to able-bodied soldiers. Adding his fire to that of his men, he assisted in eliminating a major enemy threat. Seeing another wounded comrade in front of his position, Sgt. Robinson again defied the enemy’s fire to effect a rescue. In so doing he was himself wounded in the shoulder and leg. Despite his painful wounds, he dragged the soldier to shelter and saved his life by administering first aid. While patching his own wounds, he spotted an enemy machinegun which had inflicted a number of casualties on the American force. His rifle ammunition expended, he seized 2 grenades and, in an act of unsurpassed heroism, charged toward the entrenched enemy weapon. Hit again in the leg, this time with a tracer round which set fire to his clothing, Sgt. Robinson ripped the burning clothing from his body and staggered indomitably through the enemy fire, now concentrated solely on him, to within grenade range of the enemy machinegun position. Sustaining 2 additional chest wounds, he marshaled his fleeting physical strength and hurled the 2 grenades, thus destroying the enemy gun position, as he fell dead upon the battlefield. His magnificent display of leadership and bravery saved several lives and inspired his soldiers to defeat the numerically superior enemy force. Sgt. Robinson’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the cost of his life, are in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon the 1st Infantry Division and the U.S. Armed Forces.

3 thoughts on “April 11

  1. editor says:

    I am trying to find a source for the story about a Buchenwald prisoner answering a phone call. Does anyone know the source? Thanks! wwq@swq.com

  2. 1966 – Battle of Xa Cam My.

    The pre-emptive Battle of Xa Cam My lasted two days – but the fiercest fighting occurred over a four hour period. Designated “Operation Abilene”, it was originally planned as a U.S. search and destroy mission intended to lure out the “crack” Viet Cong D-800 Battalion of the 274th Regiment of the 5th VC Division. The operation included units of New Zealand artillery and the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

    During this battle 134 men of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (nicknamed “the Rangers”), were ambushed by the Viet Cong. Outnumbered by the VC 3 to 1, Charlie Company soon found itself fighting for survival in the Courtenay Rubber Plantation of Xa Cam My, an area of dense vegetation located approximately 42 miles east of Saigon.

    Initially, some misdirected artillery was fired upon Charlie Company instead of the aggressive VC forces. After fighting that continued into the night, Charlie Company formed a tight perimeter, protected by a barrage of artillery fire which came down at the rate of five or six rounds per minute. By 0700 on April 12, the Viet Cong had disengaged from the battle before other U.S. units could arrive. Charlie Company was nearly wiped out with 36 KIA and 71 wounded – a casualty rate of 80%

    Two posthumous Medals of Honor were awarded in connection with this action. Sgt. James W. Robinson, Jr. was awarded the Medal of Honor for “an act of unsurpassed heroism,” which included destroying a communist machine gun position single-handedly though he had been wounded four times. He died doing so. Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger, an Air Force pararescueman with Detachment 6, 38th Air Rescue & Recovery Squadron, was awarded the Medal of Honor in December 2000, for exposing himself to certain death by selflessly staying behind and saving the lives of nine soldiers. He was wounded three times before finally being killed by a VC sniper during the night.

    1st Lt. George C. Steinberg, hit seven times and after annihilating an enemy machine gun crew, charged into an oncoming VC attack, disrupting the assault at the cost of his own life. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

    Spec-4 Johann Lang was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his heroic action in the battle. Staff Sgt. Charles Urconis received the Silver Star for killing an entire VC .50-caliber machine gun crew with only a .45 pistol.

  3. 1984 – Chinese troops invade Vietnam.

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