April 15

15 April


1715 – The Pocotaligo Massacre triggers the start of the Yamasee War in colonial South Carolina. When the warnings about a possible Ochese Creek uprising reached the South Carolina government, they listened and acted. The government sent a party to the main Upper Yamasee town of Pocotaligo (near present-day Yemassee, South Carolina). They hoped to obtain Yamasee assistance in arranging an emergency summit with the Ochese Creek leaders. The delegation’s visit to Pocotaligo triggered the start of the war. The delegation that visited Pocotaligo consisted of Samuel Warner and William Bray, sent by the Board of Commissioners. They were joined by Thomas Nairne and John Wright, two of the most important people of South Carolina’s Indian trading system. Two others, Seymour Burroughs and an unknown South Carolinian, also joined. On the evening of April 14, 1715, the day before Good Friday, the men spoke to an assembly of Yamasee. They promised to make special efforts to redress Yamasee grievances. They also said that Governor Craven was on the way to the village. During the night, as the South Carolinians slept, the Yamasee debated over what to do. There were some who were not fully pledged to a war, but in the end the choice was made. After applying war paint, the Yamasee woke the Carolinians and attacked them. Two of the six men escaped. Seymour Burroughs fled and, although shot twice, raised an alarm in the Port Royal settlements. The Yamasee killed Nairne, Wright, Warner, and Bray. The unknown South Carolinian hid in a nearby swamp, from which he witnessed the ritual death-by-torture of Nairne.
1783 – Preliminary articles of peace ending the American Revolutionary War (or American War of Independence) are ratified.
1791 – Surveyor General Andrew Ellicott consecrated the southern tip of the triangular District of Columbia at Jones Point.
1813 – U.S. troops under James Wilkinson sieged the Spanish-held city of Mobile in future state of Alabama.
1820 – Evander McNair, Brig General (Confederate Army), died in 1902, was born.
1837 – Horace Porter (d.1921), Bvt Brig General (Union Army), was born.
1850 – The city of San Francisco was incorporated.
1861 – Three days after the attack on Fort Sumter, S.C., President Lincoln declared a state of insurrection and called for 75,000 Volunteers to quell the insurrection that soon became the American Civil War.
1864 – General Steele’s Union troops occupied Camden, Arkansas.
1865President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, dies from an assassin’s bullet. Shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington the night before, Lincoln lived for nine hours before succumbing to the severe head wound he sustained. Lincoln’s death came just after the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lincoln had just served the most difficult presidency in history, successfully leading the country through civil war. His job was exhausting and overwhelming at times. He had to manage a tremendous military effort, deal with diverse opinions in his own Republican party, counter his Democratic critics, maintain morale on the northern home front, and keep foreign countries such as France and Great Britain from recognizing the Confederacy. He did all of this, and changed American history when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, converting the war goal from reunion of the nation to a crusade to end slavery. Now, the great man was dead. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton said, “Now, he belongs to the ages.” Word spread quickly across the nation, stunning a people who were still celebrating the Union victory. Troops in the field wept, as did General Ulysses S. Grant, the overall Union commander. Perhaps no group was more grief stricken than the freed slaves. Although abolitionists considered Lincoln slow in moving against slavery, many freedmen saw “Father Abraham” as their savior. They faced an uncertain world, and now had lost their most powerful proponent. Lincoln’s funeral was held on April 19, before a funeral train carried his body back to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. During the two-week journey, hundreds of thousands gathered along the railroad tracks to pay their respects, and the casket was unloaded for public viewing at several stops. He and his son, Willie, who died in the White House of typhoid fever in 1862, were interred on May 4.
1885 – Naval forces land at Panama to protect American interests during revolution.
1889 – A marshal’s posse killed and captured a group of Sooners, settlers who stole onto the Public Domain territory in Oklahoma in hopes of claiming it legally, just nine days before the official start of the land rush.
1900 – Filipino guerrillas launch a surprise attack on U.S. infantry and begin a four-day siege of Catubig, Philippines. The Siege of Catubig was a long and bloody engagement in which Filipino guerrillas launched a surprise attack against a detachment of U.S. infantry, and then forced them to abandon the town after a four-day siege. The attack was very similar to the Balangiga Massacre farther south of Catubig a year later.
1912 – USS Chester and USS Salem sailed from MA to assist RMS Titanic survivors.
1918 – First Marine Aviation Force formed at Marine Flying Field, Miami, FL.
1919Jane Arminda Delano (b.1862), founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service, died in France while on a Red Cross mission and was buried there. She was posthumously awarded the US Distinguished Service Medal, the 1st female recipient. In 1920 She was brought back to the U.S. and re-interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
1920Two security guards are killed during a mid-afternoon armed robbery of a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Out of this rather unremarkable crime grew one of the most famous trials in American history and a landmark case in forensic crime detection. Both Fred Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli were shot several times as they attempted to move the payroll boxes of their New England shoe company. The two armed thieves, identified by witnesses as “Italian-looking,” fled in a Buick. The car was found abandoned in the woods several days later. Through evidence found in the car, police suspected that a man named Mike Boda was involved. However, Boda was one step ahead of the authorities, and he fled to Italy. Police did manage to catch Boda’s colleagues, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were each carrying loaded weapons at the time of their arrest. Sacco had a .32 caliber handgun-the same type as was used to kill the security guards-and bullets from the same manufacturer as those recovered from the shooting. Vanzetti was identified as a participant in a previous robbery attempt of a different shoe company. Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, believing that social justice would come only through the destruction of governments. In the early 1920s, mainstream America was starting to develop a fear of communism and radical politics. Sacco and Vanzetti, recognizing the uphill battle ahead, tried to put this fear to their advantage by drumming up support from the left wing with claims that the prosecution was politically motivated. Millions of dollars were raised for their defense by the radical left around the world. American embassies were even bombed in response to the Sacco-Vanzetti case. The well-funded defense put up a good fight, bringing forth nearly 100 witnesses to testify on the defendants’ behalf. Ultimately, eyewitness identification wasn’t the crucial issue; rather, it was the ballistics tests on the murder weapon. Prosecution experts, with rather primitive instruments, testified that Sacco’s gun was the murder weapon. Defense experts claimed just the opposite. In the end, on July 14, 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty and sentenced to die. However, the ballistics issue refused to go away as Sacco and Vanzetti waited on death row. In addition, a jailhouse confession by another criminal fueled the controversy. In 1927, Massachusetts Governor A. T. Fuller ordered another inquiry to advise him on the clemency request of the two anarchists. In the meantime, there had been many scientific advances in the field of forensics. The comparison microscope was now available for new ballistics tests and proved beyond a doubt that Sacco’s gun was indeed the murder weapon. A defense expert was even reported to have remarked upon seeing the new results, “Well, what do you know about that?” Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in August 1927, but even the new evidence didn’t completely quell the controversy. In October 1961, and again in March 1983, new investigations were conducted into the matter, but both revealed that Sacco’s revolver was indeed the one that fired the bullet and killed the security guards.
1922Wyoming Democratic Senator John Kendrick introduced a resolution that set in motion one of the most significant investigations in Senate history. On the previous day, the Wall Street Journal had reported an unprecedented secret arrangement in which the Secretary of the Interior, without competitive bidding, had leased the U.S. naval petroleum reserve at Wyoming’s Teapot Dome to a private oil company. Wisconsin Republican Senator Robert La Follette arranged for the Senate Committee on Public Lands to investigate the matter. His suspicions deepened after someone ransacked his Russell Building office.
1943 – US forces prepare for an invasion of the Aleutian Island, Attu, held by the Japanese. The US 7th Division, preparing for deployment in North Africa, is earmarked for the operation.
1944 – The US 15th Air Force sends 500 sorties to Bucharest and Ploesti.
1944U.S. plans Operation Wedlock, an invasion of the Kurile Islands of northern Japan. American and Canadian troops, aided by the Ninth Fleet and American bombers ordered to bomb the islands every day, prepare to occupy the islands long disputed between Japan and Russia. The plan was a fiction. There was no invasion–or a Ninth Fleet. It was all a ruse to divert Japanese attention away from the Marianas Islands, the Allies’ true target. Operation Forager, the real thing, was launched on June 15, 1944, with a landing on Saipan, one of the three Marianas Islands. It was a U.S. success, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Japanese–both from combat and ritual suicide–including that of the Japanese commander, Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito.
1945 – US troops occupied the concentration camp at Colditz.
1945 – Commenting on the death of American President Franklin Roosevelt in his Order of the Day, Adolf Hitler proclaimed: “Now that fate has removed from the earth the greatest war criminal of all time, the turning point of this war will be decided.”
1945 – On Okinawa, the US 6th Marine Division assaults Yae Hill but is driven back by the Japanese defense.
1945Units of the US 9th Army, which have crossed the Elbe River near Magdeburg, are forced to retreat. The US 1st Army takes Leuna. Meanwhile, Operation Venerable is launched against the German garrison in the fortress of Royan, at the mouth of the Gironde River; heavy napalm bomb attacks by the US 8th Air Force and shelling by the Free French battleship Lorraine are followed by an attack by Free French and American forces.
1945 – In Italy, both US 5th and British 8th Armies continue their attacks. Elements of the Polish 2nd Corps (part of British 8th Army) has reached the Sillario River after crossing the Santero River.
1951Lieutenant General James A. Van Fleet took command of Eighth Army. Van Fleet, a 1915 West Point graduate with the class “the stars fell on,” commanded a machine gun battalion in World War I, led the 8th Infantry Regiment ashore at Normandy and by the end of World War II was a major general commanding a corps. In the late 1940s he was head of a joint U.S. military advisory group in Greece where he advised Greek forces in successfully stopping a communist-supported insurgency.
1952 – President Harry Truman signed the official Japanese peace treaty.
1952 – The 1st B-52 prototype test flight was made. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons. Beginning with the successful contract bid in June 1946, the B-52 design evolved from a straight-wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB-52 with eight turbojet engines and swept wings. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. A veteran of several wars, the B-52 has dropped only conventional munitions in combat. The B-52’s official name Stratofortress is rarely used in informal circumstances, and it has become common to refer to the aircraft as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fucker). The B-52 has been in active service with the USAF since 1955. As of 2012, 85 were in active service with nine in reserve. The bombers flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until it was inactivated in 1992 and its aircraft absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC); in 2010 all B-52 Stratofortresses were transferred from the ACC to the new Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept the B-52 in service despite the advent of later, more advanced aircraft, including the canceled Mach 3 B-70 Valkyrie, the variable-geometry B-1 Lancer, and the stealth B-2 Spirit. The B-52 completed fifty years of continuous service with its original operator in 2005; after being upgraded between 2013 and 2015, it is expected to serve into the 2040s.
1959Four months after leading a successful revolution in Cuba, Fidel Castro visits the United States. The visit was marked by tensions between Castro and the American government. On January 1, 1959, Castro’s revolutionary forces overthrew the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. From the beginning of the new regime in Cuba, U.S. officials worried about the bearded revolutionary. Castro’s anti-American rhetoric, his stated plans to nationalize foreign properties in Cuba, and his association with a number of suspected leftists (including his second-in-command, Che Guevara) prompted American diplomats to keep a wary eye on him. Though he worried politicians, American reporters adored him–his tales of the days spent fighting a guerrilla war in Cuba, the fatigues and combat boots he favored, and his bushy beard cut a striking figure. In April 1959, Castro accepted an invitation from the American Society of Newspaper Editors to visit the U.S. The trip got off to an inauspicious start when it became clear that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had no intention of meeting with Castro. Instead, Eisenhower went to the golf course to avoid any chance meeting with Castro. Castro gave a talk to the Council on Foreign Affairs, a New York-based group of private citizens and former government officials interested in U.S. international relations. Castro was confrontational during the session, indicating that Cuba would not beg the United States for economic assistance. Angered by some of the questions from the audience, Castro abruptly left the meeting. Finally, before departing for Cuba, Castro met with Vice President Richard Nixon. Privately, Nixon hoped that his talk would push Castro “in the right direction,” and away from any radical policies, but he came away from his discussion full of doubt about the possibility of reorienting Castro’s thinking. Nixon concluded that Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline-my guess is the former.” Relations between the United States and Castro deteriorated rapidly following the April visit. In less than a year, President Eisenhower ordered the CIA to begin arming and training a group of Cuban exiles to attack Cuba (the disastrous attack, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, was eventually carried out during the Kennedy administration). The heated Cold War animosity between America and Cuba would last for over 40 years.
1961 – US CIA pilots knocked out part of the Cuban air force.
1961 – Launching of first nuclear-powered frigate, USS Bainbridge, at Quincy, MA.
1962The first Marine air unit is sent to Vietnam. 15 Sikorsky UH-34D combat helicopters of the US 362nd Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM-362), arrive from the aircraft carrier Princeton. based near Soc Trang, 100 miles southwest of Saigon, the 450 Marines and their craft, as task unit dubbed ‘Shoofly’, reinforce the three US Army helicopter companies already in Vietnam, and carry supplies and troops to isolated or threatened villages and troop concentrations.
1964 – US planes conduct an armed reconnaissance over Highways 7 and 8 in North Vietnam. They drop 9 tons of bombs on the boat landing at Muongsen. The operation includes the first night raid on North Vietnam by US planes; sites near Hanoi are being prepared to receive SAM II missiles from the USSR.
1967 – Protests of US policy in Vietnam are held in New York City and San Francisco. NYC speakers include martin Luther King, Jr., Stokley Charmichael and Benjamin Spock. 200 draft cards are burned in Central Park. Attendance is estimated at 125,000 in NYC and 20,000 in San Francisco.
1967 – Two US Air Force F-100 Supersabre jets miss intended targets, hitting South Vietnam Army battalion positions 23 miles east of Quinhon. 41 killed and at least 50 wounded.
1968 – A USMC operation which will last 10 months begins around Khesahn, named Scotland II. It will result in a listed 3311 enemy casualties.
1969 – North Korea shot at US airplane above Japan Sea.
1969 – The 173rd Airborne Brigade begins a pacification operation that will conclude on New Year’s Day 1971. Washington Green, through the An Lao Valley in Binhdinh Province will produce 1957 enemy casualties.
1969 – North Korea shoots down a United States Navy EC-121 aircraft over the Sea of Japan, killing all 31 on board. The 1969 EC-121 shootdown incident occurred on April 15, 1969 when a United States Navy Lockheed EC-121M Warning Star on a reconnaissance mission was shot down by North Korean MiG-17 aircraft over the Sea of Japan. The plane crashed 90 nautical miles (167 km) off the North Korean coast and all 31 Americans on board were killed. The Nixon administration chose not to retaliate against North Korea apart from staging a naval demonstration in the Sea of Japan a few days later. Instead it resumed the reconnaissance flights within a week to demonstrate that it would not be intimidated by the action while at the same time avoiding a confrontation.
1970As part of the third phase of U.S. troop withdrawals announced by President Nixon, the 1st Infantry Division departs Vietnam. One of the most distinguished units in the U.S. Army, the 1st Infantry Division was organized in May 1917 and served with distinction in both World War I and II. It was deployed to the area north of Saigon in October 1965, one of the first Army infantry divisions to arrive in Vietnam. The division consisted of seven battalions of light infantry and two battalions of mechanized infantry. Other combat elements included an armored reconnaissance unit and four battalions of artillery. The approaches to Saigon and the border regions between Vietnam and Cambodia were the major battlefields for the 1st Infantry Division. It took part in large-scale operations such as Operation Junction City (February-May 1967) and the Tet Offensive of 1968. The division also conducted major operations in conjunction with South Vietnamese forces in the region. It returned to Fort Riley, Kansas, upon its departure from South Vietnam. The 1st Infantry Division was awarded the Vietnamese Civil Action Medal and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm. Among other individual awards, its soldiers won 11 Medals of Honor, 67 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 905 Silver Stars for bravery. The division suffered 20,770 soldiers killed or wounded in action, slightly more than the 20,659 casualties the division suffered in World War II.
1970 – Also part of the third phase of US withdrawal, a force of 12,900 marines depart South Vietnam. Units include the 26th marines, the 1st Antitank Battalion, most of the 1st Tank Battalion, 3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion, and the 1st Shore Party battalion. There are now 429,200 US troops in Vietnam.
1971 – North Vietnamese troops ambushed a company of Delta Raiders from the 101st Airborne Division near Fire Support Base Bastogne in Vietnam. The American troops were on a rescue mission.
1971 – III MAF Redeployed to Okinawa after six years of service in Vietnam.
1972 – North Vietnamese forces overrun Fire Base Charlie, 20 miles northwest of Kontum as part of their continuing Central Highlands offensive.
1986 – The United States launches Operation El Dorado Canyon, its bombing raids against Libyan targets in response to a bombing in West Germany that killed two U.S. servicemen. The attack was carried out by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps via air strikes, in response to the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing. There were 40 reported Libyan casualties, and one US plane was shot down, resulting in the death of two airmen.
1986 – The Libyan military (on orders from dictator Moammar Gadhafi) fired a missile (or missiles) at the Coast Guard LORAN Station Lampedusa, off the coast of Italy. The missile(s) missed by a wide margin and there were no casualties.
1988 – The Soviet Union began the process of withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, more than eight years after Soviet forces had entered the country.
1992Countries barred Libyan jets from their airspace and ordered diplomats to go home because of Libya’s refusal to turn over suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on arms sales and air travel against Libya to prod Gadhafi into surrendering two suspects wanted in the Pan Am 103.
1997 – The Justice Department inspector general reported that FBI crime lab agents produced flawed scientific work or inaccurate testimony in major cases such as the Oklahoma City bombing.
1997 – The US military said it would allow American Indian soldiers to use peyote in their religious services.
1998A U.N. Human Rights Commission report states that Saddam Hussein ordered the execution of at least 1,500 people in last year, mostly for political reasons. The report, by a former foreign minister of the Netherlands, says human rights conditions in Iraq continue to deteriorate.
1999 – The US Pentagon planned to ask for 30,000 reservists and National Guard members for NATO support. Pres. Clinton was expected to ask for $5.9 billion in emergency spending to cover US costs in the Kosovo operation.
1999 – NATO bombed TV transmitters, military installations and bridges throughout Yugoslavia. Military targets in Montenegro were struck as was the city of Subotica, near the Hungarian border.
2002Operation Mountain Lion began and was designed to find enemy fighters in the Gardez and Khost regions, destroy those that were there and deny them control of the area and an opportunity to reorganize their forces. Operation Mountain Lion was the first major initiative since Operation Anaconda, a 12-day running battle, which ended in March 2002 in the eastern Shah-i-Kot Mountains.
2003In the 28th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom selected Iraqi leaders met with retired US Lt. Gen. Jay Garner to shape a new government with 13 goals, the 1st being “Iraq must be democratic.” Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States has no plans to go to war with Syria. Marines came under fire while seizing an airstrip on the outskirts of Tikrit.
2003 – Seven Iraqis died when American troops opened fire to keep an angry crowd from storming a government complex in Mosul. US troops in Baghdad arrested Abu Abbas, head of the Palestinian terrorist group that attacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985.
2003 – US forces cut off oil flow from Iraq to Syria. Oil flow had reached 130,000 barrels a day providing both countries over $10 million a month in profits.
2003 – Slovakia Pres. Rudolf Schuster signed an accession document committing Slovakia to joining NATO, the next-to-last step on the long road to membership in the military alliance.
2004 – The Pentagon told 20,000 US soldiers in Iraq that their tours would be extended.
2004 – A man identifying himself as Osama bin Laden offered a “truce” to European countries that do not attack Muslims, saying it would begin when their soldiers leave Islamic nations, according to a recording broadcast on Arab satellite networks.
2004 – In Iraq 3 Japanese hostages who had been threatened with death unless Tokyo withdrew its troops from Iraq were released.
2013 – Two bombs explode near the finish line at the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, killing three people and injuring 264 others.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 28 January 1926, Alameda, Calif. Accredited to: California. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Acting Scout Sergeant with the 4th Battalion, 15th Marines, 6th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, 15 April 1945. Undaunted by the powerfully organized opposition encountered on Motobu Peninsula during the fierce assault waged by his battalion against the Japanese stronghold at Mount Yaetake, Pfc. Gonsalves repeatedly braved the terrific enemy bombardment to aid his forward observation team in directing well-placed artillery fire. When his commanding officer determined to move into the front lines in order to register a more effective bombardment in the enemy’s defensive position, he unhesitatingly advanced uphill with the officer and another Marine despite a slashing barrage of enemy mortar and rifle fire. As they reached the front and a Japanese grenade fell close within the group, instantly Pfc. Gonsalves dived on the deadly missile, absorbing the exploding charge in his own body and thereby protecting the others from serious and perhaps fatal wounds. Stouthearted and indomitable, Pfc. Gonsalves readily yielded his own chances of survival that his fellow marines might carry on the relentless battle against a fanatic enemy and his cool decision, prompt action and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the U.S. Naval Service.

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