1486 – Christopher Columbus convinced Queen Isabella to fund expedition to the West Indies.
1528 – The Spanish Narvaez expedition began an inland march to Florida with some 300 men and 40 horses.
1562 – The 1st French colonists in the US, a 5-vessel Huguenot expedition led by Jean Ribault (1520-1565), landed in Florida. He continued north and established a colony named Charlesfort at Parris Island, NC.
1778 – The Battle of Crooked Billet begins in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. The Battle of Crooked Billet was a battle in the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War fought near the Crooked Billet Tavern (present-day Hatboro, Pennsylvania). In the skirmish action, British forces under the command of Major John Graves Simcoe launched a surprise attack against Brigadier General John Lacey and three regiments of Pennsylvania militia, who were literally caught sleeping. The British inflicted significant damage, and Lacey and his forces were forced to retreat into neighboring Bucks County. The British troops arrived at Crooked Billet at daybreak. Simcoe had planned a “pincer”-type attack, with his troops attacking from the north and east, and Abercromby’s troops from the south and west. Lacey’s pickets, in place to warn against any type of threat, noticed the British troops, but failed to fire off a warning shot for fear of being killed or captured. Neilsen sent a runner back to the camp to raise the alarm, but he never arrived. Surprised and outnumbered, the militia were soon routed and forced to retreat into Warminster. As a result of this engagement, the American forces lost ten wagons full of much-needed supplies, and Lacey had almost 20% of his force killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Lieutenant Nielson, the officer in charge of the pickets, was court-martialed and cashiered from the militia for disobeying orders.
1785 – Kamehameha I, the king of Hawaiʻi, defeats Kalanikūpule and establishes the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. The Battle of Nuʻuanu, fought on the southern part of the island of Oʻahu, was a key battle in the final days of King Kamehameha I’s wars to unify the Hawaiian Islands. It is known in the Hawaiian language as Kalelekaʻanae, which means “the leaping mullet”, and refers to a number of Oahu warriors driven off the cliff in the final phase of the battle. The Battle of Nuʻuanu began when Kamehameha’s forces landed on the southeastern portion of Oʻahu near Waiʻalae and Waikiki. After spending several days gathering supplies and scouting Kalanikupule’s positions, Kamehameha’s army advanced westward, encountering Kalanikupule’s first line of defense near the Punchbowl Crater. Splitting his army into two, Kamehameha sent one half in a flanking maneuver around the crater and the other straight at Kalanikupule. Pressed from both sides, the Oʻahu forces retreated to Kalanikupule’s next line of defense near Laʻimi. While Kamehameha pursued, he secretly detached a portion of his army to clear the surrounding heights of the Nuʻuanu Valley of Kalanikupule’s cannons. Kamehameha also brought up his own cannons to shell Laʻimi. During this part of the battle, both Kalanikupule and Kaiana were wounded, Kaiana fatally. With its leadership in chaos, the Oʻahu army slowly fell back north through the Nuʻuanu Valley to the cliffs at Nuʻuanu Pali. Caught between the Hawaiian Army and a 1000-foot drop, over 400 Oʻahu warriors either jumped or were pushed over the edge of the Pali (cliff). In 1898 construction workers working on the Pali road discovered 800 skulls which were believed to be the remains of the warriors that fell to their deaths from the cliff above.
1810 – During the early 1800s, the United States’ relations with both England and France were particularly chilly. American merchant ships had become ensnared in the Napoleonic Wars, prompting Congress and President Thomas Jefferson to take economic action against the British and French governments. However, their decision to seal off trade with Europe proved to be a bad misstep: the embargo caused most domestic merchants to suffer, while some French traders in fact prospered. Legislators moved to rectify the situation by passing the Non-Intercourse Act (1809), which renewed trade relations between America and Europe, save for Britain and France. However, America soon reopened the waters to trade with its recalcitrant partners. First, in the spring of 1809, President James Madison lifted the embargo against England; then, on this day in 1810, Congress passed Macon’s Bill No. 2, which granted Madison the power to resume trade with England and France. The legislation, which also gave Madison the leeway to slam shut the door to trade with either nation, was hardly a hit at home or abroad: Federalist forces lambasted Macon’s Bill, while the French viewed it as a clear demonstration of America’s pro-British leanings. The hostilities hardly abated and, a few short years later, Madison sailed the nation into the War of 1812.
1844 – Samuel Morse sent the 1st telegraphic message.
1857 – William Walker, conqueror of Nicaragua, surrendered to US Navy.
1863 – Confederate congress passed a resolution to kill black Union soldiers.
1863 – Confederate “National Flag” replaced “Stars & Bars.”
1863 – Battle of Chancellorsville begins in Virginia. Earlier in the year, General Joseph Hooker led the Army of the Potomac into Virginia to confront Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Hooker had recently replaced Ambrose Burnside, who presided over the Army of the Potomac for one calamitous campaign the previous December: The Battle of Fredericksburg, in which the Yankees amassed over 14,000 casualties to the Rebels’ 5,000. After spending the spring retooling and uplifting the sinking morale of his army, Hooker advanced toward the Confederate army, possessing perhaps the greatest advantage over Lee that any Union commander had during the war. His force numbered some 115,000 men, while Lee had just 60,000 present for service. Absent from the Confederate army were two divisions under General James Longstreet, which were performing detached service in southern Virginia. Hooker had a strategically sound plan. He intended to avoid the Confederate trenches that protected a long stretch of the Rappahannock River around Fredericksburg. Placing two-thirds of his forces in front of Fredericksburg to feign a frontal assault and keep the Confederates occupied, he marched the rest of his army up the river, crossed the Rappahannock, and began to move behind Lee’s army. The well-executed plan placed the Army of Northern Virginia in grave danger. But Lee’s tactical brilliance and gambler’s intuition saved him. He split his force, leaving 10,000 troops under Jubal Early to hold the Federals at bay in Fredericksburg, and then marched the rest of his army west to meet the bulk of Hooker’s force. Conflict erupted on May 1 when the two armies met in an open area beyond the Wilderness, the tangled forest just west of the tiny burgh of Chancellorsville. Surprisingly, Hooker ordered his forces to fall back into defensive positions after only limited combat, effectively giving the initiative to Lee. Despite the fact that his army far outnumbered Lee’s, and had the Confederates clamped between two substantial forces, Hooker went on the defensive. In the following days, Lee executed his most daring battle plan. He split his army again, sending Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson further west around the Union’s right flank. The crushing attack snapped the Union army and sent Hooker in retreat to Washington and, perhaps more than any other event during the war, cemented Lee’s invincibility in the eyes of both sides.
1863 – As requested by Secretary Mallory, the Confederate Congress enacted legislation “To create a Provisional Navy of the Confederate States.” The object of the act, as explained by Captain Semmes, was . . . without interfering with the rank of the officers in the Regular Navy, to cull out from the navy list, younger and more active men, and put them in the Provisional Navy, with increased rank. The Regular Navy became, thus, a kind of retired list, and the Secretary of the Navy was enabled to accomplish his object of bringing forward younger officers for active service, without wounding the feelings of the older officers, by promoting their juniors over their heads, on the same list.” At this time the Confederate Congress also provided that: ”. . . all persons serving in the land forces of the Confederate States who shall desire to be transferred to the naval service, and whose transfer as seamen or ordinary seamen shall be applied for by the Secretary of the Navy, shall be transferred from the land to the naval service. . . . The Confederate Navy suffered from an acute shortage of seamen. Mallory complained that the law was not complied with, and that hundreds of men had applied for naval duty but were not transferred.
1864 – Wooden side-wheelers U.S.S. Morse, Lieutenant Commander Babcock, and U.S.S. General Putnam, Acting Master Hugh H. Savage, convoyed 2,500 Army troops up the York River to West Point, Virginia, where the soldiers were landed under the ships’ guns and occupied the town. Another side-wheel steamer, U.S.S. Shawsheen, Acting Master Henry A. Phelon, joined the naval forces later in the day and operated with General Putnam in the Pamunkey River “for covering our troops and resisting any attack which might be made by the enemy.” Morse patrolled the Mattapony River where, Babcock reported, “my guns would sweep the whole plain before the entrenchments.” Army movements, as Rear Admiral Lee had observed of an earlier plan by Major General Benjamin F. Butler, required “a powerful cooperating naval force to cover his landing, protect his position, and keep open his communications.”
1865 – In Charleston, SC, some 10,000 people paraded to a mass grave site of Union soldiers at a former race track. This was likely the 1st large-scale US Memorial Day event.
1866 – The Memphis Race Riots begin. In three days time, 46 blacks and two whites were killed. Reports of the atrocities influenced passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Memphis riots of 1866 were the violent events that ran until May 3 in Memphis, Tennessee. The racial violence was ignited by political, social and racial tensions following the American Civil War, in the early stages of Reconstruction. After a shooting altercation between white policemen and black soldiers recently mustered out of the Union Army, mobs of white civilians and policemen rampaged through black neighborhoods and the houses of freedmen, attacking and killing men, women and children. Federal troops were sent to quell the violence and peace was restored on the third day. A subsequent report by a joint Congressional Committee detailed the carnage, with blacks suffering most of the injuries and deaths: 46 blacks and 2 whites were killed, 75 blacks injured, over 100 black persons robbed, 5 black women raped, and 91 homes, 4 churches and 8 schools burned in the black community. Modern estimates place property losses at over $100,000, also suffered mostly by blacks. Many blacks fled the city permanently; by 1870, their population had fallen by one quarter compared to 1865. Public attention following the riots and reports of the atrocities, together with the New Orleans riot in July, strengthened the case made by Radical Republicans in U.S. Congress. The events influenced passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to grant full citizenship to freedmen, as well as passage of the Reconstruction Act to establish military districts and oversight in certain states. Investigation of the riot suggested specific causes related to competition for housing, work and social space between Irish immigrants and their descendants, and the freedmen. The white gentry also sought to drive freedpeople out of Memphis and back onto plantations where their labor could be exploited. Through violent terrorism, the white community at large sought to force blacks to respect white supremacy as the time of fully legal slavery was nearing its end.
1867 – Reconstruction in the South began with black voter registration.
1875 – 238 members of “Whiskey Ring” were accused of anti-US activities.
1877 – President Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew all Federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction.
1894 – Coxey’s Army, the first significant American protest march, arrives in Washington, D.C. Coxey’s Army was a protest march by unemployed workers from the United States, led by Ohio businessman Jacob Coxey. They marched on Washington D.C. in 1894, the second year of a four-year economic depression that was the worst in United States history to that time. Officially named the Army of the Commonwealth in Christ, its nickname came from its leader and was more enduring. It was the first significant popular protest march on Washington and the expression “Enough food to feed Coxey’s Army” originates from this march. The purpose of the march was to protest the unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893 and to lobby for the government to create jobs which would involve building roads and other public works improvements, with workers paid in paper currency which would expand the currency in circulation, consistent with populist ideology. The march originated with 100 men in Massillon, Ohio, on March 25, 1894, passing through Pittsburgh, Becks Run and Homestead, Pennsylvania, in April.
1896 – Mark Clark, American general, was born. He commanded the Fifth Army in Italy during World War II.
1898 – At Manila Bay in the Philippines, the U.S. Asiatic Squadron destroys the Spanish Pacific fleet in the first battle of the Spanish-American War. Nearly 400 Spanish sailors were killed and 10 Spanish warships wrecked or captured at the cost of only six Americans wounded. The Spanish-American War had its origins in the rebellion against Spanish rule that began in Cuba in 1895. The repressive measures that Spain took to suppress the guerrilla war, such as herding Cuba’s rural population into disease-ridden garrison towns, were graphically portrayed in U.S. newspapers and enflamed public opinion. In January 1898, violence in Havana led U.S. authorities to order the battleship USS Maine to the city’s port to protect American citizens. On February 15, a massive explosion of unknown origin sank the Maine in the Havana harbor, killing 260 of the 400 American crewmembers aboard. An official U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry ruled in March, without much evidence, that the ship was blown up by a mine but did not directly place the blame on Spain. Much of Congress and a majority of the American public expressed little doubt that Spain was responsible, however, and called for a declaration of war. In April, the U.S. Congress prepared for war, adopting joint congressional resolutions demanding a Spanish withdrawal from Cuba and authorizing President William McKinley to use force. On April 23, President McKinley asked for 125,000 volunteers to fight against Spain. The next day, Spain issued a declaration of war. The United States declared war on April 25. U.S. Commodore George Dewey, in command of the seven-warship U.S. Asiatic Squadron anchored north of Hong Kong, was ordered to “capture or destroy” the Spanish Pacific fleet, which was known to be in the coastal waters of the Spanish-controlled Philippines. On April 30, Dewey’s lookouts caught sight of Luzon, the main Philippine island. That night, under cover of darkness and with the lights aboard the U.S. warships extinguished, the squadron slipped by the defensive guns of Corregidor Island and into Manila Bay. After dawn rose, the Americans located the Spanish fleet: 10 out-of-date warships anchored off the Cavite naval station. The U.S. fleet, in comparison, was well armed and well staffed, largely due to the efforts of the energetic assistant secretary of the navy, Theodore Roosevelt, who had also selected Dewey for the command of the Asiatic Squadron. At 5:41 a.m., at a range of 5,400 yards from the enemy, Commodore Dewey turned to the captain of his flagship, the Olympia, and said, “You may fire when ready, Gridley.” Two hours later, the Spanish fleet was decimated, and Dewey ordered a pause in the fighting. He met with his captains and ordered the crews a second breakfast. The four surviving Spanish vessels, trapped in the little harbor at Cavite, refused to surrender, and at 11:15 a.m. fighting resumed. At 12:30 p.m., a signal was sent from the gunboat USS Petrel to Dewey’s flagship: “The enemy has surrendered.” Dewey’s decisive victory cleared the way for the U.S. occupation of Manila in August and the eventual transfer of the Philippines from Spanish to American control. In Cuba, Spanish forces likewise crumbled in the face of superior U.S. forces, and on August 12 an armistice was signed between Spain and the United States. In December, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the brief Spanish-American War. The once-proud Spanish empire was virtually dissolved, and the United States gained its first overseas empire. Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the United States, the Philippines were bought for $20 million, and Cuba became a U.S. protectorate. Philippine insurgents who fought against Spanish rule during the war immediately turned their guns against the new occupiers, and 10 times more U.S. troops died suppressing the Philippines than in defeating Spain.
1898 – USRC McCulloch fought under Commodore George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay. Revenue Captain Daniel B. Hodgson recommended retired at full pay as reward of merit.
1915 – The luxury liner Lusitania left New York Harbor for a voyage to Europe. There were warnings by the German government in NYC newspapers that it regarded the refurbished liner a battle target. She was sunk by a German U-boat six days later.
1915 – A German submarine. U-30, torpedoed the U.S. ship Gulflight I. The American 5,189 ton tanker Gulflight, was built by the New York Shipbuilding Co. of Camden, New Jersey for the Gulf Refining Company (a predecessor of Gulf Oil). It was launched on 8 August 1914. The ship became famous when it was torpedoed early in World War I and became the center of a diplomatic incident which moved the United States closer to war with Germany. The ship survived the attack but was eventually sunk in 1942 by torpedo attack in World War II. Of the 38 crew, there were three fatalities. The captain had suffered a heart attack and two crew members were reported lost when they jumped overboard after the torpedo hit. She was the first American ship to be torpedoed during World War I, although another ship, the Cushing, had been bombed shortly before, again by mistake because no American markings could be seen from what was then a somewhat novel air attack. The German government apologized for attacking Gulflight, but refused to change its strategy of unrestricted submarine warfare. A report by the British admiralty into the attack concluded that the German commander had behaved properly according to “Cruiser rules” defined in international law. A merchant ship under escort by military vessels forfeited any right to be warned before being attacked, so the patrol ships had made Gulflight a legitimate target by taking her under escort. As an American ship, the submarine would not have attacked had he seen her nationality, but apart from an ordinary flag Gulflight was not carrying any additional markings painted on the hull to make clear her nationality, which other ships were then doing. The report also suggested that the tanker being stopped and then slowed down by the accompanying patrol had made her an accessible target. The Admiralty report was not published at the time and official comment did not explain the circumstances.
1916 – Glenn Ford, actor, was born in Quebec, Canada. He starred in the film “The Blackboard Jungle.”
1921 – The first radio fog signals in the United States were placed in commission on Ambrose Lightship, Fire Island Lightship, and Sea Girt Light Station, NJ.
1925 – Malcolm Scott Carpenter, astronaut (Mercury 7-Aurora 7), was born in Boulder, Colo.
1927 – Adolf Hitler held the first Nazi meeting in Berlin.
1934 – The Philippine legislature accepted a U.S. proposal for independence.
1937 – President Franklin Roosevelt signed an act of neutrality, keeping the United States out of World War II.
1943 – LT Akers demonstrates blind landing system for Carrier aviation at College Park, MD in OJ-2 aircraft.
1943 – US forces complete the occupation of Hill 609 in “Mousetrap Valley.” The Axis defenses in Tunisia hold American attempts to advance further.
1943 – Food rationing began in US.
1944 – An American force of 7 battleships and 11 destroyers, commanded by Admiral Lee, bombards Ponape. The carriers of Task Group 58.1 (Admiral Clark) provide cover for the operation.
1944 – The Messerschmitt Me 262 Sturmvogel, the 1st jet bomber, made its first flight.
1945 – Hamburg radio announces that Hitler is dead and that Donitz is the second Fuhrer of the Reich. A German newsreader officially announces that Adolf Hitler has “fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancellery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany”. The Soviet flag is raised over the Reich Chancellery, by order of Stalin. Donitz himself broadcasts, announcing that “it is my duty to save the German people from destruction by Bolshevists.” Meanwhile, in Berlin, Goebbels and his wife commit suicide after poisoning their six children.
1945 – US VADM Barbey lands Australian troops on Tarakan Island, Borneo, supported by naval gunfire.
1945 – The US 1st and 9th Armies are firmly established along the line of the Elbe and Mulde rivers. They have been forbidden to advance farther into the zone designated for Soviet occupation. To the the south, the US 7th Army presses on into Austria.
1947 – Radar for commercial and private planes was 1st demonstrated.
1948 – The People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) was proclaimed. The border between North and South Korea was sealed when Kim Il Sung established his communist regime.
1950 – Guam is organized as a United States commonwealth.
1951 – USS Princeton aircraft attack Hwachon Dam using aerial torpedoes, only use of this weapon in Korean War. They knocked out two floodgates.
1951 – The first phase of the Chinese offensive was halted north of Seoul.
1952 – Marines took part in an atomic explosion training in Nevada.
1960 – An American U-2 spy plane is shot down while conducting espionage over the Soviet Union. The incident derailed an important summit meeting between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that was scheduled for later that month. The U-2 spy plane was the brainchild of the Central Intelligence Agency, and it was a sophisticated technological marvel. Traveling at altitudes of up to 70,000 feet, the aircraft was equipped with state-of-the-art photography equipment that could, the CIA boasted, take high-resolution pictures of headlines in Russian newspapers as it flew overhead. Flights over the Soviet Union began in mid-1956. The CIA assured President Eisenhower that the Soviets did not possess anti-aircraft weapons sophisticated enough to shoot down the high-altitude planes. On May 1, 1960, a U-2 flight piloted by Francis Gary Powers disappeared while on a flight over Russia. The CIA reassured the president that, even if the plane had been shot down, it was equipped with self-destruct mechanisms that would render any wreckage unrecognizable and the pilot was instructed to kill himself in such a situation. Based on this information, the U.S. government issued a cover statement indicating that a weather plane had veered off course and supposedly crashed somewhere in the Soviet Union. With no small degree of pleasure, Khrushchev pulled off one of the most dramatic moments of the Cold War by producing not only the mostly-intact wreckage of the U-2, but also the captured pilot-very much alive. A chagrined Eisenhower had to publicly admit that it was indeed a U.S. spy plane. On May 16, a major summit between the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France began in Paris. Issues to be discussed included the status of Berlin and nuclear arms control. As the meeting opened, Khrushchev launched into a tirade against the United States and Eisenhower and then stormed out of the summit. The meeting collapsed immediately and the summit was called off. Eisenhower considered the “stupid U-2 mess” one of the worst debacles of his presidency. The pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was released in 1962 in exchange for a captured Soviet spy.
1961 – The Prime Minister of Cuba, Fidel Castro, proclaims Cuba a socialist nation and abolishes elections.
1964 – The 1st BASIC program ran on a computer at Dartmouth.
1967 – Secretary of State Dean Rusk charges that the North Vietnamese have rejected 28 peace proposals presented by the US and other nations. Rusk asserts that the US acceptance of these proposals and their rejection by Hanoi ‘throw a light…upon the question of who is interested in peace and who is trying to absorb a neighbor by force.’
1968 – In the second day of battle, U.S. Marines, with the support of naval fire, continued their attack on a North Vietnamese Division at Dai Do.
1969 – The 9th US Marine Regiment begins a two and a half month operation called Virginia Ridge in northern Quangtri Province along the DMZ.
1970 – Protests erupt in Seattle, following the announcement by U.S. President Richard Nixon that U.S. Forces in Vietnam would pursue enemy troops into Cambodia, a neutral country.
1971 – Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) takes over operation of U.S. passenger rail service. Congress passed, and President Richard Nixon signed into law, the Rail Passenger Service Act. Proponents of the bill, led by the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), sought government funding to assure the continuation of passenger trains. They conceived the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (NRPC), a hybrid public-private entity that would receive taxpayer funding and assume operation of intercity passenger trains. The original working brand name for NRPC was Railpax, but shortly before the company started operating it was changed to Amtrak. Any railroad operating intercity passenger service could contract with the NRPC, thereby joining the national system. Participating railroads bought into the NRPC using a formula based on their recent intercity passenger losses. The purchase price could be satisfied either by cash or rolling stock; in exchange, the railroads received NRPC common stock. Any participating railroad was freed of the obligation to operate intercity passenger service after May 1, 1971, except for those services chosen by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as part of a “basic system” of service and paid for by NRPC using its federal funds. Railroads that chose not to join the NRPC system were required to continue operating their existing passenger service until 1975 and thenceforth had to pursue the customary ICC approval process for any discontinuance or alteration to the service. Nearly everyone involved expected the experiment to be short-lived. The Nixon administration and many Washington insiders viewed the NRPC as a politically expedient way for the President and Congress to give passenger trains a “last hurrah” as demanded by the public. They expected Amtrak to quietly disappear as public interest waned. Proponents also hoped that government intervention would be brief, but their view was that Amtrak would soon support itself. Neither view has proved correct. Government subsidy has allowed Amtrak to continue in operation longer than critics imagined. Financial results have made a return to private operation infeasible.
1972 – North Vietnamese troops capture Quang Tri City, the first provincial capital taken during their ongoing offensive. The fall of the city effectively gave the communists control of the entire province of Quang Tri. As the North Vietnamese prepared to continue their attack to the south, 80 percent of Hue’s population–already swollen by 300,000 refugees–fled to Da Nang to get out of the way. Farther south along the coast, three districts oof Binh Dinh Province also fell, leaving about one-third of the province under communist control. These attacks were part of the North Vietnamese Nguyen Hue Offensive (later called the “Easter Offensive”), a massive invasion by North Vietnamese forces designed to strike the blow that would win them the war. 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. Initially, the South Vietnamese defenders were almost overwhelmed, particularly in the northernmost provinces, where they abandoned their positions in Quang Tri. At Kontum and An Loc, the South Vietnamese were more successful in defending against the attacks, but only after weeks of bitter fighting. Although the defenders suffered heavy casualties, they managed to hold their own with the aid of U.S. advisers and American airpower. Fighting continued all over South Vietnam into the summer months, but eventually the South Vietnamese forces prevailed against the invaders, retaking Quang Tri in September. With the communist invasion blunted, President Nixon declared that the South Vietnamese victory proved the viability of his Vietnamization program, which he had instituted in 1969 to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so U.S. troops could be withdrawn.
1975 – The coalition government in Laos formed a year ago is close to collapse. The North Vietnam supported Pathet Lao continues to fight rightist factions. Demonstrations by students and others are increasingly aimed at US buildings and operations.
1980 – As the Mariel Boatlift continued, 11 Navy ships begin operations assisting Coast Guard in rescuing Cuban refugees fleeing Cuba in overcrowded boats.
1981 – Senator Harrison A. Williams Junior (Democrat, New Jersey) was convicted in New York of charges related to the FBI’s “ABSCAM” probe.
1985 – US president Reagan ended embargo against Nicaragua.
1991 – The government of Angola and US-backed guerrillas initialed agreements ending their civil war.
1992 – On the third day of the Los Angeles riots, beaten motorist Rodney King appeared in public to appeal for calm, asking, “Can we all get along?” President Bush delivered a nationally broadcast address in which he vowed to “use whatever force is necessary” to restore order.
1995 – A seminar of international chemical weapons experts convened by UNSCOM concludes that Iraq has not adequately disclosed its past chemical weapons programs.
1997 – In its regular 60-day review, the United Nations Security Council votes again to maintain sanctions on Iraq. This is the37th review since sanctions were first imposed in 1990. This vote, however, does not affect the humanitarian oil sales.
1999 – The Liberty Bell 7 Mercury capsule flown by Gus Grissom, which sank in 1961, was found 300 miles offshore from Cape Canaveral in 3 waters 3 miles deep.
1999 – Pres. Milosevic ordered the release of 3 captive Americans following the appeal of Rev. Jesse Jackson.
1999 – A NATO strike on a bridge in Kosovo, 12 miles north of Pristina, hit a civilian bus and killed between 34 and 60 people including 15 children.
2000 – The US government began allowing civilian GPS receivers to pick up more accurate satellite signals. The sport of geocaching began 2 days later.
2000 – A US State Dept. annual report on efforts to combat terrorism listed Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors for terrorism. The report indicated a shift from the Middle East to South Asia with Afghanistan and Pakistan listed as threatening.
2000 – In Puerto Rico 2 US warships arrived off the coast of Vieques and some 50 protestors braced for the arrival of federal agents.
2001 – Pres. Bush committed the US to a missile defense shield. He also presented his case for withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.
2001 – The space shuttle Endeavour landed at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mohave Desert following the installation of the billion-dollar robot arm on the Int’l. Space Station.
2002 – China’s VP Hu Jintao met with Pres. Bush. Jintao said the Taiwan issue could hurt relations and defended China’s record on human rights. They agreed to resume military exchanges.
2003 – Pres. Bush, standing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, a Navy aircraft carrier in San Diego, announced that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Bush landed on the carrier in a Navy S-3B jet and spoke below a banner that read “Mission Accomplished.”
2003 – Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld visited Afghanistan and declared most of the nation secure. He said the 9,000 US soldiers there were engaged mainly in reconstruction.
2003 – The US Navy withdrew from Vieques Island, Costa Rica.
2003 – Three top members of Saddam Hussein’s ousted regimewere captured: Mizban Khadr Hadi (military commander), Abdel Tawab Mullah Huweish (director of the Office of Military Industrialization and a deputy prime minister in charge of arms procurement), and Taha Muhie-eldin Marouf (a Kurd who served as one of two ceremonial vice presidents).
2003 – The Terrorist Threat Integration Center begins operations.
2004 – In Iraq US top commander Lt. Gen. Sanchez notified 6 officers of his intent to issue a memorandum of reprimand for the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.
2004 – Suspected militants sprayed gunfire inside an oil contractor’s Saudi office, killing at least six people — including two Americans and three other Westerners — and wounding dozens. Police killed four brothers in a shootout after a car chase in which the attackers reportedly dragged the naked body of one victim behind their getaway car.
2007 – First Silver Star Service Banner Day (SSSBD) sponsored by The Silver Star Families of America (SSFOA). SSFOA is a service banner organization dedicated to supporting and assisting our wounded, ill, injured and dying active duty and veterans and their families of ALL branches of service from ALL wars. May 1st is meant to be a day set aside to honor their service and sacrifice; to bring remembrance to those so deserving of our thanks. Since 2007, SSSBD has been observed by all 50 states (including over 3,000 cities, towns and counties), the District of Columbia and Guam. The day has also been endorsed by Resolutions in the US House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as by the POTUS.
2010 – The Times Square car bombing attempt was a planned terrorist attack which was foiled when two street vendors discovered a car bomb and alerted a New York City Police Department (NYPD) patrolman to the threat after they spotted smoke coming from a vehicle. The bomb had been ignited, but failed to explode, and was disarmed before it caused any casualties. Two days later, federal agents arrested Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistan-born resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who had become a U.S. citizen in April 2009. He was arrested after he had boarded Emirates Flight 202 to Dubai at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He admitted attempting the car bombing and said that he had trained at a Pakistani terrorist training camp, according to U.S. officials. United States Attorney General Eric Holder said that Shahzad’s intent had been “to kill Americans”. Shahzad was charged in federal court in Manhattan on May 4 with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and other federal crimes related to explosives. More than a dozen people were arrested by Pakistani officials in connection with the plot. Holder said the Pakistani Taliban directed the attack and may have financed it. On October 5, 2010, Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to a 10-count indictment in June, including charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting an act of terrorism.
2011 – Barack Obama announces that Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attacks has been killed by United States special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Due to the time difference between the United States and Pakistan, bin Laden was actually killed on May 2.
2014 – Shinseki places the director of the Phoenix VA and two aides on administrative leave pending the investigation into the veterans’ deaths.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
MULLEN, PATRICK (Second Award)
G.O. No.: 62, 29 June 1865. Second award. Citation: Served as boatswain’s mate on board the U.S.S. Don, 1 May 1865. Engaged in picking up the crew of picket launch No. 6, which had swamped. Mullen, seeing an officer who was at that time no longer able to keep up and was below the surface of the water, jumped overboard and brought the officer to the boat, thereby rescuing him from drowning, which brave action entitled him to wear a bar on the medal he had already received at Mattox Creek, 17 March 1865.
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company E, 7th U S. Infantry. Place and date: At Chancellorsville, Va., 1 May 1863. Entered service at: ——. Birth: St. Johns, New Brunswick. Date of issue: 28 September 1891. Citation: Took up the colors from the hands of the color bearer who had been shot down and bore them through the remainder of the battle.
SMITH, MAYNARD H. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization. Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 423d Bombardment Squadron, 306th Bomber Group. Place and date: Over Europe, 1 May 1943. Entered service at: Cairo, Mich. Born: 1911, Cairo Mich. G.O. No.: 38, 12 July 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. The aircraft of which Sgt. Smith was a gunner was subjected to intense enemy antiaircraft fire and determined fighter airplane attacks while returning from a mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe on 1 May 1943. The airplane was hit several times by antiaircraft fire and cannon shells of the fighter airplanes, 2 of the crew were seriously wounded, the aircraft’s oxygen system shot out, and several vital control cables severed when intense fires were ignited simultaneously in the radio compartment and waist sections. The situation became so acute that 3 of the crew bailed out into the comparative safety of the sea. Sgt. Smith, then on his first combat mission, elected to fight the fire by himself, administered first aid to the wounded tail gunner, manned the waist guns, and fought the intense flames alternately. The escaping oxygen fanned the fire to such intense heat that the ammunition in the radio compartment began to explode, the radio, gun mount, and camera were melted, and the compartment completely gutted. Sgt. Smith threw the exploding ammunition overboard, fought the fire until all the firefighting aids were exhausted, manned the workable guns until the enemy fighters were driven away, further administered first aid to his wounded comrade, and then by wrapping himself in protecting cloth, completely extinguished the fire by hand. This soldier’s gallantry in action, undaunted bravery, and loyalty to his aircraft and fellow crewmembers, without regard for his own personal safety, is an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.