November 17

17 November

1775 – The Continental Congress unanimously elected Henry Knox “Colonel of the Regiment of Artillery.” The Field Artillery regiment formally entered service on January 1, 1776. This is also considered the birth of the Air Defense Artillery branch.
1777 – Articles of Confederation (United States) are submitted to the states for ratification.
1800The Sixth Congress (2nd session) convened in Washington, D.C. for the first time. Previously, the federal capital had briefly been in other cities, including New York, Philadelphia, and Annapolis, Maryland. George Washington- a surveyor by profession- had been assigned to find a site for a capital city somewhere along the upper Potomac River, which flows between Maryland and Virginia. Apparently expecting to become president, Washington sited the capital at the southernmost possible point, the closest commute from Mount Vernon, despite the fact that this placed the city in a swamp called Foggy Bottom.
1820 – Captain Nathaniel Palmer becomes the first American to see Antarctica. (The Palmer Peninsula is later named after him.)
1842A grim abolitionist meeting was held in Marlboro Chapel, Boston, after the imprisonment under the Fugitive Slave Bill (1793) of a mulatto named George Latimer, one of the first fugitive slaves to be apprehended in Massachusetts. Four hundred dollars was collected to buy his freedom, and plans to storm the jail were prepared as an alternative to secure his release.
1856The United States buttresses its control over the Gadsden Purchase with the establishment of Fort Buchanan. Named for recently elected President James Buchanan, Fort Buchanan was located on the Sonoita River in present-day southern Arizona. The U.S. acquired the bulk of the southwestern corner of the nation from Mexico in 1848 as victors’ spoil after the Mexican War. However, congressional leaders, eager to begin construction of a southern railroad, wished to push the border farther to the south. The government directed the American minister to Mexico, James Gadsden, to negotiate the purchase of an additional 29,000 square miles. Despite having been badly beaten in war only five years earlier and forced to cede huge tracts of land to the victorious Americans, the Mexican ruler Santa Ana was eager to do business with the U.S. Having only recently regained power, Santa Ana was in danger of losing office unless he could quickly find funds to replenish his nearly bankrupt nation. Gadsden and Santa Ana agreed that the narrow strip of southwestern desert land was worth $10 million. When the treaty was signed on December 30, 1853, it became the last addition of territory (aside from the purchase of Alaska in 1867) to the continental United States. The purchase completed the modern-day boundaries of the American West. The government established Fort Buchanan to protect emigrants traveling through the new territory from the Apache Indians, who were strongly resisting Anglo incursions. However, the government was never able to fulfill its original purpose for buying the land and establishing the fort-a southern transcontinental railroad. With the outbreak of the Civil War four years later, northern politicians abandoned the idea of a southern line in favor of a northern route that eventually became the Union Pacific line.
1859Melody utilized in “The Marines’ Hymn” premiered in an Offenbach operetta. Following the war with the Barbary Pirates in 1805, when Lieutenant Presely N. O’Bannon and his small force of Marines participated in the capture of Derne and hoisted the American flag for the first time over a fortress of the Old World, the Colors of the Corps was inscribed with the words: “To the Shores of Tripoli.” After the Marines participated in the capture and occupation of Mexico City and the Castle of Chapultepec, otherwise known as the “Halls of Montezuma,” the words on the Colors were changed to read: “From the Shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma.” Following the close of the Mexican War came the first verse of the Marines’ Hymn, written, according to tradition, by a Marine on duty in Mexico. For the sake of euphony, the unknown author transposed the phrases in the motto on the Colors so that the first two lines of the Hymn would read: “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli.” A serious attempt to trace the tune of the Marines’ Hymn to its source is revealed in correspondence between Colonel A.S. McLemore, USMC, and Walter F. Smith, second leader of the Marine Band. Colonel McLemore wrote: “Major Richard Wallach, USMC, says that in 1878, when he was in Paris, France, the aria to which the Marines’ Hymn is now sung was a very popular one.” The name of the opera and a part of the chorus was secured from Major Wallach and forwarded to Mr. Smith, who replied: “Major Wallach is to be congratulated upon a wonderfully accurate musical memory, for the aria of the Marine Hymn is certainly to be found in the opera, ‘Genevieve de Brabant’. . .The melody is not in the exact form of the Marine Hymn, but is undoubtedly the aria from which it was taken. I am informed, however, by one of the members of the band, who has a Spanish wife, that the aria was one familiar to her childhood and it may, therefore, be a Spanish folk song.” In a letter to Major Harold F. Wirgman, USMC, John Philip Sousa says: “The melody of the ‘Halls of Montezuma’ is taken from Offenbach’s comic opera, ‘Genevieve de Brabant’ and is sung by two gendarmes.” Most people believe that the aria of the Marines’ Hymn was, in fact, taken from “Genevieve de Brabant,” an opera-bouffe (a farcical form of opera, generally termed musical comedy) composed by Jacques Offenbach, and presented at the Theatre de Bouffes Parisians, Paris, on 19 November 1859.
1862 – Union General Burnside marched north out of Washington, D.C. to begin the Fredericksburg Campaign.
1863Nov 17-Dec 4th, Battle of Knoxville, Ten. Confederate General James Longstreet places the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, under siege. After two weeks and one failed attack, he abandoned the siege and rejoined General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The Knoxville campaign began in November when Longstreet took 17,000 troops from Chattanooga and moved to secure eastern Tennessee for the Confederates. Longstreet’s corps was normally part of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, but after the Battle of Gettysburg in July, Longstreet took two of his divisions to shore up the Confederate effort in the West. He and his troops participated in the victory at Chickamauga in September and the siege of Chattanooga in October and November. Longstreet quarreled with Braxton Bragg, the Confederate commander in the West, and he was given independent command of the Department of East Tennessee. Longstreet took his 17,000 troops and moved toward Knoxville. Facing him was General Ambrose Burnside and 5,000 Yankees. Burnside fought a delaying action at Campbell Station on November 16 before retreating into the Knoxville defenses. The next day, Longstreet pulled into position around the north side of the city, but he could not cut off supplies to the Union troops. Longstreet waited for reinforcements to arrive, which they did on November 28. He attacked, but was repulsed with heavy loses. Longstreet continued the siege in order to draw troops away from Chattanooga. The ruse worked, and 25,000 Union troops were dispatched from Chattanooga to chase Longstreet’s force away. Ultimately, Longstreet retreated back to Virginia. His Knoxville campaign was disappointing for the Confederates, who had hoped to secure eastern Tennessee. Longstreet rejoined Lee in the spring after his disappointing turn as head of an independent command.
1875The American Theosophical Society was founded by Mme. Blavatsky and Col. Olcott. Colonel H.S. Olcott helped found the Theosophical Society in New York after a group of third-century Alexandrian scholars. It was set up to study occult phenomena and literature. Early members included Thomas Edison and Gen. Abner Doubleday. Its 3 main principles were: “To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color; to encourage the comparative study of religion, science and philosophy; and to investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.
1913 – The first ship sailed through the Panama Canal.
1914 – US declared Panama Canal Zone neutral.
1917The Marine Corps’ Leatherneck Magazine established. In 1917 a couple of enlisted Marines wanted a newspaper for themselves and their fellow Marines stationed at Quantico, Va. They wanted stories and features that chronicled their Corps and contained news of specific interest to Marines. With the assistance of the Army-Navy YMCA, the men, in their off-duty time, published their first newspaper on Nov. 17, 1917, and they called it The Quantico Leatherneck. In 1918 the word Quantico was dropped from the title. The base commander gave the paper his imprimatur. Funding was paid by advertisements from local merchants catering to the base Marines and sailors. The result was a one-fold, four-page, broadsheet newspaper. By 1920 The Quantico Leatherneck was very popular with enlisted men and officers alike. The men who ran the paper were, nonetheless, Marines and subject to transfer. If the paper was to continue, the Marine Corps would have to step in. This happened during the era of Major General John A. Lejeune, who as Commandant of the Marine Corps not only wanted his Marines to have a newspaper but also wanted to raise the level of knowledge and education in the Corps. As a result, he formed the Marine Corps Institute (MCI). It seemed a natural marriage to move the newspaper from Quantico to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., and put it under the auspices of MCI. In 1925 Leatherneck’s format was changed from that of a newspaper to a magazine. It remained a small circulation magazine in a small Corps. Prior to World War II, the Corps was smaller than the New York City Police Department. As such, a circulation of 13,000 to 17,000 Marine readers during the Great Depression was exceptionally good. It was during this time that professional illustrations and photos in Leatherneck became prominent. Japanese Zero aircraft spitting bullets at the Marine Corps Air Station, Ewa, Hawaii, and at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, signaled a tremendous expansion of the Corps and, proportionately, of Leatherneck magazine. The Corps also enlisted its own combat correspondents, many with civilian experience gained from working on the nation’s best commercial newspapers and magazines. Many of them were assigned to Leatherneck. The magazine reflected this with an even higher level of professional news and feature stories, high-quality art, and photos. The Leatherneck staff grew to more than 100 and published an overseas edition (without advertisements) for Marines island-hopping across the Pacific. Circulation reached 225,000. Leatherneck also ensured that Marines in every clime and place received all the news through free distribution of civilian magazines. While the Marine Corps may have its own cadre of public affairs talent, it traditionally has not had a compelling interest in managing the news for Marines and did not want its commanders to be distracted in this area. In 1943 Corps officials decided that Leatherneck magazine should be more autonomous. Thus, the Leatherneck Association was founded. Under the purview of Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, the association was governed by HQMC-based officers. The sole purpose of the association was to manage Leatherneck in the interests of the Marine Corps and to provide a governing body answerable only to the Commandant. After the war’s end, Leatherneck’s circulation dropped proportionately with the number of Marines who had earned enough overseas points to be shipped home and back to civilian life. Many of the Leatherneck staff went back to the various news media they had left. A great number went on to fame as writers, editors, artists and photographers. Some of the magazine’s department positions were converted to civilian billets. In several cases the Marine who occupied a billet when it was converted went to work the next day as a civilian. Even so, Leatherneck was still staffed primarily by active-duty Marines until 1972 when all billets for Marines at Leatherneck were eliminated and moved to more needed positions in the Corps. That same year, the magazine’s offices moved back to Quantico. Four years later, in 1976, the Leatherneck Association merged with the Marine Corps Association in a partnership that has proven beneficial to both organizations. Today Leatherneck boasts a circulation of nearly 100,000 readers. And although the look of the magazine has evolved dramatically since its inception, its mission remains the same: to be the magazine of Marines—yesterday, today and tomorrow.
1917 – USS Fanning (DD-37) and USS Nicholson (DD-52) sink first enemy submarine, U-58, off Milford Haven, Wales. U-58 had been responsible for sinking 21 ships for a total of 30.901 tons in commercial shipping.
1918 – Influenza deaths reported in the U.S. far exceeded World War I casualties.
1918 – The 4th Marine Brigade, as part of the 2d Division, American Expeditionary Force, began its march to the Rhine River, passing through Belgium and Luxembourg, as part of the American forces occupying a defeated Germany.
1924USS Langley, first aircraft carrier, reports for duty. USS Langley, a 11,500-ton aircraft carrier, was converted from the collier USS Jupiter (Collier # 3) beginning in 1920. Commissioned in March 1922, Langley was the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier. In October-November 1922, she launched, recovered and catapulted her first aircraft during initial operations in the Atlantic and Caribbean areas. Transferred to the Pacific in 1924, Langley was the platform from which Naval Aviators, guided by Captain Joseph M. Reeves, undertook the development of carrier operating techniques and tactics that were essential to victory in World War II. Though newer, larger and faster aircraft carriers arrived in the fleet in the later 1920s, the old “Covered Wagon” remained an operational carrier until October 1936, when she began conversion to a seaplane tender. Reclassified AV-3 following completion of this work in early 1937, Langley was mainly employed in the Pacific for the rest of her days. She was sent to the Far East in 1939 and was still there when the Pacific War began in December 1941. Through the early months of the conflict, she supported seaplane patrols and provided aircraft transportation services. While carrying Army fighters to the Netherlands East Indies on 27 February 1942, Langley was attacked by Japanese aircraft. Hit by several bombs and disabled, she was scuttled by her escorting destroyers.
1933US recognized USSR and opened trade. The United States had refused to recognize the USSR because of Communist propaganda which promoted Communist revolutions around the world. However, the U.S. recognized the USSR in 1933 in order to limit Japanese expansion in the Far East. The Soviet Union promised to discuss debts with the U.S., end propaganda efforts in the U.S., and protect the rights of Americans in the USSR. None of the terms of the deal were followed as the U.S. did not provide a large loan that the USSR had expected.
1941 – Congress amends Neutrality Act to allow U.S. merchant ships to be armed. Navy’s Bureau of Navigation directs Navy personnel with Armed Guard training to be assigned for further training before going to Armed Guard Centers for assignment to merchant ships.
1942 – A Japanese convoy successfully lands 1000 troops at Buna, New Guinea. The Japanese strongholds at Gona, Buna and Sanananada are well fortified and now well garrisoned.
1944 – Around Aachen, both US 1st and 9th Armies advance. To the right, German forces facing US 3rd and 7th Armies conduct withdrawals after which the American forces advance. On the right flank of the Allied line, the French 1st Army reaches Montbeliard in its drive to Belfort.
1944 – The USS Spadefish sinks the Japanese fleet carrier Junyo in the China Sea.
1947 – American scientists John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain observe the basic principles of the transistor, a key element for the electronics revolution of the 20th century.
1951 – At Panmunjom, the U.N. negotiators proposed acceptance of the current line of contact, provided other issues outstanding at the truce talks were settled within 30 days. U.N. ground action was permitted to continue.
1952 – Colonel Royal N. Baker, commander of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing shot down his fifth enemy aircraft to become the Korean War’s 21st ace.
1952 – Naval air forces of Task Force 77 began a two-day bombing campaign targeting Hoeryong on the Tumen River in North Korea.
1954General J. Lawton Collins arrives in Saigon. Affirming $100 million in US aid, he announces, ‘I have come to Vietnam to bring every possible aid to the Government of Diem and to his Government only…. It is the legal government in Vietnam, and the aid which the United States will lend it ought to permit the government to save the county.’ Warning that the Army will receive US military aid only if it supports Diem, Collins announces, ‘This American mission will soon take charge of instructing the Vietnamese Army.’
1955 – Navy sets up Special Projects Office under Rear Admiral William F. Raborn, USN, to develop a solid propellant ballistic missile for use in submarines.
1965During part of what would become known as the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, a battalion from the 1st Cavalry Division is ambushed by the 8th Battalion of the North Vietnamese 66th Regiment. The battle started several days earlier when the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry engaged a large North Vietnamese force at Landing Zone X-Ray at the base of the Cheu Pong hills (Central Highlands). As that battle subsided, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, was ordered to move cross-country to Landing Zone Albany, where it was to be picked up by helicopter and moved to a new location. The U.S. unit was moving through the jungle in a long column when the North Vietnamese sprang a massive ambush along the length of the column from all sides. Companies C and D took the brunt of the Communist attack–within minutes, most of the men from the two companies were hit. The North Vietnamese forces had succeeded in engaging the U.S. forces in very tight quarters, where supporting U.S. firepower could not be used without endangering American lives. The cavalrymen returned fire, but the Communistss were fighting from prepared fighting positions and many of the American leaders had been felled in the initial stages of the ambush. As night fell, the cavalrymen waited for the North Vietnamese to attack but illumination flares provided by air force aircraft made the enemy cautious. By morning, they had withdrawn. Senior U.S. military leaders declared the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley an American victory. That had clearly been the case with the fight at Landing Zone X-Ray, where the three-day battle resulted in 834 North Vietnamese soldiers confirmed killed with another 1,000 communist casualties likely. However, the battle at Landing Zone Albany was another story. Although there were over 400 enemy soldiers lying on the battlefield after the fighting was over, the battle had been an extremely costly one for the 1st Cavalry troopers. Of the 500 men in the original column moving to Landing Zone Albany, 150 had been killed and only 84 were able to return to immediate duty. 93 percent of Company C sustained some sort of wound or injury–half of them died. The Battle of the Ia Drang Valley was important because it was the first significant contact between U.S. troops and North Vietnamese forces. The action demonstrated that the North Vietnamese were prepared to stand and fight major battles, and senior American leaders concluded that U.S. forces could wreak significant damage on the communists in such battles. The North Vietnamese also learned a valuable lesson during the battle: they saw that they could negate the effects of superior American firepower by engaging American troops in physically close combat, so that U.S. artillery and air fire could not be used without endangering American lives. This became standard North Vietnamese practice for the rest of the war.
1967Surveyor 6 made a six-second flight on moon, the first lift off on lunar surface. This spacecraft was the fourth of the Surveyor series to successfully achieve a soft landing on the moon, obtain postlanding television pictures, determine the abundance of the chemical elements in the lunar soil, obtain touchdown dynamics data, obtain thermal and radar reflectivity data, and conduct a Vernier engine erosion experiment. Virtually identical to Surveyor 5, this spacecraft carried a television camera, a small bar magnet attached to one footpad, and an alpha-scattering instrument as well as the necessary engineering equipment. It landed on November 10, 1967, in Sinus Medii, 0.49 deg in latitude and 1.40 deg w longitude – the center of the moon’s visible hemisphere. This spacecraft accomplished all planned objectives and also performed a successful ‘hop’ rising approximately 4 m and moving laterally about 2.5 m to a new location on the lunar surface. The successful completion of this mission satisfied the Surveyor program’s obligation to the Apollo project. On November 24, 1967, the spacecraft was shut down for the 2-week lunar night. Contact was made on December 14, 1967, but no useful data were obtained.
1969Soviet and U.S. negotiators meet in Helsinki to begin the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). The meeting was the climax of years of discussions between the two nations concerning the means to curb the Cold War arms race. Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Gerard Smith was put in charge of the U.S. delegation. At the same time, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger began negotiations with the Soviet ambassador in America. The negotiations continued for nearly three years, until the signing of the SALT I agreement in May 1972. Talks centered around two main weapon systems: anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) and multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs- missiles with multiple warheads, each capable of striking different targets). At the time the talks began, the Soviets held a slight advantage in ABM technology; the United States, however, was quickly moving ahead in developing MIRVs, which would give it a tremendous qualitative advantage over Soviet offensive missile systems. From the U.S. perspective, control of ABMs was key. After all, no matter how many missiles the United States developed, if the Soviets could shoot them down before they struck their targets they were of limited use. And, since the Soviets had a quantitative lead in the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), an effective Soviet ABM system meant that the Russians could launch devastating nuclear attacks with little fear of reprisal. From the Soviet side, the U.S. development of MIRV technology was particularly frightening. Not only were MIRV missiles technologically superior to Soviet weapons, there were also questions as to whether even an advanced ABM system could protect the Soviet Union from this type of missile. It was obviously time to discuss what seemed to be a never-ending arms race. The SALT I agreement reached in May 1972 limited each nation to no more than 100 ABM launchers at each of two sites of their own choosing. Offensive weapons were also limited. The United States would be held to 1,000 ICBMs and 710 SLBMs; the Soviets could have 1,409 ICBMs and 950 SLBMs. The administration of President Richard Nixon defended the apparent disparity by noting that nothing had been agreed to concerning MIRVs. American missiles, though fewer in number, could therefore carry more warheads. Whether all of this made the world much safer was hard to say. The United States and Soviet Union essentially said they would limit efforts to both defend themselves and destroy the other. Their nuclear arsenals, however, were still sufficient to destroy the world many times over.
1970The court-martial of 1st Lt. William Calley begins. Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade (Light) of the 23rd (Americal) Division, had led his men in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, at My Lai 4 on March 16, 1968. My Lai 4 was one of a cluster of hamlets that made up Son My village in the northern area of South Vietnam. The company had been conducting a search-and-destroy mission as part of the yearlong Operation Wheeler/Wallowa (November 1967-November 1968). In search of the 48th Viet Cong Local Force Battalion, the unit entered the village but found only women, children, and old men. Frustrated by unanswered losses due to snipers and mines, the soldiers took out their anger on the villagers, indiscriminately shooting innocent people as they ran from their huts. They then systematically rounded up the survivors, allegedly leading them to nearby ditch and killing them. Calley was charged with six specifications of premeditated murder. During the trial, Chief Army Prosecutor Capt. Aubrey Daniel charged that Calley ordered Sgt. Daniel Mitchell to “finish off the rest” of the rounded-up villagers. The prosecution stressed that all the killings were committed despite the fact that Calley’s platoon had met no resistance and that no one had fired on the men. The My Lai massacre was initially covered up, but came to light a year later. An Army board of inquiry, headed by Lt. Gen. William Peers, investigated the massacre and produced a list of 30 persons who knew of the atrocity, but only 14, including Calley and his company commander, Capt. Ernest Medina, were charged with crimes. All eventually had their charges dismissed or were acquitted by courts-martial except Calley, whose platoon allegedly killed 200 innocent people. Calley was found guilty of personally murdering 22 civilians and sentenced to life imprisonment, but his sentence was reduced to 20 years by the Court of Military Appeals and further reduced to 10 years by the Secretary of the Army. Proclaimed by much of the public as a “scapegoat,” Calley was paroled in 1974.
1973 – President Nixon told an Associated Press managing editors meeting in Orlando, Fla., that “people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.”
1973 – The “Largest Icebreaker in the Western World,” CGC Polar Star, is launched.
1979 – Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the release of 13 female and black American hostages being held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
1987Ronald Reagan was sharply criticized by Congress, when a report from congressional committees investigating the Iran-Contra scandal said: “If the president did not know what his national security advisers were doing, he should have.” National Security Adviser John Poindexter and his aide Oliver North traded arms for hostages in the Middle East and then diverted the profits to the rebels trying to overthrow the Marxist government of Nicaragua, which Congress had banned. Most constitutional scholars think Reagan had a good chance of getting the Supreme Court to throw out the congressional ban as an unconstitutional usurpation of executive powers.
1987 – A federal jury in Denver convicted two neo-Nazis and acquitted two others of civil rights violations in the 1984 slaying of radio talk show host Alan Berg.
1989 – The Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite was launched. It provided evidence for the “Big Bang” that spawned the universe 10-20 billion years ago. Dr. David T. Wilkinson (1935-2002) was the driving force behind the launch.
1993Clinton administration calls off the manhunt for Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Mohamed Farrah Aidid (1934 – August 1, 1996) was a Somali politician and the leader of the Habr Gidr clan, who hindered international famine relief efforts in the early 1990s and challenged the presence of United Nations and United States troops in the country. Aidid was one of the main targets of Operation Restore Hope, the U.N. and U.S. military operation to provide humanitarian aid and breaking the military siege in Somalia. Aidid was educated in Rome and Moscow and served in the government of Mohamed Siad Barre in several capacities; in the end as intelligence chief. Barre suspected him of planning an overthrow and had him imprisoned for six years. In 1991, the clan of Aidid did indeed overthrow Barre, and Aidid emerged as a major force in the ensuing civil war. Aidid hindered international food deliveries and attacked U.N. forces in 1992. As a result, the US put a $25,000 bounty on his head and attempted to capture him. In October 3, 1993 a force of U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force operators set out to capture several officials of Aidid’s militia in an area of the Somalian capital city of Mogadishu, controlled by him. The operation did not go as planned, and 18 American soldiers as well as about 350 Somalis died as a result. The events are commonly known as the Battle of Mogadishu or the Battle of Bakara Market. America withdrew its forces soon after, and the U.N. left Somalia in 1995. Aidid then declared himself president of Somalia, but his government was not internationally recognized. Aidid died in August 1, 1996 possibly as a result of gunshot wounds sustained a week earlier in a fight with competing factions.
1994 – Francisco Martin Duran, the Colorado man accused of an assault-rifle attack on the White House, was indicted on a new charge of trying to assassinate President Clinton.
1995The commander of US forces in the Pacific called the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl “absolutely stupid” and said in Washington the incident could have been avoided if the US servicemen involved had simply paid for sex. Admiral Richard C. Macke later apologized for his remarks, and took early retirement.
1997In Egypt 6 gunmen killed over 65 tourists at the Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor. The assailants, members of the Gamaa al-Islamiya, were all killed. The attack was meant to force the US to release Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman who was serving a life term for a plot to bomb NYC landmarks. The assailants, members of the Gamaa al-Islamiya, were all killed. It was later reported that Mustafa Hamza ordered the attack and that he was financed by Osama bin Laden. Mohamed Ali Hassan Mokhlis, a suspected planner of the attack, was arrested in Uruguay in 1999 and handed over to Egypt in 2003.
1998 – In Iraq UN weapons inspectors returned to resume work.
2000The Florida Supreme Court froze the state’s presidential tally, forbidding Secretary of State Katherine Harris from certifying results of the marathon vote count. Also, a federal appeals court refused to block recounts under way in two heavily Democratic counties.
2001 – Two US sailors, Benjamin Johnson and Vincent Parker, were missing after the oil tanker Samra sank in the northern Persian Gulf. The ship was suspected of smuggling Iraqi oil. Naval personnel had boarded the ship to inspect it.
2001 – The Taliban confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden’s military chief Mohammed Atef in an airstrike three days earlier.
2001 – In Afghanistan Burhanuddin Rabbani, the political leader of the Northern Alliance, returned to Kabul. This complicated efforts for a broad-based government. US warplanes continued to bomb around Kunduz and Kandahar.
2001 – In Canada finance ministers of the G-20 nations agreed to freeze terrorist assets and to implement a UN resolution against terrorist financing.
2001 – Kosovo voted in a symbolic step toward independence. Ibrahim Rugova claimed victory the next day and issued a call for quick independence. Ex-rebel leader Hashim Thaci made a strong showing and a coalition was expected.
2002 – Tawfiq Fukra (23), an Israeli Arab accused of trying to hijack an El Al Airlines flight, wanted to copy the September 11 suicide attacks on the United States and fly the aircraft into a public building in Tel Aviv.
2003In Greece riot squads fired tear gas to disperse groups protesters throwing gasoline bombs and rocks at police guarding the US Embassy as thousands marched during a rally held to mark the anniversary of a student-led uprising in 1973. Demonstrations are held each year to protest the belief that Washington gave vital support to the 1967-74 military dictatorship that crushed the student rebellion. The November 17 or N-17 Terrorist group takes its name from the 1973 uprising.
2003 – Mexico dismissed UN Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar following his comments that the US regards Mexico as a 2nd-class country.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

MITCHELL, THOMAS
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1857, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Richmond, Mitchell rescued from drowning, M. F. Caulan, first class boy, serving with him on the same vessel, at Shanghai, China, 17 November 1879.

BEARSS, HIRAM IDDINGS
Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 13 April 1875, Peru, Ind. Appointed from: Indiana. Other Navy award: Distinguished Service Medal. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle at the junction of the Cadacan and Sohoton Rivers, Samar, Philippine Islands, 17 November 1901. Col. Bearss (then Capt.), second in command of the columns upon their uniting ashore in the Sohoton River region, made a surprise attack on the fortified cliffs and completely routed the enemy, killing 30 and capturing and destroying the powder magazine, 40 lantacas (guns), rice, food and cuartels. Due to his courage, intelligence, discrimination and zeal, he successfully led his men up the cliffs by means of bamboo ladders to a height of 200 feet. The cliffs were of soft stone of volcanic origin, in the nature of pumice, and were honeycombed with caves. Tons of rocks were suspended in platforms held in position by vine cables (known as bejuco) in readiness to be precipitated upon people below. After driving the insurgents from their position which was almost impregnable, being covered with numerous trails lined with poison spears, pits, etc., he led his men across the river, scaled the cliffs on the opposite side, and destroyed the camps there. Col. Bearss and the men under his command overcame incredible difficulties and dangers in destroying positions which, according to reports from old prisoners, had taken 3 years to perfect, were held as a final rallying point, and were never before penetrated by white troops. Col. Bearss also rendered distinguished public service in the presence of the enemy at Quinapundan River, Samar, Philippine Islands, on 19 January 1902.

PORTER, DAVID DIXON
Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 29 April 1877, Washington, D.C. Appointed from: District of Columbia. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle at the junction of the Cadacan and Sohoton Rivers, Samar, Philippine Islands, 17 November 1901. In command of the columns upon their uniting ashore in the Sohoton Region, Col. Porter (then Capt. ) made a surprise attack on the fortified cliffs and completely routed the enemy, killing 30 and capturing and destroying the powder magazine, 40 lantacas (guns), rice, food and cuartels. Due to his courage, intelligence, discrimination and zeal, he successfully led his men up the cliffs by means of bamboo ladders to a height of 200 feet. The cliffs were of soft stone of volcanic origin, in the nature of pumice and were honeycombed with caves. Tons of rocks were suspended in platforms held in position by vines and cables (known as bejuco) in readiness to be precipitated upon people below. After driving the insurgents from their position which was almost impregnable, being covered with numerous trails lined with poisoned spears, pits, etc., Col. Porter led his men across the river, scaled the cliffs on the opposite side, and destroyed the camps there. He and the men under his command overcame incredible difficulties and dangers in destroying positions which, according to reports from old prisoners, had taken 3 years to perfect, were held as a final rallying post, and were never before penetrated by white troops. Col. Porter also rendered distinguished public service in the presence of the enemy at Quinapundan River, Samar, Philippine Islands, on 26 October 1901.

BUTLER, SMEDLEY DARLINGTON (Second Award)
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 30 July 1881, West Chester, Pa. Appointed from: Pennsylvania. Other Navy awards: Second Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Medal. Citation: As Commanding Officer of detachments from the 5th, 13th, 23d Companies and the marine and sailor detachment from the U.S.S. Connecticut, Maj. Butler led the attack on Fort Riviere, Haiti, 17 November 1915. Following a concentrated drive, several different detachments of marines gradually closed in on the old French bastion fort in an effort to cut off all avenues of retreat for the Caco bandits. Reaching the fort on the southern side where there was a small opening in the wall, Maj. Butler gave the signal to attack and marines from the 15th Company poured through the breach, engaged the Cacos in hand-to-hand combat, took the bastion and crushed the Caco resistance. Throughout this perilous action, Maj. Butler was conspicuous for his bravery and forceful leadership.

GROSS, SAMUEL
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Marine Corps, 23d Co. (Real name is Marguiles, Samuel.) Born: 9 May 1891, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. Citation: In company with members of the 5th, 13th, 23d Companies and the marine and sailor detachment from the U.S.S. Connecticut, Gross participated in the attack on Fort Riviere, Haiti, 17 November 1915. Following a concentrated drive, several different detachments of marines gradually closed in on the old French bastion fort in an effort to cut off all avenues of retreat for the Caco bandits. Approaching a breach in the wall which was the only entrance to the fort, Gross was the second man to pass through the breach in the face of constant fire from the Cacos and, thereafter, for a 10-minute period, engaged the enemy in desperate hand-to-hand combat until the bastion was captured and Caco resistance neutralized.

IAMS, ROSS LINDSEY
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, 5th Co. Born: 5 May 1879, Graysville, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. Citation: In company with members of the 5th, 13th, 23d Companies and marine and sailor detachment from the U.S.S. Connecticut, Sgt. Iams participated in the attack on Fort Riviere, Haiti, 17 November 1915. Following a concentrated drive, several different detachments of marines gradually closed in on the old French bastion fort in an effort to cut off all avenues of retreat for the Caco bandits. Approaching a breach in the wall which was the only entrance to the fort, Sgt. Iams unhesitatingly jumped through the breach despite constant fire from the Cacos and engaged the enemy in a desperate hand-to-hand combat until the bastion was captured and Caco resistance neutralized.

*RAY, BERNARD J.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company F, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. Place and date: Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany, 17 November 1944. Entered service at: Baldwin, N.Y. Birth: Brooklyn, N.Y. G.O. No.: 115, 8 December 1945. Citation: He was platoon leader with Company F, 8th Infantry, on 17 November 1944, during the drive through the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany. The American forces attacked in wet, bitterly cold weather over rough, wooded terrain, meeting brutal resistance from positions spaced throughout the forest behind minefields and wire obstacles. Small arms, machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire caused heavy casualties in the ranks when Company F was halted by a concertina-type wire barrier. Under heavy fire, 1st Lt. Ray reorganized his men and prepared to blow a path through the entanglement, a task which appeared impossible of accomplishment and from which others tried to dissuade him. With implacable determination to clear the way, he placed explosive caps in his pockets, obtained several bangalore torpedoes, and then wrapped a length of highly explosive primer cord about his body. He dashed forward under direct fire, reached the barbed wire and prepared his demolition charge as mortar shells, which were being aimed at him alone, came steadily nearer his completely exposed position. He had placed a torpedo under the wire and was connecting it to a charge he carried when he was severely wounded by a bursting mortar shell. Apparently realizing that he would fail in his self-imposed mission unless he completed it in a few moments he made a supremely gallant decision. With the primer cord still wound about his body and the explosive caps in his pocket, he completed a hasty wiring system and unhesitatingly thrust down on the handle of the charger, destroying himself with the wire barricade in the resulting blast. By the deliberate sacrifice of his life, 1st Lt. Ray enabled his company to continue its attack, resumption of which was of positive significance in gaining the approaches to the Cologne Plain.

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One thought on “November 17

  1. r. h. says:

    1967 – Johnson claims progress

    Following an optimistic briefing in the White House by General Westmoreland, Ambassador Bunker, and Robert Komer, President Johnson tells the America public on TV, “We are inflicting greater losses than we’re taking. We are making progress.”

    In a Time magazine interview, General Westmoreland taunts the Viet Cong, saying “I hope they try something because we are looking for a fight.”

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