1762 – France ceded to Spain all lands west of the Mississippi- the territory known as Upper Louisiana.
1775 – LT John Paul Jones raises the Grand Union flag on Alfred. First American flag raised over American naval vessel.
1800 – US state electors met and cast their ballots for the presidency. A tie resulted between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.
1806 – Henry Alexander Wise (d.1876), Brig General (Confederate Army), was born. American political leader and Confederate general in the Civil War, b. Accomac, Va. A lawyer, he was successively a Jackson Democrat, a Whig, and a Tyler Democrat in Congress (1833–44). He was minister to Brazil from 1844 to 1847. An outspoken defender of slavery, Wise defeated (1855) the Know-Nothing candidate for governor of Virginia by accusing that party of abolitionism, thereby breaking the Know-Nothing movement in the South. One of his last official acts as governor (1856–60) was to sign the death warrant of John Brown. Although he opposed secession, when war broke out he became a Confederate brigadier general, distinguishing himself in the defense of Petersburg against General Grant’s first assault (1864) and in the retreat to Appomattox.
1818 – Illinois achieves full statehood on this day. Though Illinois presented unique challenges to immigrants unaccustomed to the soil and vegetation of the area, it grew to become a bustling and densely populated state. The strange but beautiful prairie lands east of the Mississippi and north of Lake Michigan presented a difficult challenge to the tide of westward-moving immigrants. Accustomed to the heavily forested lands of states like Kentucky and Tennessee, the early immigrants to Illinois did not know what to make of the vast treeless stretches of the prairie. Most pioneers believed that the fertility of soil revealed itself by the abundance of vegetation it supported, so they assumed that the lack of trees on the prairie signaled inferior farmland. Those brave souls who did try to farm the prairie found that their flimsy plows were inadequate to cut through prairie sod thickly knotted with deep roots. In an “age of wood,” farmers also felt helpless without ready access to the trees they needed for their tools, homes, furniture, fences, and fuel. For all these reasons, most of the early Illinois settlers remained in the southern part of the state, where they built homes and farms near the trees that grew along the many creek and river bottoms. The challenge of the prairies slowed emigration into the region; when Illinois was granted statehood in 1818, the population was only about 35,000, and most of the prairie was still largely unsettled. Gradually, though, a few tough Illinois farmers took on the difficult task of plowing the prairie and discovered that the soil was far richer than they had expected. The development of heavy prairie plows and improved access to wood and other supplies through new shipping routes encouraged even more farmers to head out into the vast northern prairie lands of Illinois. By 1840, the center of population in Illinois had shifted decisively to the north, and the once insignificant hamlet of Chicago rapidly became a bustling city. The four giant prairie counties of northern Illinois, which were the last to be settled, boasted population densities of 18 people per square mile. Increasingly recognized as one of the nation’s most fertile agricultural areas, the vast emptiness of the Illinois prairie was eagerly conquered by both pioneers and plows.
1826 – Union General George McClellan is born in Philadelphia. Although McClellan emerged early in the war as a Union hero, he failed to effectively prosecute the war in the East. McClellan graduated from West Point in 1846, second in his class. He served with distinction in the Mexican War under General Winfield Scott, and continued in the military until 1857. After retiring from the service, McClellan served as president of the Illinois Central Railroad, where he became acquainted with Abraham Lincoln, who was then an attorney for the company. When the war began, McClellan was appointed major general in charge of the Ohio volunteers. In 1861, he command Union forces in western Virginia, where his reputation grew as the Yankees won many small battles and secured control of the region. Although many historians have argued that it was McClellan’s subordinates who deserved most of the credit, McClellan was elevated to commander of the main Union army in the east, the Army of the Potomac, following that army’s humiliating defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run. McClellan took command in July 1861 and did an admirable job of building an effective force. He was elevated to general-in-chief of all Union armies when his commander during the Mexican War, Scott, retired at the end of October. McClellan was beloved by his soldiers but was arrogant and contemptuous of Lincoln and the Republican leaders in Congress. A staunch Democrat, he was opposed to attacking the institution of slavery as a war measure. While his work as an administrator earned high marks, his weakness was revealed when he took the field with his army in the spring of 1862. He lost to Robert E. Lee during the Seven Days’ battles, and as a field commander he was sluggish, hesitant, and timid. President Lincoln then moved most of McClellan’s command to John Pope, but Pope was beaten badly by Lee at the Second Battle of Bull Run. When Lee invaded Maryland in September 1862, Lincoln restored McClellan’s command. Though the president had grave misgivings about McClellan’s leadership, he wrote during the emergency that “we must use the tools we have…There is no man in the Army who can man these fortifications and lick these troops into shape half as well as he.” McClellan pursued Lee into western Maryland, and on September 17 the two armies fought to a standstill along Antietam Creek. Heavy loses forced Lee to return to Virginia, providing McClellan with a nominal victory. Shortly after the battle, Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation, which converted the war into a crusade against slavery, a measure bitterly criticized by McClellan. The general’s failure to pursue Lee into Virginia led Lincoln to order McClellan’s permanent removal in November. The Democrats nominated McClellan for president in 1864. He ran against his old boss, but managed to garner only 21 of 233 electoral votes. After the war, he served as governor of New Jersey. He died on October 29, 1885, in Orange, New Jersey.
1828 – Andrew Jackson was elected 7th president of the United States over John Quincy Adams. Resentment of the restrictive credit policies of the first central bank, the Bank of the United States, fueled a populist backlash that elected Andrew Jackson.
1862 – Confederate rebels attacked a Federal forage train on the Hardin Pike near Nashville, Tenn.
1863 – Confederate General Longstreet abandoned his siege at Knoxville, Ten., and moved his army east and north toward Greeneville. This withdrawal marked the end of the Fall Campaign in Tennessee.
1864 – Major General William Tecumseh Sherman met up with some resistance from Confederate troops at Thomas Station on his march to the sea. Kilpatrick’s cavalry division [Union], supported by Baird’s division, 14th Corps, moving on the extreme left of General Sherman’s army, reached the Augusta and Savannah Railroad and encamped, with Baird at Thomas’ Station (0.2 mile E) and Kilpatrick a mile N, both astride the rail and wagon roads. Details from both divisions began destroying the railroad. The main body, 14th Corps, with the artillery and trains, camped at Lumpkin’s Station, 4 miles S. That night, Wheeler’s cavalry [Confederate] attacked the work details and shelled the camps, but after sharp skirmishing the attackers were repulsed by the 92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry without delaying the work of destruction. Next morning, supported by two of Baird’s infantry brigades, Kilpatrick, moved N to accomplish his mission of destroying the bridges over Brier Creek, N and E of Waynesboro. Finding Wheeler lightly entrenched S of the town, Kilpatrick attacked and, after hard fighting, forced him to retire beyond Brier Creek. Baird’s third brigade remained at Thomas’ Station to complete the destruction of three miles of track then, with the division trains, marched to Alexander enroute to Jacksonboro (5 miles N of Sylvania). The detached brigades turned SE from Waynesboro that afternoon and marched to Alexander, followed later by Kilpatrick after he had burned the bridges over Brier Creek.
1864 – Boat expedition from U.S.S. Nita, Stars and Stripes, Hendrick Hudson, Ariel, and Two Sisters, commanded by Acting Lieutenant Robert B. Smith, destroyed a large salt work at Rocky Point, Tampa Bay, Florida.
1915 – The U.S. expelled German attaches on spy charges.
1918 – The Allied Conference ended in London; Germany was required to pay to full limits for the war.
1925 – The final Locarno Treaty is signed in London, establishing post-war territorial settlements.
1940 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt embarks on USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37) to inspect bases acquired from Great Britain under Destroyer-for Bases agreement.
1940 – The British government announces that it has placed a first order with US yards for the construction of 60 merchant ships.
1942 – Admiral Tanaka leads 10 destroyers in a supply operation to bring food to the desperate Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal. To avoid air attacks, the cargo is dropped not landed. Only about 300 of the 1500 containers reach the Japanese forces.
1943 – Elements of US 5th Army reach the summit of Monte Camino and capture Monte Maggiore. The British 8th Army takes San Vito. However, around Orsogna, a counterattack by the German 26th Panzer Division forces the New Zealand 2nd Division to retreat.
1944 – Elements of US 13th Corps (part of US 9th Army) reach the Roer River. Elements of the US 20th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) cross the Saar River near Patchen, in assault boats. They secure the main bridge of the Saar.
1948 – The “Pumpkin Papers” came to light. The House Un-American Activities Committee announced that former Communist spy Whittaker Chambers had produced microfilm of secret documents hidden inside a pumpkin on his Maryland farm. Whittaker Chambers was born in Philadelphia on 1st April, 1901. He joined the American Communist Party in 1924 and at various times edited the New Masses and the Daily Worker. Chambers worked as a spy for the Soviet Union before leaving the party in 1938. The followed year he joined Time Magazine. In August 1948 Chambers appeared before the House of Un-American Activities Committee and during his testimony claimed that Alger Hiss, a senior U.S. State Department official, was a spy. After a federal grand jury investigation of the cases, Hiss was charged with perjury. His first trial in 1949 ended in a hung jury but in the second trial in 1950, he was found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Chambers wrote about the Hiss case in his book Witness (1952). Whittaker Chambers died on 9th July, 1961.
1950 – In the east, the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division began withdrawal into the Wonsan-Hamhung area. The U.S. 7th Infantry Division’s 17th Infantry Regiment withdrew from the Yalu River area toward Hungnam.
1952 – The U.N. General Assembly resolved on the release and repatriation of prisoners in Korea. The fate of nonrepatriated prisoners was to be determined by a political conference three months after an armistice or by the U.N. Within two weeks, the communists rejected this resolution.
1953 – Eisenhower criticized McCarthy for saying communists are in Republican party.
1962 – Roger Hilsman, director of the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, sends a memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Rusk pointing out that the communist Viet Cong fighters are obviously prepared for a long struggle. While government control of the countryside had improved slightly, the Viet Cong had expanded considerably in size and influence, both through its own efforts and because of its attraction to “increasingly frustrated non-communist, anti-Diem elements.” According to Hilsman, successfully eradicating the Viet Cong would take several years of greater effort by both the United States and the South Vietnamese government of President Ngo Dinh Diem. Real success, he noted, depended upon Diem gaining the support of the South Vietnamese people through social and military measures, which he had so far failed to implement. Hilsman felt that a noncommunist coup against Diem “could occur at any time,” and would seriously disrupt or reverse counterinsurgency momentum. As it turned out, Hilsman was eventually proven correct. On November 1, 1963, dissident South Vietnamese generals led a coup resulting in the murder of Diem. His death marked the end of civilian authority and political stability in South Vietnam. The succession of military juntas, coups, and attempted coups in 1964 and early 1965 weakened the government severely and disrupted the momentum of the counterinsurgency effort against the Viet Cong.
1973 – Pioneer 10 passed Jupiter (1st fly-by of an outer planet). This mission was the first to be sent to the outer solar system and the first to investigate the planet Jupiter, after which it followed an escape trajectory from the solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on this day, when it reached approximately 2.8 Jovian radii (about 200,000 km). As of Jan. 1, 1997 Pioneer 10 was at about 67 AU from the Sun near the ecliptic plane and heading outward from the Sun at 2.6 AU/year and downstream through the heliomagnetosphere towards the tail region and interstellar space. This solar system escape direction is unique because the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft (and the now terminated Pioneer 11 spacecraft mission) are heading in the opposite direction towards the nose of the heliosphere in the upstream direction relative to the inflowing interstellar gas. The spacecraft is heading generally towards the red star Aldebaran, which forms the eye of Taurus (The Bull). The journey over a distance of 68 light years to Aldebaran will require about two million years to complete. Routine tracking and project data processing operatations were terminated on March 31, 1997 for budget reasons. Occasional tracking continued later under support of the Lunar Prospector project at NASA Ames Research Center with retrieval of energetic particle and radio science data. The last successful data acquisitions through NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) occurred on March 3, 2002, the 30th anniversary of Pioneer 10’s launch date, and on April 27, 2002. The spacecraft signal was last detected on Jan. 23, 2003 after an uplink was transmitted to turn off the last operational experiment, the Geiger Tube Telescope (GTT), but lock-on to the sub-carrier signal for data downlink was not achieved. No signal at all was detected during a final attempt on Feb. 6-7, 2003. Pioneer Project staff at NASA Ames then concluded that the spacecraft power level had fallen below that needed to power the onboard transmitter, so no further attempts would be made.
1975 – Laos fell to communist forces. The Lao People’s Democratic Rep. was proclaimed.1977 – The State Department proposed the admission of 10,000 more Vietnamese refugees to the United States.
1979 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini becomes the first Supreme Leader of Iran.
1980 – Bernadine Dohrn, a former leader of the radical Weather Underground, surrendered to authorities in Chicago after more than a decade as a fugitive.
1982 – MSO St. Louis took charge of the response when the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers flooded their banks. In all over 100 Coast Guardsmen took part in the relief efforts that covered an eight-state area.
1983 – Two F-14s flying over Lebanon were fired upon.
1987 – Four days before his summit with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to sign a treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear missiles, President Reagan said in an interview with television network anchormen that there was a reasonably good chance of progress toward a treaty on long-range weapons.
1989 – Meeting off the coast of Malta, President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev issue statements strongly suggesting that the long-standing animosities at the core of the Cold War might be coming to an end. Commentators in both the United States and Russia went farther and declared that the Cold War was over. The talks were part of the first-ever summit held between the two leaders. Bush and his advisers were cautiously optimistic about the summit, eager to follow up on the steps toward arms control taken by the preceding Reagan administration. Gorbachev was quite vocal about his desire for better relations with the United States so that he could pursue his domestic reform agenda and was more effusive in his declarations that the talks marked an important first step toward ending the Cold War. The Russian leader stated, “The characteristics of the Cold War should be abandoned.” He went on to suggest that, “The arms race, mistrust, psychological and ideological struggle, all those should be things of the past.” Bush was somewhat more restrained in his statement: “With reform underway in the Soviet Union, we stand at the threshold of a brand-new era of U.S.-Soviet relations. It is within our grasp to contribute each in our own way to overcoming the division of Europe and ending the military confrontation there.” Despite the positive spin of the rhetoric, though, little of substance was accomplished during the summit. Both sides agreed to work toward a treaty dealing with long-range nuclear weapons and conventional arms in 1990. Gorbachev and Bush also agreed that another summit would take place in June 1990, in Washington, D.C.
1991 – Radicals in Lebanon released American hostage Alann Steen, who had been held captive nearly five years.
1992 – The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a U.S.-led military mission to help starving Somalia.
1994 – Rebel Serbs in Bosnia failed to keep a pledge to release hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers, some already held for more than a week.
1995 – President Clinton, wrapping up a five-day European trip, authorized a vanguard of 700 American troops to open a risky mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
1996 – The Justice Department barred 16 Japanese army veterans suspected of World War II atrocities from entering the United States.
1999 – Pres. Clinton offered to reduce bombing practice on Vieques in the spring and use only dummy bombs plus $40 million in economic incentives with phase out in 5 years. Puerto Rico rejected the offer.
1999 – The Mars Polar Lander touched down at the Martian South Pole. 2 probes burrowed into the polar surface to test for water and carbon dioxide. NASA failed to make contact with the $165 million lander following setdown.
2000 – Space shuttle Endeavour’s astronauts attached the world’s largest, most powerful set of solar panels to the international space station.
2001 – Tom Ridge, head of Homeland Security, ordered a state of high alert across the US to at least the end of Ramadan in 2 weeks.
2001 – Sec. of State Powell met in Romania with officials from 55 nations in a conference on fighting terrorism.
2001 – A test US anti-missile launched from Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands successfully hit a dummy warhead from Vandenberg Air Base in California, 4,800 miles away.
2001 – Some 3,000 Taliban surrendered at Char Dara, 6 miles west of Kunduz. Pashtuns battled Taliban forces at Kandahar’s airport. The UN evacuated staff at Mazar-e-Sharif due to Northern Alliance infighting.
2002 – U.N. weapons inspectors made their first unannounced visit to one of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s presidential palaces.
2003 – The head of the Iraqi Governing Council renewed his demand that a proposed transitional legislature be elected by Iraqi voters, a move opposed by U.S. occupation officials. Leaders of the top political parties agreed with the US-led administration to create a militia picked by the parties and governing council.
2004 – It was announced that US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was staying on the job.
2004 – Insurgents launched two major attacks against a Shiite mosque and a police station in Baghdad, killing 30 people, including at least 16 police officers.
2005 – XCOR Aerospace makes the first manned rocket aircraft delivery of U.S. Mail in Kern County, California.
2010 – The Boeing X-37B, a United States Air Force unmanned spaceplane, lands autonomously at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 1:16am PST (0916 UTC) after 7 1/2 months in space.
2012 – NASA announces that the Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, has nearly reached the edge of the solar system and is imminently to past through the heliosphere into interstellar space.
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
Rank and Organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company C, 4th U.S. Infantry. Place / Date: December 2-3, 1944, Schevenhutte, Germany. Born: June 19, 1920, La Morita, Mexico. Departed: Yes (06/24/1952). Entered Service At: Texas. G.O. Number: . Date of Issue: 03/18/2014. Accredited To: . Citation: Cano is being recognized for his valorous actions in the months-long battle of Hurtgen Forest. He was advancing with his company near Schevenhutte, Germany, in December 1944, when the unit met heavy enemy resistance. During a two-day period, Cano eliminated nearly 30 enemy troops. Sometime later, while on patrol, Cano and his platoon were surprised by German soldiers that caused numerous casualties within their platoon. Cano lay motionless on the ground until the assailants closed in, then tossed a grenade into their midst, wounding or killing all of them. It was in this engagement, or shortly thereafter, that Cano sustained serious injuries. He was returned to the States and placed in a Veterans hospital in Waco, Texas. After which, he returned home to his wife and daughter in Edinburg. Cano would pass away six years later. Posthumously, Cano received the Texas Legislature Medal of Honor. A school in Edinburg, Texas is named after Cano.
*HENRY, ROBERT T.
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Luchem, Germany, 3 December 1944. Entered service at: Greenville, Miss. Birth: Greenville, Miss. G.O. No.: 45, 12 June 1945. Citation: Near Luchem, Germany, he volunteered to attempt the destruction of a nest of 5 enemy machineguns located in a bunker 150 yards to the flank which had stopped the advance of his platoon. Stripping off his pack, overshoes, helmet, and overcoat, he sprinted alone with his rifle and hand grenades across the open terrain toward the enemy emplacement. Before he had gone half the distance he was hit by a burst of machinegun fire. Dropping his rifle, he continued to stagger forward until he fell mortally wounded only 10 yards from the enemy emplacement. His single-handed attack forced the enemy to leave the machineguns. During this break in hostile fire the platoon moved forward and overran the position. Pvt. Henry, by his gallantry and intrepidity and utter disregard for his own life, enabled his company to reach its objective, capturing this key defense and 70 German prisoners.
*WEICHT, ELLIS R.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company F, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date St. Hippolyte, France, 3 December 1944. Entered service at: Bedford, Pa. Birth: Clearville, Pa. G.O. No.: 58, 19 July 1945. Citation: For commanding an assault squad in Company F’s attack against the strategically important Alsatian town of St. Hippolyte on 3 December 1944. He aggressively led his men down a winding street, clearing the houses of opposition as he advanced. Upon rounding a bend, the group was suddenly brought under the fire of 2 machineguns emplaced in the door and window of a house 100 yards distant. While his squad members took cover, Sgt. Weicht moved rapidly forward to a high rock wall and, fearlessly exposing himself to the enemy action, fired 2 clips of ammunition from his rifle. His fire proving ineffective, he entered a house opposite the enemy gun position, and, firing from a window, killed the 2 hostile gunners. Continuing the attack, the advance was again halted when two 20-mm. guns opened fire on the company. An artillery observer ordered friendly troops to evacuate the area and then directed artillery fire upon the gun positions. Sgt. Weicht remained in the shelled area and continued to fire on the hostile weapons. When the barrage lifted and the enemy soldiers attempted to remove their gun, he killed 2 crewmembers and forced the others to flee. Sgt. Weicht continued to lead his squad forward until he spotted a road block approximate 125 yards away. Moving to the second floor of a nearby house and firing from a window, he killed 3 and wounded several of the enemy. Instantly becoming a target for heavy and direct fire, he disregarded personal safety to continue his fire, with unusual effectiveness, until he was killed by a direct hit from an antitank gun.
*PAGE, JOHN U. D.
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, X Corps Artillery, while attached to the 52d Transportation Truck Battalion. Place and date: Near Chosin Reservoir, Korea, 29 November to 10 December 1950. Entered service at: St. Paul, Minn. Born: 8 February 1904, Malahi Island, Luzon, Philippine Islands. G.O. No.: 21, 25 April 1957. Citation: Lt. Col. Page, a member of X Corps Artillery, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in a series of exploits. On 29 November, Lt. Col. Page left X Corps Headquarters at Hamhung with the mission of establishing traffic control on the main supply route to 1st Marine Division positions and those of some Army elements on the Chosin Reservoir plateau. Having completed his mission Lt. Col. Page was free to return to the safety of Hamhung but chose to remain on the plateau to aid an isolated signal station, thus being cut off with elements of the marine division. After rescuing his jeep driver by breaking up an ambush near a destroyed bridge Lt. Col. Page reached the lines of a surrounded marine garrison at Koto-ri. He then voluntarily developed and trained a reserve force of assorted army troops trapped with the marines. By exemplary leadership and tireless devotion he made an effective tactical unit available. In order that casualties might be evacuated, an airstrip was improvised on frozen ground partly outside of the Koto-ri defense perimeter which was continually under enemy attack. During 2 such attacks, Lt. Col. Page exposed himself on the airstrip to direct fire on the enemy, and twice mounted the rear deck of a tank, manning the machine gun on the turret to drive the enemy back into a no man’s land. On 3 December while being flown low over enemy lines in a light observation plane, Lt. Col. Page dropped handgrenades on Chinese positions and sprayed foxholes with automatic fire from his carbine. After 10 days of constant fighting the marine and army units in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir had succeeded in gathering at the edge of the plateau and Lt. Col. Page was flown to Hamhung to arrange for artillery support of the beleaguered troops attempting to break out. Again Lt. Col. Page refused an opportunity to remain in safety and returned to give every assistance to his comrades. As the column slowly moved south Lt. Col. Page joined the rear guard. When it neared the entrance to a narrow pass it came under frequent attacks on both flanks. Mounting an abandoned tank Lt. Col. Page manned the machine gun, braved heavy return fire, and covered the passing vehicles until the danger diminished. Later when another attack threatened his section of the convoy, then in the middle of the pass, Lt. Col. Page took a machine gun to the hillside and delivered effective counterfire, remaining exposed while men and vehicles passed through the ambuscade. On the night of 10 December the convoy reached the bottom of the pass but was halted by a strong enemy force at the front and on both flanks. Deadly small-arms fire poured into the column. Realizing the danger to the column as it lay motionless, Lt. Col. Page fought his way to the head of the column and plunged forward into the heart of the hostile position. His intrepid action so surprised the enemy that their ranks became disordered and suffered heavy casualties. Heedless of his safety, as he had been throughout the preceding 10 days, Lt. Col. Page remained forward, fiercely engaging the enemy single-handed until mortally wounded. By his valiant and aggressive spirit Lt. Col. Page enabled friendly forces to stand off the enemy. His outstanding courage, unswerving devotion to duty, and supreme self-sacrifice reflect great credit upon Lt. Col. Page and are in the highest tradition of the military service.
*HOLCOMB, JOHN NOBLE
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. Place and date: Near Quan Loi, Republic of Vietnam, 3 December 1968. Entered service at: Corvallis, Oreg. Born: 11 June 1946, Baker, Oreg. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Holcomb distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader in Company D during a combat assault mission. Sgt. Holcomb’s company assault had landed by helicopter and deployed into a hasty defensive position to organize for a reconnaissance-in-force mission when it was attacked from 3 sides by an estimated battalion-size enemy force. Sgt. Holcomb’s squad was directly in the path of the main enemy attack. With complete disregard for the heavy fire, Sgt. Holcomb moved among his men giving encouragement and directing fire on the assaulting enemy. When his machine gunner was knocked out, Sgt. Holcomb seized the weapon, ran to a forward edge of the position, and placed withering fire on the enemy. His gallant actions caused the enemy to withdraw. Sgt. Holcomb treated and carried his wounded to a position of safety and reorganized his defensive sector despite a raging grass fire ignited by the incoming enemy mortar and rocket rounds. When the enemy assaulted the position a second time, Sgt. Holcomb again manned the forward machine gun, devastating the enemy attack and forcing the enemy to again break contact and withdraw. During the enemy withdrawal an enemy rocket hit Sgt. Holcomb’s position, destroying his machine gun and severely wounding him. Despite his painful wounds, Sgt. Holcomb crawled through the grass fire and exploding mortar and rocket rounds to move the members of his squad, everyone of whom had been wounded, to more secure positions. Although grievously wounded and sustained solely by his indomitable will and courage, Sgt. Holcomb as the last surviving leader of his platoon organized his men to repel the enemy, crawled to the platoon radio and reported the third enemy assault on his position. His report brought friendly supporting fires on the charging enemy and broke the enemy attack. Sgt. Holcomb’s inspiring leadership, fighting spirit, in action at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.