Author Archives: R. W. White

December 23

23 December

1620One week after the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth harbor in present-day Massachusetts, construction of the first permanent European settlement in New England begins. On September 16, the Mayflower departed Plymouth, England, bound for the New World with 102 passengers. The ship was headed for Virginia, where the colonists–half religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs–had been authorized to settle by the British crown. In a difficult Atlantic crossing, the 90-foot Mayflower encountered rough seas and storms and was blown more than 500 miles off course. Along the way, the settlers formulated and signed the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that bound the signatories into a “civil body politic.” Because it established constitutional law and the rule of the majority, the compact is regarded as an important precursor to American democracy. After a 66-day voyage, the ship landed on November 21 at the tip of Cape Cod at what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts. After coming to anchor in Provincetown harbor, a party of armed men under the command of Captain Myles Standish was sent out to explore the area and find a location suitable for settlement. While they were gone, Susanna White gave birth to a son, Peregrine, aboard the Mayflower. He was the first English child born in New England. In mid-December, the explorers went ashore at a location across Cape Cod Bay where they found cleared fields and plentiful running water, and they named the site Plymouth. The expedition returned to Provincetown, and on December 21 the Mayflower came to anchor in Plymouth harbor. Two days later, the pilgrims began work on dwellings that would shelter them through their difficult first winter in America. In the first year of settlement, half the colonists died of disease. In 1621, the health and economic condition of the colonists improved, and that autumn Governor William Bradford invited neighboring Indians to Plymouth to celebrate the bounty of that year’s harvest season. Plymouth soon secured treaties with most local Indian tribes, and the economy steadily grew, and more colonists were attracted to the settlement. By the mid-1640s, Plymouth’s population numbered 3,000 people, but by then the settlement had been overshadowed by the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony to the north, settled by Puritans in 1629. The term “Pilgrim” was not used to describe the Plymouth colonists until the early 19th century and was derived from a manuscript in which Governor Bradford spoke of the “saints” who traveled to the New World as “pilgrimes.” In 1820, the orator Daniel Webster spoke of “Pilgrim Fathers” at a bicentennial celebration of Plymouth’s founding, and thereafter the term entered common usage.
1776 – Continental Congress negotiated a war loan of $181,500 from France.
1776 – Thomas Paine wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
1779Benedict Arnold was court-martialed for improper conduct. He followed the time-honored military tradition of using government carts to transport his personal items. He was routinely sentenced to be censured by Gen. Washington- a formality which the thin-skinned Arnold took personally, ultimately leading him to switch allegiance to the British cause.
1783 – George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Va, an act that stunned aristocratic Europe. King George III called Washington “the greatest character of the age” because of this.
1788 – Maryland voted to cede a 100-square-mile area for the seat of the national government; about two-thirds of the area became the District of Columbia.
1823 – The poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore, often called “Twas the night before Christmas,” was published in the Troy, N.Y., Sentinel. Recent scholarship reveals the original to have been written by Major Henry Livingston (1748-1828).
1826 – Captain Thomas ap Catesby Jones of USS Peacock and King Kamehameha negotiate first treaty between Hawaii and a foreign power.
1861 – Lord Lyons, The British minister to America presented a formal complaint to secretary of state, William Seward, regarding the Trent affair.
1862Confederate President Jefferson Davis declares Union General Benjamin Butler a felon and insists that he be hanged if captured. Butler had earned few friends in New Orleans-indeed, his treatment of the city’s residents outraged most Southerners. The Union captured New Orleans in early 1862 and Butler became the military commander of the city. His actions there soon made him the most hated Yankee in the Confederacy. Butler worked to root out all signs of the Confederacy from the city. He hung a gambler who tore down an American flag and he ordered civil officers, attorneys, and clergy to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. Most notoriously, he offended southern women with General Order No. 28, which stated that any woman who insulted Union troops would “be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation.” Butler confiscated the property of rebels and was accused of stealing silver spoons from the locals, earning him the nickname “Spoons.” Butler’s brother, Andrew, gained permits to trade in the area and made a fortune from the sale of contraband items. Southerners began to view Butler’s mistreatment of New Orleans residents as a symbol of Yankee rudeness. Perhaps only William T. Sherman, who led the famously destructive march across Georgia, earned greater opprobrium in the South.
1864President Lincoln signed a bill passed the preceding day by Congress which created the rank of vice admiral. A fortnight before Secretary Welles had written in his report to the President: “In recommending, therefore, that the office of vice-admiral should be created, and the appointment conferred on Rear-Admiral David G. Farragut, I but respond, as I believe, to the voice and wishes of the naval service and of the whole country.” Thus was Farragut made the first vice admiral in the Nation’s history as he had been its first rear admiral. The Army and Navy Journal wrote of him: “In Farragut the ideal sailor, the seaman of Nelson’s and Collingwood’s days, is revived, and the feeling of the people toward him is of the same peculiar character as that which those great and simple-hearted heroes of Great Britain evoked in the hearts of their countrymen.
1864After many days of delay because of heavy weather, powder ship U.S.S. Louisiana, Commander Rhind, towed by U.S.S. Wilderness late at night, anchored and was blown up 250 yards off Fort Fisher, North Carolina. After Rhind and his gallant crew set the fuzes and a fire in the stern, they escaped by small boat to Wilderness. Rear Admiral Porter and General Butler, who was wait-ing in Beaufort to land his troops the next morning and storm Fort Fisher, placed great hope in the exploding powder ship, hope that Dahlgren as an ordnance expert no doubt disdained. The clock mechanism failed to ignite the powder at the appointed time, 1:18 a.m., and after agonizing minutes of waiting, the fire set by Rhind in the stern of Louisiana reached the powder and a tremendous explosion occurred. Fort Fisher and its garrison, however, were not measur-ably affected, although the blast was heard many miles away; in fact, Colonel Lamb, the fort’s resolute commander, wrote in his diary: “A blockader got aground near the fort, set fire to herself and blew up.” It remained for the massed gunfire from ships of Porter’s huge fleet, the largest ever assembled up to that time under the American flag, to cover the landings and reduce the forts.
1910 – LT Theodore G. Ellyson becomes first naval officer sent to flight training.
1913The Federal Reserve Act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson. The Owen-Glass Act established the decentralized, government-controlled banking system in the U.S. known as the Federal Reserve. It repealed the gold standard and replaced it with a system that ensured that the US dollar would be a better store of value than gold. The act guarded against inflation but allowed deflation. It was the first thorough reorganization of the national banking system since the Civil War.
1919 – The 1st hospital ship built to move wounded naval personnel was launched.
1933 – Marinus van der Lubbe was sentenced to death for Reichstag “Fire.”
1939 – A Pan-American protest is issued to the governments of Britain, France and Germany about the fighting inside the “security zone” during the battle of the River Plate. The detention and destruction of German merchant ships by British warships is also noted.
1941Japanese forces launched a predawn landing, their second attempt, on Wake Island and Wilkes Island, while their carriers launched air strikes against Wilkes, Wake, and Peale islands in support of the landing force. After nearly 12 hours of desperate fighting, the three islands were surrendered.
1941 – The first Japanese air attacks on Rangoon, Burma. The city’s air defense consist of only two fighter squadrons, one from the RAF, the other an American Volunteer Group
1941 – The 440-foot tanker Montebello was sunk off the California coast near Cambria by a Japanese submarine. The crew of 38 survived and in 1996 it was found that the 4.1 million gallon cargo of crude oil appeared intact.
1941 – A conference of industry and labor officials agrees that there would be no strikes or lockouts in war industries while World War II continued.1943 – Gen. Montgomery was appointed British commandant for D-day.
1944Although the American defenders of Bastogne continue to hold out against German attacks, elements of the German 5th Panzer Army have by-passed the town and are advancing to the west and northwest. These attacks have reached beyond Rochefort and Laroche. However, improved weather conditions allows Allied ground attack aircraft to harass the German columns. A sudden improvement in the weather permits Allied fighter-bombers to conduct about 900 sorties against German forces in “the Bulge”.
1944Gen. Dwight Eisenhower endorses the finding of a court-martial in the case of Eddie Slovik, who was tried for desertion, and authorizes his execution, the first such sentence against a U.S. Army soldier since the Civil War, and the only man so punished during World War II. Private Eddie Slovik was a draftee. Originally classified 4-F because of a prison record (grand theft auto), he was bumped up to a 1-A classification when draft standards were lowered to meet growing personnel needs. In January 1944, he was trained to be a rifleman, which was not to his liking, as he hated guns. In August of the same year, Slovik was shipped to France to fight with the 28th Infantry Division, which had already suffered massive casualties in the fighting there and in Germany. Slovik was a replacement, a class of soldier not particular respected by officers. As he and a companion were on the way to the front lines, they became lost in the chaos of battle, only to stumble upon a Canadian unit that took them in. Slovik stayed on with the Canadians until October 5, when they turned him and his buddy over to the American military police, who reunited them with the 28th Division, now in Elsenborn, Belgium. No charges were brought; replacements getting lost early on in their tours of duty were not unusual. But exactly one day after Slovik returned to his unit, he claimed he was “too scared and too nervous” to be a rifleman and threatened to run away if forced into combat. His admission was ignored-and Slovik took off. One day after that he returned, and Slovik signed a confession of desertion, claiming he would run away again if forced to fight, and submitted it to an officer of the 28th. The officer advised Slovik to take the confession back, as the consequences would be serious. Slovik refused, and he was confined to the stockade. The 28th Division had seen many cases of soldiers wounding themselves or deserting in the hopes of a prison sentence that would at least protect them from the perils of combat. So a legal officer of the 28th offered Slovik a deal: Dive into combat immediately and avoid the court-martial. Slovik refused. He was tried on November 11 for desertion and was convicted in less than two hours. The nine-officer court-martial panel passed a unanimous sentence: execution-“to be shot to death with musketry.” Slovik’s appeal failed. It was held that he “directly challenged the authority” of the United States and that “future discipline depends upon a resolute reply to this challenge.” Slovik was to pay for his recalcitrant attitude-and he was to be made an example. One last appeal was made-to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander. The timing was bad for mercy. The Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes forest was issuing in literally thousands of American casualties, not to mention the second largest surrender of an American Army unit during the war. Eisenhower upheld the sentence. Slovik would be shot to death by a 12-man firing squad in eastern France in January of 1945. None of the rifleman so much as flinched, believing Slovik had gotten what he deserved.
1944 – All horse racing in the US is banned in an effort to save labor.
1947 – Truman granted a pardon to 1,523 who had evaded the World War II draft.
1947 John Bardeen and Walter Brattain of AT&T Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, unveiled what was soon to be called the transistor, short for the electrical property known as trans-resistance, which paved the way to a new era of miniaturized electronics. The device was improved by William Schockley as a junction transistor. All 3 received a Nobel Prize in 1956. The events are described in the 1997 book by Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson: “Crystal Fire: The Birth of the Information Age.”
1948In Tokyo, Japan, Hideki Tojo, former Japanese premier and chief of the Kwantung Army, is executed along with six other top Japanese leaders for their war crimes during World War II. Seven of the defendants were also found guilty of committing crimes against humanity, especially in regard to their systematic genocide of the Chinese people. On November 12, death sentences were imposed on Tojo and the six other principals, such as Iwane Matsui, who organized the Rape of Nanking, and Heitaro Kimura, who brutalized Allied prisoners of war. Sixteen others were sentenced to life imprisonment, and the remaining two of the original 25 defendants were sentenced to lesser terms in prison. Unlike the Nuremberg trial of German war criminals, where there were four chief prosecutors representing Great Britain, France, the United States, and the USSR, the Tokyo trial featured only one chief prosecutor–American Joseph B. Keenan, a former assistant to the U.S. attorney general. However, other nations, especially China, contributed to the proceedings, and Australian judge William Flood Webb presided. In addition to the central Tokyo trial, various tribunals sitting outside Japan judged some 5,000 Japanese guilty of war crimes, of whom more than 900 were executed.
1950 – Lieutenant General Walton Walker, Eighth Army commander, was killed in a jeep accident. Major General Frank W. Milburn assumed temporary command of Eighth Army.
1950The United States signs a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with France, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In 1951 military aid tops $500,000,000. Congressman John F. Kennedy asserts America has allied itself with a desperate French attempt to hang on to the remnants of its empire. By 1954 American military aid to Vietnam tops $2 billion.
1951The communists rejected any prisoner exchange until an armistice was signed. The U.N. Command alleged that 65,363 U.N. soldiers had been captured during the first nine months of the war and demanded an explanation of why the communist list did not include over 50,000 names.
1954 – First successful kidney transplant is performed by J. Hartwell Harrison and Joseph Murray.
1961 – Fidel Castro announced Cuba he would release 1,113 prisoners from failed 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion in exchange for $62M worth of food and medical supplies.
1962 – Cuba started returning US prisoners from Bay of Pigs invasion.
1966Francis Cardinal Spellman, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York and military vicar of the U.S. armed forces for Roman Catholics, visits U.S. servicemen in South Vietnam. In an address at mass in Saigon, Spellman said that the Vietnamese conflict was “a war for civilization–certainly it is not a war of our seeking. It is a war thrust upon us–we cannot yield to tyranny.” Anything “less than victory is inconceivable.” On December 26, Spellman told U.S. soldiers that they were in Vietnam for the “defense, protection, and salvation not only of our country, but …of civilization itself.” The next day, Vatican sources expressed displeasure with Spellman’s statements in Vietnam. One source said, “The Cardinal did not speak for the Pope or the Church.” The Pope had previously called for negotiations and an end to the war in Vietnam.
1967 – U.S. Navy SEALs were ambushed during an operation southeast of Saigon.
1968The crew and captain of the U.S. intelligence gathering ship Pueblo are released after 11 months imprisonment by the government of North Korea. The ship, and its 83-man crew, was seized by North Korean warships on January 23 and charged with intruding into North Korean waters. The seizure infuriated U.S. President Lyndon Johnson. Later, he claimed that he strongly suspected (although it could not be proven) that the incident with the Pueblo, coming just a few days before the communist Tet Offensive in South Vietnam, was a coordinated diversion. At the time, however, Johnson did little. The Tet Offensive, which began just a week after the ship was taken by North Korea, exploded on the front pages and televisions of America and seemed to paralyze the Johnson administration. To deal with the Pueblo incident, the United States urged the U.N.’s Security Council to condemn the action and pressured the Soviet Union to negotiate with the North Koreans for the ship’s release. It was 11 long months before the Pueblo’s men were freed. Both captain and crew were horribly treated and later recounted their torture at the hands of the North Koreans. With no help in sight, Captain Lloyd Bucher reluctantly signed a document confessing that the ship was spying on North Korea. With this propaganda victory in hand, the North Koreans released the prisoners and also returned the body of one crewman who died in captivity. Some Americans criticized Johnson for not taking decisive retaliatory action against North Korea; others argued that he should have used every diplomatic means at his disposal to secure a quick release for the crew. In any case, the event was another blow to Johnson and America’s Cold War foreign policy.
1970 – The NY World Trade Center reached its highest point. The World Trade Center was completed at a cost of $350 million. The twin 110-story towers housed 55,000 employees working for 350 firms.
1972The East German Embassy and the Hungarian commercial mission in Hanoi are hit in the eighth day of Operation Linebacker II. Although there were reports that a prisoner of war camp holding American soldiers was hit, the rumor was untrue. President Nixon initiated the full-scale bombing campaign against North Vietnam on December 18, when the North Vietnamese–who walked out of the peace talks in Paris–refused an ultimatum from Nixon to return to the negotiating table. During the 11 days of the operation, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties dropped an estimated 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong. President Nixon was vilified at home and abroad for ordering the “Christmas bombing,” but on December 28, the North Vietnamese did agree to return to the talks in Paris. When the negotiators met again in early January, they quickly arrived at a settlement. The Paris Peace Accords were signed on January 23 and a cease-fire went into effect five days later.
1973 – 6 Persian Gulf nations doubled their oil prices.1974 – The B-1 bomber made its first successful test flight.
1975 – Richard S. Welch, the Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Athens, was shot and killed outside his home. The left-wing November 17 urban guerrilla group was responsible. In 2002 Pavlos Serifis was arrested in connection with the murder.
1986 – The experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, round-the-world flight without refueling as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
1987 – Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of President Ford in 1975, escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison for Women in West Virginia. She was recaptured two days later.
1991 – President George H.W. Bush spoke by telephone with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, after which a senior Bush administration official said the United States would extend diplomatic recognition to the Russian republic.
1992 – An American mission to save lives in Somalia lost the first of its own when a U.S. vehicle hit a land mine near Bardera, killing civilian Army employee Lawrence N. Freedman of Fayetteville, N.C.
1994John Connolly, FBI agent, came to the Winter Hill gang’s headquarters in a Boston liquor store and warned Kevin Weeks of pending FBI arrests for mobsters James Bulger, Stephen Flemmi and Francis Salemme. Connolly was convicted for corruption in 2002 and sentenced to 121 months.
1996 – President Clinton expressed gratitude to the nation’s armed forces as he visited Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
1997 – A jury in Denver convicted Terry Nichols for conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter in the Apr 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
1997 – In France “Carlos the Jackal,” aka Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, was convicted in the murder of 2 French agents and a Lebanese informant on Jun 27, 1975 and sentenced to life in prison.
1999President Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, a black sailor court-martialed for mutiny during World War Two when he and other sailors refused to load live ammunition following a deadly explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine near San Francisco that had claimed more than 300 lives.
1997
After changing one word, the U.N. Security Council agrees to a statement criticizing, but not condemning, Iraq for refusing to grant U.N. weapons inspectors full access to suspected weapons sites. Opposition from Russia and other council members prompted the wording change. The statement comes after chief weapons inspector Richard Butler told the Security Council that Iraq would not allow access to all suspected weapons sites, including Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s palaces and homes.
2001 – It was reported that Hazrat Ali, an Afghanistan eastern alliance commander, had negotiated a deal to release al Qaeda troops in the Tora Bora region. The new cabinet met in Kabul for the 1st time.
2002 – Iraqi aircraft shot down a U.S. unmanned surveillance drone over southern Iraq.
2002 – North Korea dismantled UN surveillance cameras and broke locks on the Yangbyon reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel.
2003 – A Virginia jury recommended a sentence of life in prison for Lee Boyd Malvo.
2003 – The South Korean Cabinet approved a plan to send 3,000 troops to the northern oil town of Kirkuk as early as April.
2004 – Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai chose a new Cabinet, heeding calls to sideline warlords from top positions, including the defense minister, and creating a new post to oversee the fight against opium production.
2004US Marines battled insurgents in Fallujah with warplanes dropping bombs and tanks shelling suspected guerrilla positions. Three U.S. Marines were killed. 24 guerrillas, most of them non-Iraqi Arabs, were killed in battles according to a posting on an Islamic web site the next day. The 1st Fallujah residents were allowed to return. A bomb killed a US soldier in Baghdad.
2009 – Soyuz TMA-17, carrying an international crew of one Russian, one American and one Japanese astronaut, docks with the International Space Station.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

BIBBER, CHARLES J.
Rank and organization: Gunner’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, Portland, Maine. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Bibber served on board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of a powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher 23 December 1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day fires were observed still burning at the forts.

CONLAN, DENNIS
Rank and organization: Seaman, U S. Navy. Born: 1838, New York N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.. 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Conlan served on board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of a powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23 December 1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day fires were observed still burning at the forts.

FOX, HENRY
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company H, 106th Illinois Infantry. Place and date: Near Jackson, Tenn., 23 December 1862. Entered service at: Lincoln, Ill. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 16 May 1899. Citation: When his command was surrounded by a greatly superior force, voluntarily left the shelter of the breastworks, crossed an open railway trestle under a concentrated fire from the enemy, made his way out and secured reinforcements for the relief of his command.

GARVIN, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Captain of the Forecastle, U.S. Navy. Born: 1835. Accredited to: Virginia. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Garvin served on board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of a powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23 December 1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day fires were observed still burning at the fort.

HAWKINS, CHARLES
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1834, Scotland. Accredited to: New Hampshire. G.O. No.. 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Hawkins served on board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of a powderboat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23 December 1864. The powderboat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day fires were observed still burning at the forts.

HINNECAN, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Second Class Fireman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1841, Ireland. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Hinnegan served on board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23 December 1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day fires were observed still burning at the forts.

MONTGOMERY, ROBERT
Rank and organization: Captain of the Afterguard, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, Ireland. Accredited to: Virginia. G.O. No.: 45, 21 December 1864. Citation: Montgomery served on board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of a powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23 December 1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day fires were observed still burning at the forts.

NEIL, JOHN
Rank and organization: Quarter Gunner, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, Newfoundland. Accredited to: Virginia. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Neil served on board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of a powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23 December 1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day fires were observed still burning at the forts.

RICE, CHARLES
Rank and organization: Coal Heaver, U.S. Navy. Born: 1840, Russia. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Agawam, as one of a volunteer crew of a powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23 December 1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place, and the following day, fires were observed still burning at the fort.

ROBERTS, JAMES
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, England. Accredited to: Virginia. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Roberts served on board the U.S.S. Agawan, as one of a volunteer crew of a powder boat which was exploded near Fort Fisher, 23 December 1864. The powder boat, towed in by the Wilderness to prevent detection by the enemy, cast off and slowly steamed to within 300 yards of the beach. After fuses and fires had been lit and a second anchor with short scope let go to assure the boat’s tailing inshore, the crew again boarded the Wilderness and proceeded a distance of 12 miles from shore. Less than 2 hours later the explosion took place and the following day fires were observed still burning at the fort.

SEAVER, THOMAS O.
Rank and organization: Colonel, 3d Vermont Infantry. Place and date: At Spotsylvania Courthouse, Va., 10 May 1864. Entered service at: Pomfret, Vt. Born: 23 December 1833, Davendish, Vt. Date of issue: 8 April 1892. Citation: At the head of 3 regiments and under a most galling fire attacked and occupied the enemy’s works.

BOLDEN, PAUL L.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company 1, 120th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division. Place and date: Petit-Coo, Belgium, 23 December 1944. Entered service at: Madison, Ala. Birth: Hobbes Island, lowa. G.O. No.: 73, 30 August 1945-. Citation: He voluntarily attacked a formidable enemy strong point in Petit-Coo, Belgium, on 23 December, 1944, when his company was pinned down by extremely heavy automatic and small-arms fire coming from a house 200 yards to the front. Mortar and tank artillery shells pounded the unit, when S/Sgt. Bolden and a comrade, on their own initiative, moved forward into a hail of bullets to eliminate the ever-increasing fire from the German position. Crawling ahead to close with what they knew was a powerfully armed, vastly superior force, the pair reached the house and took up assault positions, S/Sgt. Bolden under a window, his comrade across the street where he could deliver covering fire. In rapid succession, S/Sgt. Bolden hurled a fragmentation grenade and a white phosphorous grenade into the building; and then, fully realizing that he faced tremendous odds, rushed to the door, threw it open and fired into 35 SS troopers who were trying to reorganize themselves after the havoc wrought by the grenades. Twenty Germans died under fire of his submachinegun before he was struck in the shoulder, chest, and stomach by part of a burst which killed his comrade across the street. He withdrew from the house, waiting for the surviving Germans to come out and surrender. When none appeared in the doorway, he summoned his ebbing strength, overcame the extreme pain he suffered and boldly walked back into the house, firing as he went. He had killed the remaining 15 enemy soldiers when his ammunition ran out. S/Sgt. Bolden’s heroic advance against great odds, his fearless assault, and his magnificent display of courage in reentering the building where he had been severely wounded cleared the path for his company and insured the success of its mission.

*ELROD, HENRY TALMAGE
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 27 September 1905, Rebecca, Ga. Entered service at: Ashburn, Ga. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to Marine Fighting Squadron 211, during action against enemy Japanese land, surface and aerial units at Wake Island, 8 to 23 December 1941. Engaging vastly superior forces of enemy bombers and warships on 9 and 12 December, Capt. Elrod shot down 2 of a flight of 22 hostile planes and, executing repeated bombing and strafing runs at extremely low altitude and close range, succeeded in inflicting deadly damage upon a large Japanese vessel, thereby sinking the first major warship to be destroyed by small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft. When his plane was disabled by hostile fire and no other ships were operative, Capt. Elrod assumed command of 1 flank of the line set up in defiance of the enemy landing and, conducting a brilliant defense, enabled his men to hold their positions and repulse intense hostile fusillades to provide covering fire for unarmed ammunition carriers. Capturing an automatic weapon during 1 enemy rush in force, he gave his own firearm to 1 of his men and fought on vigorously against the Japanese. Responsible in a large measure for the strength of his sector’s gallant resistance, on 23 December, Capt. Elrod led his men with bold aggressiveness until he fell, mortally wounded. His superb skill as a pilot, daring leadership and unswerving devotion to duty distinguished him among the defenders of Wake Island, and his valiant conduct reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

December 22

22 December

1775 – Congress commissions first naval officers: Esek Hopkins, Commander in Chief of the Fleet, Captains Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicolas Biddle, and John Hopkins. Lieutenants included John Paul Jones.
1783 – Washington resigned his military commission.
1807The House passed Jefferson’s Embargo Act, which barred trading between the U.S. and European nations. In Jefferson’s eyes, the Embargo Act was not merely a defensive measure; he also hoped to demonstrate the United States’ growing power as a trade partner. The Napoleonic Wars threatened to engulf the nation. French Emperor Napoleon I had vowed to seal off all foreign trade with Britain; the British responded in kind and moved to halt all foreign trade with France. America’s fleet of merchant ships and economic livelihood were effectively caught in the middle of the conflict. Looking to protect the ships without sacrificing the nation’s neutral stance, Jefferson resorted to legislative action.  Alas, the Embargo Act had a far different impact than Jefferson intended: it not only took a severe toll on U.S. agricultural and mercantile interests, but also proved to be a financial boon to British and French traders. By 1809, an angry chorus of farmers, mercantilists, and political critics forced Jefferson to repeal the Embargo Act and re-open the doors to trade with Europe, save for Britain and France.
1819 – The Revenue cutter Dallas seized a vessel laden with lumber that had been unlawfully cut from public land in one of the first recorded instance of a revenue cutter enforcing an environmental law.
1828Rachel Jackson, beloved wife of Andrew Jackson, died of heart disease just weeks before her recently elected husband was inaugurated as president of the United States. Andrew Jackson had been 21 and a promising young lawyer when Rachel Donelson Robards, his landlady’s daughter and the estranged wife of Lewis Robards of Kentucky, caught his eye. Robards had started divorce proceedings, but had dropped them without his wife’s knowledge. Believing she was a free woman, Rachel married Andrew Jackson in 1791. Two years later, the couple discovered that Robards was finally suing for divorce–on the grounds of adultery and desertion. The divorce was granted, and in 1794, the couple quietly remarried. Yet, for the rest of her life, Rachel was unjustly slandered for her irregular marriage. The gossip became particularly painful during the 1828 presidential campaign when the 37-year-old scandal was resurrected as a campaign issue. Andrew Jackson defeated his opponent John Quincy Adams, but when Rachel died soon after the election, Jackson bitterly attributed her death to “those vile wretches who…slandered her.”
1837Congress authorized President “to cause any suitable number of public vessels, adapted to the purpose, to cruise upon the coast, in the severe portion of the season, and to afford aid to distressed navigators.” First statute authorizing activities in the field of maritime safety. Thus interjecting the national government into the field of lifesaving for the first time. Although revenue cutters were specifically mentioned, the performance of this duty was imposed primarily upon the Revenue Marine Service and quickly became one of its major activities.
1841 – Commissioning of USS Mississippi, first U.S. ocean-going side-wheel steam warship, at Philadelphia.
1862 – Captain Dahlgren, confidant of and advisor to the President, went to the White House at the request of President Lincoln to observe the testing of a new type of gunpowder.
1864Union General William T. Sherman presents the city of Savannah, Georgia, to President Lincoln. Sherman captured Georgia’s largest city after his famous “March to the Sea” from Atlanta. Savannah had been one of the last major ports that remained open to the Confederates. After Sherman captured Atlanta in September 1864, he did not plan to stay for long. There was still the Confederate army of General John Bell Hood in the area, and cavalry leaders like Nathan Bedford Forrest and Joe Wheeler, who could threaten Sherman’s supply lines. In November, Sherman dispatched part of his force back to Nashville, Tennessee, to deal with Hood while Sherman cut free from his supply lines and headed south and east across Georgia. Along the way, his troops destroyed nearly everything that lay in their path. Sherman’s intent was to wreck the morale of the South and bring the war to a swift end. For nearly six weeks, nothing was heard from Sherman’s army. Finally, just before Christmas, word arrived that Sherman’s army was outside Savannah. A Union officer reached the coast and found a Union warship that carried him to Washington to personally deliver news of the success. Sherman wired Lincoln with the message, “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”
1882 – 1st string of Christmas tree lights was created by Thomas Edison.
1918 – The last of the food restrictions, that had been enforced because of the shortages during World War I, were lifted.
1941The Arcadia Conference is being held. The purpose of the meeting is war planning by the British leader, Churchill and the American President Roosevelt as well as their Chiefs of Staff and other political leaders from both countries. Now that the United States was directly involved in both the Pacific and European wars, it was incumbent upon both Great Britain and America to create and project a unified front. Toward that end, Churchill and Roosevelt created a combined general staff to coordinate military strategy against both Germany and Japan and to draft a future joint invasion of the Continent. Roosevelt also agreed to a radical increase in the U.S. arms production program: the 12,750 operational aircraft to be ready for service by the end of 1943 became 45,000; the proposed 15,450 tanks also became 45,000; and the number of machine guns to be manufactured almost doubled, to 500,000. Among the momentous results of these U.S.-Anglo meetings was a declaration issued by Churchill and Roosevelt that enjoined 26 signatory nations to use all resources at their disposal to defeat the Axis powers and not sue for a separate peace. This confederation called itself the “United Nations.” Lead by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, all 26 nations declared a unified goal to “ensure life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve the rights of man and justice.” The blueprint for the destruction of fascism and a future international peacekeeping organization was born. Decisions made at the conference included a confirmation of policy to Germany First as well as the establishment of a Combined Chiefs of Staff to direct the entire Allied military endeavor. British General Wavell is appointed to control operations in the East. Plans are also made for a buildup of US forces in Britain prior to a land invasion of Europe, and the continuation of bombing offensive in Europe.
1941 – After continuing the bombardment of Wake Island the Japanese land 200 men on the island to fierce resistance from the 450 US Marines stationed there1941 – Japanese troops made an amphibious landing on the coast of Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, the Philippines.
1942 – Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Thomas A. Moore performs appendectomy on Fireman Second Class George M. Platter on board USS Silversides (SS-236).
1942 – Sue Dauser takes oath of office as Superintendant of Navy Nurse Corps, becoming first woman with the relative rank of captain in U.S. Navy. She was promoted to the rank of captain on 26 February 1944.
1944 – Commissioning of first 2 African-American WAVES officers, Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances F. Wills.
1944 – With Ho Chi Minh’s support, Giap sets up an armed propaganda brigade of 34 Vietnamese and within two days will begin to attack French outposts in northern Vietnam. This is essentially the beginning of the Vietminh’s armed struggle against the French.
1944In the advance of German 5th Panzer Army, Bastogne is surrounded and the Germans demand the surrender of United States troops. The demand to surrender, issued to the American defenders, is rejected by American General McAuliffe commanding the encircled troops. St. Vith is captured late in the day. However, the lack of substantial progress leads Model, commanding Army Group B, and Rundstedt, Commander in Chief West, to recommend an end to the offensive. Brigadier Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe reportedly replied: “Nuts!”
1944 – On Leyte, there is fighting around Palompon where the Japanese forces on the island are now concentrated.
1945 – The U.S. recognized Tito’s government in Yugoslavia.
1950 – The Eighth Army main command post moved from Seoul to Taegu.
1950 – In the biggest air battle of the Korean War, U.S. Air Force F-86 Sabres shot down six communist MiG-15s over North Korea with the loss of a single F-86. This was a fitting end to the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing’s first week in Korea.
1950Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, commander of the U.N. Naval Forces, announced that 400 ships from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, France, the Netherlands and Thailand were participating in the U.N. blockade of North Korea.
1951
– The communists were invited to inspect U.N. prison camps to see that over 35,000 Koreans previously listed as prisoners had been removed from POW status and reclassified, mostly as civilian internees after further screening. The U.N. Command demanded an explanation of why 1,000 missing soldiers (mostly American) were omitted from the communist list of POWs. The U.N. Command proposed an immediate exchange of all sick and wounded prisoners.
1956 – The evacuation of the Suez Canal was completed by Britain and France.
1960 – HS-3 and HU-2 (USS Valley Forge) helicopters rescue 27 men from oiler SS Pine Ridge breaking up in heavy seas off Cape Hatteras.
1963 – The official 30 days of mourning ended following the assassination of President Kennedy.
1964 – The first test flight of the SR-71 (Blackbird) took place at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.
1965 – The EF-105F Wild Weasel made its first kill over Vietnam.
1971The Soviet Union accuses China of backing U.S. policies in Vietnam, an accusation that illustrates the growing rift between the two communist superpowers. China, which had previously taken a hard line toward negotiations between Hanoi and Washington, softened its position by endorsing a North Vietnamese peace plan for ending the war. Although the peace proposal was unacceptable to the United States, the fact that China advocated negotiations between Hanoi and Washington was significant. The Soviet Union, whose relations with China were already deteriorating, was highly suspicious of what they rightfully perceived as a “warming” in Sino-American relations. This suspicion only grew stronger in February 1972, when President Richard Nixon visited China.
1972Washington announces that the bombing of North Vietnam will continue until Hanoi agrees to negotiate “in a spirit of good will and in a constructive attitude.” North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of secret talks in Paris on December 13. President Nixon issued an ultimatum to North Vietnam to send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours “or else.” They rejected Nixon’s demand, and in response the president ordered Operation Linebacker II, a full-scale air campaign against the Hanoi area. During the 11 days of the operation, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties dropped an estimated 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong. In the course of the bombing, the Cuban, Egyptian, and Indian embassies were hit in Hanoi, as were Russian and Chinese freighters in Haiphong. Bach Mai, Hanoi’s largest hospital, was also damaged by the attacks. In the United States, 41 American religious leaders issued a letter condemning the bombing.
1990 – Twenty-one sailors returning from shore leave to the aircraft carrier USS “Saratoga” drowned when the Israeli ferry they were traveling on capsized.
1991 – The body of Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, an American hostage murdered by his captors, was found dumped along a highway in Lebanon.
1994 – North Korea handed over the body of American pilot David Hilemon, killed when his helicopter was shot down over the communist country three days earlier.
1997 – During his visit to Bosnia, President Clinton thanked American troops and lectured the nation’s three presidents to set aside their differences.
1998 – The Energy Dept. for the first time awarded a billion-dollar contract to the Tennessee Valley Authority to produce tritium at a TVA nuclear reactor for military use.
1999 – President Clinton urged Americans not to panic despite enhanced security measures prompted by fears of terrorism.
1999 – An Algerian accused of trying to smuggle nitroglycerin and other bomb-making materials into the United States from Canada pleaded innocent in Seattle to all five counts of a federal indictment.
1999 – Two astronauts from the shuttle “Discovery” went on a spacewalk to replace broken instruments in the Hubble Space Telescope.
2001 – A new “thermobaric” bomb had been developed by the Pentagon for use in caves and tunnels. The BLU-118b was capable of destroying a tunnel’s contents without collapsing the tunnel mouth.
2001Passengers and flight attendants subdued Richard Colvin Reid on AA Flight 63 from Paris to Miami. He appeared to have explosive materials in his shoes. The flight was diverted to Boston and the FBI confirmed that his shoes were packed with explosives. French police identified the man as Tariq Raja (28), a Sri Lankan traveling on a British passport. The sneakers contained pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) and triacetone triperoxide (TATP). On Jan 30, 2003 Reid was sentenced to life in prison.
2001 – Hamid Karzai was sworn in as prime minister of Afghanistan.
2002 – Afghanistan’s 6 neighbors (Iran, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) agreed to halt meddling and signed a non-intervention agreement in Kabul.
2002 – North Korea said it had begun removing U.N. monitoring equipment from a nuclear reactor at the centre of the communist state’s suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.
2003 – Leaders of Arab countries from the Persian Gulf agreed to form a pact to combat terrorism and praised Washington for planning to transfer power to Iraqis by mid-2004.
2003 – Pakistan acknowledged that some scientists participating in its nuclear program may have been involved in the proliferation of sensitive technology.
2004 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, stung by criticism that he’d been insensitive to the needs of troops and their families, offered an impassioned defense, saying when he meets wounded soldiers or relatives of those killed in battle, “their grief is something I feel to my core.”
2004 – The US signed a 99-year lease on a site for its new de facto embassy in Taiwan, an event described as a milestone in relations.
2005 – At about 8:45 AM, in Baghdad, Iraq, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near a convoy, killing two government contractors (1 American; 1 South African) and wounding three others (3 South African). No group claimed responsibility.
2006 – Space Shuttle Discovery lands safely at the Kennedy Space Center at 5:32 p.m. EST (22:32 UTC), concluding mission STS-116. They spent 13 days in space and visited the International Space Station.
2008 A jury finds five men guilty of conspiring to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, United States. Six men were arrested on May 7, 2007, in New Jersey, as two of them were meeting a confidential government witness to purchase three AK-47 automatic machine guns and four semi-automatic M-16s to be used in an attack they had been planning from at least January 2006. The sixth defendant, Agron Abdullahu, pleaded guilty in October to a reduced charge of providing firearms to illegal aliens and received a sentence of 20 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
2010 – The repeal of the Don’t ask, don’t tell policy, the 17-year-old policy banning homosexuals serving openly in the United States military, is signed into law by President Barack Obama.
2010 – The United States Senate votes to ratify the New START Treaty with the Russia, which halves the number of deployed strategic nuclear missile launchers maintained by each nation.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

DALESSONDRO, PETER J.
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company E, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Kalterherberg, Germany, 22 December 1944. Entered service at: Watervliet, N.Y. Born: 19 May 1918, Watervliet, N.Y. G.O. No.: 73, 30 August, 1945. Citation: He was with the 1st Platoon holding an important road junction on high ground near Kalterherberg, Germany, on 22 December 1944. In the early morning hours, the enemy after laying down an intense artillery and mortar barrage, followed through with an all-out attack that threatened to overwhelm the position. T/Sgt. Dalessondro, seeing that his men were becoming disorganized, braved the intense fire to move among them with words of encouragement. Advancing to a fully exposed observation post, he adjusted mortar fire upon the attackers, meanwhile firing upon them with his rifle and encouraging his men in halting and repulsing the attack. Later in the day the enemy launched a second determined attack. Once again, T/Sgt. Dalessondro, in the face of imminent death, rushed to his forward position and immediately called for mortar fire. After exhausting his rifle ammunition, he crawled 30 yards over exposed ground to secure a light machinegun, returned to his position, and fired upon the enemy at almost pointblank range until the gun jammed. He managed to get the gun to fire 1 more burst, which used up his last round, but with these bullets he killed 4 German soldiers who were on the verge of murdering an aid man and 2 wounded soldiers in a nearby foxhole. When the enemy had almost surrounded him, he remained alone, steadfastly facing almost certain death or capture, hurling grenades and calling for mortar fire closer and closer to his outpost as he covered the withdrawal of his platoon to a second line of defense. As the German hordes swarmed about him, he was last heard calling for a barrage, saying, “OK, mortars, let me have it–right in this position!” The gallantry and intrepidity shown by T/Sgt. Dalessondro against an overwhelming enemy attack saved his company from complete rout.

December 21

21 December

1620The Mayflower reached Plymouth, Mass. after a 63-day voyage. Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Mass. The crew of the ship did not have enough beer to get to Virginia and back to England so they dropped the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock to preserve their beer stock.
1861Lord Lyons, the British minister to the United States, meets with Secretary of State William Seward concerning the fate of James Mason and John Slidell, Confederate envoys arrested by the U.S. Navy aboard the British mail steamer Trent. During the meeting, Lyons took a hard line against Seward and forced the Lincoln administration to release the Confederates a few days later. The arrest of Mason and Slidell on November 8 near the Bahamas triggered a major diplomatic crisis between Britain and the United States. The British had not taken sides in the American Civil War and they accepted any paying customers wishing to travel on their ships. When Mason and Slidell were arrested, the British were furious that their ship had been detained and their guests arrested. The British government demanded their release. The Lincoln administration refused, and the Americans waited for the British reaction. The British stood firm by their demand and prepared for war with the United States. After Lyons met with Seward, he wrote to Lord Russell, the British Foreign Minister. “I am so concerned that unless we give our friends here a good lesson this time, we shall have the same trouble with them again very soon,” wrote Lyons. “Surrender or war will have a very good effect on them.” The Lincoln administration got the message, and Mason and Slidell were released within a week. “One war at a time,” Lincoln said. The Trent affair was the most serious diplomatic crisis between the two nations during the Civil War.
1861U.S. Congress authorized the Medal of Honor to be awarded to Navy personnel that had distinguished themselves by their gallantry in action. The Navy and Marine Corps’ Medal of Honor is our country’s oldest continuously awarded decoration, even though its appearance and award criteria has changed since it was created for enlisted men by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles on 16 December 1861. Legislation in 1915 made naval officers eligible for the award. Although originally awarded for both combat and non-combat heroism, the Medal of Honor today is presented for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty. The design of our highest military decoration is rooted in the War Between the States. Crafted by the artist Christian Schuller, the central motif is an allegory in which Columbia, in the form of the goddess Minerva uses the shield of the republic to put down the figure of discord, plainly a reference to the unfolding split in our nation. The design is encircled by 38 stars, representing the states of the Union at the time of the outbreak of the Civil War.
1864The Confederate Navy continued vigorous efforts to save the remnants of the Savannah squadron still at that city on the eve of its capture. On 10 December Commander Thomas W. Brent, C.S.S. Savannah, ordered the torpedoes in Savannah harbor removed in order that his vessels might fight their way to Charleston. As Brent later reported to Flag Officer Hunter: “. . . after every endeavor he [Lieutenant McAdam] found that with all the appliances at his command, grapnels, etc., he was unable with the motive power of the boats to remove any one of them, the anchors to which they are attached being too firmly embedded in the sand. . . . Under these circum-stances it did not seem to me possible to carry out the instructions of the Department in regard to taking the Savannah to sea and fighting her way into this [Charleston] or some other port.” After attempting futilely to move the smaller of his vessels upriver, Hunter this date destroyed C.S.S. Savannah, Isondiga, Firefly, and floating battery Georgia. General Sherman occupied Savannah on 23 December having fought his way across Georgia to the sea where he knew the mobility of naval power would be ready to provide him with support, supplies, and means of carrying out the next operation.
1866Determined to challenge the growing American military presence in their territory, Indians in northern Wyoming lure Lieutenant Colonel William Fetterman and his soldiers into a deadly ambush on this day in 1866. Tensions in the region started rising in 1863, when John Bozeman blazed the Bozeman Trail, a new route for emigrants traveling to the Montana gold fields. Bozeman’s trail was of questionable legality since it passed directly through hunting grounds that the government had promised to the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. Thus when Colorado militiamen murdered more than two hundred peaceful Cheyenne during the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, the Indians began to take revenge by attacking whites all across the Plains, including the emigrants traveling the Bozeman Trail. The U.S. government responded by building a series of protective forts along the trail; the largest and most important of these was Fort Phil Kearney, erected in 1866 in north-central Wyoming. Indians under the leadership of Red Cloud and Crazy Horse began to focus their attacks on Fort Phil Kearney, constantly harassing the soldiers and raiding their wood and supply parties. On December 6, 1866, Crazy Horse discovered to his surprise that he could lead a small detachment of soldiers into a fatal ambush by dismounting from his horse and fleeing as if he were defenseless. Struck by the foolish impulsiveness of the soldiers, Crazy Horse and Red Cloud reasoned that perhaps a much larger force could be lured into a similar deadly trap. On the bitterly cold morning of December 21, about 2,000 Indians concealed themselves along the road just north of Fort Phil Kearney. A small band made a diversionary attack on a party of woodcutters from the fort, and commandant Colonel Henry Carrington quickly ordered Colonel Fetterman to go to their aid with a company of 80 troopers. Crazy Horse and 10 decoy warriors then rode into view of the fort. When Carrington fired an artillery round at them, the decoys ran away as if frightened. The party of woodcutters made it safely back to the fort, but Colonel Fetterman and his men chased after the fleeing Crazy Horse and his decoys, just as planned. The soldiers rode straight into the ambush and were wiped out in a massive attack during which some 40,000 arrows rained down on the hapless troopers. None of them survived. With 81 fatalities, the Fetterman Massacre was the army’s worst defeat in the West until the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Further Indian attacks eventually forced the army to reconsider its commitment to protecting the Bozeman Trail, and in 1868 the military abandoned the forts and pulled out. It was one of only a handful of clear Indian victories in the Plains Indian Wars.
1919 – J. Edgar Hoover gallantly deported anarchist, feminist Emma Goldman to Russia for agitating against forced conscription in the US.
1943 – USS Grayling (SS-208) sinks fourth Japanese ship since 18 December.
1943 – US 5th Army is heavily engaged near Monte Sammucro.
1944In the north, US forces recapture Stavelot and bring the advance of the German 67th Corps (part of 6th SS Panzer Army), on the right flank of the German attack, to a halt from here to Monschau. To the south, the German 5th Panzer Army has nearly surrounded Bastogne while Houffalize has been secured.
1944 – On Leyte, advances by US 10th Corps and US 24th Corps link up in the center of the Ormoc Valley. Isolated Japanese forces continue to resist in the area.
1944 – US B-29 Superfortress bombers attacked Mukden in Manchuria.
1945General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. 3rd Army, dies from injuries suffered not in battle but in a freak car accident. He was 60 years old. Descended from a long line of military men, Patton graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1909. He represented the United States in the 1912 Olympics-as the first American participant in the pentathlon. He did not win a medal. He went on to serve in the Tank Corps during World War I, an experience that made Patton a dedicated proponent of tank warfare. During World War II, as commander of the U.S. 7th Army, he captured Palermo, Sicily, in 1943 by just such means. Patton’s audacity became evident in 1944, when, during the Battle of the Bulge, he employed an unorthodox strategy that involved a 90-degree pivoting move of his 3rd Army forces, enabling him to speedily relieve the besieged Allied defenders of Bastogne, Belgium. Along the way, Patton’s mouth proved as dangerous to his career as the Germans. When he berated and slapped a hospitalized soldier diagnosed with “shell shock,” but whom Patton accused of “malingering,” the press turned on him, and pressure was applied to cut him down to size. He might have found himself enjoying early retirement had not General Dwight Eisenhower and General George Marshall intervened on his behalf. After several months of inactivity, he was put back to work. And work he did-at the Battle of the Bulge, during which Patton once again succeeded in employing a complex and quick-witted strategy, turning the German thrust into Bastogne into an Allied counterthrust, driving the Germans east across the Rhine. In March 1945, Patton’s army swept through southern Germany into Czechoslovakia-which he was stopped from capturing by the Allies, out of respect for the Soviets’ postwar political plans for Eastern Europe. Patton had many gifts, but diplomacy was not one of them. After the war, while stationed in Germany, he criticized the process of denazification, the removal of former Nazi Party members from positions of political, administrative, and governmental power. His impolitic press statements questioning the policy caused Eisenhower to remove him as U.S. commander in Bavaria. He was transferred to the 15th Army Group, but in December of 1945 he suffered a broken neck in a car accident and died less than two weeks later.
1948 – Seishiro Itagaki, Japanese General and minister of War, was hanged.
1950Far East Air Force executed “Operation Kiddie Car” by transporting 1,000 Korean War orphans to the island of Cheju-do. Major Dean E. Hess, an F-51 Mustang pilot and military advisor considered the “Father of the ROK Air Force,” organized and led a desperate cross-country trek from Osan to Kimpo Airport to bring the children to safety from the advancing communist forces.
1951 – First helicopter landing aboard a hospital ship, USS Consolation.
1951 – General Matthew Ridgeway broadcast a message requesting that the Red Cross be allowed to inspect communist POW camps.
1963 – In his formal report to President Johnson, McNamara calls Operation Hardnose, which provides intelligence and disrupts Vietcong movements along the Laos corridor ‘remarkably effective,’ and urges its expansion.
1968Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, Jr., and William Anders aboard. On Christmas Eve, the astronauts entered into orbit around the moon, the first manned spacecraft ever to do so. During Apollo 8’s 10 lunar orbits, television images were sent back home, and spectacular photos were taken of Earth and the moon from the spacecraft. In addition to being the first human beings to view firsthand their home world in its entirety, the three astronauts were also the first to see the dark side of the moon. On Christmas morning, Apollo 8 left its lunar orbit and began its journey back to Earth, landing safely in the Pacific Ocean on December 27. On July 20 of the next year, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission, became the first men to walk on the moon. Recovery was by HS-4 helicopters from USS Yorktown (CVS-10).
1969Thailand announces plans to withdraw its 12,000-man contingent from South Vietnam. Thai forces went to Vietnam as part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam. The first Thai contribution to the South Vietnamese war effort came in September 1964, when a 16-man Royal Thai Air Force group arrived in Saigon to assist in flying and maintaining some of the cargo aircraft operated by the South Vietnamese Air Force. In 1966, in response to further urging from President Johnson, the Thais agreed to increase their support to South Vietnam. The Royal Thai Military Assistance Group was formed in Saigon in February 1966. Later that year, the Thai government, once again at Johnson’s insistence, agreed to send combat troops to aid the South Vietnamese government. In September 1967, the first elements of the Royal Thai Volunteer Regiment, the “Queen’s Cobras,” arrived in Vietnam and were stationed in Bear Cat (near Bien Hoa, north of Saigon). The Thai regiment began combat operations in October 1967. In July 1968, the Queen’s Cobras were replaced by the Royal Thai Army Expeditionary Division (the “Black Panthers”), which included two brigades of infantry, three battalions of 105-mm field artillery, and an armored cavalry unit. In August 1970, the Black Panther Division was renamed the Royal Thai Army Volunteer Force, a title it retained throughout the rest of its time in South Vietnam. The decision by the Thai government to begin withdrawing its troops was in line with President Nixon’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from South Vietnam as the war was turned over to the South Vietnamese. The first Thai troops departed South Vietnam in 1971 and all were gone by early 1972.
1972The Defense Department announces that eight B-52 bombers and several fighter-bombers were lost since the commencement of Operation Linebacker II on December 18. These losses included at least 43 flyers captured or killed. President Richard Nixon ordered the operation after the North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of the peace talks in Paris. In response, President Nixon immediately issued an ultimatum that North Vietnam send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours “or else.” When they rejected Nixon’s demand, he ordered a full-scale air campaign against Hanoi and Haiphong to force them back to the negotiating table. On December 28, after 11 days of intensive bombing, the North Vietnamese agreed to return to the talks.
1975In Vienna, Austria, Carlos the Jackal leads a raid on a meeting of oil ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). German and Arab terrorists stormed in with machine guns, killed three people, and took 63 people hostage, including 11 OPEC ministers. Calling his group the “Arm of the Arab Revolution,” Carlos demanded that an anti-Israeli political statement be broadcast over radio, and that a bus and jet be provided for the terrorists and their hostages. Austrian authorities complied, and all the hostages were released in Algeria unharmed. OPEC did not hold another summit for 25 years. In 1949, Ilich Ramýrez Sýnchez was born the son of a millionaire Marxist lawyer in Caracas, Venezuela, and attended Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where he became involved with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. During the 1970s and early 1980s, he acted as a freelance terrorist for various Arab groups and is suspected to have killed as many as 80 people in a chain of bombings, hijackings, and assassinations. Nearly apprehended on several occasions, Carlos the Jackal managed to evade international authorities until 1994, when French agents captured him hiding in the Sudan. Secretly extradited to France, he was sent to a French prison, where he lived for three years before being put on trial in 1997 for the 1975 Paris murders of two French counterintelligence officers and a pro-Palestinian Lebanese who had turned informant. On December 23, 1997, a French jury found Sýnchez guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
1988Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York explodes in midair over Lockerbie, Scotland, an hour after departure. A bomb that had been hidden inside an audio cassette player detonated inside the cargo area when the plane was at an altitude of 31,000 feet. All 259 passengers, including 38 Syracuse University students returning home for the holidays, were killed in the explosion. In addition, 11 residents of Lockerbie were killed in the shower of airplane parts that unexpectedly fell from the sky. Authorities accused Islamic terrorists of having placed the bomb on the plane while it was at the low-security airport in Frankfurt, Germany. They apparently believed that the attack was in retaliation for either the 1986 bombing attack on Libya in which Gadhafi was the target, or a 1988 incident, in which the United States killed 290 passengers when it mistakenly shot down an Iran Air commercial flight over the Persian Gulf. Sixteen days before the explosion over Lockerbie, a call was made to the U.S. embassy in Helsinki, Finland, warning that a bomb would be placed on a Pan Am flight out of Frankfurt. Though some claimed that travelers should have been alerted to this threat, U.S. officials later said that the connection between the call and the bomb was purely coincidental. In the early 1990s, investigators identified Libyan intelligence agents Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah as suspects, but Libya refused to turn them over to be tried in the United States. But in 1999-in an effort to ease United Nations sanctions against Libya-Colonel Moammar Gadhafi agreed to turn the suspects over to Scotland for trial in the Netherlands using Scottish law and prosecutors. Families of the victims were dissatisfied with this deal, however, complaining that it did not allow prosecutors to pursue the leads that suggested the bombing was planned and authorized by the highest levels of the Libyan government. The United States did insist, though, that Libya pay compensation to the victims’ families before sanctions against Libya are lifted.
1990 – In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis participated in an evacuation drill to test war readiness.
1991 – El Sayyid Nosair was acquitted in New York of killing Jewish extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane. Nosair was later convicted in a federal trial.
1991In a final step signifying the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, 11 of the 12 Soviet republics declare that they are forming the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Just a few days later, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced he was stepping down from his position. The Soviet Union ceased to exist. The 11 republics-Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan-signed an agreement creating the CIS. Only Georgia, embroiled in a civil war, abstained from participation. Exactly what they created was open to debate. The CIS was not a new nation, but merely an “alliance” between independent states. The political meaning of the alliance was hazy. The independent states each took over the former Soviet government facilities within their borders. The military side of the CIS was even more confusing. They agreed to sustain any arms agreements signed by the former Soviet Union. The former Soviet defense minister would retain control over the military until the CIS could agree on what to do with the nuclear weapons and conventional forces within their borders. Complicating the situation were terrific economic problems and outbreaks of ethnic violence in the new republics. For Gorbachev, the announcement was the final signal that his power-and the existence of the Soviet Union-was at an end. Four days later, on Christmas Day, he announced his resignation.
1997 – President Clinton, accompanied by his wife and daughter, left for Bosnia to spread holiday cheer — and to carry the news that he wanted U.S. troops to remain there indefinitely as the region recovered from its devastating war.
1999 – Amid heightened concerns about the possibility of a holiday terrorist attack, security was ordered tightened at American airports and the Pentagon said it was taking “appropriate action” to protect US forces overseas.
2001 – In Kabul, Afghanistan, power was officially transferred from Pres. Rabbani to Hamid Karzai.
2002 – President Bush received a smallpox vaccination, fulfilling a promise he’d made when he ordered inoculations for about a-half million U.S. troops.
2002 – In Qatar some Persian Gulf leaders opened a summit by calling for regional unity and fast inspections by U.N. experts searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
2003 – Time magazine’s named The American soldier, who bears the duty of “living with and dying for a country’s most fateful decisions,” as Person of the Year.
2004 – A suicide bombing on a base near Mosul killed 22 people and wounded 72 at Forward Operating Base Marez as US soldiers sat down to lunch. Halliburton Co. lost four employees in the attack at the military base. A radical Muslim group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, claimed responsibility. 2 French reporters held hostage for 4 months in Iraq were released.
2004 – Janes’ Defense Weekly said the US will assign serving military officers to its de facto embassy in Taiwan for the first time since 1979 in a reversal of a longstanding policy.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

STRAUB, PAUL F.
Rank and organization: Surgeon. 36th Infantry, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At Alos, Zambales, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 21 December 1899. Entered service at: lowa. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 6 October 1906. Citation: Voluntarily exposed himself to a hot fire from the enemy in repelling with pistol fire an insurgent attack and at great risk of his own life went under fire to the rescue of a wounded officer and carried him to a place of safety.

*BENJAMIN, GEORGE, JR.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company A, 306th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Place and date: Leyte, Philippine Islands, 21 December 1944. Entered service at: Carney’s Point, N.J. Birth: Philadelphia, Pa. G.O. No.: 49, 28 June 1945. Citation: He was a radio operator, advancing in the rear of his company as it engaged a well-defended Japanese strong point holding up the progress of the entire battalion. When a rifle platoon supporting a light tank hesitated in its advance, he voluntarily and with utter disregard for personal safety left his comparatively secure position and ran across bullet-whipped terrain to the tank, waving and shouting to the men of the platoon to follow. Carrying his bulky radio and armed only with a pistol, he fearlessly penetrated intense machinegun and rifle fire to the enemy position, where he killed 1 of the enemy in a foxhole and moved on to annihilate the crew of a light machinegun. Heedless of the terrific fire now concentrated on him, he continued to spearhead the assault, killing 2 more of the enemy and exhorting the other men to advance, until he fell mortally wounded. After being evacuated to an aid station, his first thought was still of the American advance. Overcoming great pain he called for the battalion operations officer to report the location of enemy weapons and valuable tactical information he had secured in his heroic charge. The unwavering courage, the unswerving devotion to the task at hand, the aggressive leadership of Pfc. Benjamin were a source of great and lasting inspiration to his comrades and were to a great extent responsible for the success of the battalion’s mission.

CURREY, FRANCIS S.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company K, 120th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division. Place and date: Malmedy, Belgium, 21 December 1944. Entered service at: Hurleyville, N.Y. Birth: Loch Sheldrake, N.Y. G.O. No.: 69, 17 August 1945. Citation: He was an automatic rifleman with the 3d Platoon defending a strong point near Malmedy, Belgium, on 21 December 1944, when the enemy launched a powerful attack. Overrunning tank destroyers and antitank guns located near the strong point, German tanks advanced to the 3d Platoon’s position, and, after prolonged fighting, forced the withdrawal of this group to a nearby factory. Sgt. Currey found a bazooka in the building and crossed the street to secure rockets meanwhile enduring intense fire from enemy tanks and hostile infantrymen who had taken up a position at a house a short distance away. In the face of small-arms, machinegun, and artillery fire, he, with a companion, knocked out a tank with 1 shot. Moving to another position, he observed 3 Germans in the doorway of an enemy-held house. He killed or wounded all 3 with his automatic rifle. He emerged from cover and advanced alone to within 50 yards of the house, intent on wrecking it with rockets. Covered by friendly fire, he stood erect, and fired a shot which knocked down half of 1 wall. While in this forward position, he observed 5 Americans who had been pinned down for hours by fire from the house and 3 tanks. Realizing that they could not escape until the enemy tank and infantry guns had been silenced, Sgt. Currey crossed the street to a vehicle, where he procured an armful of antitank grenades. These he launched while under heavy enemy fire, driving the tankmen from the vehicles into the house. He then climbed onto a half-track in full view of the Germans and fired a machinegun at the house. Once again changing his position, he manned another machinegun whose crew had been killed; under his covering fire the 5 soldiers were able to retire to safety. Deprived of tanks and with heavy infantry casualties, the enemy was forced to withdraw. Through his extensive knowledge of weapons and by his heroic and repeated braving of murderous enemy fire, Sgt. Currey was greatly responsible for inflicting heavy losses in men and material on the enemy, for rescuing 5 comrades, 2 of whom were wounded, and for stemming an attack which threatened to flank his battalion’s position.

*THORNE, HORACE M.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Troop D, 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Armored Division. Place and date: Near Grufflingen, Belgium, 21 December 1944. Entered service at: Keyport, N.J. Birth. Keansburg, N.J. G.O. No.: 80, 19 September 1945. Citation. He was the leader of a combat patrol on 21 December 1944 near Grufflingen, Belgium, with the mission of driving German forces from dug-in positions in a heavily wooded area. As he advanced his light machinegun, a German Mark Ill tank emerged from the enemy position and was quickly immobilized by fire from American light tanks supporting the patrol. Two of the enemy tankmen attempted to abandon their vehicle but were killed by Cpl. Thorne’s shots before they could jump to the ground. To complete the destruction of the tank and its crew, Cpl. Thorne left his covered position and crept forward alone through intense machinegun fire until close enough to toss 2 grenades into the tank’s open turret, killing 2 more Germans. He returned across the same fire-beaten zone as heavy mortar fire began falling in the area, seized his machinegun and, without help, dragged it to the knocked-out tank and set it up on the vehicle’s rear deck. He fired short rapid bursts into the enemy positions from his advantageous but exposed location, killing or wounding 8. Two enemy machinegun crews abandoned their positions and retreated in confusion. His gun Jammed; but rather than leave his self-chosen post he attempted to clear the stoppage; enemy small-arms fire, concentrated on the tank, killed him instantly. Cpl. Thorne, displaying heroic initiative and intrepid fighting qualities, inflicted costly casualties on the enemy and insured the success of his patrol’s mission by the sacrifice of his life.

*WARNER, HENRY F.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Antitank Company, 2d Battalion, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Dom Butgenbach, Belgium, 20-21 December 1944. Entered service at: Troy, N.C. Born: 23 August 1923, Troy, N.C. G.O. No.: 48, 23 June 1945. Citation: Serving as 57-mm. antitank gunner with the 2d Battalion, he was a major factor in stopping enemy tanks during heavy attacks against the battalion position near Dom Butgenbach, Belgium, on 20-21 December 1944. In the first attack, launched in the early morning of the 20th, enemy tanks succeeded in penetrating parts of the line. Cpl. Warner, disregarding the concentrated cannon and machinegun fire from 2 tanks bearing down on him, and ignoring the imminent danger of being overrun by the infantry moving under tank cover, destroyed the first tank and scored a direct and deadly hit upon the second. A third tank approached to within 5 yards of his position while he was attempting to clear a jammed breach lock. Jumping from his gun pit, he engaged in a pistol duel with the tank commander standing in the turret, killing him and forcing the tank to withdraw. Following a day and night during which our forces were subjected to constant shelling, mortar barrages, and numerous unsuccessful infantry attacks, the enemy struck in great force on the early morning of the 21st. Seeing a Mark IV tank looming out of the mist and heading toward his position, Cpl. Warner scored a direct hit. Disregarding his injuries, he endeavored to finish the loading and again fire at the tank whose motor was now aflame, when a second machinegun burst killed him. Cpl. Warner’s gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty contributed materially to the successful defense against the enemy attacks.

*SMEDLEY, LARRY E.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, 21 December 1967. Entered service at: Orlando, Fla. Born: 4 March 1949, Front Royal, Va. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader with company D, in connection with operations against the enemy. On the evenings of 20-21 December 1967, Cpl. Smedley led his 6-man squad to an ambush site at the mouth of Happy Valley, near Phouc Ninh (2) in Quang Nam Province. Later that night an estimated 100 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army regulars, carrying 122mm rocket launchers and mortars, were observed moving toward Hill 41. Realizing this was a significant enemy move to launch an attack on the vital Danang complex, Cpl. Smedley immediately took sound and courageous action to stop the enemy threat. After he radioed for a reaction force, he skillfully maneuvered his men to a more advantageous position and led an attack on the numerically superior enemy force. A heavy volume of fire from an enemy machinegun positioned on the left flank of the squad inflicted several casualties on Cpl. Smedley’s unit. Simultaneously, an enemy rifle grenade exploded nearby, wounding him in the right foot and knocking him to the ground. Cpl. Smedley disregarded this serious injury and valiantly struggled to his feet, shouting words of encouragement to his men. He fearlessly led a charge against the enemy machinegun emplacement, firing his rifle and throwing grenades, until he was again struck by enemy fire and knocked to the ground. Gravely wounded and weak from loss of blood, he rose and commenced a l-man assault against the enemy position. Although his aggressive and singlehanded attack resulted in the destruction of the machinegun, he was struck in the chest by enemy fire and fell mortally wounded. Cpl. Smedley’s inspiring and courageous actions, bold initiative, and selfless devotion to duty in the face of certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

December 20

20 December

1606 – Virginia Company settlers left London to establish Jamestown.
1669 – The 1st American jury trial was held in Delaware. Marcus Jacobson was condemned for insurrection and sentenced to flogging, branding & slavery.
1790In Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 23-year-old British subject Samuel Slater began production of the first American spinning mill. The British jealously guarded their technological superiority in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, making it illegal for machinery, plans and even the men who built and repaired them to leave the country. After serving a 7-year mill apprenticeship in England, Slater recognized the potential offered in America. He memorized the plans for intricate machine specifications, disguised himself as a farm worker and in 1789 sailed to a new life across the Atlantic. Slater entered into a partnership with Rhode Island merchant Moses Brown and built a small spinning mill–the equivalent of 72 spinning wheels. At first, Slater’s Mill employed only a handful of children between the ages of 7 and 12, but by 1800, he had more than 100 employees. By the time of Slater’s death in 1835, he owned or had an interest in 13 textile mills and left an estate of almost $700,000. From this small beginning, America’s own Industrial Revolution grew.
1803U.S. and French governments put the finishing touches on a little land transaction known as the Louisiana Purchase. For the relatively paltry price tag of $15 million, the U.S. acquired an area that effectively doubled the size of the nation. The bargain price reflected French fears that their army, already occupied with the Napoleonic Wars, would not be able to stave off revolutionaries in New Orleans. U.S. officials, meanwhile, coveted New Orleans as a duty-free port for American goods that were about to be shipped. Of course, the resulting deal provided the U.S. with much more than a port; indeed, the nation now owned the land that would become Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, the Dakotas, as well as chunks of Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and of course, Louisiana.
1803Without a shot fired, the French hand over New Orleans and Lower Louisiana to the United States. In April 1803, the United States purchased from France the 828,000 square miles that had formerly been French Louisiana. The area was divided into two territories: the northern half was Louisiana Territory, the largely unsettled (though home to many Indians) frontier section that was later explored by Lewis and Clark; and the southern Orleans Territory, which was populated by Europeans. Unlike the sprawling and largely unexplored northern territory (which eventually encompassed a dozen large states), Orleans Territory was a small, densely populated region that was like a little slice of France in the New World. With borders that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Louisiana, Orleans Territory was home to about 50,000 people, a primarily French population that had been living under the direction of a Spanish administration. These former citizens of France knew almost nothing about American laws and institutions, and the challenging task of bringing them into the American fold fell to the newly appointed governor of the region, twenty-eight-year-old William Claiborne. Historians have found no real evidence that the French of Orleans Territory resented their transfer to American control, though one witness claimed that when the French tri-color was replaced by the Stars and Stripes in New Orleans, the citizens wept. The French did resent that their new governor was appointed rather than elected, and they bridled when the American government tried to make English the official language and discouraged the use of French. It didn’t help matters that young Claiborne knew neither French nor Spanish. Claiborne soon found himself immersed in a complex sea of ethnic tensions and political unrest that he little understood, and in January he wrote to Thomas Jefferson that the population was “uninformed, indolent, luxurious-in a word, ill-fitted to be useful citizens for a Republic.” To his dismay, Claiborne found that most of his time was spent not governing, but dealing with an unrelenting procession of crises like riots, robberies, and runaway slaves. Despite his concerns, Claiborne knew that somehow these people had to be made into American citizens, and over time he gradually made progress in bringing the citizenry into the Union. In December 1804 he was happy to report to Jefferson that “they begin to view their connexion with the United States as permanent and to experience the benefits thereof.” Proof of this came eight years later, when the people of Orleans Territory drafted a constitution and successfully petitioned to become the eighteenth state in the Union. Despite Claiborne’s doubts about whether the French would ever truly fit into their new nation, the approval of that petition meant that the people of Louisiana were officially Americans.
1812 – Sacagawea, Shoshone interpreter for Lewis & Clark, died.
1822 – Congress authorizes the 14-ship West Indies Squadron to suppress piracy in the Caribbean.
1860South Carolina officially leaves the United States when a convention ratifies an article of secession. South Carolina, the first state to secede, was followed within a few weeks by six other states, who collectively formed the Confederate States of America. When hostilities erupted in April 1861, four more states joined the Confederacy.
1861 – Transports were loaded with 8,000 troops in England. They were setting sail for Canada so that troops would be available if the “Trent Affair” was not settled without war.
1862Rear Admiral D. D. Porter in his flagship U.S.S. Black Hawk joined General William T. Sherman at Helena, Arkansas, and prepared for the joint assault on Vicksburg. The fleet under Admiral Porter’s command for the Vicksburg campaign was the largest ever placed under one officer up to that time, equal in number to all the vessels composing the U.S. Navy at the outbreak of war.
1862Confederate General Earl Van Dorn thwarts Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s first attempt to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, when Van Dorn attacks Grant’s supplies at Holly Springs, Mississippi. Grant planned a two-pronged attack on the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. He would take a force from western Tennessee to approach Vicksburg from the interior of Mississippi. Meanwhile, General William T. Sherman would lead an army down the Mississippi River for an attack from the north. Grant said, “We can go as far as supplies can go.” The plan started on a good note–Grant’s army pushed aside Confederates in northern Mississippi. In response, Confederate cavalry colonel John Griffith suggested attacking Grant’s supply line at Holly Springs, and he recommended Van Dorn for the mission. To that point, Van Dorn had done little to build his reputation. He lost the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Battle of Corinth earlier in 1862, and he was known for his drunkenness and tendency to cavort with prostitutes. Van Dorn gathered three cavalry brigades and left Grenada, Mississippi, on December 17. On December 20, Van Dorn fell on the Union supply depot at Holly Springs, driving the Yankee defenders away and capturing materials. What could not be carried was destroyed. Van Dorn remained in the area a few more days, cutting rail and telegraph lines, before fleeing in the face of pursuing Union cavalry. The Confederates rode 500 miles in two weeks, returning on December 28 after successfully disrupting Grant’s campaign. The raid was the highlight of Van Dorn’s military career. He was murdered five months later by the husband of a woman with whom he was having an affair.
1864 – Confederate forces evacuated Savannah, Ga., as Union Gen. William T. Sherman continued his “March to the Sea.”
1864Boats from U.S.S. Chicopee, Valley City, and Wyalusing under the command of Commander Macomb on an expedition to engage Confederate troops at Rainbow Bluff, North Carolina, were fired upon while dragging for torpedoes, seven miles below the Bluff. Macomb then put out skirmishers to clear the banks, but made only slow progress against the Southern force along the river. After the destruction of U.S.S. Otsego and Bazely (see 9 December), the Union gunboats moved laboriously up the tortuous river, dragging for torpedoes in small boats and being harassed by Confederate riflemen. As many as 40 torpedoes were found in some bends of the river. Union troops intending to operate with the gunboats were delayed. By the time they were ready to advance on Rainbow Bluff, the Confederate garrison there had been strongly reinforced. Torpedoes in the river, batteries along the banks below that point, and the difficulty of navigating the river forced abandonment of the operation. The wrecks of Otsego and Bazely were destroyed to prevent their falling into Confederate hands on 25 December. The expedition got back to Plymouth three days later.
1879 – Thomas A. Edison privately demonstrated his incandescent light at Menlo Park, N.J. 1880 – NY’s Broadway was lit by electricity. It later became known as “Great White Way.”
1892Alexander Brown and George Stillman of Syracuse, New York, patented an inflatable automobile tire. Before the pneumatic tire, wheels were often made of solid rubber. This made travel a bumpy experience. After all, the streets of 1892 were made of dirt or cobblestone. Some horse-drawn carriages had been made with inflatable tires, but Brown and Stillman got the first patent for pneumatic automobile tires.
1924 – Adolf Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison after serving less than one year of a five year sentence for treason.
1939 – The American cruiser USS Tuscalossa arrives in New York with 579 survivors from the scuttled German liner Columbus. They disembark on Ellis Island.
1941The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, entered combat against the Japanese over Kunming. Aircraft of the 1st and 2nd squadrons intercepted 10 unescorted Kawasaki Ki-48 “Lily” bombers of the 21st Hikōtai attacking Kunming. The bombers jettisoned their loads before reaching Kunming. Three of the Japanese bombers were shot down near Kunming and a fourth was damaged so severely that it crashed before returning to its airfield at Hanoi. Furthermore, the Japanese discontinued their raids on Kunming while the AVG was based there.
1941 – Admiral Ernest J. King designated Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet in charge of all operating naval fleets and coastal frontier forces, reporting directly to the President.
1941 – Japanese troops landed on Mindanao.
1943 – CGC Bodega grounded off the Canal Zone. No lives were lost.
1943 – Allied aircraft drop about 2000 tons of bombs on Frankfurt, Mannheim and other cities in southern Germany. There are also raids on the V-1 ramps in France.
1944 – The Women’s Air Force Service Pilots were deactivated. Before deactivation 1,074 WASPs logged 60 million miles flying for the U.S. Army Air Forces.
1944The 5th Panzer Army continues to advance to the south against forces of US 12th Army Group, but American defenders of the road junctions of St. Vith and Bastogne continue to hold their positions. Allied sources allege that in the area of Monschau the Germans have been shooting American prisoners with machineguns. Meanwhile, the US 3rd Army reports attacking from the Saarlautern bridgehead and having cleared 40 pillboxes and fortified houses.
1945 – Tire rationing in the U.S. ended on this day as World War II wound to a close, and widespread shortages in the States began to ease.
1946The morning after Viet Minh forces under Ho Chi Minh launched a night revolt in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, French colonial troops crack down on the communist rebels. Ho and his soldiers immediately fled the city to regroup in the countryside. That evening, the communist leader issued a proclamation that read: “All the Vietnamese must stand up to fight the French colonials to save the fatherland. Those who have rifles will use their rifles; those who have swords will use their swords; those who have no swords will use spades, hoes, or sticks. Everyone must endeavor to oppose the colonialists and save his country. Even if we have to endure hardship in the resistance war, with the determination to make sacrifices, victory will surely be ours.” The First Indochina War had begun. Born in Hoang Tru, Vietnam, in 1890, Ho Chi Minh left his homeland in 1911 as a cook on a French steamer. After several years as a seaman, he lived in London and then moved to France, where he became a founding member of the French Communist Party in 1920. He later traveled to the Soviet Union, where he studied revolutionary tactics and took an active role in the Communist International. In 1924, he went to China, where he set about organizing exiled Vietnamese communists. Expelled by China in 1927, he traveled extensively before returning to Vietnam in 1941. There, he organized a Vietnamese guerrilla organization–the Viet Minh–to fight for Vietnamese independence. Japan occupied French Indochina in 1940 and collaborated with French officials loyal to France’s Vichy regime. Ho, meanwhile, made contact with the Allies and aided operations against the Japanese in South China. In early 1945, Japan ousted the French administration in Vietnam and executed numerous French officials. When Japan surrendered to the Allies on September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh felt emboldened enough to declare the independence of Vietnam from France. French forces seized southern Vietnam and opened talks with the Vietnamese communists in the north. Negotiations collapsed in November 1946, and French warships bombarded the northern Vietnamese city of Haiphong, killing thousands. In response, the Viet Minh launched an attack against the French in Hanoi in December 1946. The French quickly struck back, and Ho and his followers found refuge in a remote area of northern Vietnam. The Viet Minh, undefeated and widely supported by the Vietnamese people, waged an increasingly effective guerrilla war against the French. The conflict stretched on for eight years, with Mao Zedong’s Chinese communists supporting the Viet Minh, and the United States aiding the French and anti-communist Vietnamese forces. In 1954, the French suffered a major defeat at Dien Bien Phu, in northwest Vietnam, prompting peace negotiations and the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel at a conference in Geneva. Vietnam was divided into northern and southern regions, with Ho in command of North Vietnam and Emperor Bao Dai in control of South Vietnam. In the late 1950s, Ho Chi Minh organized a communist guerrilla movement in the South, called the Viet Cong. North Vietnam and the Viet Cong successfully opposed a series of ineffectual U.S.-backed South Vietnam regimes and beginning in 1964 withstood a decade-long military intervention by the United States, known as the Vietnam War in America but also called the Second Indochina War. Ho Chi Minh died on September 2, 1969, 25 years after declaring Vietnam’s independence from France and nearly six years before his forces succeeded in reuniting North and South Vietnam under communist rule. Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after it came under the control of the communists in 1975.
1948 – U.S. Supreme Court announced that it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeals of Japanese war criminals sentenced by the International Military Tribunal.
1950 – The 1st Marine Division was active against enemy guerillas in Masan-Pohang-Sondong-Ansong areas. Enemy pressure lessened as Marines forced the 10th North Korean Division to abandon guerilla activity and withdraw northward.
1952 – A United States Air Force C-124 crashes and burns in Moses Lake, Washington killing 87.
1957 – Elvis Presley was given a draft notice to join US Army for National Service.
1960North Vietnam announces the formation of the National Front for the Liberation of the South at a conference held “somewhere in the South.” This organization, more commonly known as the National Liberation Front (NLF), was designed to replicate the success of the Viet Minh, the umbrella nationalist organization that successfully liberated Vietnam from French colonial rule. The NLF reached out to those parts of South Vietnamese society who were displeased with the government and policies of President Ngo Dinh Diem. One hundred delegates representing more than a dozen political parties and religious groups–both communists and non-communists–were in attendance at the conference. However, from the beginning, the NLF was dominated by the Lao Dong Party Central Committee (North Vietnamese Communist Party) and served as the North’s shadow government in South Vietnam. The Saigon regime dubbed the NLF the “Viet Cong,” a pejorative contraction of Viet Nam Cong San (Vietnamese Communists). The NLF’s military arm was the People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF). In February 1965, the PLAF attacked U.S. Army installations at Pleiku and Qui Nhon, which convinced President Lyndon B. Johnson to send the first U.S. ground troops to South Vietnam a month later. Ultimately, more than 500,000 U.S. troops were sent to Vietnam to fight the PLAF and the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN, or North Vietnamese Army). The NLF reached the height of its power during the 1968 Tet Offensive, when the communists launched a massive coordinated attack against key urban centers throughout South Vietnam. Although the Viet Cong forces were soundly defeated during the course of the offensive, they achieved a great psychological victory because the attack prompted many long time supporters of the war to question the Johnson administration’s optimistic predictions. The Saigon regime dubs the NLF the ‘Vietcong,’ a pejorative contraction of Viet Nam Cong San (Vietnamese Communists). This label, created by Diem’s publicists, is designed to brand the rebels as Communists, and comes to be applied generally to supporters of and participants in the insurgency.
1963More than two years after the Berlin Wall was constructed by East Germany to prevent its citizens from fleeing its communist regime, nearly 4,000 West Berliners are allowed to cross into East Berlin to visit relatives. Under an agreement reached between East and West Berlin, over 170,000 passes were eventually issued to West Berlin citizens, each pass allowing a one-day visit to communist East Berlin. The day was marked by moments of poignancy and propaganda. The construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 separated families and friends. Tears, laughter, and other outpourings of emotions characterized the reunions that took place as mothers and fathers, sons and daughters met again, if only for a short time. Cold War tensions were never far removed from the scene, however. Loudspeakers in East Berlin greeted visitors with the news that they were now in “the capital of the German Democratic Republic,” a political division that most West Germans refused to accept. Each visitor was also given a brochure that explained that the wall was built to “protect our borders against the hostile attacks of the imperialists.” Decadent western culture, including “Western movies” and “gangster stories,” were flooding into East Germany before the wall sealed off such dangerous trends. On the West Berlin side, many newspapers berated the visitors, charging that they were pawns of East German propaganda. Editorials argued that the communists would use this shameless ploy to gain West German acceptance of a permanent division of Germany. The visits, and the high-powered rhetoric that surrounded them, were stark reminders that the Cold War involved very human, often quite heated, emotions.
1964 – USS Richard E. Kraus (DD-849) completes a successful emergency mission in aiding the disabled American Merchant Ship, SS Oceanic Spray in the Red Sea.
1967 – Some 474,300 US soldiers were stationed in Vietnam.
1967President Lyndon B. Johnson attends a memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt in Melbourne and then visits Vietnam, Thailand, and the Vatican. Arriving in Thailand on December 23, Johnson visited the U.S. air base at Korat, where he told the U.S. pilots there that the United States and its allies were “defeating this aggression.” The president then visited U.S. combat troops in Cam Ranh, South Vietnam, and told them that the enemy “knows that he has met his master in the field.” Next, Johnson flew to Rome and met with Pope Paul VI for over an hour with only interpreters present. A Vatican statement said the Pope advanced proposals toward attaining peace in Vietnam during the meeting.
1974 – Clearance of Suez Canal for mines and unexploded ordnance completed by Joint Task Force.
1978 – Former White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman was released from prison after serving 18 months for his role in the Watergate cover-up.
1989The United States invades Panama in an attempt to overthrow military dictator Manuel Noriega, who had been indicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges and was accused of suppressing democracy in Panama and endangering U.S. nationals. Noriega’s Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) were promptly crushed, forcing the dictator to seek asylum with the Vatican anuncio in Panama City, where he surrendered on January 3, 1990. In 1970, Noriega, a rising figure in the Panamanian military, was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to assist in the U.S. struggle against the spread of communism in Central America. Noriega became involved in drug trafficking and in 1977 was removed from the CIA payroll. After the Marxist Sandinista government came to power in 1979, Noriega was brought back into the CIA fold. In 1983, he become military dictator of Panama. Noriega supported U.S. initiatives in Central America and in turn was praised by the White House, even though a Senate committee concluded in 1983 that Panama was a major center for drug trafficking. In 1984, Noriega committed fraud in Panama’s presidential election in favor of Nicolýs Ardito Barletta, who became a puppet president. Still, Noriega enjoyed the continued support of the Reagan administration, which valued his aid in its efforts to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. In 1986, just months before the outbreak of the Iran-Contra affair, allegations arose concerning Noriega’s history as a drug trafficker, money launderer, and CIA employee. Most shocking, however, were reports that Noriega had acted as a double agent for Cuba’s intelligence agency and the Sandinistas. The U.S. government disowned Noriega, and in 1988 he was indicted by federal grand juries in Tampa and Miami on drug-smuggling and money-laundering charges. Tensions between Americans in the Panama Canal Zone and Noriega’s Panamanian Defense Forces grew, and in 1989 the dictator annulled a presidential election that would have made Guillermo Endara president. President George H. Bush ordered additional U.S. troops to the Panama Canal Zone, and on December 16 an off-duty U.S. Marine was shot to death at a PDF roadblock. The next day, President Bush authorized “Operation Just Cause”–the U.S. invasion of Panama to overthrow Noriega. On December 20, 9,000 U.S. troops joined the 12,000 U.S. military personnel already in Panama and were met with scattered resistance from the PDF. By December 24, the PDF was crushed, and the United States held most of the country. Endara was made president by U.S. forces, and he ordered the PDF dissolved. On January 3, Noriega was arrested by U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents. The U.S. invasion of Panama cost the lives of only 23 U.S. soldiers and three U.S. civilians. Some 150 PDF soldiers were killed along with an estimated 500 Panamanian civilians. The Organization of American States and the European Parliament both formally protested the invasion, which they condemned as a flagrant violation of international law. In 1992, Noriega was found guilty on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering, marking the first time in history that a U.S. jury convicted a foreign leader of criminal charges. He was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.
1990 – Pentagon warned Saddam that US air power was ready to attack on 1/15.
1992 – U.S. Marines and Belgian paratroopers in Somalia took control of Kismayu’s port and airport; the first truck convoy in more than a month reached the starving inland town of Baidoa. This is the first US combined amphibious assualt since the Vietnam War.
1993 – Alina Fernandez Revuelta, a daughter of Cuban President Fidel Castro, flew to Spain, where she was granted political asylum by the U.S. Embassy.
1994 – Marcelino Corniel, a homeless man, was shot and mortally wounded by White House security officers as he brandished a knife near the executive mansion.
1995During a brief military ceremony in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, French General Bernard Janvier, head of the United Nations peacekeeping force, formally transfers military authority in Bosnia to U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith, commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Southern Europe. The solemn ceremony cleared the path for the deployment of 60,000 NATO troops to enforce the Dayton Peace Accords, signed in Paris by the leaders of the former Yugoslavia on December 14. The U.S.-backed peace plan was proposed during talks in Dayton, Ohio, earlier in the year and was reluctantly accepted by the last of the belligerent parties in November, ending four years of bloody conflict in the former Yugoslavia, which cost more than 200,000 lives. The United Nations peacekeeping mission to Bosnia began in early 1992, shortly after the war erupted over efforts by the Bosnian Serbs to achieve independence from Bosnia-Herzegovina and unite with Serbia. Although the U.N. force was crucial in distributing humanitarian aid to the impoverished population of Bosnia, it was unable to stop the fighting. Approximately 25,000 U.N. peacekeepers served in Bosnia over three and a half years, and during that time 110 of those were killed, 831 wounded, and hundreds taken hostage. The NATO force, with its strong U.S. support and focused aim of enforcing the Dayton agreement, was more successful in bringing stability to the war-torn region.
1998 – Germany extradited Mamdouh Mahmud Salim to the US in relation to the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
2000 – In Afghanistan the Taliban ordered UN offices closed and pledged to boycott peace talks. New sanctions were imposed in response to the Taliban’s refusal to surrender Osama bin Laden.
2001 – Pres. Bush marked the 100-day anniversary of Sep 11 by freezing the assets of 2 Pakistan-based groups suspected of terrorist support.
2001More than two months after the attack began, the UNSC authorized the creation of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to assist the Afghan Interim Authority in maintaining security. Command of ISAF passed to NATO on 11 August 2003, following the US invasion of Iraq in March of that year. ISAF was initially established as a stabilization force by the UN Security Council to secure Kabul. Its mandate did not extend beyond this area for the first few years.
2001 – It was reported that Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a defector from Iraq, said he worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq before fleeing a year ago.
2002 – U.S. jets fired on two Iraqi air defense sites in the southern no-fly zone after an Iraqi jet entered the restricted air space.
2002Grote Reber (90), a pioneer of radio astronomy died in Tasmania. He followed up Karl Jansky’s 1933 announcement of the discovery of radio waves from space and in his spare time in 1937 built a 30-foot antenna dish, the 1st radio telescope, in his back yard in Wheaton, Ill., and managed to pick up signals two years later.
2002U.N. weapons inspectors put Iraq on notice that it must provide far more evidence about its weapons of mass destruction. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix urged the United States and Britain to hand over any evidence they have about Iraq’s secret weapons programs so U.N. inspectors can check it on the ground. The US began sharing sensitive information with the UN.
2002 – Yemeni security forces battled suspected al-Qaida members holed up in a building in a gunfight that left 2 policemen dead.
2003 – Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan said he will use his forces to open up the lawless south and east to development aid, in a tactical switch to beat a stubborn insurgency threatening next year’s elections.
2003 – Insurgents attacked pipelines and an oil storage depot in three parts of Iraq, setting fires that blazed for hours and lost millions of gallons of oil.
2003 – A Lebanese military court convicted 32 people of bombing American and British businesses, and imposed sentences ranging from three months to life imprisonment.
2004 – In a sobering assessment of the Iraq war, President Bush acknowledged during a news conference that Americans’ resolve had been shaken by grisly scenes of death and destruction, and he pointedly criticized the performance of US-trained Iraqi troops.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

NORRIS, J. W.
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1862, England. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Jamestown, New York Navy Yard, 20 December 1883, Norris rescued from drowning A. A. George, who had fallen overboard.

SWEENEY, ROBERT
SECOND AWARD
Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Jamestown, at the Navy Yard New York, 20 December 1883, Sweeney rescued from drowning A. A. George, who had fallen overboard from that vessel.

VOSLER, FORREST T. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Corps. 358th Bomber Squadron, 303d Bomber Group. Place and date. Over Bremen, Germany, 20 December 1943. Entered service at: Rochester, N.Y. Born: 29 July 1923, Lyndonville, N.Y. G.O. No.: 73, 6 September 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry in action against the enemy above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio operator-air gunner on a heavy bombardment aircraft in a mission over Bremen, Germany, on 20 December 1943. After bombing the target, the aircraft in which T/Sgt. Vosler was serving was severely damaged by antiaircraft fire, forced out of formation, and immediately subjected to repeated vicious attacks by enemy fighters. Early in the engagement a 20-mm. cannon shell exploded in the radio compartment, painfully wounding T/Sgt. Vosler in the legs and thighs. At about the same time a direct hit on the tail of the ship seriously wounded the tail gunner and rendered the tail guns inoperative. Realizing the great need for firepower in protecting the vulnerable tail of the ship, T/Sgt. Vosler, with grim determination, kept up a steady stream of deadly fire. Shortly thereafter another 20-mm. enemy shell exploded, wounding T/Sgt. Vosler in the chest and about the face. Pieces of metal lodged in both eyes, impairing his vision to such an extent that he could only distinguish blurred shapes. Displaying remarkable tenacity and courage, he kept firing his guns and declined to take first-aid treatment. The radio equipment had been rendered inoperative during the battle, and when the pilot announced that he would have to ditch, although unable to see and working entirely by touch, T/Sgt. Vosler finally got the set operating and sent out distress signals despite several lapses into unconsciousness. When the ship ditched, T/Sgt. Vosler managed to get out on the wing by himself and hold the wounded tail gunner from slipping off until the other crewmembers could help them into the dinghy. T/Sgt. Vosler’s actions on this occasion were an inspiration to all serving with him. The extraordinary courage, coolness, and skill he displayed in the face of great odds, when handicapped by injuries that would have incapacitated the average crewmember, were outstanding.

December 19

19 December

1606 – The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery depart England carrying settlers who found, at Jamestown, Virginia, the first of the thirteen colonies that became the United States.
1675The Great Swamp Fight, a pivotal battle in King Philip’s War, gives the English settlers a bitterly won victory against the Naragansett tribe. Fearing that the, officially neutral, Naragansetts would join with the forces of The Pokanoket tribe chief, Metacomet, known as King Phillip, and believing that the Nragansetts had earlier sheltered King Phillip’s men, the militia of Rhode Island began attacking Naragansett villages in November. On a bitterly cold storm-filled day, the main Narragansett fort in modern South Kingstown, Rhode Island was found and attacked by the colonial militia from Plymouth Colony, Connecticut Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony. Led there by an Indian guide, known as Indian Peter, the militia were able to reach the fort because an unusually cold late fall had frozen the swamp, making an assault possible. The massive fort, which occupied about 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land and was initially occupied by over a thousand Natives, was eventually overrun after a fierce fight. The Native fort was burned, its inhabitants, including women and children, killed or evicted and most of the tribe’s winter stores destroyed. It is believed that about 300 natives were killed though exact figures are unknown. Many of the warriors and their families escaped into the frozen swamp; there hundreds more died from wounds combined with the harsh conditions. Facing a winter with little food and shelter, the whole surviving Narragansett tribe was forced out of the quasi-neutrality some had tried to maintain in the ongoing war and joined the fight alongside Philip. The colonists lost many of their officers in this assault and about seventy of their men were killed and nearly 150 more wounded. The dead and wounded colonial militiamen were evacuated to the settlements on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay where they were buried or cared for by many of the Rhode Island colonists until they could return to their homes.
1776 – Thomas Paine published his first “American Crisis” essay in the Pennsylvania Journal, writing: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
1777With the onset of the bitter winter cold, the Continental Army under General George Washington, still in the field, enters its winter camp at Valley Forge, 22 miles from British-occupied Philadelphia. Washington chose a site on the west bank of the Schuylkill River that could be effectively defended in the event of a British attack. During 1777, Patriot forces under General Washington suffered major defeats against the British at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown; Philadelphia, the capital of the United States, fell into British hands. The particularly severe winter of 1777-1778 proved to be a great trial for the American army, and of the 11,000 soldiers stationed at Valley Forge, hundreds died from disease. However, the suffering troops were held together by loyalty to the Patriot cause and to General Washington, who stayed with his men. As the winter stretched on, Prussian military adviser Frederick von Steuben kept the soldiers busy with drills and training in modern military strategy. When Washington’s army marched out of Valley Forge on June 19, 1778, the men were better disciplined and stronger in spirit than when they had entered. Nine days later, they won a victory against the British under Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey.
1817Confederate General James Archer is born in Harford County, Maryland. Archer received his education at Princeton University and Boston College before serving in the Maryland volunteers during the Mexican War. He earned a brevet promotion (an honorary promotion usually given for battlefield heroism) to major for bravery at the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexico City campaign. After the war, he practiced law until he joined the U.S. Army in 1855. Archer served in the Pacific Northwest, and when the Civil War broke out, he joined General John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade in the Confederate Army. Archer fought with the Army of Northern Virginia throughout the war. He earned a promotion to brigadier general for his gallantry at the Battle of Seven Pines in June 1862, and his brigade played a key role during the Seven Days’ battles later that month. He was ill during the army’s invasion of Maryland in September 1862, so he relinquished his command for the Battle of Antietam. In 1863, Archer marched north to Gettysburg as part of Henry Heth’s division in A.P. Hill’s corps. This placed him in the middle of battle’s initial action on July 1. Archer led an attack on the center of the Union line on Seminary Ridge that was so successful that Archer and his men were cut off from the rest of the Confederates. He was captured, the first Confederate general from the Army of Northern Virginia to be captured since Robert E. Lee assumed command on June 1, 1862. Ironically, Archer’s old friend, General Abner Doubleday, commanded the Union force that captured Archer. When he saw Archer being led to the rear, he rode up and extended a handshake and said he was happy to see his old friend. Archer reportedly retorted, “Well, I’m not glad to see you by a damned sight!” Archer was held at prisons in Ohio and Delaware for more than a year before he was exchanged in August 1864. After his release, Archer received orders to return to his old brigade, which was now serving as part of Hood’s Army of Tennessee in Atlanta. Prison life, however, had compromised his health and his orders were changed. He was sent instead to the trenches around Petersburg, Virginia. His health continued to deteriorate and he died there on October 24, 1864.
1828 – In the Nullification Crisis, Vice President of the United States John C. Calhoun pens the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, protesting the Tariff of 1828.
1862 – Nathan B. Forrest tore up the railroads in Grant and Rosecrans’ rear, causing considerable delays in the movement of Union supplies.
1862 – Skirmish at Jackson-Salem Church, Tenn., left 80 casualties.
1863Expedition under Acting Master W. R. Browne, comprising U.S.S. Restless, Bloomer, and Caroline, proceeded up St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida, to continue the destruction of salt works. A landing party went ashore under Bloomer’s guns and destroyed those works not already demolished by the Southerners when reports of the naval party were received. Browne was able to report that he had “cleared the three arms of this extensive bay of salt works. . . .Within the past ten days,” he added, “290 salt works, 33 covered wagons, 12 flatboats, 2 sloops (3 ton each) 6 ox carts, 4,000 bushels of salt, 268 buildings at the different salt works, 529 iron kettles averaging 150 gallons each, 103 iron boilers for boiling brine [were destroyed], and it is believed that the enemy destroyed as many more to prevent us from doing so.”
1864 – C.S.S. Water Witch, captured from the Union on 3 June, was burned by the Confederates in the Vernon River near Savannah, in order to prevent her capture by General Sherman’s troops ad-vancing on the city.
1870 – After a month at sea in a 22-foot boat, Coxswain William Halford, the lone survivor of 5, reaches Hawaii to seek help for crew of USS Saginaw, wrecked near Midway Island. Rescuers reach the 88 Saginaw survivors on 4 January 1871.
1912 – William Van Schaick, captain of the steamship General Slocum which caught fire and killed over 1,000 people, is pardoned by U.S. President William Howard Taft after three-and-a-half-years in Sing Sing prison.
1928 – The 1st autogiro flight was made in the US. It was a predecessor of the helicopter.
1939The German liner Columbus, closely trailed by the US cruiser Tuscaloosa, is scuttled some 300 miles from the American coast, to avoid capture by the approaching British destroyer HMS Hyperion. The American warship has been trailing the German liner since its departure from Vera Cruz, Mexico and has been constantly reporting the position of the Columbus by radio for any and all ships to hear. The actions taken by the USS Tuscaloosa make the official US position of neutrality highly suspect, but Berlin never protests the incident.
1941Adolf Hitler assumes the position of commander in chief of the German army. The German offensive against Moscow was proving to be a disaster. A perimeter had been established by the Soviets 200 miles from the city-and the Germans couldn’t break through. The harsh winter weather-with temperatures often dropping to 31 degrees below zero-had virtually frozen German tanks in their tracks. Soviet General Georgi Zhukov had unleashed a ferocious counteroffensive of infantry, tanks, and planes that had forced the flailing Germans into retreat. In short, the Germans were being beaten for the first time in the war, and the toll to their collective psyche was great. “The myth of the invincibility of the German army was broken,” German General Franz Halder would write later. But Hitler refused to accept this notion. He began removing officers from their command. General Fedor von Bock, who had been suffering severe stomach pains and who on December 1 had complained to Halder that he was no longer able to “operate” with his debilitated troops, was replaced by General Hans von Kluge, whose own 4th Army had been pushed into permanent retreat from Moscow. General Karl von Runstedt was relieved of the southern armies because he had retreated from Rostov. Hitler clearly did not believe in giving back captured territory, so in the biggest shake-up of all, he declared himself commander in chief of the army. He would train it “in a National Socialist way”-that is, by personal fiat. He would compose the strategies and the officers would dance to his tune.
1941 – Japanese land 500 men from the 56th Infantry Regiment near Davao on Mindanao.
1942 – On Guadalcanal, US forces on Mount Austen meet heavy resistance.
1943 – The American regiment at Arawe captures the nearby Japanese airstrip and hold against counterattacks.
1944At a meeting of senior Allied commanders, Eisenhower decides to appoint Field Marshal Montgomery, commanding British 21st Army Group, to lead all Allied forces to the north of ” the Bulge” in the line created by the German attack. General Bradley, commanding US 12th Army Group, is responsible for all Allied forces to the south. The arrangement is not made public at this time.
1944 – It is decided that the Japanese 35th Army on Leyte is no longer to be reinforced or supplied. Nonetheless, fighting continues to the north of Ormoc and throughout the northwest of the island.
1944 – Forces of the German 6th SS Panzer Army reach Stavelot in the north while elements of 5th Panzer Army approach Houffalize. Some US forces between these advance continue to defend positions around Gouvy and St. Vith.
1944 – During the Battle of the Bulge, American troops began pulling back from the twin Belgian cities of Krinkelt and Rocherath in front of the advancing German Army.
1946In Hanoi, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam launches its first attack against the French. Following months of steadily deteriaorating relations, a bloody ‘pacification’ of Haiphong in November, and unacceptable French demands including the disarmament of the Vietminh militia, the attack has the support of most Vietnamese and begins what comes to be known as the Indochina War.
1950 – The North Atlantic Council named General Eisenhower supreme commander of Western European defense forces of NATO.
1950 – The carrier USS Bataan, commanded by Captain T. N. Neale, arrived on station in Korean waters.
1959 – Reputed to be the last civil war veteran, Walter Williams, died at 117 in Houston.
1960 – A fire aboard USS Constellation, under construction at Brooklyn, killed 50.
1963Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara arrives in Saigon to evaluate the new government’s war effort against the Vietcong. Publicly optimistic, in a complete about-face from the previous year, he privately tells Johnson that the situation is ‘very disturbing.’ McNamara feels that unless conditions change in the next two or three months, current rends ‘will lead to neutralization at best, or more likely, to a Communist controlled state.’
1964Another bloodless coup occurs when Maj. Gen. Nguyen Khanh and a group of generals led by Air Commodore Nguyen Cao Ky and Army Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu arrest three dozen high officers and civilian officials. The coup was part of the continuing political instability that erupted after the November 1963 coup that resulted in the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem. The period following the overthrow of Diem was marked by a series of coups and “revolving door” governments. The coup on this day was engineered by a faction of younger military officers known as the “Young Turks,” who were fed up with what they believed was the ineffective government headed by a group of older generals known as the Military Revolutionary Council. Khanh and the newly formed Armed Forces Council, made up of the generals who had participated in the coup, restored civilian control on January 7, 1965, under Tran Van Huong. Hunon proved unable to put together a viable government and the Armed Forces Council ousted him on January 27 and installed Gen. Khanh in power. Khanh was ousted by yet another coup on February 18 led by Ky and Thieu. Khanh then went to the United States and settled in Palm Beach, Florida. A short-lived civilian government under Dr. Phan Huy Quat was installed, but it lasted only until June 12, 1965. At that time, Thieu and Ky formed a new government with Thieu as the chief of state and Ky as the prime minister. Thieu and Ky were elected as president and vice-president in general elections held in 1967.
1972Hanoi’s foreign ministry, calling the new B-52 raids against Hanoi and Haiphong “extremely barbaric,” accuses the United States of premeditated intensification of the war and labels the actions “insane.” On December 13, North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of secret talks in Paris with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. President Nixon issued an ultimatum to Hanoi to send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours “or else.” The North Vietnamese rejected Nixon’s demand and the president ordered Operation Linebacker II, a full-scale air campaign against the Hanoi area. During the 11 days of Linebacker II, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties were flown. These planes dropped roughly 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong. Nixon was severely criticized both by American antiwar activists and in the international community for ordering what became known as the “Christmas bombing.” Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, China and the Soviet Union officially condemned the resumption of American bombing above the 20th parallel. The French newspaper Le Monde compared the attacks to the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, when German planes from the Condor Legion attacked the Spanish city and caused great devastation and loss of life. In England, the Manchester Guardian called the bombing “the action of a man blinded by fury or incapable of seeing the consequences of what he is doing.” Pope Paul VI and United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim expressed concern for world peace. American antiwar activists charged that Linebacker II involved “carpet bombing”–deliberately targeting civilian areas with intensive bombing designed to “carpet” a city with bombs. Though the bombing was focused on specific military targets, it did result in the deaths of 1,318 civilians in Hanoi. The “Christmas bombing” was deemed a success by the U.S., since it caused the North Vietnamese to return to the negotiating table, where the Paris Peace Accords were signed less than a month later.
1972The Apollo lunar-landing program ends on December 19, 1972, when the last three astronauts to travel to the moon splash down safely in the Pacific Ocean. Apollo 17 had lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, 10 days before. In July 1969, after three years of preparation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) accomplished President John F. Kennedy’s goal of putting a man on the moon and safely returning him to Earth with Apollo 11. From 1969 to 1972, there were six successful lunar landing missions, and one aborted mission, Apollo 13. During the Apollo 17 mission, astronauts Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H. Schmitt stayed for a record 75 hours on the surface of the moon, conducting three separate surface excursions in the Lunar Rover vehicle and collecting 243 pounds of rock and soil samples. Although Apollo 17 was the last lunar landing, the last official Apollo mission was conducted in July 1975, when an Apollo spacecraft successfully rendezvoused and docked with the Soviet Soyuz 19 spacecraft in orbit around the Earth. It was fitting that the Apollo program, which first visited the moon under the banner of “We came in peace for all mankind,” should end on a note of peace and international cooperation.
1974 – Nelson Rockefeller is sworn in as Vice President of the United States under President Gerald Ford under the provisions of the twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
1974 – Former Pres. Nixon’s presidential papers were seized by an act of Congress. A court later ruled that much of the material belonged to Nixon and that he deserved compensation. In 1998 there was still no settlement on value.
1980 – Iran requested $24 billion in US guarantees to free hostages.
1989 – Police in Jacksonville, Fla., disarmed a parcel bomb at the local NAACP office, the fourth in a series of mail bombs to turn up in the Deep South. One bomb killed a Savannah, Ga., alderman, and another a federal judge in Alabama. Walter L. Moody Jr. was convicted in both bombings.
1990 – Iraq urged its people to stockpile oil to avoid shortages should war break out, and Saddam Hussein declared he was “ready to crush any attack.”
1994 – CNN publicly acknowledged it had disobeyed a judge’s order in broadcasting former Panamanian military ruler Manuel Noriega’s prison telephone conversations.
1996 – The Pentagon chose Lawrence Livermore National Labs. for a $1.1 billion super-laser project. Known as the National Ignition Facility, its goal will be to ignite a self-sustaining fusion reaction in a controlled lab setting.
1998 After nearly 14 hours of debate, the House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Clinton, the second president in American history to be impeached, vowed to finish his term. In November 1995, Clinton began an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old unpaid intern. Over the course of a year and a half, the president and Lewinsky had nearly a dozen sexual encounters in the White House. In April 1996, Lewinsky was transferred to the Pentagon. That summer, she first confided in Pentagon co-worker Linda Tripp about her sexual relationship with the president. In 1997, with the relationship over, Tripp began secretly to record conversations with Lewinsky, in which Lewinsky gave Tripp details about the affair. In December, lawyers for Paula Jones, who was suing the president on sexual harassment charges, subpoenaed Lewinsky. In January 1998, allegedly under the recommendation of the president, Lewinsky filed an affidavit in which she denied ever having had a sexual relationship with him. Five days later, Tripp contacted the office of Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel, to talk about Lewinsky and the tapes she made of their conversations. Tripp, wired by FBI agents working with Starr, met with Lewinsky again, and on January 16, Lewinsky was taken by FBI agents and U.S. attorneys to a hotel room where she was questioned and offered immunity if she cooperated with the prosecution. A few days later, the story broke, and Clinton publicly denied the allegations, saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” In late July, lawyers for Lewinsky and Starr worked out a full-immunity agreement covering both Lewinsky and her parents, all of whom Starr had threatened with prosecution. On August 6, Lewinsky appeared before the grand jury to begin her testimony, and on August 17 President Clinton testified. Contrary to his testimony in the Paula Jones sexual-harassment case, President Clinton acknowledged to prosecutors from the office of the independent counsel that he had had an extramarital affair with Ms. Lewinsky. In four hours of closed-door testimony, conducted in the Map Room of the White House, Clinton spoke live via closed-circuit television to a grand jury in a nearby federal courthouse. He was the first sitting president ever to testify before a grand jury investigating his conduct. That evening, President Clinton also gave a four-minute televised address to the nation in which he admitted he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky. In the brief speech, which was wrought with legalisms, the word “sex” was never spoken, and the word “regret” was used only in reference to his admission that he misled the public and his family. Less than a month later, on September 9, Kenneth Starr submitted his report and 18 boxes of supporting documents to the House of Representatives. Released to the public two days later, the Starr Report outlined a case for impeaching Clinton on 11 grounds, including perjury, obstruction of justice, witness-tampering, and abuse of power, and also provided explicit details of the sexual relationship between the president and Ms. Lewinsky. On October 8, the House authorized a wide-ranging impeachment inquiry, and on December 11, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment. On December 19, the House impeached Clinton. On January 7, 1999, in a congressional procedure not seen since the 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, the trial of President Clinton got underway in the Senate. As instructed in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (William Rehnquist at this time) was sworn in to preside, and the senators were sworn in as jurors. Five weeks later, on February 12, the Senate voted on whether to remove Clinton from office. The president was acquitted on both articles of impeachment. The prosecution needed a two-thirds majority to convict but failed to achieve even a bare majority. Rejecting the first charge of perjury, 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted “not guilty,” and on the charge of obstruction of justice the Senate was split 50-50. After the trial concluded, President Clinton said he was “profoundly sorry” for the burden his behavior imposed on Congress and the American people.
1998 – The US and Britain ended their attack on Iraq after 4 days of air and missile strikes in Operation Desert Fox. An early estimate of US defense expenses was put at $500 million. Some 62 members of the Republican Guard were killed.
1999 – The shuttle Discovery was launched following 9 delays from Cape Canaveral with 7 astronauts on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
2000 – The U.N. Security Council voted to impose broad sanctions on Afghanistan Taliban rulers unless they closed “terrorist” training camps and surrender U.S. embassy bombing suspect Osama bin Laden.
2001 – The Sep 11 WTC death toll was reduced to 3,000. In 2002 a revised tally put the total dead at 2,795. In 2003 the count was reduced to 2,752.
2001 – The fires that had burned beneath the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City for the previous three months were declared extinguished except for a few scattered hot spots.
2001 – Britain advised the UN that it would lead a security force in Afghanistan and contribute 1,500 soldiers to a force of 5,000.
2001 – In the Comoros Islands troops killed 5 of 13 gunmen who posed as American agents hunting al Qaeda fugitives.
2001 – Al Qaeda prisoners in Pakistan revolted and 14 were killed. Another 18 escaped.
2002U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declares that Iraq is in “material breach” of United Nations resolutions after reviewing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction declaration released December 7 to the United Nations. States Powell: “Our [U.S.] experts have found it to be anything but currently accurate, full or complete. The Iraqi declaration … totally fails to meet the resolution’s requirements.”
2002 – U.N. weapons inspectors reported that Iraq’s new arms declaration contained inconsistencies and contradictions and didn’t answer key questions about its nuclear, chemical and biological programs.
2002 – In Pakistan Asif Ramzi, a member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, died with 3 others in a covert bomb-making facility in Karachi.
2003New plans revealed that the signature NYC skyscraper at the World Trade Center site will be a 1,776-foot glass tower that twists into the sky, topped by energy-generating windmills and a spire that evokes the Statue of Liberty. The plan was produced after months of contentious negotiations between Daniel Libeskind, who designed the overall five-building site plan, and David Childs, the lead architect for the Freedom Tower.
2003 – China said it has issued rules restricting exports of missile, nuclear and biological technologies that can be used to make or deliver weapons of mass destruction.
2003 – Japan announced that it will begin building a missile defense system.
2003Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, after secret negotiations with the United States and Britain, agreed to halt his nation’s drive to develop nuclear and chemical weapons and the long-range missiles to deliver them. Libya admitted to nuclear fuel projects, including possessing centrifuges and centrifuge parts used in uranium enrichment. Libya showed American and British inspectors a significant quantity of mustard agent. Libya acknowledged it intended to acquire equipment and develop capabilities to create biological weapons. Libya admitted “elements of the history of its cooperation with North Korea” to develop extended-range Scud missiles.
2004 – A vehicle carrying a group of suspected Taliban fighters attacked a military checkpoint in southern Afghanistan, sparking a firefight that left six dead.
2004 – Car bombs rocked Najaf and Karbala, Iraq’s two holiest Shiite cities, killing 67 people and wounding more than 120. In downtown Baghdad dozens of gunmen carried out a brazen ambush that killed three Iraqi employees of the organization running next month’s elections.
2006 – A NATO air strike targeting a car in a deserted area of Helmand province killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani along with two other men. He was the top Taliban commander for all of their operations in southern Afghanistan.
2007 – A fire breaks out at the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., which houses ceremonial offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and the majority of White House staff. No injuries are reported.
2009 – NASA releases the first ever photo of liquid outside of Earth, in the form of sunlight reflecting on a lake on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

GAUJOT, ANTOINE A.
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company M, 27th Infantry, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At San Mateo, Philippine Islands, 19 December 1899. Entered service at: Williamson, W. Va. Birth: Keweenaw, Mich. Date of issue: 15 February I911. Citation: Attempted under a heavy fire of the enemy to swim a river for the purpose of obtaining and returning with a canoe.

GIBSON, EDWARD H.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company M, 27th Infantry, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At San Mateo, Philippine Islands, 19 December 1899. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. Birth: Boston, Mass. Date of issue: Unknown. Citation: Attempted under a heavy fire of the enemy to swim a river for the purpose of obtaining and returning with a canoe.

FLUCKEY, EUGENE BENNETT
Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy, Commanding U.S.S. Barb. Place and date: Along coast of China, 19 December 1944 to 15 February 1945. Entered service at: Illinois. Born: S October 1913, Washington, D.C. Other Navy award: Navy Cross with 3 Gold Stars. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Barb during her 11th war patrol along the east coast of China from 19 December 1944 to 15 February 1945. After sinking a large enemy ammunition ship and damaging additional tonnage during a running 2-hour night battle on 8 January, Comdr. Fluckey, in an exceptional feat of brilliant deduction and bold tracking on 25 January, located a concentration of more than 30 enemy ships in the lower reaches of Nankuan Chiang (Mamkwan Harbor). Fully aware that a safe retirement would necessitate an hour’s run at full speed through the uncharted, mined, and rock-obstructed waters, he bravely ordered, “Battle station–torpedoes!” In a daring penetration of the heavy enemy screen, and riding in 5 fathoms of water, he launched the Barb’s last forward torpedoes at 3,000-yard range. Quickly bringing the ship’s stern tubes to bear, he turned loose 4 more torpedoes into the enemy, obtaining 8 direct hits on 6 of the main targets to explode a large ammunition ship and cause inestimable damage by the resultant flying shells and other pyrotechnics. Clearing the treacherous area at high speed, he brought the Barb through to safety and 4 days later sank a large Japanese freighter to complete a record of heroic combat achievement, reflecting the highest credit upon Comdr. Fluckey, his gallant officers and men, and the U.S. Naval Service.

GERSTUNG, ROBERT E.
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company H, 313th Infantry, 79th Infantry Division. Place and date: Siegfried Line near Berg, Germany, 19 December 1944. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 6 August 1915, Chicago, Ill. G.O. No.: 75, 5 September 1945. Citation: On 19 December 1944 he was ordered with his heavy machinegun squad to the support of an infantry company attacking the outer defense of the Siegfried Line near Berg, Germany. For 8 hours he maintained a position made almost untenable by the density of artillery and mortar fire concentrated upon it and the proximity of enemy troops who threw hand grenades into the emplacement. While all other members of his squad became casualties, he remained at his gun. When he ran out of ammunition, he fearlessly dashed across bullet-swept, open terrain to secure a new supply from a disabled friendly tank. A fierce barrage pierced the water jacket of his gun, but he continued to fire until the weapon overheated and jammed. Instead of withdrawing, he crawled 50 yards across coverless ground to another of his company’s machineguns which had been silenced when its entire crew was killed. He continued to man this gun, giving support vitally needed by the infantry. At one time he came under direct fire from a hostile tank, which shot the glove from his hand with an armor-piercing shell but could not drive him from his position or stop his shooting. W hen the American forces were ordered to retire to their original positions, he remained at his gun, giving the only covering fire. Finally withdrawing, he cradled the heavy weapon in his left arm, slung a belt of ammunition over his shoulder, and walked to the rear, loosing small bursts at the enemy as he went. One hundred yards from safety, he was struck in the leg by a mortar shell; but, with a supreme effort, he crawled the remaining distance, dragging along the gun which had served him and his comrades so well. By his remarkable perseverance, indomitable courage, and heroic devotion to his task in the face of devastating fire, T/Sgt. Gerstung gave his fellow soldiers powerful support in their encounter with formidable enemy forces.

*KIMBRO, TRUMAN
Rank and organization: Technician Fourth Grade, U.S. Army, Company C, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, 2d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Rocherath, Belgium, 19 December 1944. Entered service at: Houston, Tex. Birth: Madisonville, Tex. G.O. No.: 42, 24 May 1945. Citation: On 19 December 1944, as scout, he led a squad assigned to the mission of mining a vital crossroads near Rocherath, Belgium. At the first attempt to reach the objective, he discovered it was occupied by an enemy tank and at least 20 infantrymen. Driven back by withering fire, Technician 4th Grade Kimbro made 2 more attempts to lead his squad to the crossroads but all approaches were covered by intense enemy fire. Although warned by our own infantrymen of the great danger involved, he left his squad in a protected place and, laden with mines, crawled alone toward the crossroads. When nearing his objective he was severely wounded, but he continued to drag himself forward and laid his mines across the road. As he tried to crawl from the objective his body was riddled with rifle and machinegun fire. The mines laid by his act of indomitable courage delayed the advance of enemy armor and prevented the rear of our withdrawing columns from being attacked by the enemy.

December 18

18 December

1777The 1st America Thanksgiving Day commemorated Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga. A national Thanksgiving was declared by Congress after the American victory over the British at the Battle of Saratoga in December 1777. For many years Thanksgiving celebrations were haphazard with Presidents Washington, Adams and Madison declaring occasional national festivities.
1787New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by New York State, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania, and on the southwest by Delaware. The area was inhabited by Native Americans for more than 2,800 years, with historical tribes such as the Lenape along the coast. In the early 17th century, the Dutch and the Swedes made the first European settlements. The English later seized control of the region, naming it the Province of New Jersey. It was granted as a colony to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton. At this time, it was named after the largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey, Carteret’s birthplace. New Jersey was the site of several decisive battles during the American Revolutionary War.
1799 – George Washington’s body was interred at Mount Vernon.
1813 – British took Ft. Niagara in War of 1812.
1859 – South Carolina declared itself an “independent commonwealth.”
1862Confederate cavalry leader General Nathan Bedford Forrest routs a Union force under the command of Colonel Robert Ingersoll on a raid into western Tennessee, an area held by the Union. With the main Union army in the region occupying northern Mississippi, General Braxton Bragg ordered Forrest to cut the Federal supply lines in Tennessee. Forrest left Columbia, Tennessee, on December 11 and began crossing the Tennessee River on December 13. On December 16, Union General Jeremiah Sullivan dispatched Ingersoll and 200 men from Jackson to Lexington, where Ingersoll picked up 470 reinforcements. Most of the troops were raw recruits with no combat experience. On December 17, Ingersoll’s scouts detected more than half of Forrest’s 2,500 men approaching Lexington from the south. Ingersoll guessed that Forrest would attack along one of two main roads, Old Stage Road and Lower Road. To impede the Confederate advance, Ingersoll ordered the destruction of a bridge across Beech Creek along Lower Road. He then concentrated the bulk of his force along Old Stage Road. Forrest pulled his force up to Lexington, but did not attack until December 18. In the morning, Forrest advanced along Lower Road. Ingersoll’s scouts had failed to eliminate the bridge the day before, leaving the Confederates a clear path towards the smaller part of Ingersoll’s command. The Yankees swung around to stop the attack, but it was too late. Forrest’s troops overwhelmed the panicked Federals and captured 147 men, including Ingersoll. The rest of the Union force scattered into the countryside. Forrest also captured two artillery pieces, 70 horses, many rifles, and supplies. Forrest continued to Jackson, but found the city well defended. He continued his raid into Kentucky, destroying bridges and hampering supplies to the Union armies in Mississippi.
1862 – Grant announced the organization of his army in the West. Sherman, Hurlbut, McPherson, and McClernand would be Corps Commanders.
1864U.S.S. Louisiana, Commander Rhind, arrived off Fort Fisher, having that day been towed from Beaufort, North Carolina, by U.S.S. Sassacus, Lieutenant Commander J. L. Davis, in company with Rear Admiral Porter and his fleet. Louisiana had been loaded with powder and was to be blown up as near Fort Fisher as possible in the hope of reducing or substantially damaging that formidable Confederate work. The day before, Porter had sent detailed instructions to Commander Rhind, adding: “Great risks have to be run, and there are chances that you may lose your life in this adventure; but the risk is worth the running, when the importance of the object is to be considered and the fame to be gained by this novel undertaking, which is either to prove that forts on the water are useless or that rebels are proof against gunpowder. . . . I expect more good to our cause from a success in this instance than from an advance of all the armies in the field.” Rhind and his brave crew of volunteers proceeded in toward Fort Fisher towed by U.S.S.Wilderness, Acting Master Henry Arey, but finding the swells too severe, turned back. Major General Butler, seeing the worsening weather at Beaufort, asked Porter to postpone the attempt until the sea was calm enough to land his troops with safety.
1865Following its ratification by the requisite three-quarters of the states earlier in the month, the 13th Amendment is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution, ensuring that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Before the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and other leaders of the anti-slavery Republican Party sought not to abolish slavery but merely to stop its extension into new territories and states in the American West. This policy was unacceptable to most Southern politicians, who believed that the growth of free states would turn the U.S. power structure irrevocably against them. In November 1860, Lincoln’s election as president signaled the secession of seven Southern states and the formation of the Confederate States of America. Shortly after his inauguration in 1861, the Civil War began. Four more Southern states joined the Confederacy, while four border slave states in the upper South remained in the Union. Lincoln, though he privately detested slavery, responded cautiously to the call by abolitionists for emancipation of all American slaves after the outbreak of the Civil War. As the war dragged on, however, the Republican-dominated federal government began to realize the strategic advantages of emancipation: The liberation of slaves would weaken the Confederacy by depriving it of a major portion of its labor force, which would in turn strengthen the Union by producing an influx of manpower. With 11 Southern states seceded from the Union, there were few pro-slavery congressmen to stand in the way of such an action. In 1862, Congress annulled the fugitive slave laws, prohibited slavery in the U.S. territories, and authorized Lincoln to employ freed slaves in the army. Following the major Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in September, Lincoln issued a warning of his intent to issue an emancipation proclamation for all states still in rebellion on New Year’s Day. That day–January 1, 1863–President Lincoln formally issued the Emancipation Proclamation, calling on the Union army to liberate all slaves in states still in rebellion as “an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity.” These three million slaves were declared to be “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” The proclamation exempted the border slave states that remained in the Union and all or parts of three Confederate states controlled by the Union army. The Emancipation Proclamation transformed the Civil War from a war against secession into a war for “a new birth of freedom,” as Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address in 1863. This ideological change discouraged the intervention of France or England on the Confederacy’s behalf and enabled the Union to enlist the 180,000 African American soldiers and sailors who volunteered to fight between January 1, 1863, and the conclusion of the war. As the Confederacy staggered toward defeat, Lincoln realized that the Emancipation Proclamation, a war measure, might have little constitutional authority once the war was over. The Republican Party subsequently introduced the 13th Amendment into Congress, and in April 1864 the necessary two-thirds of the overwhelmingly Republican Senate passed the amendment. However, the House of Representatives, featuring a higher proportion of Democrats, did not pass the amendment by a two-thirds majority until January 1865, three months before Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. On December 2, 1865, Alabama became the 27th state to ratify the 13th Amendment, thus giving it the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval necessary to make it the law of the land. Alabama, a former Confederate state, was forced to ratify the amendment as a condition for re-admission into the Union. On December 18, the 13th Amendment was officially adopted into the Constitution–246 years after the first shipload of captive Africans landed at Jamestown, Virginia, and were bought as slaves. Slavery’s legacy and efforts to overcome it remained a central issue in U.S. politics for more than a century, particularly during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era and the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s.
1902 – Admiral of the Navy George Dewey receives orders to send his battleship to Trinidad and then to Venezuela to make sure that Great Britain’s and Germany’s dispute with Venezuela was settled by peaceful arbitration not force.
1903 – Marines escorted American diplomats to Addis Ababa, Abyssinia.
1917 – The resolution containing the language of the Eighteenth Amendment to enact Prohibition is passed by the United States Congress.
1939 – The US Navy promises to send 40 planes to Finland.
1940Hitler dictated Directive No. 21 to crush Russia in a quick campaign. Its message is simple: “The German Armed Forces must be prepared, even before the conclusion of the war against England, to crush Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign.” The projected operation is given the code name Barbarossa. Hitler has modified the draft plans prepared by the army in one important respect. Although three lines of attack are still suggested, Hitler’s scheme reduces the importance which has been laid on the advance to Moscow. He suggests that after the first battles the center group should swing north to help clear the Baltic States and Leningrad before moving on the capital. The preparations are to be ready by May 15, 1940.
1941 – Defended by 610 fighting men, the American-held island of Guam fell to more than 5,000 Japanese invaders in a three-hour battle.
1941Censorship is imposed with the passage of the 1st American War Powers Act. The War Powers Act is passed by Congress, authorizing the president to initiate and terminate defense contracts, reconfigure government agencies for wartime priorities, and regulate the freezing of foreign assets. It also permitted him to censor all communications coming in and leaving the country. FDR appointed the executive news director of the Associated Press, Byron Price, as director of censorship. Although invested with the awesome power to restrict and withhold news, Price took no extreme measures, allowing news outlets and radio stations to self-censor, which they did. Most top secret information, including the construction of the atom bomb, remained just that. The most extreme use of the censorship law seems to have been the restriction of the free flow of “girlie” magazines to servicemen-including Esquire, which the Post Office considered obscene for its occasional saucy cartoons and pinups. Esquire took the Post Office to court, and after three years the Supreme Court ultimately sided with the magazine.
1943 – The US 5th Army captures Monte Lungo, threatening the German position at San Pietro. German forces launch counterattacks. San Pietro falls to the US 36th Division (part of 2nd Corps, 5th Army). The 6th Corps advances as the German forces withdraw.
1944 – The Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans, but also said undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not be detained.
1944 – US Task Force 38 is caught in a typhoon while retiring to refuel and replenish. Three destroyers, “Hull,” “Spence” & “Monaghan,” are sunk and 3 fleet carriers, 4 escort carriers and 11 destroyers sustain damage.
1944 – US B-29 Superfortress bombers raid Nagoya (nominally the Mitsubishi aircraft assembly works).
1944 – Some 200 US 14th Air Force planes, and 84 B-29 bombers, attack the Japanese supply base at Hankow causing fires that burn for three days.
1950 – U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron 892, the first all-Reserve squadron to operate in Korea’s war zone, began operations from Iwakuni, Japan.
1951 – The U.N. command and the communists exchanged prisoner of war lists at Panmunjom. The UNC list contained 132,472 names. The communists listed 11,359.
1956 – Japan was admitted to the United Nations.
1957 – The Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States, went online. It was taken out of service in 1982.
1958 – Project SCORE, the world’s first communications satellite, is launched. Project SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment) was the world’s first communications satellite. Launched aboard an American Atlas rocket, SCORE provided a first test of a communications relay system in space, as well as the first successful use of the Atlas as a launch vehicle. It captured world attention by broadcasting a Christmas message via short wave radio from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower through an on-board tape recorder. SCORE, as a geopolitical strategy, placed the United States at an even technological par with the Soviet Union as a highly functional response to the Sputnik satellites.
1965 – River Patrol Force established in Vietnam.
1965 – U.S. Marines attacked VC units in the Que Son Valley during Operation Harvest Moon.
1965 – The Borman and Lovell splash down in the Atlantic ended a 2 week Gemini VII mission.
1967 – Operation Preakness II begins in Mekong Delta.
1970 – An atomic leak in Nevada forced hundreds to flee the test site.
1971 – North Vietnamese troops captured the Plain of Jars in Laos.
1972The Nixon administration announces that the bombing and mining of North Vietnam will resume and continue until a “settlement” is reached. On December 13, North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of secret talks with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. President Richard Nixon issued an ultimatum to Hanoi to send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours “or else.” The North Vietnamese rejected Nixon’s demand and the president ordered Operation Linebacker II, a full-scale air campaign against the Hanoi area. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only if all U.S. prisoners of war were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire were in force. Linebacker II was the most concentrated air offensive of the war, and was conducted by U.S. aircraft, including B-52s, Air Force fighter-bombers flying from bases in Thailand, and Navy and Marine fighter-bombers flying from carriers in the South China Sea. During the 11 days of the attack, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties were flown. These planes dropped roughly 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong. The North Vietnamese fired more than 1,000 surface-to-air missiles at the attacking aircraft and also used their MiG fighter-interceptor squadrons, eight of which were shot down. In a throwback to past aerial combat, Staff Sgt. Samuel O. Turner, the tail gunner on a Boeing B-52D bomber, downed a trailing MiG-21 with a blast from his .50 calibre machine guns over Hanoi. Six days later, airman, first class Albert E. Moore, also a B-52 gunner, shot down a second MiG-21 after a strike on the Thai Nguyen railyard. These were the only aerial gunner kills of the war. Twenty-six U.S. aircraft were lost, including 15 B-52s. Three aircraft were brought down by MiGs; the rest, including the B-52s, were downed by surface-to-air missiles. American antiwar activists dubbed Linebacker II the “Christmas bombing,” and charged that it involved “carpet bombing”–deliberately targeting civilian areas with intensive bombing that “carpeted” a city with bombs. The campaign was focused on specific military targets and was not intended to be “carpet bombing,” but it did result in the deaths of 1,318 civilians in Hanoi. The Linebacker II bombing was deemed a success because in its wake, the North Vietnamese returned to the negotiating table, where the Paris Peace Accords were signed less than a month later.
1985 – UN Security Council unanimously condemned “acts of hostage-taking.”
1989Robert E. Robinson, an attorney and alderman in Savannah, Ga., was killed by a mail bomb similar to a device that had claimed the life of a federal judge in Alabama two days earlier. Walter Leroy Moody Junior was later convicted of both bombings, and is on Alabama’s death row.
1990Less than a month before a UN deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, President Bush told reporters he believed Americans would support a military strike, if one proved necessary. In Baghdad, the ruling Revolutionary Command Council said Iraq was “ready for the decisive showdown.”
1993 – The United States and Germany pledged close cooperation to help Boris Yeltsin through Russia’s political and economic crises in a meeting in Oggersheim between Vice President Al Gore and Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
1995 – A powerful fertilizer bomb was found outside an Internal Revenue Service office in Reno, Nevada, but fizzled before its lit fuse could do much damage.
1996 – Earl Edwin Pitts, a senior US FBI agent, was arrested on espionage charges. He was most active as a Russian spy from 1987-1992. Pitts was sentenced in June 1997 to 27 years in prison after admitting that he’d conspired and attempted to commit espionage.
1997 – President Clinton extended indefinitely the deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops helping with the U.N. peacekeeping effort in Bosnia.
1997 – In Lebanon a foundation stone was laid for the new US consulate in Beirut.
1997 – HTML 4.0 is published by the World Wide Web Consortium.
1998 – US and British struck Iraq for a 3rd day with little resistance. The US B-1 bomber was used to drop bombs. Gen’l. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more cruise missiles were launched in the first 2 days than the 289 in the 1991 Gulf War.
1999 – Iraq rejected the UN proposal for an inspection plan that would lead to suspension of sanctions.
1999 – NASA launches into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT. Terra (EOS AM-1) is a multi-national NASA scientific research satellite in a Sun-synchronous orbit around the Earth. It is the flagship of the Earth Observing System (EOS). The name “Terra” comes from the Latin word for Earth.
2000US electors voted for their party’s candidates. In the 224 years of the Electoral College only 9 electors had switched votes. The DC elector withheld her vote to protest lack of representation. Bush won 271 votes, one over the constitutional minimum, and became the official president-elect.
2000 – In Canada Pres. Putin of Russia met with Prime Minister Chretien and together supported existing nuclear arms accords. Chretien did not join Putin’s opposition to a US missile defense plan.
2001 – Yemeni troops assaulted tribal forces in the Marib region after local leaders refused to turn over suspected members of al Qaeda. At least 12 people were killed and 22 wounded.
2002 – DoD issues preliminary orders for the deployment of 50,000 troops to threaten Iraq.
2003A federal judge in NY ruled that Pres. Bush does not have the power to order that a US citizen captured in this country be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant. Federal judges in SF ruled that the administration’s policy of imprisoning some 600 non-citizens in Cuba without access to US legal protection raises concerns under US and Int’l. law.
2003 – Lee Boyd Malvo (18) was convicted in Virginia for his role in the 2002 sniper shootings. 2003 – Iran signed a key accord opening its nuclear facilities to unfettered and unannounced inspections.
2003The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq announces that it will provide the Iraqi Oil Ministry with $600 million for infrastructure improvement. The director-general of the state-owned Iraqi Drilling Company says that he expects that the investment could raise daily production, now at about 1.9 million barrels per day, by as much as 1.05 million barrels per day over an 18 month period.
2004 – In Haiti bands of former soldiers and armed residents looted police arsenals, set bonfires and fired shots into the air amid escalating chaos.
2004The former Iraqi general known as “Chemical Ali,” Ali Hassan al-Majid, went before a judge in the first investigative hearings of former members of his regime.
2004 – Insurgents claiming to represent three Iraqi militant groups issued a videotape saying they had captured 10 Iraqis working for an American security and reconstruction company and would kill them if the firm did not leave this turbulent country. A clash in Mosul left an Iraqi child dead. An insurgent attack in Mosul left one Iraqi dead. National Guardsmen there killed 3 insurgents.
2010 – The United States Senate repeals “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” by a vote of 65-35. The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama to be signed.
2011 – The last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq, although the US embassy and consulates continues to maintain a staff of more than 20,000 including US Marine Embassy Guards and between 4,000 and 5,000 private military contractors.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

EADIE, THOMAS
Rank and organization: Chief Gunner’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Off Provincetown, Mass., 18 December 1927. Entered service at: Rhode Island. Born: 7 April 1887, Scotland. Other Navy award: Navy Cross. Citation: For display of extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession above and beyond the call of duty on 18 December 1927, during the diving operations in connection with the sinking of the U.S.S. S-4 with all on board, as a result of a collision off Prividencetown, Mass. On this occasion when Michels, Chief Torpedoman, U.S. Navy, while attempting to connect an airline to the submarine at a depth of 102 feet became seriously fouled, Eadie, under the most adverse diving conditions, deliberately, knowingly, and willingly took his own life in his hands by promptly descending to the rescue in response to the desperate need of his companion diver. After 2 hours of extremely dangerous and heartbreaking work, by his cool, calculating, and skillful labors, he succeeded in his mission and brought Michels safely to the surface.

BELL, BERNARD P.
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 142d Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: Mittelwihr, France, 18 December 1944. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: Grantsville, W. Va. G.O. No.: 73, 30 August 1945. Citation: For fighting gallantly at Mittelwihr, France. On the morning of 18 December 1944, he led a squad against a schoolhouse held by enemy troops. While his men covered him, he dashed toward the building, surprised 2 guards at the door and took them prisoner without firing a shot. He found that other Germans were in the cellar. These he threatened with hand grenades, forcing 26 in all to emerge and surrender. His squad then occupied the building and prepared to defend it against powerful enemy action. The next day, the enemy poured artillery and mortar barrages into the position, disrupting communications which T/Sgt. Bell repeatedly repaired under heavy small-arms fire as he crossed dangerous terrain to keep his company commander informed of the squad’s situation. During the day, several prisoners were taken and other Germans killed when hostile forces were attracted to the schoolhouse by the sound of captured German weapons fired by the Americans. At dawn the next day the enemy prepared to assault the building. A German tank fired round after round into the structure, partially demolishing the upper stories. Despite this heavy fire, T/Sgt. Bell climbed to the second floor and directed artillery fire which forced the hostile tank to withdraw. He then adjusted mortar fire on large forces of enemy foot soldiers attempting to reach the American position and, when this force broke and attempted to retire, he directed deadly machinegun and rifle fire into their disorganized ranks. Calling for armored support to blast out the German troops hidden behind a wall, he unhesitatingly exposed himself to heavy small-arms fire to stand beside a friendly tank and tell its occupants where to rip holes in walls protecting approaches to the school building. He then trained machineguns on the gaps and mowed down all hostile troops attempting to cross the openings to get closer to the school building. By his intrepidity and bold, aggressive leadership, T/Sgt. Bell enabled his 8-man squad to drive back approximately 150 of the enemy, killing at least 87 and capturing 42. Personally, he killed more than 20 and captured 33 prisoners.

BARNUM, HARVEY C., IR.
Rank and organization: Captain (then Lt.), U.S. Marine Corps, Company H, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein). Place and date: Ky Phu in Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam, 18 December 1965. Entered service at: Cheshire, Conn. Born: 21 July 1940, Cheshire, Conn. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. When the company was suddenly pinned down by a hail of extremely accurate enemy fire and was quickly separated from the remainder of the battalion by over 500 meters of open and fire-swept ground, and casualties mounted rapidly. Lt. Barnum quickly made a hazardous reconnaissance of the area, seeking targets for his artillery. Finding the rifle company commander mortally wounded and the radio operator killed, he, with complete disregard for his safety, gave aid to the dying commander, then removed the radio from the dead operator and strapped it to himself. He immediately assumed command of the rifle company, and moving at once into the midst of the heavy fire, rallying and giving encouragement to all units, reorganized them to replace the loss of key personnel and led their attack on enemy positions from which deadly fire continued to come. His sound and swift decisions and his obvious calm served to stabilize the badly decimated units and his gallant example as he stood exposed repeatedly to point out targets served as an inspiration to all. Provided with 2 armed helicopters, he moved fearlessly through enemy fire to control the air attack against the firmly entrenched enemy while skillfully directing 1 platoon in a successful counterattack on the key enemy positions. Having thus cleared a small area, he requested and directed the landing of 2 transport helicopters for the evacuation of the dead and wounded. He then assisted in the mopping up and final seizure of the battalion’s objective. His gallant initiative and heroic conduct reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.

December 17

17 December

1750 – Deborah Sampson, was born. She fought in the American Revolution as a man under the alias Robert Shurtleff.
1777 – George Washington’s army returned to winter quarters in Valley Forge, Pa.
1777 – France recognized American independence.
1812 – War of 1812: U.S. forces attack a Lenape village in the Battle of the Mississinewa. The Battle of the Mississinewa, also known as Mississineway, was an expedition ordered by William Henry Harrison against Miami Indian villages in response to the attacks on Fort Wayne and Fort Harrison in the Indiana Territory. The site is near the city of Marion, Indiana. Today, the location is the site of Mississinewa 1812, the largest War of 1812 reenactment in the United States, which is held every October. The annual festival draws thousands of visitors from all over the world.
1835US Marines assist firefighters in efforts to control the Great Fire of New York as the fire levels lower Manhattan. The Great Fire of 1835 began in a five-story warehouse at 25 Merchant Street (now called Beaver Street) at the intersection with Pearl Street between Hanover Square, Manhattan and Wall Street in the snow-covered city and was fed by gale-force winds blowing from the northwest towards the East River. With temperatures as low as −17 °F (−27 °C) and the East River frozen solid, firefighters had to cut holes in the ice to get water. Water then froze in the hoses and pumps. Attempts to blow up buildings in its path (a technique later regarded as counterproductive) were thwarted by a lack of gunpowder in Manhattan. Firefighters coming to help from Philadelphia said they could see signs of the fire there. About 2 a.m. Marines arrived with gunpowder from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and blew up buildings in the fire’s path. By then it covered 50 acres (200,000 m2), 17 blocks of the city, destroying between 530 and 700 buildings. The area is now reported as Coenties Slip in the south to Maiden Lane in the north and from William Street in the west to the East River. The losses were estimated at twenty million dollars, which, in today’s value would be hundreds of millions. Twenty people were killed.
1846 – Ships under Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry capture Laguna de Terminos during Mexican War.
1861 – The Stonewall Brigade began to dismantle Dam No. 5 of the C&O Canal near
1861Flag Officer Foote, Commanding U.S. Naval Forces, Western Waters, issued General Order regarding observance of Sunday on board ships of his flotilla: “It is the wish. . . that on Sunday the public worship of Almighty God may be observed . . . and that the respective commanders will either them­selves, or cause other persons to pronounce prayers publicly on Sunday. . .” Foote added: “Discipline to be permanent must be based on moral grounds, and officers must in themselves, show a good example in morals, order, and patriotism to secure these qualities in the men.” Since 1775 Navy Regulations have required that religious services be held on board ships of the Navy in peace and war.
1862Union General Ulysses S. Grant lashes out at cotton speculators when he expels all Jews from his department in the west. At the time, Grant was trying to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. Grant’s army now effectively controlled much territory in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and parts of Kentucky and Arkansas. As in other parts of the South, Grant was dealing with thousands of escaped slaves. John Eaton, a chaplain, devised a program through which the freed slaves picked cotton from abandoned fields and received part of the proceeds when it was sold by the government. Grant also had to deal with numerous speculators who followed his army in search of cotton. Cotton supplies were very short in the North, and these speculators could buy bales in the captured territories and sell it quickly for a good profit. In December, Grant’s father arrived for a visit with two friends from Cincinnati. Grant soon realized that the friends, who were Jews, were speculators hoping to gain access to captured cotton. Grant was furious and fired off his notorious Order No. 11: “The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from receipt of this order.” The fallout from his action was swift. Among 30 Jewish families expelled from Paducah, Kentucky, was Cesar Kaskel, who rallied support in Congress against the order. Shortly after the uproar, President Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order. Grant later admitted to his wife that the criticism of his hasty action was well deserved. As Julia Grant put it, the general had “no right to make an order against any special sect.”
1863 – Lieutenant Commander Fitch, U.S.S. Moose, reported that he had sent landing parties ashore at Seven Mile Island and Palmyra, Tennessee, where they had destroyed distilleries used by Con-federate guerrilla troops.
1900 – Ellis Island immigration center re -opened following an 1897 fire.
1903Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight. Orville and Wilbur Wright grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and developed an interest in aviation after learning of the glider flights of the German engineer Otto Lilienthal in the 1890s. Unlike their older brothers, Orville and Wilbur did not attend college, but they possessed extraordinary technical ability and a sophisticated approach to solving problems in mechanical design. They built printing presses and in 1892 opened a bicycle sales and repair shop. Soon, they were building their own bicycles, and this experience, combined with profits from their various businesses, allowed them to pursue actively their dream of building the world’s first airplane. After exhaustively researching other engineers’ efforts to build a heavier-than-air, controlled aircraft, the Wright brothers wrote the U.S. Weather Bureau inquiring about a suitable place to conduct glider tests. They settled on Kitty Hawk, an isolated village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which offered steady winds and sand dunes from which to glide and land softly. Their first glider, tested in 1900, performed poorly, but a new design, tested in 1901, was more successful. Later that year, they built a wind tunnel where they tested nearly 200 wings and airframes of different shapes and designs. The brothers’ systematic experimentations paid off–they flew hundreds of successful flights in their 1902 glider at Kill Devils Hills near Kitty Hawk. Their biplane glider featured a steering system, based on a movable rudder, that solved the problem of controlled flight. They were now ready for powered flight. In Dayton, they designed a 12-horsepower internal combustion engine with the assistance of machinist Charles Taylor and built a new aircraft to house it. They transported their aircraft in pieces to Kitty Hawk in the autumn of 1903, assembled it, made a few further tests, and on December 14 Orville made the first attempt at powered flight. The engine stalled during take-off and the plane was damaged, and they spent three days repairing it. Then at 10:35 a.m. on December 17, in front of five witnesses, the aircraft ran down a monorail track and into the air, staying aloft for 12 seconds and flying 120 feet. The modern aviation age was born. Three more tests were made that day, with Wilbur and Orville alternately flying the airplane. Wilbur flew the last flight, covering 852 feet in 59 seconds. During the next few years, the Wright brothers further developed their airplanes but kept a low profile about their successes in order to secure patents and contracts for their flying machines. By 1905, their aircraft could perform complex maneuvers and remain aloft for up to 39 minutes at a time. In 1908, they traveled to France and made their first public flights, arousing widespread public excitement. In 1909, the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps purchased an especially constructed plane, and the brothers founded the Wright Company to build and market their aircraft. Wilbur Wright died of typhoid fever in 1912; Orville lived until 1948. The historic Wright brothers’ aircraft of 1903 is on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
1903 Life-Saving Service personnel from Kill Devil Hills Life-Saving Station helped carry materials to the launch site for the first successful heavier-than-air aircraft flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC. The life-savers were John T. Daniels, W.S. Dough and A.D. Etheridge.
1925 – Col. William “Billy” Mitchell was convicted of insubordination at his court -martial. Mitchell was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good of the armed services. He was awarded the Medal of Honor 20 years after his death.
1927 – U.S. Secretary of State Kellogg suggested a worldwide pact renouncing war.
1938 – German chemist Otto Hahn discovers the nuclear fission of the heavy element uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear energy.
1940President Roosevelt gives a press conference outlining a scheme which he plans to introduce to bring further aid to Britain which he will call Lend-Lease. His argument is that if a neighbor’s house is on fire it is only sensible to lend him a hose to stop the fire spreading to your own house, and that it would be stupid to think of asking for payment in such circumstances.
1941Admiral Chester W. Nimitz named Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet, to relieve Admiral Husband Kimmel. Admiral William Pye becomes acting commander until Nimitz’s arrival. Admiral Kimmel had enjoyed a successful military career, beginning in 1915 as an aide to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He served admirably on battleships in World War I, winning command of several in the interwar period. At the outbreak of World War II, Kimmel had already attained the rank of rear admiral and was commanding the cruiser forces at Pearl Harbor. In January 1941, he was promoted to commander of the Pacific Fleet, replacing James Richardson, who FDR relieved of duty after Richardson objected to basing the fleet at Pearl Harbor. If Kimmel had a weakness, it was that he was a creature of habit, of routine. He knew only what had been done before, and lacked imagination-and therefore insight-regarding the unprecedented. So, even as word was out that Japan was likely to make a first strike against the United States as the negotiations in Washington floundered, Kimmel took no extraordinary actions at Pearl Harbor. In fact, he believed that a sneak attack was more likely at Wake Island or Midway Island, and requested from Lieutenant General Walter Short, Commander of the Army at Pearl Harbor, extra antiaircraft artillery for support there (none could be spared). Kimmel’s predictability was extremely easy to read by Japanese military observers and made his fleet highly vulnerable. As a result, Kimmel was held accountable, to a certain degree, for the absolute devastation wrought on December 7. Although he had no more reason than anyone else to believe Pearl Harbor was a possible Japanese target, a scapegoat had to be found to appease public outrage. He avoided a probable court-martial when he requested early retirement. When Admiral Kimmel’s Story, an “as told to” autobiography, was published in 1955, Kimmel made it plain that he believed FDR sacrificed him-and his career-to take suspicion off himself; Kimmel believed Roosevelt knew Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed, although no evidence has ever been adduced to support his allegation.
1941 – 17 SB 2U-3s of Marine Scout Bomber Squadron 281 flew 1,137 miles, the longest massed flight over water.
1942 – The Navy credited the CGC Ingham with attacking and sinking the submerged U-boat U-626 south of Greenland.
1942 – Heavy US air attacks continue on Tunis and Gabes and other German air bases in Tunisia.
1943 – Some German forces withdraw from San Pietro and other positions further north. The US 5th Army capture Monte Sammucro.
1944Eisenhower releases the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions from AEF reserve to reinforce American troops in the Ardennes. Other infantry and armored forces from US 12th Army Group are also being redeployed to meet the German offensive. Meanwhile, German forces capture 9000 Americans at Echternach, on the extreme right flank of the attack. Soldiers of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich kill some 71 American POWs near Malmedy.
1944During World War II, U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt issues Public Proclamation No. 21, declaring that, effective January 2, 1945, Japanese American “evacuees” from the West Coast could return to their homes. On February 19, 1942, 10 weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military in scattered locations around the country. For the next two and a half years, many of these Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment by their military guards. During the course of World War II, 10 Americans were convicted of spying for Japan, but not one of them was of Japanese ancestry. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to recompense each surviving internee with a tax-free check for $20,000 and an apology from the U.S. government.
1944 – The Germans renewed their attack on the Belgian town of Losheimergraben against the American Army during the Battle of the Bulge.
1944 – Battle of the Bulge – Malmedy massacre – 84 American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion POWs are shot by Waffen-SS Kampfgruppe Peiper.
1944 – On Mindoro, American forces capture San Jose Airfield. On Leyte, parts of US 10th and 24th Corps record advances against Japanese positions.
1947First flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber. The Boeing B-47 Stratojet (company Model 450) was a long range, six-engine, jet-powered strategic bomber designed to fly at high subsonic speed and at high altitude to avoid enemy interception. The B-47’s primary mission was to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. With its engines carried in nacelles under the swept wing, the B-47 was a major innovation in post-World War II combat jet design, and helped lead to modern jet airliners. The B-47 entered service with the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) in 1951. It never saw combat as a bomber, but was a mainstay of SAC’s bomber strength during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and remained in use as a bomber until 1965. It was also adapted to a number of other missions, including photographic reconnaissance, electronic intelligence and weather reconnaissance, remaining in service as a reconnaissance platform until 1969 and as a testbed until 1977.
1950 – U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Bruce H. Hinton, commander of the 336th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, earned the distinction of becoming the first F-86 Sabre fighter pilot to shoot down a MiG-15 during the Korean War.

On this day in 1950, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Bruce H. Hinton, commander of the 336th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, earned the distinction of becoming the first F-86 Sabre fighter pilot to shoot down a MiG-15 during the Korean War.

1951President Harry Truman presented the Collier Trophy to the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense and the “helicopter industry” in a joint award, citing “outstanding development and use of rotary-winged aircraft for air rescue operations.” Coast Guard commandant VADM Merlin O’Neill accepted the trophy for the Coast Guard.
1957 – The United States successfully test -fired the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.
1960 – A Convair C-131D Samaritan operated by the United States Air Force on a flight from Munich to RAF Northolt, crashed shortly after take-off from Munich-Riem Airport, due to fuel contamination. All 20 passengers and crew on board as well as 32 people on the ground were killed.
1969The SALT I talks begin. SALT I is the common name for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement, also known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. SALT I froze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers at existing levels and provided for the addition of new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers only after the same number of older intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and SLBM launchers had been dismantled.
1969 – The U.S. Air Force closed its Project “Blue Book” by finding no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.
1971Cambodian government positions in Prak Ham, 40 miles north of Phnom Penh, and the 4,000-man base at Taing Kauk are the targets of continuous heavy bombardment by communist forces. The communist Khmer Rouge and their North Vietnamese allies were trying to encircle the capital city. Premier Lon Nol took over the government from Prince Norodom Sihanouk in March 1970, and Lon Nol’s troops were locked in a desperate battle with the communists. Despite U.S. air support, the Cambodian government troops were under heavy pressure from the communists. The Prak Ham siege was lifted four days later, but the communists continued to encircle Phnom Penh in the face of weakened Cambodian resistance. Meanwhile, antigovernment demonstrations against the Lon Nol regime broke out inside the capital. The government reacted by banning all such protests, as well as political meetings, and by authorizing police searches of private houses. Despite the unrest in Phnom Penh and a series of major defeats, Lon Nol managed to retain control of the government. Lon Nol’s government troops managed to hold on largely because of U.S. support. However, with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973, American forces were withdrawn from Southeast Asia, and Lon Nol’s forces soon found themselves fighting alone against the communists. The last U.S. airstrikes flown in support of Cambodian forces were in August 1973. Lon Nol and his forces fought on, but with no external support, it was an overwhelming task. On April 17, 1975, Lon Nol’s greatly depleted forces surrendered to the Khmer Rouge. During the five years of war, approximately 10 percent of Cambodia’s 7 million people died. The victorious Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and forced millions of Cambodians into forced labor camps, murdered hundreds of thousands of real or imagined opponents, and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths from exhaustion, hunger, and disease.
1975 – A federal jury in Sacramento, California, sentences Lynette Alice Fromme, also known as “Squeaky” Fromme, to life in prison for her attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford. On September 5, a Secret Service agent wrested a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Fromme, who brandished the weapon during a public appearance of President Ford in Sacramento. “Squeaky” Fromme, a follower of incarcerated cult leader Charles Manson, was pointing the loaded gun at the president when the Secret Service agent grabbed it. Seventeen days later, Ford escaped injury in another assassination attempt when 45-year-old Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at him. Moore, a leftist radical who once served as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a history of mental illness. She was arrested at the scene, convicted, and sentenced to life. In trial, Fromme pleaded not guilty to the “attempted assassination of a president” charge, arguing that although her gun contained bullets, it had not been cocked, and therefore she had not actually intended to shoot the president. She was convicted, sentenced to life in prison, and sent to the Alderson Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia. Fromme remained a dedicated disciple of Charles Manson and in December 1987 escaped from Alderson Prison after she heard that Manson, also imprisoned, had cancer. After 40 hours roaming the rugged West Virginia hills, she was caught on Christmas Day, about two miles from the prison. Five years were added to her life sentence for the escape.
1981 – Red Brigade terrorists kidnapped Brigadier General James Dozier, the highest-ranking U.S. NATO officer in Italy.
1986 – Eugene Hasenfus, the American convicted by Nicaragua for his part in running guns to the Contras, was pardoned, then released.
1990 – President Bush pledged “no negotiation for one inch” of Kuwaiti territory would take place as he repeated his demand for Iraq’s complete withdrawal.
1990Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a radical Roman Catholic priest and opponent of the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, is elected president of Haiti in a landslide victory. It was the first free election in Haiti’s history. However, less than one year later, in September 1991, Aristide was deposed in a bloody military coup. He escaped to exile, and a three-man junta took power. In 1994, reacting to evidence of atrocities committed by Haiti’s military dictators, the United Nations authorized the use of force to restore Aristide. On September 18, the eve of the American invasion, a diplomatic delegation led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter brokered a last-minute agreement with Haiti’s military to give up power. Bloodshed was prevented, and on September 19, 1994, 20,000 U.S. troops landed unopposed to oversee Haiti’s transition to democracy. In October, Aristide returned and served as president until the expiration of his term in 1996. He was succeeded by his close friend and handpicked successor Rene Preval, who was elected president in a landslide victory the previous year. In 2000, Aristide was again elected Haitian president in an election marked by violence and corruption.
1991After a long meeting between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, a spokesman for the latter announces that the Soviet Union will officially cease to exist on or before New Year’s Eve. Yeltsin declared that, “There will be no more red flag.” It was a rather anti-climactic culmination of events leading toward the dismantling of the Soviet Union. Despite its dramatic implications, the announcement inspired mostly yawns and skeptical jokes from a Russian population weary from months of political intrigue and instability and a crumbling economy. For many people, the Soviet Union had already disintegrated. The various Russian republics had already declared their independence; in a few days they would meet and form the Commonwealth of Independent States. Gorbachev’s power was steadily ebbing: a coup attempt the previous August had already nearly toppled him. Yeltsin, on the other hand, was busily planning the takeover of Soviet facilities and the symbolic lowering of the Soviet hammer-and-sickle to be replaced by the flag of Russia. Even Gorbachev seemed to accept the inevitable, taking time off from his less and less meaningful job to have a photo op with the rock group Scorpion. It was all a rather unexciting end to the nation President Ronald Reagan once called “the evil empire.”
1993 – 2/14 Infantry, 10th Mountain Division, departs Somalia.
1994 – Six shots were fired at the White House by an unidentified gunman.
1994 – North Korea shot down a U.S. Army helicopter which had strayed north of the demilitarized zone – – the co -pilot, Chief Warrant Officer David Hilemon, was killed; the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Hall, was captured and held for nearly two weeks.
1996A U.N. panel rules that Kuwait Oil Company will receive $610 million, almost two-thirds of the $951 million it claims to have spent while extinguishing oil fires left by the retreating Iraqi army in 1991. In addition, the United Nations has approved 862,000 claims amounting to $3.2 billion for people forced to leave Kuwait because of the Iraqi occupation.
1997 – A US court ordered Cuba to pay $187.6 million for three men killed when their planes were shot down in 1996 by MiG fighters.
1998US and British forces launched more missiles on the 2nd day of attacks against Iraq. The strikes included some 100 cruise missiles with 2,000 pound warheads. Pres. Boris Yeltsin withdrew the Russian ambassador from Washington and demanded an immediate end to military action. France and Italy expressed strong opposition while Germany rallied to support the US and Britain. A stray US missile hit Khorramshahr, Iran. The US later apologized.
1999The U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 1284 on returning weapons inspectors to Iraq. Under the Resolution, sanctions could be suspended if Iraq were to cooperate with the inspectors over a period of nine months. Iraq has stated that it does not accept the Resolution, which also creates the new United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq.
2001 – The Bush administration announced that the anthrax attacks most likely originated from a domestic source.
2001 – Space shuttle Endeavour returned to Cape Canaveral following A 12 -day mission for a crew change at the Int’l. Space Station.
2001 – US Marines raised the Stars and Stripes over the long -abandoned American Embassy in Kabul, inaugurating what U.S. envoy James F. Dobbins promised would be a long commitment to the rebuilding.
20012001 – The last cave complex at Tora Bora had been taken and its defenders overrun. U.S. and U.K. forces continued searching into January, but no sign of al-Qaeda leadership emerged. An estimated 200 al-Qaeda fighters were killed during the battle, along with an unknown number of tribal fighters. No American or British deaths were reported.
2002 – U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the military to begin deploying a national missile defence system with land – and sea -based interceptor rockets to be operational starting in 2004.
2002Iraqi exiles in London declared they want to build a “new Iraq” and agreed on a power -sharing plan that for the first time recognizes the political clout of Shiite Muslims, a majority in a nation long controlled by Sunni Muslims such as Saddam Hussein. Some delegates walked out of the London meeting warning of possible civil war if they were sidelined in any new government.
2003 – In Greece a court handed multiple life sentences to the leader, chief assassin and three other members of the November 17 terror organization.
2003 – SpaceShipOne, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first powered and first supersonic flight.
2003 – South Korea agreed to send 3,000 troops to Iraq in 2004.
2004 – President Bush signed into law the largest overhaul of US intelligence-gathering in 50 years.
2004 – Afghan forces retook control of Pul-e-Charkhi, the country’s largest jail, following a day-long standoff. 4 inmates and 4 guards were killed in the violence.
2004 – Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Dragan Mikerevic resigned, one day after the international community imposed sanctions against Bosnian Serb police and officials for allegedly helping fugitive war crimes suspects evade justice.
2007 – Russia delivers its first shipment of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran
2012 – Daniel Inouye, Medal of Honor recipient, senior Senator from Hawaii and the President pro tempore, dies in Honolulu at the age of 88.
2012 – NASA’s twin GRAIL spacecrafts crash into a mile-high cliff near the Lunar North Pole to close out a successful mission to map the Moon’s gravity field with unprecedented precision.
2013 – Edward Snowden offers Brazil information over the NSA spying of its citizens.
2014 – Sony Pictures cancels the release of the upcoming 2014 film The Interview, originally scheduled for the next day, due to threatening messages by hackers connected to North Korea.
2014 – U.S. President Barack Obama announces release of Alan Gross, held prisoner by Cuba for five years; announces resumption of normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba for the first time since January 1961. An American embassy will open in Havana and talks to lift the embargo will begin.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

BEAUMONT, EUGENE B.
Rank and organization: Major and Assistant Adjutant General, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Mississippi. Place and date: At Harpeth River, Tenn., 17 December 1864; at Selma, Ala., 2 April 1865. Entered service at: Wilkes Barre, Pa. Birth: Luzerne County, Pa. Date of issue: 30 March 1898. Citation: Obtained permission from the corps commander to advance upon the enemy’s position with the 4th U.S. Cavalry, of which he was a lieutenant; led an attack upon a battery, dispersed the enemy, and captured the guns. At Selma, Ala., charged, at the head of his regiment, into the second and last line of the enemy’s works.

HEDGES, JOSEPH
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 4th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: Near Harpeth River, Tenn., 17 December 1864. Entered service at: Ohio. Birth: Ohio. Date of issue: 5 April 1898. Citation: At the head of his regiment charged a field battery with strong infantry supports, broke the enemy’s line and, with other mounted troops, captured 3 guns and many prisoners.

MacKENZlE, JOHN
Rank and organization: Chief Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 7 July 1886, Bridgeport, Conn. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 391, 1918. Citation: For extraordinary heroism while serving on board the U.S.S. Remlik, on the morning of 17 December 1917, when the Remlik encountered a heavy gale. During this gale, there was a heavy sea running. The depth charge box on the taffrail aft, containing a Sperry depth charge, was washed overboard, the depth charge itself falling inboard and remaining on deck. MacKenzie, on his own initiative, went aft and sat down on the depth charge, as it was impracticable to carry it to safety until the ship was headed up into the sea. In acting as he did, MacKenzie exposed his life and prevented a serious accident to the ship and probable loss of the ship and the entire crew.

*COWAN, RICHARD ELLER
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company M, 23d Infantry, 2d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Krinkelter Wald, Belgium, 17 December 1944. Entered service at: Wichita, Kans. Birth: Lincoln, Nebr. G.O. No.: 48, 23 June 1945. Citation: He was a heavy machinegunner in a section attached to Company I in the vicinity of Krinkelter Wald, Belgium, 17 December 1944, when that company was attacked by a numerically superior force of German infantry and tanks. The first 6 waves of hostile infantrymen were repulsed with heavy casualties, but a seventh drive with tanks killed or wounded all but 3 of his section, leaving Pvt. Cowan to man his gun, supported by only 15 to 20 riflemen of Company I. He maintained his position, holding off the Germans until the rest of the shattered force had set up a new line along a firebreak. Then, unaided, he moved his machinegun and ammunition to the second position. At the approach of a Royal Tiger tank, he held his fire until about 80 enemy infantrymen supporting the tank appeared at a distance of about 150 yards. His first burst killed or wounded about half of these infantrymen. His position was rocked by an 88mm. shell when the tank opened fire, but he continued to man his gun, pouring deadly fire into the Germans when they again advanced. He was barely missed by another shell. Fire from three machineguns and innumerable small arms struck all about him; an enemy rocket shook him badly, but did not drive him from his gun. Infiltration by the enemy had by this time made the position untenable, and the order was given to withdraw. Pvt. Cowan was the last man to leave, voluntarily covering the withdrawal of his remaining comrades. His heroic actions were entirely responsible for allowing the remaining men to retire successfully from the scene of their last-ditch stand.

LOPEZ, JOSE M.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, 23d Infantry, 2d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Krinkelt, Belgium, 17 December 1944. Entered service at: Brownsville, Tex. Birth: Mission, Tex. G.O. No.: 47, 18 June 1945. Citation: On his own initiative, he carried his heavy machinegun from Company K’s right flank to its left, in order to protect that flank which was in danger of being overrun by advancing enemy infantry supported by tanks. Occupying a shallow hole offering no protection above his waist, he cut down a group of 10 Germans. Ignoring enemy fire from an advancing tank, he held his position and cut down 25 more enemy infantry attempting to turn his flank. Glancing to his right, he saw a large number of infantry swarming in from the front. Although dazed and shaken from enemy artillery fire which had crashed into the ground only a few yards away, he realized that his position soon would be outflanked. Again, alone, he carried his machinegun to a position to the right rear of the sector; enemy tanks and infantry were forcing a withdrawal. Blown over backward by the concussion of enemy fire, he immediately reset his gun and continued his fire. Single-handed he held off the German horde until he was satisfied his company had effected its retirement. Again he loaded his gun on his back and in a hail of small arms fire he ran to a point where a few of his comrades were attempting to set up another defense against the onrushing enemy. He fired from this position until his ammunition was exhausted. Still carrying his gun, he fell back with his small group to Krinkelt. Sgt. Lopez’s gallantry and intrepidity, on seemingly suicidal missions in which he killed at least 100 of the enemy, were almost solely responsible for allowing Company K to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive.

SODERMAN, WILLIAM A.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company K, 9th Infantry, 2d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Rocherath, Belgium, 17 December 1944. Entered service at: West Haven, Conn. Birth: West Haven, Conn. G.O. No.: 97, 1 November 1945. Citation: Armed with a bazooka, he defended a key road junction near Rocherath, Belgium, on 17 December 1944, during the German Ardennes counteroffensive. After a heavy artillery barrage had wounded and forced the withdrawal of his assistant, he heard enemy tanks approaching the position where he calmly waited in the gathering darkness of early evening until the 5 Mark V tanks which made up the hostile force were within pointblank range. He then stood up, completely disregarding the firepower that could be brought to bear upon him, and launched a rocket into the lead tank, setting it afire and forcing its crew to abandon it as the other tanks pressed on before Pfc. Soderman could reload. The daring bazookaman remained at his post all night under severe artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire, awaiting the next onslaught, which was made shortly after dawn by 5 more tanks Running along a ditch to meet them, he reached an advantageous point and there leaped to the road in full view of the tank gunners, deliberately aimed his weapon and disabled the lead tank. The other vehicles, thwarted by a deep ditch in their attempt to go around the crippled machine, withdrew. While returning to his post Pfc. Soderman, braving heavy fire to attack an enemy infantry platoon from close range, killed at least 3 Germans and wounded several others with a round from his bazooka. By this time, enemy pressure had made Company K’s position untenable. Orders were issued for withdrawal to an assembly area, where Pfc. Soderman was located when he once more heard enemy tanks approaching. Knowing that elements of the company had not completed their disengaging maneuver and were consequently extremely vulnerable to an armored attack, he hurried from his comparatively safe position to meet the tanks. Once more he disabled the lead tank with a single rocket, his last; but before he could reach cover, machinegun bullets from the tank ripped into his right shoulder. Unarmed and seriously wounded he dragged himself along a ditch to the American lines and was evacuated. Through his unfaltering courage against overwhelming odds, Pfc. Soderman contributed in great measure to the defense of Rocherath, exhibiting to a superlative degree the intrepidity and heroism with which American soldiers met and smashed the savage power of the last great German offensive

December 16

16 December

1689 – English Parliament adopted a Bill of Rights after Glorious Revolution. The Bill of Rights included a right to bear arms.
1773In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. When three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the “tea party” with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group. The British tea dumped in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was valued at some 18,000 pounds. Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.
1821 – LT Robert F. Stockton and Dr. Eli Ayers, a naval surgeon and member of American Colonizing Society, induce a local African king to sell territory for a colony which became the Republic of Liberia.
1826In an act that foreshadowed the American rebellions to come, Benjamin Edwards rides into Mexican-controlled Nacogdoches, Texas, and proclaims himself the ruler of the Republic of Fredonia. The brother of a corrupt backer of an American colony in Texas, Benjamin Edwards made the bold (and perhaps foolish) decision to rebel against the Mexican government while his brother was away in the United States raising money for his colony. Under the empresario system–which was created by the Mexican government in the 1820s to encourage colonization of its northern provinces–men like the Edwards were allowed to settle Anglo families in Texas. However, many of the Anglo settlers retained stronger ties to the United States than to Mexico, and Benjamin Edwards hoped that many former Americans would support his attempt to split from Mexico. Accompanied by a force of about 30 men, Edwards seized a stone fort in Nacogdoches and declared that the new “Republic of Fredonia” was now independent of Mexican control. Edwards claimed his new nation extended from the Sabine River to the Rio Grande River, and would be governed under the principles of “Independence, Liberty, and Justice.” In a bid to build up a defense against the Mexican soldiers who were on their way to quell the rebellion, Edwards quickly negotiated an agreement with the Cherokee Indians offering to share Texas in exchange for military aid. Edwards was less successful in winning the support of the local Anglo and Mexican inhabitants of Nacogdoches, in whose name he was supposedly acting. When the Mexican militia approached Nacogdoches six weeks later, Edwards’ ill-planned revolution quickly disintegrated and he fled to the United States for sanctuary. While short-lived and premature, Edwards’ Fredonian Rebellion nonetheless reflected the growing tensions between the American colonialists in Texas and their Mexican rulers. Less than a decade later, in 1835, other Texans followed in Edwards’ footsteps and staged the far more successful revolution that established the independent Republic of Texas.
1863Confederate President Jefferson Davis names General Joseph Johnston commander of the Army of Tennessee. Johnston replaced Braxton Bragg, who managed to lose all of Tennessee to the Union during 1863. A Virginia native, Johnston graduated from West Point in 1829 along with Robert E. Lee. Johnston fought in the Black Hawk, Creek, and Seminole wars of the 1830s before serving with distinction in the Mexican War. When Virginia seceded from the Union after the firing on Fort Sumter, Johnston joined his native state and accepted a commission in the Confederate army. He fought at the First Battle of Bull Run and commanded the Army of Northern Virginia during the early stages of the Peninsular Campaign in 1862. When he was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, Lee replaced Johnston. After recovering from his wounds, Johnston was sent to coordinate the operations of the armies the Tennessee and Mississippi regions. Since he did not have a command of his own, Johnston resented this duty. In 1863, Johnston made a futile attempt to relieve John C. Pemberton’s army at Vicksburg. He wanted Pemberton to fight his way out of Vicksburg, but Union General Ulysses S. Grant had Pemberton trapped. The surrender of Pemberton’s army put additional stress on the already strained relationship between Johnston and President Davis.After the campaigns of 1863, however, Davis felt he had little choice but to name Johnston commander of the Army of Tennessee. The Confederates were losing large sections of territory to the Union. Bragg was literally maneuvered right out of Tennessee during the summer, although he engineered a victory at Chickamauga before laying siege to Union troops at Chattanooga. When Grant broke the Confederate hold on Chattanooga in November, Bragg resigned his command. Davis reluctantly appointed Johnston to save the situation in the West. Johnston took the field with his army in the spring of 1864, when Union General William T. Sherman began his drive toward Atlanta. Johnston employed a defensive strategy that avoided direct battle with Sherman but which also resulted in lost territory as Johnston slowly backed up to Atlanta. Johnston’s command lasted until July 1864, when Davis replaced Johnston after the Army of the Tennessee was backed into Atlanta.
1864Union General George Thomas continues his attack on the army of Confederate General John Bell Hood at Nashville. Hood’s drastically outnumbered force retreated, and only some heroic rear-guard action prevented the total destruction of the Confederate army.
1864Acting Master Charles A. Pettit, U.S.S. Monticello, performed a dangerous reconnaissance off New Inlet, North Carolina, removing several Confederate torpedoes and their firing apparatus near the base of Fort Caswell. Pettit’s expedition was part of the extensive Union preparations for the bombardment and assault on Fort Fisher and the defenses of Wilmington planned for late December.
1897 – The 1st submarine with an internal combustion engine was demonstrated.
1907Great White Fleet departs Hampton Roads, VA to circumnavigate the world. The “Great White Fleet” sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909 consisted of sixteen new battleships of the Atlantic Fleet. The battleships were painted white except for gilded scrollwork on their bows. The Atlantic Fleet battleships only later came to be known as the “Great White Fleet.” The fourteen-month long voyage was a grand pageant of American sea power. The squadrons were manned by 14,000 sailors. They covered some 43,000 miles and made twenty port calls on six continents. The battleships were accompanied during the first leg of their voyage by a “Torpedo Flotilla” of six early destroyers, as well as by several auxiliary ships. The destroyers and their tender did not actually steam in company with the battleships, but followed their own itinerary from Hampton Roads to San Francisco. Two battleships were detached from the fleet at San Francisco, and two others substituted. ith the USS Connecticut as flagship under the command of Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, the fleet sailed from Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 16 December 1907 for Trinidad, British West Indies, thence to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Sandy Point, Chile; Callao, Peru; Magdalena Bay, Mexico, and up the west coast, arriving at San Francisco, 6 May 1908. After the arrival of the fleet off the west coast, the USS Glacier was detached and later became the supply ship of the Pacific Fleet. At this time also, the USS Nebraska, Captain Reginald F. Nicholson, and the USS Wisconsin, Captain Frank E. Beatty, were substituted for the USS Maine and USS Alabama. At San Francisco, Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry assumed command of the Fleet, owing to the poor health of Admiral Evans. Leaving that port on 7 July, 1908, the U.S. Atlantic Fleet visited Honolulu, Hawaii; Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Manilia, Phillipine Islands; Yokohama, Japan; Colombo, Ceylon; arriving at Suez, Egypt, on 3 January 1909. In Egypt, word was received of an earthquake in Sicily, thus affording an opportunity for the United States to show it’s friendship to Italy by offering aid to the sufferers. The Connecticut, Illinois, Culgoa and Yankton were dispatched to Messina at once. The crew of the Illinois recovered the bodies of the American consul and his wife, entombed in the ruins. The Scorpion, the Fleet’s station ship at Constantinople, and the Celtic, a refrigerator ship fitted out in New York, were hurried to Messina, relieving the Connecticut and Illinois, so that they could continue on the cruise. Leaving Messina on 9 January 1909, the Fleet stopped at Naples, Italy, thence to Gibraltar, arriving at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 22 February 1909. There President Roosevelt reviewed the Fleet as it passed into the roadstead.
1915 – Albert Einstein published his “General Theory of Relativity.” In 2000 David Bodanis authored “E=MC²: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation.”
1941 – USS Swordfish (SS-193) sinks Japanese cargo ship Atsutasan Maru.
1942 – Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Harry B. Roby, USNR, performs an appendectomy on Torpedoman First Class W. R. Jones on board USS Grayback (SS-208). It is the second appendectomy performed on board a submarine.
1942 – Admiral Tanaka’s supply run is attacked again, US dive bombers sink the destroyer Kagero off Guadalcanal. On land, US troops move on Mount Austen.
1944With the Anglo-Americans closing in on Germany from the west and the Soviets approaching from the east, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler orders a massive attack against the western Allies by three German armies. The German counterattack out of the densely wooded Ardennes region of Belgium took the Allies entirely by surprise, and the experienced German troops wrought havoc on the American line, creating a triangular “bulge” 60 miles deep and 50 miles wide along the Allied front. Conditions of fog and mist prevented the unleashing of Allied air superiority, and for several days Hitler’s desperate gamble seemed to be paying off. However, unlike the French in 1940, the embattled Americans kept up a fierce resistance even after their lines of communication had been broken, buying time for a three-point counteroffensive led by British General Bernard Montgomery and Americans generals Omar Bradley and George Patton. The Germans threw 250,000 soldiers into the initial assault, 14 German infantry divisions guarded by five panzer divisions-against a mere 80,000 Americans. Their assault came in early morning at the weakest part of the Allied line, an 80-mile poorly protected stretch of hilly, woody forest (the Allies simply believed the Ardennes too difficult to traverse, and therefore an unlikely location for a German offensive). Between the vulnerability of the thin, isolated American units and the thick fog that prevented Allied air cover from discovering German movement, the Germans were able to push the Americans into retreat. One particularly effective German trick was the use of English-speaking German commandos who infiltrated American lines and, using captured U.S. uniforms, trucks, and jeeps, impersonated U.S. military and sabotaged communications. The ploy caused widespread chaos and suspicion among the American troops as to the identity of fellow soldiers–even after the ruse was discovered. Even General Omar Bradley himself had to prove his identity three times–by answering questions about football and Betty Grable–before being allowed to pass a sentry point. The battle raged for three weeks, resulting in a massive loss of American and civilian life. Nazi atrocities abounded, including the murder of 72 American soldiers by SS soldiers in the Ardennes town of Malmedy. Historian Stephen Ambrose estimated that by war’s end, “Of the 600,000 GIs involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 were captured, and 40,000 were wounded.” The United States also suffered its second-largest surrender of troops of the war: More than 7,500 members of the 106th Infantry Division capitulated at one time at Schnee Eifel. The devastating ferocity of the conflict also made desertion an issue for the American troops; General Eisenhower was forced to make an example of Private Eddie Slovik, the first American executed for desertion since the Civil War. Fighting was particularly fierce at the town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division and part of the 10th Armored Division were encircled by German forces within the bulge. On December 22, the German commander besieging the town demanded that the Americans surrender or face annihilation. U.S. Major General Anthony McAuliffe prepared a typed reply that read simply: “To the German Commander: Nuts! From the American Commander.” The Americans who delivered the message explained to the perplexed Germans that the one-word reply was translatable as “Go to hell!” Heavy fighting continued at Bastogne, but the 101st held on. On December 23, the skies finally cleared over the battle areas, and the Allied air forces inflicted heavy damage on German tanks and transport, which were jammed solidly along the main roads. On December 26, Bastogne was relieved by elements of General Patton’s 3rd Army. A major Allied counteroffensive began at the end of December, and by January 21 the Germans had been pushed back to their original line. Germany’s last major offensive of the war had cost them 120,000 men, 1,600 planes, and 700 tanks.
1944 – Japanese planes attack American shipping while US aircraft strike at air bases (in continuing operations by TF38). On Mindoro, the landing forces consolidates the beachhead and begins construction of an landing strip.
1950In the wake of the massive Chinese intervention in the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency. Proclaiming that “Communist imperialism” threatened the world’s people, Truman called upon the American people to help construct an “arsenal of freedom.” In November, the stakes in the Korean War dramatically escalated with the intervention of hundreds of thousands of communist Chinese troops. Prior to their arrival on the battlefield, the U.S. forces seemed on the verge of victory in Korea. Just days after General Douglas MacArthur declared an “end the war offensive,” however, massive elements of the Chinese army smashed into the American lines and drove the U.S. forces back. The “limited war” in Korea threatened to turn into a widespread conflict. Against this backdrop, Truman issued his state of emergency and the U.S. military-industrial complex went into full preparations for a possible third world war. The president’s proclamation vastly expanded his executive powers and gave Mobilization Director Charles E. Wilson nearly unlimited authority to coordinate the country’s defense program. Such an increase in government power had not been seen since World War II. The Soviet Union, which Truman blamed for most of the current world problems in the course of his speech, blasted the United States for “warmongering.” Congress, most of America’s allies, and the American people appeared to be strongly supportive of the President’s tough talk and actions. Truman’s speech, and the events preceding it, indicated that the Cold War-so long a battle of words and threats-had become an actual military reality. The Korean War lasted from 1950 to 1953.
1950 – The U.S. 24th Infantry Division received the Distinguished Unit Citation (now the Presidential Unit Citation) for “extraordinary heroism in combat against a numerically superior enemy.” The division, commanded by Major General William F. Dean, by then a prisoner of war, was the first U.S. division to enter the Korean War.
1952 – The U.S. Air Force’s 3rd Bomb Wing completed its 25,000th sortie of the Korean War.
1953 – Charles E. Yeager flew 2,575 kph in Bell X-1A.
1960A United Airlines DC-8 with 83 passengers on board collided with a TWA Super Constellation carrying 42 in the New York city area. Coast Guard helicopters, working with the aircraft of the Army, Navy and New York Police Department, transported the injured passengers from the Constellation’s wreck on Staten Island to a nearby hospital. Coast Guard vessels also searched the New York harbor area. The debris they picked up was used by the Civil Aeronautics Board in its determination of the cause of the mishap.
1961 – Operation Farm Gate aircraft are authorized to fly combat missions, provided a Vietnamese crew member is aboard. Because the 1954 Geneva Agreements prohibit the introduction of bombers into Indochina, US B-26 and SC-47 bombers are redesignated, ‘reconnaissance bombers.’
1965Gen. William Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, sends a request for more troops. With nearly 200,000 U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam already, Westmoreland sent Defense Secretary Robert McNamara a message stating that he would need an additional 243,000 men by the end of 1966. Citing a rapidly deteriorating military situation in which the South Vietnamese were losing the equivalent of an infantry battalion (500 soldiers) a week in battle, Westmoreland predicted that he would need a total of 600,000 men by the end of 1967 to defeat the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. Although the high tide of U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam never reached the 600,000, there were more than 540,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam by 1969.
1972Henry Kissinger announces at a news conference in Washington that the North Vietnamese have walked out of the ongoing private negotiations in Paris. President Richard Nixon turned to private negotiations in August 1969 because of the all but total impasse in the official negotiations that had been in session since May 1968. The fact that these private talks were being conducted was not disclosed until January 25, 1972, when Nixon, in response to criticism that his administration had not made its best efforts to end the war, revealed that Kissinger had been conducting secret negotiations with North Vietnamese representatives in Paris. Although Kissinger had been able to make some progress in the private negotiations, the talks failed to achieve what President Nixon regarded as “just and fair agreement to end the war.” The central disagreement between Kissinger and the North Vietnamese negotiators was over the question of who would rule South Vietnam after any negotiated cease-fire. The North Vietnamese negotiators, headed by Le Duc Tho, demanded that the government of Nguyen Van Thieu be dissolved, that the South Vietnamese army be disbanded, and that a coalition government be installed, which would then negotiate for a truce. At the same time, the South Vietnamese were making their own demands. Over 100,000 North Vietnamese troops had occupied territory in South Vietnam during the 1972 Easter Offensive. Nguyen Van Thieu demanded that the North Vietnamese recognize Saigon’s sovereignty over South Vietnam, which would make the continued presence of the North Vietnamese troops in the south illegal. The North Vietnamese refused Thieu’s demands, saying that they would not recognize Thieu’s government and walked out of the negotiations. Kissinger charged that Hanoi was to blame for the failure to reach an agreement, and asserted that the U.S. would not be blackmailed or stampeded into an agreement. North Vietnam criticized the U.S. for breaking the agreement to maintain silence on the private negotiations. Nixon issued an ultimatum to Hanoi to send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours “or else.” The North Vietnamese rejected Nixon’s demand on December 18, and the president gave the order to launch Operation Linebacker II, an intensified bombing campaign of North Vietnam. Over the next 11 days–with the exception of Christmas Day–the “Christmas bombing” continued unabated. In all, roughly tons of bombs over North Vietnam, and Air Force and Navy fighter-bombers added another 5,000 tons. On December 28, the North Vietnamese agreed to Nixon’s conditions for re-opening the negotiations and the next day, the president called an end to Linebacker II.
1979Libya joined four other OPEC nations in raising the price of crude oil. Since the U.S. bought much of its oil from Libya, the price hike had an almost immediate effect on American gas prices. Gas became costly, and the cost of motoring rose. Heating-oil prices also jumped–a tough blow at the beginning of winter.
1989 – Federal Judge Robert Vance is instantly killed by a powerful explosion after opening a package mailed to his house in Birmingham, Alabama. Two days later, a mail bomb killed Robert Robinson, an attorney in Savannah, Georgia, in his office. Two other bomb packages, sent to the federal courthouse in Atlanta and to a NAACP lawyer, were intercepted before their intended victims opened them. The FBI immediately assigned a task force to find the terrorist, naming their operation VANPAC (for Vance package bomb). The investigators used nearly every forensic method available: DNA profiles were made from the saliva on the stamps, and both the paint on the boxes and the nails that acted as the bomb’s shrapnel were traced back to the manufacturer. The first good lead came from an examination of the typewritten letters found in the unexploded packages. The typewriter that had been used was slightly defective, so investigators examined the judicial records of several states to see if any other documents or letters had come from the same defective typewriter. Indeed, at an Atlanta courthouse, the FBI located a letter from Enterprise, Alabama, with the same problem. Although FBI investigators couldn’t find any other clues in Enterprise, an officer remembered that Walter LeRoy Moody had been convicted in 1972 for setting off a pipe bomb with a similar design to that of the 1989 bombs. A search of Moody’s home failed to turn up evidence linking him to the VANPAC bombs, but bomb experts compared his 1972 bomb to the VANPAC explosives and determined that there was little doubt that the same man had made them all. But Moody’s wife provided the key evidence against him: She admitted that her husband had sent her to make copies of the threatening letters. Her story was later verified when a copy store employee’s partial fingerprint was found on one of the letters. Purportedly, Moody was upset by the judicial system. In June 1991, a federal jury convicted Moody on charges related to the bombings and sentenced him to 400 years in prison.
1991 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin met for four hours with visiting U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, after which Yeltsin said the new Commonwealth of Independent States would begin operating by the end of the year.
1991 – Nearly 300 members of the 8th Marines arrived at Guantanamo Bay to participate in Haitian humanitarian efforts for 6,000 refugees.
1992US Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger said Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had to answer for atrocities committed in former Yugoslavia. In 2000 a US federal jury ordered Radovan Karadzic to pay $745 million to a group of women, who accused him of atrocities.
1996 – The US, EU and other countries agreed to a package of economic and military assistance to Lebanon worth $2.2 billion. The US said that its aid would increase to more than $20 million next year.
1997 – A Pentagon-appointed panel concluded that the Army, Navy and Air Force should segregate male and female recruits in their earliest phases of basic training.
1997The Galileo spacecraft flew to within 124 miles of the surface and recorded images of Europa. Volcanic ice flows implicated a vast ocean below the surface. Giant lightning bolts on Jupiter, a hundred times more powerful that those on Earth, were reported via the spacecraft and it indicated a magnetic field around Ganymede. It also indicated an atmosphere of hydrogen and carbon dioxide around Callisto. Metallic cores inside Io, Ganymede and Europa and the lack of a similar core inside Callisto was also indicated.
1997 – U.N. weapons monitor Richard Butler left Iraq after failing to persuade President Saddam Hussein to open his palaces to inspections.
1998 In Operation Desert Fox, Navy cruise missiles attack Iraq. Pres. Clinton ordered a sustained series of missile strikes against Iraq forces in response to Saddam Hussein’s continued defiance of UN weapons inspectors. Iraqi envoy Nizar Hamdoon accused UN weapons inspector Richard Butler of producing a biased report on weapons inspections. The strike came one before scheduled vote on Clinton’s impeachment by the House of Representatives and days before the beginning of Ramadan. Some 200 missiles fell on Iraq in the first 24 hours of the attack and initial reports indicated two people killed and 30 injured. The House Republicans postponed impeachment by at least 24 hours.
1998Federal prosecutors in NYC charged 5 men in the Aug 7 bombing of the American Embassy in Tanzania. Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil of Egypt, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani of Tanzania, and Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam and Sheik Ahmed Salim Swedan of Kenya. A 6th man, “Ahmed the German,” detonated the explosive device and was killed.
2000 – Federal prisoner Theodore Kaczynski (58), aka the Unabomber, donated his writings to a special collection at the Univ. of Michigan, where he received his doctorate in 1977.
2001 – It was reported that all the anthrax spores mailed to Capital Hill were identical to stocks from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. (USAMRIID), maintained since 1980.
2001 – In Afghanistan 25 bin Laden soldiers were captured and 200 were killed in the Tora Bora region. After 9 weeks of fighting, Afghan militia leaders claimed control of the last mountain bastion of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida fighters.
2001 – The EU held a weekend summit near Brussels and declared their nascent joint military force operational. A constitutional convention was planned as well as the admittance of 10 new members over the next 2 years.
2002 – Pres. Bush named Thomas Kean, former Gov. of New Jersey, to replace Henry Kissinger as head of the Sep. 11 investigation panel.
2003 – U.S. special envoy James A. Baker III said France, Germany and the US agreed to seek reductions in Iraq’s foreign debt within the Paris Club of creditor nations.
2003 – In Afghanistan several dozen delegates broke away from a crucial constitutional assembly to celebrate the inauguration of the Kabul-Kandahar highway, a vital artery linking the capital with the lawless and poverty-stricken south.
2004 – Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein met with a lawyer for the first time since his capture a year earlier.
2004 – Rebel strikes across Baghdad killed 10 people, including three paramilitary policemen and a government official.
2009 – Coalition troops began Operation Septentrion, a 36-hour operation in the Uzbin Valley (east of Kabul). The force of 1100 troops included 800 members of the French Foreign Legion together with 200 US special forces and Afghan soldiers. The purpose of Operation Septentrion was “reaffirming the sovereignty of Afghan security forces in the north of the Uzbeen Valley,” according to a French military spokesperson, and also to plant an Afghan flag in a key strategic village. While 75% of the Uzbin Valley had been under coalition control, a corner of it had remained in Taliban hands.
2013 – American judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia rules that the National Security Agency collecting domestic phone records was unconstitutional in Klayman vs Obama. A stay has been placed on the ruling pending an appeal by the US Government.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

ANDERSON, MARION T.
Rank and organization: Captain, Company D, 51st Indiana Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: Kokomo, Ind. Birth: Decatur County, Ind. Date of issue: 1 September 1893. Citation: Led his regiment over 5 lines of the enemy’s works, where he fell, severely wounded.

CARR, FRANKLIN
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company D, 124th Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Stark County, Ohio. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Recapture of U.S. guidon from a rebel battery.

COLWELL, OLIVER
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company G, 95th Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at:——. Birth: Champaign County, Ohio. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag.

CURTIS, JOHN C.
Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, 9th Connecticut Infantry. Place and date: At Baton Rouge, La., 5 August 1862. Entered service at: Bridgeport, Conn. Birth: Bridgeport, Conn. Date of issue: 16 December 1896. Citation: Voluntarily sought the line of battle and alone and unaided captured 2 prisoners, driving them before him to regimental headquarters at the point of the bayonet.

GARRETT, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company G, 41st Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at:——. Birth: England. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: With several companions dashed forward, the first to enter the enemy’s works, taking possession of 4 pieces of artillery and captured the flag of the 13th Mississippi Infantry (C.S.A.).

GERE, THOMAS P.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant and Adjutant, 5th Minnesota Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Chemung County, N.Y. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag of 4th Mississippi (C.S.A.).

HOLCOMB, DANIEL 1.
Rank and organization: Private, Company A, 41st Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Brentwood Hills, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Hartford, Ohio. Date of issue. 22 February 1865. Citation. Capture of Confederate guidon.

KALTENBACH, LUTHER
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company F, 12th lowa Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: Honey Creek, lowa. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag, of 44th Mississippi Infantry (C.S.A.).

MAY, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Private, Company H, 32d lowa Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: Maysville, Franklin County, lowa. Birth: Pennsylvania. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Ran ahead of his regiment over the enemy’s works and captured from its bearer the flag of Bonanchad’s Confederate battery (C.S.A.).

McCLEARY, CHARLES H.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company C. 72d Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Sandusky County, Ohio. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag of 4th Florida Infantry (C.S.A.), while in advance of his lines.

MOORE, WILBUR F.
Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 117th Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: Lebanon, St. Clair County, Ill. Birth: Lebanon, St. Clair County, Ill. Date of issue: 22 February 1865. Citation: Captured flag of a Confederate battery while far in advance of the Union lines.

PARKS, JAMES W.
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company F, 11th Missouri Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: Xenia, Clay County, Ill. Birth: Lawrence County, Ohio. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag.

POST, PHILIP SIDNEY
Rank and organization: Colonel, 59th Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 15-16 December 1864. Entered service at: Galesburg, Ill. Born: 19 March 1833, Flordia, Orange County, N.Y. Date of issue: 18 March 1893. Citation: Led his brigade in an attack upon a strong position under a terrific fire of grape, canister, and musketry; was struck down by a grapeshot after he had reached the enemy’s works.

SIMMONS, WILLIAM T.
Rank and organization: Lieutenant, Company C, 11th Missouri Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: ——. Born: 29 January 1843, Green County, Ill. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag of 34th Alabama Infantry (C.S.A ). Being the first to enter the works, he shot and wounded the enemy color bearer.

SLOAN, ANDREW J.
Rank and organization: Private, Company H, 12th lowa Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: Colesburg, Delaware County, lowa. Birth: Bedford County, Pa. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Captured flag of 1st Louisiana Battery (C.S.A.).

SMITH, OTIS W.
Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 95th Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at:——. Birth: Logan County, Ohio. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag of 6th Florida Infantry (C.S.A.).

STOKES, GEORGE
Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 122d Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: Jerseyville, Ill. Birth. England. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag.

WELCH, GEORGE W.
Rank and organization: Private, Company A, 11th Missouri Infantry. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 16 December 1864. Entered service at: Keokuk, Lee County, lowa. Birth: Brown County, lowa. Date of issue: 24 February 1965 Citation: Captured the flag of the 13th Alabama Infantry (C.S.A.).

EDWARDS, WALTER ATLEE
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Sea of Marmora, Turkey, 16 December 1922. Born: 8 November 1886, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 123, 4 February 1924. (Medal presented by President Coolidge at the White House on 2 February 1924.) Other Navy award: Navy Cross. Citation: For heroism in rescuing 482 men, women and children from the French military transport Vinh-Long, destroyed by fire in the Sea of Marmora, Turkey, on 16 December 1922. Lt. Comdr. Edwards, commanding the U.S.S. Bainbridge, placed his vessel alongside the bow of the transport and, in spite of several violent explosions which occurred on the burning vessel, maintained his ship in that position until all who were alive were taken on board. Of a total of 495 on board, 482 were rescued by his coolness, judgment and professional skill, which were combined with a degree of heroism that must reflect new glory on the U.S. Navy.

McGARlTY, VERNON
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company L, 393d Infantry, 99th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Krinkelt, Belgium, 16 December 1944. Entered service at: Model, Tenn. Born: 1 December 1921, Right, Tenn. G.O. No.: 6, 11 January 1946. Citation: He was painfully wounded in an artillery barrage that preceded the powerful counteroffensive launched by the Germans near Krinkelt, Belgium, on the morning of 16 December 1944. He made his way to an aid station, received treatment, and then refused to be evacuated, choosing to return to his hard-pressed men instead. The fury of the enemy’s great Western Front offensive swirled about the position held by T/Sgt. McGarity’s small force, but so tenaciously did these men fight on orders to stand firm at all costs that they could not be dislodged despite murderous enemy fire and the breakdown of their communications. During the day the heroic squad leader rescued 1 of his friends who had been wounded in a forward position, and throughout the night he exhorted his comrades to repulse the enemy’s attempts at infiltration. When morning came and the Germans attacked with tanks and infantry, he braved heavy fire to run to an advantageous position where he immobilized the enemy’s lead tank with a round from a rocket launcher. Fire from his squad drove the attacking infantrymen back, and 3 supporting tanks withdrew. He rescued, under heavy fire, another wounded American, and then directed devastating fire on a light cannon which had been brought up by the hostile troops to clear resistance from the area. When ammunition began to run low, T/Sgt. McGarity, remembering an old ammunition hole about 100 yards distant in the general direction of the enemy, braved a concentration of hostile fire to replenish his unit’s supply. By circuitous route the enemy managed to emplace a machinegun to the rear and flank of the squad’s position, cutting off the only escape route. Unhesitatingly, the gallant soldier took it upon himself to destroy this menace single-handedly. He left cover, and while under steady fire from the enemy, killed or wounded all the hostile gunners with deadly accurate rifle fire and prevented all attempts to reman the gun. Only when the squad’s last round had been fired was the enemy able to advance and capture the intrepid leader and his men. The extraordinary bravery and extreme devotion to duty of T/Sgt. McGarity supported a remarkable delaying action which provided the time necessary for assembling reserves and forming a line against which the German striking power was shattered.

MURRAY, CHARLES P., JR.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company C, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Kaysersberg, France, 16 December 1944. Entered service at: Wilmington, N.C. Birth: Baltimore, Md. G.O. No.: 63, 1 August 1945. Citation: For commanding Company C, 30th Infantry, displaying supreme courage and heroic initiative near Kaysersberg, France, on 16 December 1944, while leading a reinforced platoon into enemy territory. Descending into a valley beneath hilltop positions held by our troops, he observed a force of 200 Germans pouring deadly mortar, bazooka, machinegun, and small arms fire into an American battalion occupying the crest of the ridge. The enemy’s position in a sunken road, though hidden from the ridge, was open to a flank attack by 1st Lt. Murray’s patrol but he hesitated to commit so small a force to battle with the superior and strongly disposed enemy. Crawling out ahead of his troops to a vantage point, he called by radio for artillery fire. His shells bracketed the German force, but when he was about to correct the range his radio went dead. He returned to his patrol, secured grenades and a rifle to launch them and went back to his self-appointed outpost. His first shots disclosed his position; the enemy directed heavy fire against him as he methodically fired his missiles into the narrow defile. Again he returned to his patrol. With an automatic rifle and ammunition, he once more moved to his exposed position. Burst after burst he fired into the enemy, killing 20, wounding many others, and completely disorganizing its ranks, which began to withdraw. He prevented the removal of 3 German mortars by knocking out a truck. By that time a mortar had been brought to his support. 1st Lt. Murray directed fire of this weapon, causing further casualties and confusion in the German ranks. Calling on his patrol to follow, he then moved out toward his original objective, possession of a bridge and construction of a roadblock. He captured 10 Germans in foxholes. An eleventh, while pretending to surrender, threw a grenade which knocked him to the ground, inflicting 8 wounds. Though suffering and bleeding profusely, he refused to return to the rear until he had chosen the spot for the block and had seen his men correctly deployed. By his single-handed attack on an overwhelming force and by his intrepid and heroic fighting, 1st Lt. Murray stopped a counterattack, established an advance position against formidable odds, and provided an inspiring example for the men of his command.

December 15

15 December

1778British and French fleets clash in the Battle of St. Lucia. The Battle of St. Lucia or the Battle of the Cul de Sac was a naval battle fought off the island of St. Lucia in the West Indies during the American War of Independence on 15 December 1778, between the British Royal Navy and the French Navy.
1791Following ratification by the state of Virginia, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, become the law of the land. In September 1789, the first Congress of the United States approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. The amendments were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government would be reserved for the states and the people. Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification struggle that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to support the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would be passed immediately. On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerned the population system of representation, while the second prohibited laws varying the payment of congressional members from taking effect until an election intervened. The first of these two amendments was never ratified, while the second was finally ratified more than 200 years later, in 1992.
1862 – Nathan B. Forrest crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton with 2,500 men to raid the communications around Vicksburg.
1862In New Orleans, Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler turned his command over to Nathaniel Banks. The citizens of New Orleans held farewell parties for Butler, “The Beast,” but only after he had already left. Maj. Gen Benjamin Butler was given the unusual nickname “Spoons” due to his apparent penchant for stealing the silver while occupying New Orleans. He was also called “Beast” for alleged insults to the women in the town. Both the names were coined by Confederates.
1864The once powerful Confederate Army of Tennessee is nearly destroyed when a Union army commanded by General George Thomas swarms over the Rebel trenches around Nashville. This was the sad finale in a disastrous year for the General John Bell Hood’s Confederates. The Rebels lost a long summer campaign for Atlanta in September when Hood abandoned the city to the army of William T. Sherman. Hood then took his diminished force north into Tennessee. He hoped to draw Sherman out of the deep South, but Sherman had enough troops to split his force and send part of it to chase Hood into Tennessee. In November, Sherman took the remainder of his army on his march across Georgia. On November 30, Hood attacked the troops of General John Schofield at Franklin, Tennessee. The Confederates suffered heavy casualties and much of the army’s leadership structure was destroyed: twelve generals were killed or wounded along with 60 regimental leaders. When Schofield moved north to Nashville to join Thomas, Hood followed him and dug his army in outside of Nashville’s formidable defenses. Thomas saw his chance to deal a decisive blow to Hood. More than 50,000 Yankees faced a Rebel force that now totaled less than 20,000. Historians have long questioned why Hood even approached the strongly fortified city with the odds so stacked against him. Early in the morning of December 15, Thomas sent a force under General James Steedman against the Confederates’ right flank. The Union troops overran the Confederate trenches and drove the Rebels back more than a mile. The short December day halted the fighting, but Thomas struck again on December 16. This time, the entire Confederate line gave way and sent Hood’s men from the field in a total rout. Only General Stephen Lee’s valiant rear-guard action prevented total destruction of the Confederate army.More than 6,000 Rebels were killed or wounded and 3,000 Yankees lost their lives. Hood and his damaged army retreated to Mississippi, the Army of Tennessee no longer a viable offensive fighting force.
1864As Major General Thomas opened his offensive in the pivotal battle of Nashville, gunboats of the Mississippi Squadron, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Fitch, operated closely with the Union Army by engaging batteries on the Cumberland River and helping to secure a resounding victory for Thomas. On the night of 14 December, Fitch, together with the seven gunboats of his command, had moved down toward the main Confederate battery guarding the river and Major General Forrest’s far left. Fitch described the joint effort: “Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Howard then returned to where I was, just above their works, and reported but four guns in position. These I could easily have silenced and driven off, but our army had not yet sufficiently advanced to insure their capture. I therefore maneuvered around above them till the afternoon, when our cavalry had reached the desired position in the rear; the Neosho and Carondelet then moved down again and the rebels, finding the position they were in, had tried to remove the guns, but were too late; our cavalry closed in and took them with but little resistance.” The Union gunboats then engaged other batteries down the river, in some cases silencing them with gun- -fire and in others absorbing the attention of the Confederate gunners while Union cavalry encircled them. By the afternoon of 15 December, Hood’s batteries on the Cumberland had been captured and his left flank, further inland, was in full retreat. In reply to congratulations from President Lincoln on his important victory, Thomas remarked: “I must not forget to report the operations of Brigadier-General Johnson in successfully driving the enemy, with the cooperation of the gunboats, under Lieutenant Commander Fitch, from their established batteries on the Cumberland River below the City of Nashville.
1864An expedition under Acting Master William G. Morris, including U.S.S. Coeur De Lion and U.S.S. Mercury, seized and burned more than thirty large boats. The Confederates had been massing them on the Coan River, Virginia. Defending soldiers were also driven off in a brief engagement.
1890After many years of successfully resisting white efforts to destroy him and the Sioux people, the great Sioux chief and holy man Sitting Bull is killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota. One of the most famous Native Americans of the 19th century, Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake) was a fierce enemy of Anglo-Americans from a young age. Deeply devoted to the traditional ways, Sitting Bull believed that contact with non-Indians undermined the strength and identity of the Sioux and would lead to their ultimate decline. However, Sitting Bull’s tactics were generally more defensive than aggressive, especially as he grew older and became a Sioux leader. Fundamentally, Sitting Bull and those associated with his tribe wished only to be left alone to pursue their traditional ways, but the Anglo settlers’ growing interest in the land and the resulting confinement of Indians to government-controlled reservations inevitably led to conflicts. Sitting Bull’s refusal to follow an 1875 order to bring his people to the Sioux reservation directly led to the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn, during which the Sioux and Cheyenne wiped out five troops of Custer’s 7th Cavalry. After the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull and his followers fled to Canada for four years. Faced with mass starvation among his people, Sitting Bull finally returned to the United States and surrendered in 1883. Sitting Bull was assigned to the Standing Rock reservation in present-day South Dakota, where he maintained considerable power despite the best efforts of the Indian bureau agents to undermine his influence. When the apocalyptic spiritual revival movement known as the Ghost Dance began to grow in popularity among the Sioux in 1890, Indian agents feared it might lead to an Indian uprising. Wrongly believing that Sitting Bull was the driving force behind the Ghost Dance, agent James McLaughlin sent Indian police to arrest the chief at his small cabin on the Grand River. The Indian police rousted the naked chief from his bed at 6:00 in the morning, hoping to spirit him away before his guards and neighbors knew what had happened. When the fifty-nine-year-old chief refused to go quietly, a crowd gathered and a few hotheaded young men threatened the Indian police. Someone fired a shot that hit one of the Indian police; they retaliated by shooting Sitting Bull in the chest and head. The great chief was killed instantly. Before the ensuing gunfight ended, twelve other Indians were dead and three were wounded. The man who had nobly resisted the encroachment of whites and their culture for nearly three decades was buried in a far corner of the post cemetery at Fort Yates. Two weeks later, the army brutally suppressed the Ghost Dance movement with the massacre of a band of Sioux at Wounded Knee, the final act in the long and tragic history of the American war against the Plains Indians.
1914The outbreak of fighting in Europe triggered the closing of the New York Stock Exchange, as market officials looked to prevent a rapid-fire liquidation of the European account, then worth roughly $2.4 billion. But, after being closed for over four months, the NYSE got back into the swing of things on this day, albeit with a tight set of trading restrictions designed to prevent fiscal disaster.
1924 – Soviets warned the U.S. against repeated entry of ships into the territorial waters of the USSR.
1933 – The Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution officially becomes effective, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment that prohibited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol.
1938 – Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Jefferson Memorial took place in Washington, D.C.
1941An American Federation of Labor council adopted a no-strike policy in war industries, which included automotive plants being converted to military production (domestic automobile manufacturing stopped completely from 1941 to 1944). The U.S. was gearing up for the worst years of World War II.
1942 – Admiral Tanaka’s supply flotilla begins missions to aid the building of an airfield on New Georgia to support the Japanese positions on Guadalcanal.
1942The Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign. The battle, part of which is sometimes called the Battle of the Gifu, lasted to 23 January 1943 and was primarily an engagement between United States and Imperial Japanese forces in the hills near the Matanikau River area on Guadalcanal during the Guadalcanal Campaign. The U.S. forces were under the overall command of Alexander Patch and the Japanese forces were under the overall command of Harukichi Hyakutake. In the battle, U.S. Soldiers and Marines, assisted by native Solomon Islanders, attacked Japanese Army (IJA) forces defending well-fortified and entrenched positions on several hills and ridges. The most prominent hills were called Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse by the Americans. The U.S. was attempting to destroy the Japanese forces on Guadalcanal and the Japanese were trying to hold their defensive positions until reinforcements could arrive. Both sides experienced extreme difficulties in fighting in the thick jungles and tropical environment that existed in the battle area. Many of the American troops were also involved in their first combat operations. The Japanese were mostly cut off from resupply and suffered greatly from malnourishment and lack of medical care. After some difficulty, the U.S. succeeded in taking Mount Austen, in the process reducing a strongly defended position called the Gifu, as well as the Galloping Horse and the Sea Horse. In the meantime, the Japanese secretly decided to abandon Guadalcanal and withdrew to the west coast of the island. From that location most of the surviving Japanese troops were successfully evacuated during the first week of February 1943.
1943 – The US 5th Army begins new attacks. The 2nd Corps renews its drive toward San Pietro and Monte Lungo. To the right the 6th Corps attacks as well. The 1st Moroccan Division performs well.
1943The US 112th Cavalry Regiment (General Cunningham), with Coast Guard support, lands at Arawe, off the island of New Britain. This is a diversionary operation. Task Force 76 (Admiral Barbey) provides naval support for the operation. There is an air attack on the Japanese airfield at Cape Gloucester in support of the operation as well.
1944On the island of Mindoro (about 75 miles from Manila), American forces, under the command of General Dunckel, land at San Augustin. The force consists of part of US 24th Division and a parachute regiment. There is almost no resistance and American troops advance up to 8 miles inland. Naval support includes 3 battleships and 6 escort carriers. One carrier and two destroyers are damaged by Kamikaze attacks. Meanwhile, TF38 continues air strikes on airfields on Luzon. Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings.
1944 – The US 7th Army enters Germany, along the Palatinate frontier, from Alsace between Wissembourg and Lauterbourg.
1944Army Air Force Band leader and trombonist Glenn Miller boarded a single-engine C-64 Norseman in England for a flight to France, where he was to make arrangements for a Christmas broadcast. The plane never reached France and no trace of it or its occupants was ever found. Iowa-born Glenn Miller became a professional musician after graduating from high school. By the time he volunteered for military service in 1942, the Glenn Miller Orchestra was world famous and had appeared in two motion pictures. Miller persuaded the U.S. Army to accept his service to “put a little more spring into the feet of our marching men and a little more joy into their hearts.” For the next 18 months, Miller’s 50-member band stayed busy with morale-building concerts and radio broadcasts. No cause has ever been established for the loss of Miller’s aircraft, but the Norseman did not have de-icing equipment on board and it is likely that icy weather forced the plane down in the English Channel.
1944In Hungary a gold train departed Budapest on orders from Adolf Eichmann. In May it was intercepted by American forces in Austria. Some of the valuables were requisitioned by US commanders and the rest was later auctioned in NY and the proceeds given to a UN agency to help Jewish refugees. Kenneth Alford later authored “The Spoils of World War II.”
1945General Douglas MacArthur, in his capacity as Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in the Pacific, brings an end to Shintoism as Japan’s established religion. The Shinto system included the belief that the emperor, in this case Hirohito, was divine. On September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, MacArthur signed the instrument of Japanese surrender on behalf of the victorious Allies. Before the economic and political reforms the Allies devised for Japan’s future could be enacted, however, the country had to be demilitarized. Step one in the plan to reform Japan entailed the demobilization of Japan’s armed forces, and the return of all troops from abroad. Japan had had a long history of its foreign policy being dominated by the military, as evidenced by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye’s failed attempts to reform his government and being virtually pushed out of power by career army officer Hideki Tojo. Step two was the dismantling of Shintoism as the Japanese national religion. Allied powers believed that serious democratic reforms, and a constitutional form of government, could not be put into place as long as the Japanese people looked to an emperor as their ultimate authority. Hirohito was forced to renounce his divine status, and his powers were severely limited–he was reduced to little more than a figurehead. And not merely religion, but even compulsory courses on ethics–the power to influence the Japanese population’s traditional religious and moral duties–were wrenched from state control as part of a larger decentralization of all power.
1946 – Vietnam leader Ho Chi Minh sent a note to the new French Premier, Leon Blum, asking for peace talks.
1946U.S.-backed Iranian troops evict the leadership of the breakaway Republic of Mahabad, a short-lived self-governing Kurdish state in present-day Iran, putting an end to the Iran crisis of 1946. The Iran crisis of 1946, also known as the Iran-Azerbaijan Crisis, followed the end of World War II and stemmed from the Soviet Union’s refusal to relinquish occupied Iranian territory, despite repeated assurances. In 1941 Iran had been jointly invaded and occupied by the Allied powers of the Soviet Red Army in the north and by the British in the centre and south. Iran was used by the Americans and the British as a transportation route to provide vital supplies to the Soviet Union’s war efforts. As of August 1941, the United States was a neutral nation and had not entered as a belligerent in World War II. Therefore, the bloc known as ‘The Allies’ were principally (with Poland and France occupied by Germany in 1939 and 1940, respectively) the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, recently forming their alliance after the German invasion of territories of the Western Soviet Union in June 1941. In the aftermath of the occupation of Iran, those Allied forces agreed to withdraw from Iran within six months after the cessation of hostilities. However, when this deadline came in early 1946, the Soviets, under Joseph Stalin, remained in Iran and local pro-Soviet Iranians proclaimed a separatist People’s Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Mahabad. In late 1945, in addition to the People’s Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Mahabad also came into existence. Soon, the alliance of the Kurdish and People’s Azerbaijani forces, supported in arms and training by the Soviet Union, engaged in fighting with Iranian forces, resulting in a total of 2,000 casualties. Negotiation by Iranian premier Ahmad Qavam and diplomatic pressure on the Soviets by the United States eventually led to Soviet withdrawal. The crisis is seen as one of the early conflicts in the growing Cold War at the time.
1948 – The Secretary of the Navy signed a “Memorandum of Agreement” with the State Department which laid the basis for the modern Marine Security Guard program at U.S. embassies throughout the world.
1948Former State Department official Alger Hiss was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on charges of perjury. They charged that he lied in denying that he gave Chambers confidential documents and that he had spoken with Chambers in Feb and Mar of 1938. A first trial ended in a hung jury. Hiss, accused of lying about dealings with confessed Communist spy Whittaker Chambers, was convicted in 1950 and served nearly four years in prison.
1950 – The F-86 Sabre jets of the U.S. Air Force’s 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing flew their first missions of the Korean War.
1950 – U.N. forces withdraw south of the 38th parallel. Eighth Army established the Imjin River defense line north of Seoul.
1960Richard Pavlick is arrested for plotting to assassinate U.S. President-Elect John F. Kennedy. Richard Paul Pavlick (February 13, 1887 – November 11, 1975) was a retired postal worker from New Hampshire who stalked U.S. President-Elect John F. Kennedy, with the intent of assassinating him. On December 11, 1960 in Palm Beach, Florida, Pavlick positioned himself to carry out the assassination by blowing up Kennedy and himself with dynamite, but delayed the attempt because Kennedy was with his wife and children. He was then arrested before he was able to stage another attempt.
1965 – In the first raid on a major North Vietnamese industrial target, U.S. Air Force planes destroy a thermal power plant at Uong Bi, l4 miles north of Haiphong. The plant reportedly supplied about 15 percent of North Vietnam’s total electric power production.
1965 – Launch of Gemini 6 with Captain Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN, as Command Pilot. The mission included 16 orbits in 25 hours and 51 minutes. Recovery was by HS-11 helicopters from USS Wasp (CVS-18).
1965 – Two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6 and Gemini 7, maneuvered to within 10 feet of each other while in orbit.
1969President Richard Nixon announces that 50,000 additional U.S. troops will be pulled out of South Vietnam by April 15, 1970. This was the third reduction since the June Midway conference, when Nixon announced his Vietnamization program. Under the Vietnamization program, the South Vietnamese forces would receive intensified training and new equipment so they could gradually assume overall responsibility for the war. Concurrent with this effort, Nixon announced that he would begin to bring U.S. troops home. This third increment would bring the total reductions to 115,000. By January 1972, there were only around 70,000 U.S. troops left in South Vietnam. Noting the steady withdrawal of American forces, the North Vietnamese decided to launch a massive invasion of South Vietnam in March 1972. The South Vietnamese forces, supported by American advisers and U.S. airpower, reeled under the onslaught but ultimately prevailed, holding on despite overwhelming odds. After much posturing and many lengthy negotiations (with additional “motivation” contributed by Nixon’s bombing of North Vietnam in December 1972), National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and his North Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Tho, hammered out a peace agreement. A cease-fire went into effect on January 27, 1973. The war was over for the United States, but fighting soon resumed between North and South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese held out for nearly two years, but succumbed when the United States cut off all military support. When the North Vietnamese launched a new offensive in March 1975, South Vietnam fell in just 55 days.
1978In one of the most dramatic announcements of the Cold War, President Jimmy Carter states that as of January 1, 1979, the United States will formally recognize the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) and sever relations with Taiwan. Following Mao Zedong’s successful revolution in China in 1949, the United States steadfastly refused to recognize the new communist regime. Instead, America continued to recognize and supply the Nationalist Chinese government that had been established by Chiang Kai-shek on the island of Taiwan. In 1950, during the Korean War, U.S. and PRC armed forces clashed. During the 1960s, the United States was angered by PRC support and aid to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. By the 1970s, however, a new set of circumstances existed. From the U.S. viewpoint, closer relations with the PRC would bring economic and political benefits. Economically, American businessmen were eager to try and exploit the huge Chinese market. Politically, U.S. policymakers believed that they could play the “China card”-using closer diplomatic relations with the PRC to pressure the Soviets into becoming more malleable on a variety of issues, including arms agreements. The PRC also had come to desire better relations with its old enemy. It sought the large increase in trade with the United States that would result from normalized relations, and particularly looked forward to the technology it might obtain from America. The PRC was also looking for allies. A military showdown with its former ally, Vietnam, was in the making and Vietnam had a mutual support treaty with the Soviets. Carter’s announcement that diplomatic ties would be severed with Taiwan (which the PRC insisted on) angered many in Congress. The Taiwan Relations Act was quickly passed in retaliation. It gave Taiwan nearly the same status as any other nation recognized by the United States and also mandated that arms sales continue to the Nationalist government. In place of the U.S. embassy in Taiwan, an “unofficial” representative, called the American Institute in Taiwan, would continue to serve U.S. interests in the country.
1979 – The deposed Shah of Iran left the United States for Panama, the same day the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Iran should release all its American hostages.
1988 – End of Earnest Will convoy operations to escort reflagged tankers in the Persian Gulf.
1990 – With one month left before a UN deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait, Iraq gave no indication it was prepared to pull out.
1991 – Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev asked U.S. Secretary of State James Baker for formal U.S. recognition of the various Soviet republics that had declared independence.
1997 – US Defense Sec. Cohen ordered all 1.5 million men and women in uniform to be inoculated against anthrax.
1997 In Missouri the nation’s last workable Minuteman II missile silo was destroyed in Dederick. It was the last of 150 in Missouri aimed at the Soviet Union. The missiles were deactivated and the silos destroyed due to the 1995 signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
1998 – Richard Butler, chairman of the UN Special Commission overseeing the disarmament of Iraq, reported that Saddam’s government continued to obstruct inspections.
1998 – A 40-nation conference on the Dayton accord opened in Madrid.
1998 – US forces in the Persian Gulf were ordered on high alert following credible information of an imminent terrorist attack.
1998 – The Endeavour shuttle and crew returned to Cape Canaveral in a night time landing following NASA’s first space station-building mission.
1999 – The US and China agreed to a $28 million compensation package for damage to the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on May 7. China agreed to pay $2.87 million for damage to the US Embassy and consular offices.
1999 – In North Korea a US led consortium signed a $4.6 billion deal to build 2 nuclear reactors in Kumho.
2000 – The US Army planned to hold closing ceremonies for the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. The school planned to reopen in January as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
2000 – Mazen Al-Najjar, a Palestinian immigrant who had taught at the Univ. of South Florida, was released following 3½ years in jail on secret evidence. He still faced deportation and was suspected of having ties with the Syrian-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
2001 – Anthony Zinni, US envoy to Israel, left after his 20 days in the region failed to produce a cease-fire.
2001 – With a crash and a large dust cloud, a 50-foot tall section of steel, the last standing piece of the World Trade Center’s façade, was brought down in New York.
2003 – The US Navy seized a boat carrying nearly two tons of hashish in the Persian Gulf. It was soon considered as the first hard evidence of al-Qaida links to drug smuggling.
2003 – Cambodia’s prime minister ordered the destruction of the country’s surface-to-air missiles to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. Hun Sen issued the order after a meeting in Phnom Penh with U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray.
2003 – In Pakistan police arrested 10 people suspected of links to the Taliban and al-Qaida in two nighttime raids at Rawalpindi.
2003 – Oil prices fall 4% on the news that U.S. military forces capture Saddam Hussein near his hometown of Tikrit, Iraq.
2004 – A US interceptor missile failed to fire in a test flight from the Marshall Islands. It was the 1st test flight for the missile defense system in 2 years.
2005 – Iraq holds it’s first Parliamentary election. over 2600 precincts are established, and 300,000 election observers watch as Iraqi voters fill 275 seats in their new Parliament.
2005Introduction of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor into USAF active service. The Raptor achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC) in December 2007, when General John Corley of Air Combat Command (ACC) officially declared the F-22s of the integrated active duty 1st Fighter Wing and Virginia Air National Guard 192d Fighter Wing fully operational.
2006NATO forces launched Operation Falcon Summit with the intention of expelling Taliban fighters from the Panjawi and Zhari districts of Kandahar. Canadian troops had been fighting with Taliban fighters in the area for several months. Although the operation was under British command, the majority of movements and elements on the ground were Canadians operating from forward operating bases set up in the district during the fighting of Operation Mountain Thrust and Operation Medusa.
2006First flight of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing testing and final development. The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions. The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based CATOBAR (CV) variant. The F-35 is descended from the X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. Other major F-35 industry partners include Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems. The F-35 variants are intended to provide the bulk of its manned tactical airpower for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy over the coming decades. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled to be completed in 2037. F-35 JSF development is being principally funded by the United States with additional funding from partners. The partner nations are either NATO members or close U.S. allies. The United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey are part of the active development program; Several additional countries have ordered, or are considering ordering, the F-35.
2007The focus of this operation was Iskandariyah, Babil province. On the first day of the operation, Coalition forces uncovered and destroyed a large tunnel network used by AQI to hide weapons and fighters along the banks of the Euphrates River. A large cache was turned over to coalition forces by a Concerned Local Citizen group on the same day. Operation Marne Roundup concluded at the beginning of January 2008.
2010 – Data confirms that Voyager 1 has entered the heliopause, the area of space where the Sun’s solar wind is stopped by the interstellar wind. It is believed the probe will now leave the Solar System within the next four years.
2011 – The United States flag is lowered in Baghdad marking the end of U.S. military operations in Iraq after eight years of the Iraq War. The last U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq on 18 December, although the US embassy and consulates continue to maintain a staff of more than 20,000 including US Marine Embassy Guards and between 4,000 and 5,000 private military contractors.
2011 – A French court convicts Venezuela-born terrorist Carlos the Jackal of organizing four deadly attacks in the 1980s

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

CHURCHILL, SAMUEL J.
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company G, 2d Illinois Light Artillery. Place and date: At Nashville, Tenn., 15 December 1864. Entered service at: DeKalb County, Ill. Birth: Rutland County, Vt. Date of issue: 20 January 1897. Citation: When the fire of the enemy’s batteries compelled the men of his detachment for a short time to seek shelter, he stood manfully at his post and for some minutes worked his gun alone.

SAPP, ISACC
Rank and organization: Seaman, Engineer’s Force, U.S. Navy. Born: 1844, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 169, 8 February 1872. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Shenandoah during the rescue of a shipmate at Villefranche, 15 December 1871. Jumping overboard, Sapp gallantly assisted in saving Charles Prince, seaman, from drowning.

*JOHNSON, LEROY
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company K, 126th Infantry, 32d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Limon, Leyte, Philippine Islands, 15 December 1944. Entered service at: Oakdale, La. Birth: Caney Creek, La. G.O. No.: 83, 2 October 1945. Citation: He was squad leader of a 9-man patrol sent to reconnoiter a ridge held by a well-entrenched enemy force. Seeing an enemy machinegun position, he ordered his men to remain behind while he crawled to within 6 yards of the gun. One of the enemy crew jumped up and prepared to man the weapon. Quickly withdrawing, Sgt. Johnson rejoined his patrol and reported the situation to his commanding officer. Ordered to destroy the gun, which covered the approaches to several other enemy positions, he chose 3 other men, armed them with hand grenades, and led them to a point near the objective. After taking partial cover behind a log, the men had knocked out the gun and begun an assault when hostile troops on the flank hurled several grenades. As he started for cover, Sgt. Johnson saw 2 unexploded grenades which had fallen near his men. Knowing that his comrades would be wounded or killed by the explosion, he deliberately threw himself on the grenades and received their full charge in his body. Fatally wounded by the blast, he died soon afterward. Through his outstanding gallantry in sacrificing his life for his comrades, Sgt. Johnson provided a shining example of the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

VLUG, DIRK J.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, 126th Infantry, 32d Infantry Division. Place and date. Near Limon, Leyte, Philippine Islands, 15 December 1944. Entered service at: Grand Rapids, Mich. Birth: Maple Lake, Minn. G.O. No.: 60, 26 June 1946. Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty when an American roadblock on the Ormoc Road was attacked by a group of enemy tanks. He left his covered position, and with a rocket launcher and 6 rounds of ammunition, advanced alone under intense machinegun and 37-mm. fire. Loading single-handedly, he destroyed the first tank, killing its occupants with a single round. As the crew of the second tank started to dismount and attack him, he killed 1 of the foe with his pistol, forcing the survivors to return to their vehicle, which he then destroyed with a second round. Three more hostile tanks moved up the road, so he flanked the first and eliminated it, and then, despite a hail of enemy fire, pressed forward again to destroy another. With his last round of ammunition he struck the remaining vehicle, causing it to crash down a steep embankment. Through his sustained heroism in the face of superior forces, Pfc. Vlug alone destroyed 5 enemy tanks and greatly facilitated successful accomplishment of his battalion’s mission.

LYNCH, ALLEN JAMES
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company D, 1st Battalion (Airmobile), 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). place and date: Near My An (2), Binh Dinh province, Republic of Vietnam, 15 December 1967. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 28 October 1945, Chicago, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Lynch (then Sp4c.) distinguished himself while serving as a radio telephone operator with Company D. While serving in the forward element on an operation near the village of My An, his unit became heavily engaged with a numerically superior enemy force. Quickly and accurately assessing the situation, Sgt. Lynch provided his commander with information which subsequently proved essential to the unit’s successful actions. Observing 3 wounded comrades Lying exposed to enemy fire, Sgt. Lynch dashed across 50 meters of open ground through a withering hail of enemy fire to administer aid. Reconnoitering a nearby trench for a covered position to protect the wounded from intense hostile fire, he killed 2 enemy soldiers at point blank range. With the trench cleared, he unhesitatingly returned to the fire-swept area 3 times to carry the wounded men to safety. When his company was forced to withdraw by the superior firepower of the enemy, Sgt. Lynch remained to aid his comrades at the risk of his life rather than abandon them. Alone, he defended his isolated position for 2 hours against the advancing enemy. Using only his rifle and a grenade, he stopped them just short of his trench, killing 5. Again, disregarding his safety in the face of withering hostile fire, he crossed 70 meters of exposed terrain 5 times to carry his wounded comrades to a more secure area. Once he had assured their comfort and safety, Sgt. Lynch located the counterattacking friendly company to assist in directing the attack and evacuating the 3 casualties. His gallantry at the risk of his life is in the highest traditions of the military service, Sgt. Lynch has reflected great credit on himself, the 12th Cavalry, and the U.S. Army.

December 14

14 December

1782 – Charleston, SC, was evacuated by British.
1799George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old. George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His first direct military experience came as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. Two years later, Washington took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses. During the next two decades, Washington openly opposed the escalating British taxation and repression of the American colonies. In 1774, he represented Virginia at the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution erupted in 1775, Washington was nominated to be commander in chief of the newly established Continental Army. Some in the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but he was ultimately chosen because as a Virginian his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England. With his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers, General Washington led an effective war of harassment against British forces in America while encouraging the intervention of the French into the conflict on behalf of the colonists. On October 19, 1781, with the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ massive British army at Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington had defeated one of the most powerful nations on earth. After the war, the victorious general retired to his estate at Mount Vernon, but in 1787 he heeded his nation’s call and returned to politics to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and in February 1789 Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States. As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” He successfully implemented executive authority, making good use of brilliant politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his cabinet, and quieted fears of presidential tyranny. In 1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term. In 1797, he finally began a long-awaited retirement at his estate in Virginia. He died two years later. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy for the father of the United States: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
1814 – The steamboat Enterprise, designed by keelboat captain Henry Miller Shreve, arrived in New Orleans with guns and ammunition for Gen. Jackson. It was immediately commandeered for military service.
1814 – A British squadron captures U.S. gunboats in Battle of Lake Borgne, LA. The Battle of Lake Borgne was a naval battle between the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the American South theatre of the War of 1812. It occurred on Lake Borgne and was part of the British advance on New Orleans.
1819 – Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state, making 11 slave states and 11 free states. Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. At 1,300 miles (2,100 km), Alabama has one of the longest navigable inland waterways in the nation.
1836The Toledo War (1835–36), also known as the Michigan–Ohio War, was the almost bloodless boundary dispute between the U.S. state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan. Originating from conflicting state and federal legislation passed between 1787 and 1805, the dispute resulted from poor understanding of geographical features of the Great Lakes at the time. Varying interpretations of the law caused the governments of Ohio and Michigan to both claim sovereignty over a 468-square-mile (1,210 km2) region along the border, now known as the Toledo Strip. When Michigan petitioned for statehood in 1835, it sought to include the disputed territory within its boundaries; Ohio’s congressional delegation was in turn able to stall Michigan’s admission to the Union. Beginning in 1835, both sides passed legislation attempting to force the other side’s capitulation. Ohio’s governor Robert Lucas and Michigan’s 24-year-old “Boy Governor” Stevens T. Mason were both unwilling to cede jurisdiction of the Strip, so they raised militias and helped institute criminal penalties for citizens submitting to the others authority. The militias were mobilized and sent to positions on opposite sides of the Maumee River near Toledo, but besides mutual taunting there was little interaction between the two forces. The single military confrontation of the “war” ended with a report of shots being fired into the air, incurring no casualties. During the summer of 1836, Congress proposed a compromise whereby Michigan gave up its claim to the strip in exchange for its statehood and approximately three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula. The compromise was considered a poor outcome for Michigan; nearly all of the Upper Peninsula was still Indian territory at the time. Voters in a state convention in September soundly rejected the proposal. In December 1836, the Michigan government, facing a dire financial crisis and pressure from Congress and President Andrew Jackson, called another convention (called the “Frost-bitten Convention”) which accepted the compromise that resolved the Toledo War. The later discovery of copper and iron deposits and the plentiful timber in the Upper Peninsula more than offset Michigan’s economic loss in surrendering Toledo.
1854 – Congress authorized appointment of first lifeboat station keepers at $200 per year each and superintendents for Long Island and New Jersey serving under Secretary of Treasury who “may also establish such stations at such lighthouses, as, in his judgment, he shall deem best.”
1863General Beauregard ordered Lieutenant Dixon, CSA, to proceed with submarine H. L. Hunley to the mouth of Charleston harbor and “sink and destroy any vessel of the enemy with which he can come in conflict.” The General directed that “such assistance- as may he practicable” he rendered to Lieutenant Dixon.
1863President Lincoln announces a grant of amnesty for Mrs. Emilie Todd Helm, Mary Lincoln’s half sister and the widow of a Confederate general. The pardon was one of the first under Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which he had announced less than a week before. The plan was the president’s blueprint for the reintegration of the South into the Union. Part of the plan allowed for former Confederates to be granted amnesty if they took an oath to the United States. The option was open to all but the highest officials of the Confederacy. Emilie Todd Helm was the wife of Benjamin Helm, who, like the Lincolns, was a Kentucky native. Lincoln was said to be a great admirer of Helm, a West Point and Harvard graduate. Lincoln had offered Helm a position in the U.S. Army, but Helm opted to join the Confederates instead. Helm led a group of Kentuckians known as the “Orphan Brigade,” since they could not return to their Union-held native state during the war. Helm was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.After her husband’s death, Helm made her way through Union lines to Washington. She stayed in the White House and the Lincolns tried to keep her visit a secret. General Daniel Sickles, who had been wounded at Gettysburg five months prior, told Lincoln that he should not have a rebel in his house. Lincoln replied, “General Sickles, my wife and I are in the habit of choosing our own guests. We do not need from our friends either advice or assistance in the matter.” After Lincoln granted her pardon, Emilie Helm returned to Kentucky.
1863 – Gen. James Longstreet attacked Union troops at Bean’s Station, Tenn.
1864Union gunboats supporting General Sherman aided in the capture of Forts Beaulieu and Rosedew in Ossabaw Sound, Georgia, the outer defenses of Savannah. Wooden steamer U.S.S. Winona, Lieutenant Commander Dana, U.S.S. Sonoma, Lieutenant Commander Scott, and mortar gunboats shelled the forts until they were abandoned by the defenders on 21 December. Winona’s log recorded on that date: “At 10:05 saw the American Ensign flying on Fort Beaulieu. Ships cheered; captain left in the gig and proceeded up to the fort.”
1896 – James H. Doolittle, American Air Force general, was born. He commanded the first bombing mission over Japan. His Tokyo raid was a great boost for American war morale.
1902 – The Commercial Pacific Cable Company lays the first Pacific telegraph cable, from San Francisco to Honolulu.
1903The Wright brothers make their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. With the help of men from the nearby government life-saving station (today’s Coast Guard), the Wrights moved the Flyer and its launching rail to the incline of a nearby sand dune, Big Kill Devil Hill, intending to make a gravity-assisted takeoff. The brothers tossed a coin to decide who would get the first chance at piloting, and Wilbur won. The airplane left the rail, but Wilbur pulled up too sharply, stalled, and came down in about three seconds with minor damage. Repairs after the abortive first flight took three days.
1916 – People of Denmark voted to sell Danish West Indies to United States for $25 million.
1939League of Nations, the international peacekeeping organization formed at the end of World War I, expels the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in response to the Soviets’ invasion of Finland on October 30. Although the League of Nations was more or less the brainchild of President Woodrow Wilson, the United States, which was to have sat on the Executive Council, never joined. Isolationists in the Senate–put off by America’s intervention in World War I, which they felt was more of a European civil war than a true world war–prevented American participation. While the League was born with the exalted mission of preventing another “Great War,” it proved ineffectual, being unable to protect China from a Japanese invasion or Ethiopia from an Italian one. The League was also useless in reacting to German remilitarization, which was a violation of the Treaty of Versailles, the document that formally set the peace terms for the end of World War I. Germany and Japan voluntarily withdrew from the League in 1933, and Italy left in 1937. The true imperial designs of the Soviet Union soon became apparent with its occupation of eastern Poland in September of 1939, ostensibly with the intention of protecting Russian “blood brothers,” Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who were supposedly menaced by the Poles. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were then terrorized into signing “mutual assistance” pacts, primarily one-sided agreements that gave the USSR air and naval bases in those countries. But the invasion of Finland, where no provocation or pact could credibly be adduced to justify the aggression, resulted in worldwide reaction. President Roosevelt, although an “ally” of the USSR, condemned the invasion, causing the Soviets to withdraw from the New York World’s Fair. And finally, the League of Nations, drawing almost its last breath, expelled it.
1939 – The German liner Columbus (33,000 t) leaves Vera Cruz in an attempt to run home. The American cruiser Tuscaloosa shadows the ship, while on neutrality patrol, and broadcast its location on open radio.
1941 US Treasury Sec. Henry Morgenthau asked his assistant Harry Dexter White to prepare a paper outlining the possibilities for coordinated monetary arrangements between the US and its allies. White’s proposal said the primary goal should be to stabilize the exchange rates of the Allied countries to encourage the flow of capital. The later led to the establishment of the gold standard at Bretton Woods, N.H., in 1944.
1941 – U.S. Marines made a stand in battle for Wake Island. Wake Island defenders were left with one aircraft surviving Japanese attacks.
1942 – Japanese reinforcement land about 30 miles west of Gona and begin marching toward the Australian flank. In Buna, the American’s take the village, but the Japanese still hold the well fortified Government Station.
1944 – Congress established the rank of General of Army, the 5-star General.
1944Rank of Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy (five star admiral) is established. It is interesting to note that each of these officers followed a differently patterned naval career. Only eight years of seniority separated them. They served as younger officers when the Navy was making its expansion in aviation and submarine development. One of these officers was essentially a destroyer officer and aviator with only one short tour ashore in Washington. One was a submariner with European training in diesel propulsion, a big ship sailor with shore cruises in Washington including Chief of Naval Personnel. One had almost all his sea duty in big ships and with the exception of one tour, all shore duty in Washington, including being chief of two bureaus. Only one had a seagoing career in the surface, submarine and aviation branches of the service with shore tours including the head of the Postgraduate School and the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. Three served as Chiefs of Naval Operations. The Navy’s Fleet Admirals were: William Daniel Leahy, Ernest Joseph King, Chester William Nimitz, and William Frederick Halsey, Jr.
1944 – The former NYK liner Oryoku Maru left Manila with 1619 American POWs packed in the holds. U.S. Navy planes from the “Hornet” attacked, causing the Hell Ship to sink the following day. Only 200 of the men survived.
1944 – US 3rd Army continues advancing east of Sarreguemines while US 9st Army reaches the Roer River bank.
1944 – US Task Force 38 (Admiral McCain) launches air strikes on airfields throughout Luzon. TF38 includes 13 carriers, 8 battleships and numerous cruisers and destroyers. The attacks are in support of the American landing on Mindoro.
1945 – Captain Sue S. Dauser receives the first Distinguished Service Medal awarded to a nurse.
1946 – The United Nations General Assembly voted to establish the U.N. headquarters in New York City. The UN adopted a disarmament resolution prohibiting the A-Bomb.
1950 – The Navy announced the successful withdrawal of U.N. forces from Chinnampo. Approximately 7,000 soldiers and civilian refugees were evacuated from the Pyongyang area.
1952 – President-elect Eisenhower announced a new policy of firmness in dealing with the communists on his return from Korea.
1958 – The United States, Britain and France rejected Soviet demands that they withdraw their troops from West Berlin and agreed to liquidate the Allied occupation in West Berlin.
1960 – A U.S. B-52 bomber set a 10,000 mile non-stop record without refueling.
1961In a public exchange of letters with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, President John F. Kennedy formally announces that the United States will increase aid to South Vietnam, which would include the expansion of the U.S. troop commitment. Kennedy, concerned with the recent advances made by the communist insurgency movement in South Vietnam wrote, “We shall promptly increase our assistance to your defense effort.” Kennedy’s chief military adviser, Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, and Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Walt W. Rostow had just returned from a fact-finding trip to Saigon and urged the president to increase U.S. economic and military advisory support to Diem. The military support was to include intensive training of local self-defense troops by American military advisers. Additionally, Taylor and Rostow advocated a significant increase in airplanes, helicopters, and support personnel. In a secret appendix to their report, Taylor and Rostow recommended the deployment of 8,000 American combat troops, which could be used to support the South Vietnamese forces in combat operations against the insurgents. To overcome Diem’s resistance to foreign troops–which he saw as a potential Viet Cong propaganda windfall–Taylor and Rostow suggested that the forces were to be called a “flood control team.” Kennedy, who wanted to stop the communists but also wanted to be cautious about the degree of involvement, accepted most of the recommendations, but did not commit U.S. combat troops. In return for the support, Kennedy requested that Diem liberalize his regime and institute land reform and other measures to win the support of his people. Diem initially refused, but consented when he was threatened with a reduction in the promised aid. In the long run, however, his reforms did not go far enough and the increased American aid proved insufficient in stemming the tide of the insurgency. Diem was murdered during a coup by his own generals in November 1963. Shortly thereafter, Kennedy was assassinated. At the time of his death, there were more than 16,000 U.S. advisers in South Vietnam. Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, rapidly escalated the war, which resulted in the commitment of U.S. ground forces and eventually more than 500,000 American troops in Vietnam.
1962 – The U.S. space probe Mariner 2 approached Venus, transmitting information about the planet.
1963 – A US military spokesman in Saigon reports that guerrilla attacks on hamlets, outposts, and patrols in November have resulted in 2,800 government casualties and 2,900 Vietcong losses. The Vietcong have captured enough weapons to arm five 300-man battalions.
1964Operation Barrel Roll, the name given to the first phase of the bombing plan approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 1, begins with U.S. planes attacking “targets of opportunity” in northern Laos. This operation was initiated in response to a Pathet Lao offensive in the Plaine des Jarres in north central Laos. The Pathet Lao were communist guerrillas who were fighting to overthrow the Royal Lao government. Operation Barrel Roll was designed to provide air support for the Royal Laotian Army and CIA-trained Hmong (mountain people) irregular forces led by Gen. Vang Pao. In addition to these operations, there was also another part of the war in Laos which was conducted in the eastern part of the country along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which ran out of North Vietnam through Laos and south along the South Vietnamese-Cambodian border. The North Vietnamese used this trail network as the main avenue by which they supplied and reinforced their troops in South Vietnam. Operations Steel Tiger and Tiger Hound were initiated in April and December 1965 respectively to bomb the trail in an intensive and protracted attempt to interdict the massive amounts of men and supplies moving along the corridor. By 1973, when Operations Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger, and Tiger Hound were terminated, Laos had become the most heavily bombed country in the world. During these operations, allied aircraft dropped more than 3 million tons of bombs, three times the amount dropped on North Vietnam. U.S. spending for these bombing campaigns was 10 times that of the Laotian national budget.
1965 – Navy announces completion of 1,272 ft. radio tower at North West Cape, Australia, highest manmade structure in the Southern Hemisphere at that time, as a link in fleet communications.
1967 – Israel submitted to the United Nations a five-year plan to solve the Arab refugee problem conditioned on a general peace settlement between Israel and the Arab states.
1972 – Astronauts Schmitt and Cernan blasted off from the moon to join the command module America in lunar orbit, thus ending America’s manned lunar exploration for the 20th century. Apollo 17 astronauts blasted off from the moon after three days of exploration on lunar surface.
1980 – After four days of meetings, members of NATO warned the Soviets to stay out of the internal affairs of Poland, saying that intervention would effectively destroy the détente between East and West.
1980CIA report claims that the Soviet Union delivered nearly $7 billion worth of military assistance to Third World nations in 1979, and made over $8 billion in arms sales during that same year. The study also noted that there were nearly 51,000 communist military advisors in Third World countries. The report indicated that the arms sales increased instability and chances for military conflict. The CIA study portrayed an alarming growth in Soviet military assistance to the Third World, particularly to nations in the Middle East and Africa. According to the report, Syria, Iraq, and South Yemen were the primary recipients of aid to the Middle East while Angola and Ethiopia received most of the arms sold to Africa. Much of this assistance was in the form of sophisticated weapons such as MiG fighter-bombers and surface-to-air missiles. Almost two-thirds of the military advisors were Cubans whom Fidel Castro assigned to Angola. Despite this massive effort, the study concluded that, “Moscow has recruited few adherents to its ideology.” Nevertheless, the economic advantages were significant. Together with an expanded program of economic assistance, Soviet arms sales to the Third World helped open markets and provide hard currency for the Russian economy. Soviet trade with the Third World increased from just over $250 million in 1955 to over $13 billion in 1978. In addition, the Soviets were able to obtain sources for natural gas (Afghanistan), oil (Iraq and Syria), and aluminum (Turkey). The report ended on an ominous note, suggesting that Soviet arms sales to the Third World-particularly to the Middle East-were dangerously increasing instability and the chances for war.
1986 – The experimental aircraft Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on the first non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world. The trip took nine days.
1988 – In a dramatic policy shift, President Reagan authorized the United States to enter into a “substantive dialogue” with the Palestine Liberation Organization, after chairman Yasser Arafat said he was renouncing “all forms of terrorism.”
1990 – President Bush prodded Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to agree to talks on the Persian Gulf crisis by January third.
1992 – Easing a 17-year trade embargo, the United States allowed its companies to sign contracts in Vietnam.
1994 – Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic asked former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to mediate a lasting peace in Bosnia.
1995An agreement for peace in Bosnia, reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was formally signed. Presidents Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia signed the Bosnian peace treaty in Paris. The agreement divided Bosnia into 2 autonomous territories and granted 51% of Bosnia to the Muslim-Croat federation and 49% to the Serbs. Elections were scheduled and a force of 60,000 Western troops was planned for deployment. A 3-member presidency and a national parliament was also part of the plan.
1997 – Iran’s new president, Mohammad Khatami, called for a dialogue with the people of the United States — a nation reviled by his predecessors as “The Great Satan.”
1999In Seattle Ahmed Ressam (32) was arrested after crossing the border at Port Angeles from Canada with a car trunk with over 150 pounds of bomb-making materials that included 200 pounds of urea, timing devices and a bottle of RDX, cyclotrimethylene trinitramine. Canadian authorities later issued an arrest warrant for Abdelmajed Dahoumane for possessing or making explosives. Dahoumane was arrested in Algeria In Oct, 2000. In 2001 Ressam admitted that he planned to detonate a bomb at the LA Int’l. Airport. Mokhtar Haouari provided fake ID and $3,000 to Ressam. Haouari was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2002.
1999 – In Panama former US Pres. Jimmy Carter symbolically turned over the Panama Canal. The official ownership transfer date was Dec 31.
2000 – U.S. businessman Edward Pope was pardoned and released by Russia after being convicted of espionage.
2001 – American and British commandos behind a screen of local Afghan fighters contained the last remnants of al Qaeda forces in the White Mountains of Tora Bora. American Marines occupied Kandahar airport.
2001 – European leaders agreed to send 4,000 troops to Afghanistan.
2002 – Jordanian police announced the arrest of two alleged al-Qaida members in the October killing of American diplomat Laurence Foley.
2003 – In Afghanistan a landmark constitutional convention began with solemn prayers.
2004 – Pres. Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor to Gen. Tommy Franks, Paul Bremer, and George Tenet, for their efforts in the war in Iraq.
2004 – Shootouts erupted between residents of a slum outside Haiti’s capital and UN troops after hundreds of international peacekeepers stormed the stronghold of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in an attempt to control flashpoints of violence. 4 people were killed.
2004 – In Iraq a suicide car bomber killed seven people at a Green Zone checkpoint, the second attack in two days near the same gate.
2006 – The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer warned that al-Qaeda cell operatives were controlling the Islamic Courts Union, the Islamist faction of Somalia rapidly taking control of the southern area of the country. Frazer later announced that the United States has no intention of committing troops to Somalia to root out al-Qaeda.
2008 – Muntadhar al-Zaidi throws his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

BROGAN, JAMES
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company G, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Simon Valley, Ariz., 14 December 1877. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 9 January 1880. Citation: Engaged singlehanded 2 renegade Indians until his horse was shot under him and then pursued them so long as he was able.

NEPPEL, RALPH G.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company M, 329th Infantry, 83d Infantry Division. Place and date: Birgel, Germany, 14 December 1944. Entered service at: Glidden, lowa. Birth: Willey, lowa. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945. Citation: He was leader of a machinegun squad defending an approach to the village of Birgel, Germany, on 14 December 1944, when an enemy tank, supported by 20 infantrymen, counterattacked. He held his fire until the Germans were within 100 yards and then raked the foot soldiers beside the tank killing several of them. The enemy armor continued to press forward and, at the pointblank range of 30 yards, fired a high-velocity shell into the American emplacement, wounding the entire squad. Sgt. Neppel, blown 10 yards from his gun, had 1 leg severed below the knee and suffered other wounds. Despite his injuries and the danger from the onrushing tank and infantry, he dragged himself back to his position on his elbows, remounted his gun and killed the remaining enemy riflemen. Stripped of its infantry protection, the tank was forced to withdraw. By his superb courage and indomitable fighting spirit, Sgt. Neppel inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and broke a determined counterattack.

NETT, ROBERT B.
Rank and organization: Captain (then Lieutenant), U.S. Army, Company E, 305th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Cognon, Leyte, Philippine Islands, 14 December 1944. Entered service at: New Haven, Conn. Birth: New Haven, Conn. G.O. No.: 16, 8 February 1946. Citation: He commanded Company E in an attack against a reinforced enemy battalion which had held up the American advance for 2 days from its entrenched positions around a 3-story concrete building. With another infantry company and armored vehicles, Company E advanced against heavy machinegun and other automatic weapons fire with Lt. Nett spearheading the assault against the strongpoint. During the fierce hand-to-hand encounter which ensued, he killed 7 deeply entrenched Japanese with his rifle and bayonet and, although seriously wounded, gallantly continued to lead his men forward, refusing to relinquish his command. Again he was severely wounded, but, still unwilling to retire, pressed ahead with his troops to assure the capture of the objective. Wounded once more in the final assault, he calmly made all arrangements for the resumption of the advance, turned over his command to another officer, and then walked unaided to the rear for medical treatment. By his remarkable courage in continuing forward through sheer determination despite successive wounds, Lt. Nett provided an inspiring example for his men and was instrumental in the capture of a vital strongpoint.

*THOMAS, CHARLES L.
Citation: For extraordinary heroism in action on 14 December 1944, near Climbach, France. While riding in the lead vehicle of a task force organized to storm and capture the village of Climbach, France, then First Lieutenant Thomas’s armored scout car was subjected to intense enemy artillery, self-propelled gun, and small arms fire. Although wounded by the initial burst of hostile fire, Lieutenant Thomas signaled the remainder of the column to halt and, despite the severity of his wounds, assisted the crew of the wrecked car in dismounting. Upon leaving the scant protection which the vehicle afforded, Lieutenant Thomas was again subjected to a hail of enemy fire which inflicted multiple gunshot wounds in his chest, legs, and left arm. Despite the intense pain caused by these wounds, Lieutenant Thomas ordered and directed the dispersion and emplacement of two antitank guns which in a few moments were promptly and effectively returning the enemy fire. Realizing that he could no longer remain in command of the platoon, he signaled to the platoon commander to join him. Lieutenant Thomas then thoroughly oriented him on enemy gun dispositions and the general situation. Only after he was certain that his junior officer was in full control of the situation did he permit himself to be evacuated. First Lieutenant Thomas’ outstanding heroism were an inpiration to his men and exemplify the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.