December 31

31 December

1775 – George Washington ordered recruiting officers to accept free blacks into the army.
1775During the American Revolution, Patriot forces under generals Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery are defeated by the British defenders of the city of Quebec in Canada. On December 2, Arnold and Montgomery met on the outskirts of Quebec and demanded the surrender of the city. Governor Sir Guy Carleton rejected their demand, and on December 9 the Patriots commenced a bombardment of Quebec, which was met by a counterbattery by the British defenders that disabled several of the Patriots’ guns. At approximately 4 a.m. on December 31, the Patriot forces advanced on the city under the cover of a blizzard. The British defenders were ready, however, and when Montgomery’s forces came within 50 yards of the fortified city they opened fire with a barrage of artillery and musket fire. Montgomery was killed in the first assault, and, after several more attempts at penetrating Quebec’s defenses, his men were forced into retreat. Meanwhile, Arnold’s division suffered a similar fate during their attack of the northern wall of the city. A two-gun battery opened fire on the advancing Americans, killing a number of Americans and wounding Benedict Arnold in the leg. Patriot Daniel Morgan assumed command, made progress against the defenders, but halted at the second wall of fortifications to wait for reinforcements. By the time the rest of Arnold’s army finally arrived, the British had reorganized and the attack was called off. Of the 900 Americans who participated in the siege, 60 were killed and wounded and more than 400 were captured. The remaining Patriot forces then retreated from the invasion of Canada. As the Americans crossed the St. Lawrence River to safety, Benedict Arnold remained in Canadian territory until the last of his soldiers had escaped. With the pursuing British forces almost in firing range, Arnold checked one last time to make sure all his men had escaped. He then shot his horse and fled down the St. Lawrence in a canoe. Less than five years later, Benedict Arnold, as commander of West Point, famously became a traitor when he agreed to surrender the important Hudson River fort to the British for a bribe of ý20,000. The plot was uncovered after British spy John Andrý was captured with incriminating papers, forcing Arnold to flee to British protection and join in their fight against the country that he once so valiantly served.
1783 – Import of African slaves was banned by all of the Northern American states.
1796 – The Baltimore is incorporated as a city.
1815 – George Gordon Meade (d.1872), Union general, was born. He defeated Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg.
1861 – Biloxi, Mississippi, surrendered to a landing party of seamen and Marines covered by U.S.S. Water Witch, New London, and Henry Lewis; a small Confederate battery was destroyed, two guns and schooner Captain Spedden captured.
1861Naval squadron under Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, including gunboats Ottawa, Pembina, and Seneca and four armed boats carrying howitzers, joined General Stevens’ troops in successful am­phibious attack on Confederate positions at Port Royal Ferry and on Coosaw River. Gunboat fire covered the troop advance, and guns and naval gunners were landed as artillery support. Army signal officers acted as gunfire observers and coordinators on board the ships. The action disrupted Confederate plans to erect batteries and build troop strength in the area intending to close Coosaw River and iso­late Federal troops on Port Royal Island. General Stevens wrote: “I would do great injustice to my own feelings did I fail to express my satisfaction and delight with the recent cooperation of the command of Captain Rodgers in our celebration of New Year’s Day. Whether regard be had to his beau­tiful working of the gunboats in the narrow channel of Port Royal, the thorough concert of action established through the signal officers, or the masterly handling of the guns against the enemy, noth­ing remained to be desired. Such a cooperation . . . augurs everything, propitious for the welfare of our cause in this quarter of the country.”
1862President Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two. West Virginia is a U.S. state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the north (and, slightly, east), and Maryland to the northeast. West Virginia became a state following the Wheeling Conventions of 1861, in which 50 northwestern counties of Virginia decided to break away from Virginia during the American Civil War. The new state was admitted to the Union as a key Civil War border state. West Virginia was the only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state and was one of two states formed during the American Civil War (the other being Nevada, which separated from Utah Territory).
1862Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest narrowly escapes capture during a raid in western Tennessee. Despite the close call, the raid was instrumental in forcing Union General Ulysses S. Grant to abandon his first attempt to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi. Forrest set out from Columbus, Tennessee, on December 11 to raid Union supply lines. He defeated a Union force at Lexington, Tennessee, on December 18 and spent the week of Christmas destroying Federal rail lines north of Jackson, Tennessee. By the end of December, several Union forces were bearing down on Forrest’s cavalry. As the Confederates approached Parker’s Crossroads, they detected a Yankee force ahead and Forrest decided to attack. Forrest approached the Union troops and sent part of his force around their flank. His dismounted cavalry were enjoying great success when firing suddenly sounded behind Forrest’s troops. Another Yankee detachment had surprised the Confederates. The men assigned to hold the horses of the attacking Confederates were now fleeing in panic right past Forrest. At one point, Forrest himself came upon Union troops, who demanded that he surrender. He agreed and rode off to gather his force. The Rebel commander then calmly surveyed the situation and reportedly said, “Charge them both ways.” He diverted part of his men from the initial attack to turn against the Federals coming from behind. Though 300 of Forrest’s men were captured, the bulk of his forces escaped. The close call only served to enhance Forrest’s reputation as a brilliant battlefield commander. Despite the loses, the raid–combined with General Earl Van Dorn’s raid on Union supply lines further to the west–convinced Grant to abort his attempt on Vicksburg.
1862The Battle of Stones River (Murfeesboro) begins in central Tennessee begins. The armies struggled in the bitter cold for three days before the Union army, commanded by General William Rosecrans, defeated the Confederates under Braxton Bragg. The Battle of Stones River or Second Battle of Murfreesboro (in the South, simply the Battle of Murfreesboro), was fought until January 2, 1863, in Middle Tennessee, as the culmination of the Stones River Campaign in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. Of the major battles of the Civil War, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. Although the battle itself was inconclusive, the Union Army’s repulse of two Confederate attacks and the subsequent Confederate withdrawal were a much-needed boost to Union morale after the defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and it dashed Confederate aspirations for control of Middle Tennessee. Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland marched from Nashville, Tennessee, on December 26, 1862, to challenge General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro. Each army commander planned to attack his opponent’s right flank, but Bragg struck first. A massive assault by the corps of Maj. Gen. William J. Hardee, followed by that of Leonidas Polk, overran the wing commanded by Maj. Gen. Alexander M. McCook. A stout defense by the division of Brig. Gen. Philip Sheridan in the right center of the line prevented a total collapse and the Union assumed a tight defensive position backing up to the Nashville Turnpike. Repeated Confederate attacks were repulsed from this concentrated line, most notably in the cedar “Round Forest” salient against the brigade of Col. William B. Hazen. Bragg attempted to continue the assault with the corps of Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge, but the troops were slow in arriving and their multiple piecemeal attacks failed. Fighting resumed on January 2, 1863, when Bragg ordered Breckinridge to assault the well-fortified Union position on a hill to the east of the Stones River. Faced with overwhelming artillery, the Confederates were repulsed with heavy losses. Aware that Rosecrans was receiving reinforcements, Bragg chose to withdraw his army on January 3 to Tullahoma, Tennessee.
1879In the first public demonstration of his incandescent lightbulb, American inventor Thomas Alva Edison lights up a street in Menlo Park, New Jersey. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company ran special trains to Menlo Park on the day of the demonstration in response to public enthusiasm over the event. Although the first incandescent lamp had been produced 40 years earlier, no inventor had been able to come up with a practical design until Edison embraced the challenge in the late 1870s. After countless tests, he developed a high-resistance carbon-thread filament that burned steadily for hours and an electric generator sophisticated enough to power a large lighting system. Born in Milan, Ohio, in 1847, Edison received little formal schooling, which was customary for most Americans at the time. He developed serious hearing problems at an early age, and this disability provided the motivation for many of his inventions. At age 16, he found work as a telegraph operator and soon was devoting much of his energy and natural ingenuity toward improving the telegraph system itself. By 1869, he was pursuing invention full-time and in 1876 moved into a laboratory and machine shop in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Edison’s experiments were guided by his remarkable intuition, but he also took care to employ assistants who provided the mathematical and technical expertise he lacked. At Menlo Park, Edison continued his work on the telegraph, and in 1877 he stumbled on one of his great inventions–the phonograph–while working on a way to record telephone communication. Public demonstrations of the phonograph made the Yankee inventor world famous, and he was dubbed the “Wizard of Menlo Park.” Although the discovery of a way to record and play back sound ensured him a place in the annals of history, the phonograph was only the first of several Edison creations that would transform late 19th-century life. Among other notable inventions, Edison and his assistants developed the first practical incandescent lightbulb in 1879 and a forerunner of the movie camera and projector in the late 1880s. In 1887, he opened the world’s first industrial research laboratory at West Orange, where he employed dozens of workers to investigate systematically a given subject. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the modern industrial world came from his work in electricity. He developed a complete electrical distribution system for light and power, set up the world’s first power plant in New York City, and invented the alkaline battery, the first electric railroad, and a host of other inventions that laid the basis for the modern electrical world. One of the most prolific inventors in history, he continued to work into his 80s and acquired 1,093 patents in his lifetime. He died in 1931 at the age of 84.
1880 – George Catlett Marshall, Chief of Staff who led the U.S. Army to victory in World War II and later became Secretary of State for President Harry Truman, was born. He won Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for the Marshall Plan.
1887 – The French have formed the Indochinese Union, administered by a governor general under the ministry of colonies in Paris. The Union consists of Tonkin, Annam, Cochin China, and Cambodia. Laos is added in 1893.
1919During the Versailles Peace Conference, a few Vietnamese residing in Paris draw up an eight-point program for their homeland’s independence. They have their program printed and send it to the conference secretariat, and one of the initiators, Nguyen Ai Quoc (‘Nguyen the Patriot’) who will later be better known as Ho Chi Minh, tries to meet with President Woodrow Wilson, who has inspired them with his 14-point program calling for independence for all peoples. But Nguyen is turned away and the eight points are never officially acknowledged.
1941 – American and Filipino forces form a new defense line north of the Bataan Peninsula, on Luzon.
1941 – General Brett takes command of US forces in Australia.
1941 – Admiral Chester W. Nimitz assumes command of U.S. Pacific Fleet.
1941America’s last automobiles with chrome-plated trim were manufactured on this day. Starting in 1942, chrome plating became illegal. It was part of an effort to conserve resources for the American war effort. The chrome wasn’t missed too much. Virtually no automobiles were produced in the U.S. from 1942 through the end of World War II.
1942 – Commissioning of USS Essex (CV-9), first of new class of aircraft carriers, at Norfolk, VA
1942 – After five months of battle, Emperor Hirohito allowed the Japanese commanders at Guadalcanal to retreat.
1943 – Both the US 5th Army and the British 8th Army continue their offensive operation in Italy without significant success.
1944Operation Nordwind, the last major German offensive on the Western Front begins. The goal of the offensive was to break through the lines of the U.S. 7th Army and French 1st Army in the Upper Vosges mountains and the Alsatian Plain, and destroy them. This would leave the way open for Operation Dentist (Unternehmen Zahnarzt), a planned major thrust into the rear of the U.S. 3rd Army which would lead to the destruction of that army. Operation Nordwind, although costly for both sides, was ultimately unsuccessful, and the failure of the offensive allowed the U.S. 7th Army to contain the German push towards Strasbourg. Any gains attained by the offensive were negated by the later Operation Undertone.
1944On Leyte, various Japanese counterattacks in the northwest are repulsed by American forces. Up to this point, the Japanese have suffered about 70,000 casualties, almost all killed, in the battles on Leyte. American casualties number 15,500 dead and wounded. The US 6th Army is being withdrawn from the island, in preparation for the invasion of Luzon, and the US 8th Army is replacing it.
1944 – The British 30th Corps (part of US 1st Army) captures Rochefort on the western tip of the German-held Ardennes salient.
1945 – The ratification of the UN Charter was completed.
1946 – President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
1948 – Last annual report by a Secretary of the Navy to Congress and the President filed by SECNAV John L. Sullivan. Thereafter the Secretary of Defense would report annually to Congress.
1950 – The Chinese began their Third-Phase Offensive.
1950 – The 726th Transportation Truck Company, the first Army National Guard unit in Korea, arrived at Pusan.
1951 – The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Marshall fired over 5,600 five-inch shells at enemy positions in eastern Korea during the month of December. This was more than she had fired against the enemy during all of her service in World War II.
1951 – The Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than US$13.3 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Europe.
1957The Diem government is able to announce that at least 300,000 refugees from the North have been settled in 300 new villages in the South. Local leadership, notably organized by refugee Catholic priests, plays an important role, along with US assistance and the natural wealth of one million acres of abandoned rice land, in achieving the most universally acknowledged success of the Diem regime.
1958 – The CIA has come into possession of a directive from Hanoi to its headquarters for the Central Highlands stating that the Lao Dong (Communist) Party Central Committee has decided to ‘open a new stage of the struggle’ and move into overt insurgency.
1958 – Cuba’s dictator Juan Batista fled as Rebels under Fidel Castro marched into Havana.
1960 – An estimated 4,500 former South Vietnamese living in the North have infiltrated back to the South during the year. US forces in Vietnam now number 900.
1961According to the Military Advisory Assistance Group, US military forces in South Vietnam have reached 3,200. the number of US servicemen in November was 948. Total insurgent forces are estimated at 26,700. Fourteen Americans have been killed or wounded in combat. To Army helicopter units are flying combat missions. ‘Jungle Jim’ air commandos are instructing the South Vietnamese Air Force. US Navy Mine Division 73, a tender and five sweepers, is sailing from Thailand and Seventh Fleet carriers are flying surveillance and reconnaissance missions over Vietnam. Six C-123 aircraft have received ‘diplomatic clearance’ to enter South Vietnam. $65 million in US military equipment and $136 million in economic aid have been delivered to South Vietnam during 1961.
1961 – The Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
1964Syrian-based al-Fatah guerrillas of Yasser Arafat launched their 1st raid on Israel with the aim of provoking a retaliation and sparking an Arab war against Israel. Fatah, a Palestinian movement for independence, made the first terror attack on Israel and initiated the armed struggle for a state.
1968The bloodiest year of the war comes to an end. At year’s end, 536,040 American servicemen were stationed in Vietnam, an increase of over 50,000 from 1967. Estimates from Headquarters U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam indicated that 181,150 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese were killed during the year. However, Allied losses were also up: 27,915 South Vietnamese, 14,584 Americans (a 56 percent increase over 1967), and 979 South Koreans, Australians, New Zealanders, and Thais were reported killed during 1968. Since January 1961, more than 31,000 U.S. servicemen had been killed in Vietnam and over 200,000 U.S. personnel had been wounded. Contributing to the high casualty number was the Tet Offensive launched by the communists. Conducted in the early weeks of the year, it was a crushing military defeat for the communists, but the size and scope of the attacks caught the American and South Vietnamese allies completely by surprise. The early reporting of a smashing communist victory went largely uncorrected in the media and this led to a psychological victory for the communists. The heavy U.S. casualties incurred during the offensive coupled with the disillusionment over the earlier overly optimistic reports of progress in the war accelerated the growing disenchantment with President Johnson’s conduct of the war. Johnson, frustrated with his inability to reach a solution in Vietnam, announced on March 31, 1968, that he would neither seek nor accept the Democratic nomination for president. Johnson’s announcement did not dampen the wave of antiwar protests that climaxed with the bloody confrontation between protesters and police outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August.
1970 – Congress authorized the Eisenhower dollar coin.
1971The gradual U.S. withdrawal from the conflict in Southeast Asia is reflected in reduced annual casualty figures. The number of Americans killed in action dropped to 1,386 from the previous year total of 4,204. South Vietnam losses for the year totalled 21,500 men, while the combined Viet Cong and North Vietnamese total was estimated at 97,000 killed in action. After 10 years of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, a total of 45,627 American soldiers had been killed. The U.S. troop levels, which started the year at 280,000, were down to 159,000. This troop reduction was a direct result of the shifting American goal for the Vietnam War-no longer attempting a military victory, the U.S. was trying to gracefully extricate itself from the situation by transferring responsibility for the war to the South Vietnamese.
1972With the end of Linebacker II, the most intense U.S. bombing operation of the Vietnam War, U.S. and communist negotiators prepare to return to the secret Paris peace talks scheduled to reconvene on January 2. In a statement issued in Paris, the Hanoi delegation to the public peace talks asserted that the U.S. bombing did not succeed in “subjugating the Vietnamese people,” and called attention to the losses of U.S. planes and the unfavorable world reaction to the raids. Despite the public denial that the Linebacker II raids forced them back, the communists returned to the negotiating table. When the negotiators met in January, the talks moved along quickly and on January 23, 1973, the United States, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), and the Viet Cong signed a cease-fire agreement that took effect five days later. In 1972, the American troop level in South Vietnam was reduced from 159,000 to only 24,000. Under the terms of the Paris Peace Accords, all of the personnel would be withdrawn by March 1973.
1974 – Private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
1978Flags at both the American embassy in Taipei and the Taiwanese embassy in the United States are lowered for the last time as U.S. relations with Taiwan officially come to an end. On January 1, 1979 the United States officially recognized the government of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing. The American decision to sever relations with Taiwan and grant recognition to the People’s Republic of China was hotly resented by representatives of the Chinese Nationalist government. In a brief ceremony accompanying the lowering of the Taiwanese flag, a Chinese Nationalist official declared that the action “did not mean that we are giving up our fight against communism.” He strongly criticized American President Jimmy Carter for cutting off ties with “a loyal friend and ally of the United States” in exchange for normalizing relations with “our enemy, the Chinese Communist regime.” American officials had little comment, except to assure those seeking visas and other services in Taiwan that the U.S. embassy would continue to help them until March 1, 1979. At that time, a “nongovernmental” office would take over those duties. It was a rather quiet end to nearly 30 years of American refusal to grant official recognition to the communist government of mainland China. The U.S. decision to maintain strong relations with the Nationalist government on Taiwan had been the main roadblock to diplomatic relations between America and the People’s Republic of China. By the late 1970s, the desire for closer economic relations with communist China and the belief that diplomatic relations with the PRC might act as a buffer against Soviet aggression led U.S. officials to view continued relations with Taiwan as counterproductive. President Carter’s decision to sever relations with Taiwan removed that obstacle. One of the oldest and most antagonistic relationships of the Cold War seemed to be thawing.
1991 – This was the last day of existence for the USSR.
1992 – President Bush visited Somalia, where he saw firsthand the famine racking the east African nation. He praised U.S. troops that provided relief to the starving population.
1994 – Bosnian government officials and Bosnian Serb leaders signed a U.N.-brokered cease-fire agreement.
1995 – The first US tanks crossed a pontoon bridge over the Sava River from Croatia to Bosnia to start the deployment of 20,000 US troops under IFOR, the Implementation Force under NATO command.
1995 – Bosnian government officials and Bosnian Serb leaders signed a UN-brokered cease-fire agreement.
1997 The US State Dept. reported that Iraq had ordered the summary execution of “hundreds if not thousands” of political detainees in recent weeks. The exiled Iraqi Communist party in London said 1,500 prisoners were killed on Nov 21. The exiled Iraqi National Congress said 800 prisoners were recently executed. A former Dutch foreign minister and UN Human Rights investigator said about 200 were reportedly executed. Iraq denied the charges.
1999 – The United States Government hands control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties.
2000 – The US signed a treaty for the creation of the 1st permanent int’l. court despite objections by conservatives and the Pentagon.
2001 – The US designated 6 more entities as suspected terrorist organizations. 5 groups were active in the UK, the 6th was active in Spain.
2001 – The US planned to deploy elements of the 101st Airborne Division to replace Marines near Kandahar. US troops moved by helicopter to Helmand province, the region where Mohammed Omar was suspected to be.
2002 – President Bush told reporters an attack by Saddam Hussein or a terrorist ally “would cripple our economy.”
2002 – Two U.N. nuclear inspectors expelled by North Korea arrived in China, leaving the communist nation’s nuclear program isolated from international scrutiny.
2003 – In Iraq gunfire erupted in Kirkuk as hundreds of Arabs and Turkmen marched in protest over fears of Kurdish domination in the oil-rich northern city.
2003The U.S. Department of Defense says that the task of importing gasoline for civilian use in Iraq will be handled by the Defense Energy Support Center, a Department of Defense agency that supplies fuel to the military, instead of a subsidiary of Halliburton Company. Halliburton had been criticized for allegedly overcharging the government under its no-bid contract. Almost a year later those allegations will be found groundless.
2004 – Simón Trinidad (born July 30, 1950) a.k.a. Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda became the first leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to be sent to face prosecution in a U.S. federal court.
2011 – NASA succeeds in putting the first of two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory satellites in orbit around the Moon.
2011 – President Barack Obama signs a law providing for new sanctions against Iran.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

BOURKE, JOHN G.
Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862-1 January 1863. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Birth: Philadelphia, Pa. Date of issue: 16 November 1887. Citation: Gallantry in action.

FARQUHAR, JOHN M.
Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, 89th Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Birth: Scotland. Date of issue: 6 August 1902. Citation: When a break occurred on the extreme right wing of the Army of the Cumberland, this soldier rallied fugitives from other commands, and deployed his own regiment, thereby checking the Confederate advance until a new line was established.

FOLLETT, JOSEPH L.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company G, 1st Missouri Light Artillery. Place and date: At New Madrid, Mo., 3 March 1862; at Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862. Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo. Birth: Newark, N.J. Date of issue: 19 September 1890. Citation: At New Madrid, Mo., remained on duty though severely wounded. While procuring ammunition from the supply train at Stone River, Tenn., was captured, but made his escape, secured the ammunition, and in less than an hour from the time of his capture had the batteries supplied.

FREEMAN, HENRY B.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 18th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862. Entered service at: Mount Vernon, Ohio. Birth: Mount Vernon, Ohio. Date of issue: 17 February 1894. Citation: Voluntarily went to the front and picked up and carried to a place of safety, under a heavy fire from the enemy, an acting field officer who had been wounded, and was about to fall into enemy hands.

PHISTERER, FREDERICK
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 18th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862. Entered service at: Medina County, Ohio. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 12 December 1894. Citation: Voluntarily conveyed, under a heavy fire, information to the commander of a battalion of regular troops by which the battalion was saved from capture or annihilation.

PRENTICE, JOSEPH R.
Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 19th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862. Entered service at: ——. Born: 6 December 1838, Lancaster, Ohio. Date of issue: 3 February 1894. Citation: Voluntarily rescued the body of his commanding officer, who had fallen mortally wounded. He brought off the field his mortally wounded leader under direct and constant rifle fire.

VANCE, WILSON
Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 21st Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Hancock County, Ohio. Date of issue: 17 September 1897. Citation: Voluntarily and under a heavy fire, while his command was falling back, rescued a wounded and helpless comrade from death or capture.

WAGG, MAURICE
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, England. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island, which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor off Hatteras, 31 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous task of rescuing the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Wagg distinguished himself by meritorious conduct during this operation.

WHITEHEAD, JOHN M.
Rank and organization: Chaplain, 15th Indiana Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862. Entered service at: Westville, Ind. Born: 6 March 1823, Wayne County, Ind. Date of issue: 4 April 1898. Citation: Went to the front during a desperate contest and unaided carried to the rear several wounded and helpless soldiers.

*COOK, DONALD GILBERT
Rank and organization: Colonel, United States Marine Corps, Prisoner of War by the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam. Place and date: Vietnam, 31 December 1964 to 8 December, 1967. Entered Service at: Brooklyn, New York. Date and place of birth: 9 August 1934, Brooklyn New York. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while interned as a Prisoner of War by the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 31 December 1964 to 8 December 1967. Despite the fact that by so doing he would bring about harsher treatment for himself, Colonel (then Captain) Cook established himself as the senior prisoner, even though in actuality he was not. Repeatedly assuming more than his share of their health, Colonel Cook willingly and unselfishly put the interests of his comrades before that of his own well-being and, eventually, his life. Giving more needy men his medicine and drug allowance while constantly nursing them, he risked infection from contagious diseases while in a rapidly deteriorating state of health. This unselfish and exemplary conduct, coupled with his refusal to stray even the slightest from the Code of Conduct, earned him the deepest respect from not only his fellow prisoners, but his captors as well. Rather than negotiate for his own release or better treatment, he steadfastly frustrated attempts by the Viet Cong to break his indomitable spirit. and passed this same resolve on to the men whose well-being he so closely associated himself. Knowing his refusals would prevent his release prior to the end of the war, and also knowing his chances for prolonged survival would be small in the event of continued refusal, he chose nevertheless to adhere to a Code of Conduct far above that which could be expected. His personal valor and exceptional spirit of loyalty in the face of almost certain death reflected the highest credit upon Colonel Cook, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service.

2014 in review

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December 30

30 December

1702 – During Queen Anne’s War, James Moore, Governor of the Province of Carolina, abandons the Siege of St. Augustine.
1776 – After American success at Trenton on Christmas, General George Washington returned to Trenton, near Assunpink Creek. The victory had changed much of the General’s fortunes but he still had a problem. Many of his troops were free to leave at the end of the year. Washington decided to make a personal appeal to his men.
He offered a bounty to any man who would stay another 6 months. After this first appeal, none stepped forward. But one soldier remembered what Washington said next: “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you probably never can do under any other circumstance.” Men began to step forward. Not everyone stayed, but many did. Only a few stepped out at first, then others. Finally only those to injured fight had not stepped out and new men also joined.
1813 – British soldiers burn Buffalo, New York during the War of 1812.
1816The Treaty of St. Louis between the United States and the united Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi Indian tribes is proclaimed. Despite the name, the treaty was conducted at Portage des Sioux, Missouri, located immediately north of St. Louis, Missouri. By signing the treaty, the tribes, their chiefs, and their warriors relinquished all right, claim, and title to land previously ceded to the United States by the Sac and Fox tribes on November 3, 1804, by signing, the united tribes also ceded a 20 mile strip of land to the United States, which connected Chicago and Lake Michigan with the Illinois River. In 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was built on the ceded land and, in 1900, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. In exchange the tribes were to be paid $1,000 in merchandise over 12 years. The land was surveyed by John C. Sullivan and its land was originally intended as land grant rewards for volunteers in the War of 1812. Many of the streets in the survey run at a diagonal that is counter to the Chicago street grid.
1825The Treaty of St. Louis between the United States and the Shawnee Nation is proclaimed. The Treaty of St. Louis was signed on November 7, 1825 between William Clark on behalf of the United States and delegates from the Shawnee Nation. In this treaty, the Shawnee ceded lands to the United States near Cape Geredeau. In return for Cape Geredeau, the United States government gave the Shawnee a sum of 11,000 dollars and leased to them a blacksmith shop for five years providing all tools and 300 pounds of iron annually. Moreover, peace and friendship between the two nations were renewed and perpetuated.
1835Cherokees were forced to move across the Mississippi River after gold was discovered in Georgia. A minority faction of Cherokee agreed to the emigration of the whole tribe from their lands by signing the Treaty of New Echota. The Treaty of New Echota resulted in the cession of all Cherokee land to the U.S. and provided for the transportation of the Cherokee Indians to land beyond the Mississippi. The removal of the Cherokee was completed by 1838.
1853James Gadsden, the U.S. minister to Mexico, and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico, sign the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. The treaty settled the dispute over the location of the Mexican border west of El Paso, Texas, and established the final boundaries of the southern United States. For the price of $15 million, later reduced to $10 million, the United States acquired approximately 30,000 square miles of land in what is now southern New Mexico and Arizona. Jefferson Davis, the U.S. secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce, had sent Gadsden to negotiate with Santa Anna for the land, which was deemed by a group of political and industrial leaders to be a highly strategic location for the construction of the southern transcontinental railroad. In 1861, the “big four” leaders of western railroad construction–Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker–established the Southern Pacific branch of the Central Pacific Railroad.
1862 – The draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was finished and circulated around Lincoln’s cabinet for comment.
1862The U.S.S. Monitor sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Just nine months earlier, the ship had been part of a revolution in naval warfare when the ironclad dueled to a standstill with the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack) off Hampton Roads, Virginia, in one of the most famous naval battles in history–the first time two ironclads faced each other in a naval engagement. After the famous duel, the Monitor provided gun support on the James River for George B. McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign. By December 1862, it was clear the Monitor was no longer needed in Virginia, so she was sent to Beaufort, North Carolina, to join a fleet being assembled for an attack on Charleston. The Monitor served well in the sheltered waters of Chesapeake Bay, but the heavy, low-slung ship was a poor craft for the open sea. The U.S.S. Rhode Island towed the ironclad around the rough waters of Cape Hatteras. Since December is a treacherous time for any ship off North Carolina, the decision to move the Monitor seems highly questionable. As the Monitor pitched and swayed in the rough seas, the caulking around the gun turret loosened and water began to leak into the hull. More leaks developed as the journey continued. High seas tossed the craft, causing the ship’s flat armor bottom to slap the water. Each roll opened more seams, and by nightfall on December 30, the Monitor was in dire straits. At 8:00 p.m., the Monitor’s commander, J.P. Bankhead, signaled the Rhode Island that he wished to abandon ship. The wooden side-wheeler pulled as close as safety allowed to the stricken ironclad, and two lifeboats were lowered to retrieve the crew. Many of the sailors were rescued, but some men were terrified to venture onto the deck in such rough seas. The ironclad’s pumps stopped working and the ship sank before 16 crew members could be rescued. Although the Monitor’s service was brief, it signaled a new era in naval combat. The Virginia’s arrival off Hampton Road terrified the U.S. Navy, but the Monitor leveled the playing field. Both sides had ironclads, and the advantage would go to the side that could build more of them. Northern industry would win that battle for the Union.
1863 – Expedition under command of Acting Ensign Norman McLeod from U.S.S. Pursuit, destroyed two salt works at the head of St. Joseph’s Bay, Florida.
1905Targeted for his role in quelling a miners’ strike in 1899, former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg is wounded by a powerful bomb that is triggered when he opens the gate to his home in Caldwell, Idaho. He died shortly afterwards in his own bed. A former newspaper editor, Steunenberg entered Idaho politics in 1890, when he was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1896, he won the Idaho Governor’s seat as the head of a coalition of Democrats, Populists, and Republicans who supported the use of silver to back currency. Generally perceived as a friend to labor and the “little man,” Steunenberg won a second term as governor in 1896. During this term, he was confronted with one of the most divisive and violent western battles between labor and management of the 19th century. Miners in the rich silver districts near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, had been struggling to unionize and gain better pay and working conditions since 1892. Radicalized by their initial defeats, an increasing numbers of miners began supporting the violence-prone Western Federation of Miners (WFM), which advocated aggressive tactics and worker control of industry. Alarmed by the growing influence of the WFM, Coeur d’Alene mine owners attempted to bust the union in 1899, and the WFM responded by blowing up one mining company’s huge and costly concentrators with dynamite. Disturbed by the miners’ violent tactics, the hitherto pro-labor Steunenberg heeded the demands of the powerful mine owners and turned against the WFM, requesting that the federal government send in troops. The soldiers placed the region under martial law and herded hundreds of miners into makeshift prisons, ignoring their constitutional rights to know the charges and evidence against them. Steunenberg’s actions restored order in the Idaho silver mines, but also earned him the lasting enmity of many radical WFM members. Six years later, the radicals took their revenge by sending a professional assassin named Harry Orchard to Caldwell. The professional hitman was responsible for planting the bomb that killed the former governor. Orchard was captured, tried, and sentenced to life in prison, and his guilt has never been seriously disputed. However, many were convinced that the plot to kill Steunenberg was supported not just by a radical minority within the WFM, but also by its top leadership. WFM secretary-treasurer William “Big Bill” Haywood was brought up on charges of criminal conspiracy but was found not guilty largely as a result of famous Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow’s brilliant defense. Haywood went on to found the even more radical Industrial Workers of the World.
1922In post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics). Also known as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the world to be based on Marxist socialism. During the Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent three-year Russian Civil War, the Bolshevik Party under Vladimir Lenin dominated the soviet forces, a coalition of workers’ and soldiers’ committees that called for the establishment of a socialist state in the former Russian Empire. In the USSR, all levels of government were controlled by the Communist Party, and the party’s politburo, with its increasingly powerful general secretary, effectively ruled the country. Soviet industry was owned and managed by the state, and agricultural land was divided into state-run collective farms. In the decades after it was established, the Russian-dominated Soviet Union grew into one of the world’s most powerful and influential states and eventually encompassed 15 republics–Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved following the collapse of its communist government.
1941 – Admiral Ernest J. King assumes duty as Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
1941 – Allied forces fall back to their final line of prepared defense above the Bataan Peninsula.
1943 – On New Britain, the US marine division captures the Japanese airfield at Cape Gloucester.
1944The US 8th Corps (part of US 3rd Army) launches attacks northward, against the German 5th Panzer Army, from a line between Bastogne and St. Hubert with Houffalize as the objective. Meanwhile, elements of German 5th Panzer Army launch another unsuccessful attempt at cutting the American corridor into Bastogne and capture the town.
1944 – General Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, reports that the first two atomic bombs should be ready by August 1, 1945.
1944 – Coast Guard-manned USS FS-367 takes survivors from USS Maripopsa at San Jose, Mindoro, Philippine Islands.
1950 – Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia became independent states in a French Union.
1950 – The body of Eighth Army commander Lieutenant General Walton Walker, killed in a jeep accident on Dec. 23, was flown to the United States for burial in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
1950In a fiery statement, Secretary of State Dean Acheson declares that the United States will increase its efforts to contain communist aggression and calls upon the American people for support and sacrifice. The statement was issued just weeks after hundreds of thousands of communist Chinese troops entered the Korean War, threatening to expand the conflict into a third world war. Acheson noted that 1950 had been a “dark year,” but also argued that the United States had made great advances in thwarting communist machinations around the world. Nevertheless, he continued, the United States faced a situation of “extreme gravity.” “Our freedom, our way of life, is menaced,” Acheson declared. In some of the harshest language in the statement, the secretary argued, “The present difficulties arise from the lawless and cynical conduct of the communists who would destroy peace and freedom.” Despite talk of peace from the Soviet Union, said Acheson, its recent actions revealed its talk to be “nothing but camouflage to cloak the naked imperialism of its aims.” The United States and the American people needed to support all efforts to defeat the communist threat. “No sacrifices are too great when the future of this nation is at stake.” Acheson’s heated rhetoric might have been an attempt to make up for his handling of foreign policy during the previous two years, when the secretary fell under near-constant criticism for not taking a tough stand against communism. Attacks by Senator Joseph McCarthy had been particularly loud and damaging. As 1950 drew to a close Acheson took a hard-line, declaring that the United States was willing and able to meet any challenge posed by the communists and that American commitment to Korea would not falter.
1952Sinbad, the canine-mascot of the cutter Campbell during World War II, passed away at his last duty station, the Barnegat Lifeboat Station, at the ripe old age of 15. He served on board the cutter throughout the war and earned his way into Coast Guard legend with his shipboard and liberty antics.
1959 – Commissioning of first fleet ballistic missile submarine, USS George Washington (SSB(N)-598), at Groton, CT.
1963 – Congress authorized the Kennedy half dollar.
1970The South Vietnamese Navy receives 125 U.S. vessels in a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. Navy’s four-year role in inland waterway combat. This brings the total number of vessels turned over to the South Vietnamese Navy to 650. About 17,000 Americans remained with the South Vietnamese Navy in shore positions and as advisers aboard South Vietnamese vessels. The transfer of inland waterway combat responsibility was part of President Nixon’s Vietnamization program, in which the war effort was transferred to the South Vietnam so U.S. troops could be withdrawn.
1972Officials in Washington, D.C., announce that the peace talks in Paris between National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho will resume on January 2. On December 28, Hanoi agreed to return to the negotiations, and President Nixon ordered a halt to Linebacker II, the intensive bombing campaign of North Vietnam. Nixon initiated the campaign on December 18 when the North Vietnamese, who walked out of the peace negotiations in Paris, refused his ultimatum to return to the talks. During the course of the bombing, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bombers dropped an estimated 20,000 tons of bombs, mostly over the densely populated area between Hanoi and Haiphong. When the communist negotiators returned to Paris, the peace talks moved along quickly. On January 23, 1973, the United States, North Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Viet Cong signed a cease-fire agreement that took effect five days later.
1981 – The 14 remaining LORAN-A stations closed down at midnight, ending Loran-A coverage, which began during World War II.
1985Vice President George Bush paid an official visit to the officers and crew of the CGC Steadfast while the cutter was in Nassau, Bahamas. Accompanied by RADM Richard P. Cueroni, commander, 7th District and various other U.S. and Bahamian officials, the vice president officiated at an awards and wreath-laying ceremony in honor of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System and the joint U.S. Bahamian operations.
1988 – President Reagan and President-elect Bush were subpoenaed to testify as defense witnesses in the pending Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North. The subpoenas were subsequently quashed.
1990 – Iraq’s information minister (Latif Nussayif Jassim) said President Bush “must have been drunk” when he suggested Iraq might withdraw from Kuwait, and added: “We will show the world America is a paper tiger.”
1991 – The remains of two American hostages slain in Lebanon, William Buckley and Marine Col. William R. Higgins, arrived in the United States for burial.
1991 – Leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States agreed to establish unified command over nuclear weapons, while allowing member states to form their own armies.
1992 – President Bush embarked on the final foreign trip of his term in office, heading to a Black Sea summit with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, with a stopover in Somalia to visit U.S. troops helping famine victims.
1995 – A US military policeman, Martin John Begosh, became the first American injured in NATO’s fledgling Bosnia peace mission when his Humvee hit an anti-tank mine.
1996The United Nations announces that a total of 21 contracts have been approved for the limited Iraqi oil sales under U.N. Security Council Resolution 986. The approved contracts will allow for 43.68 million barrels of oil to be exported in the first 90 days of the sale. At present, exports of 26.37 million barrels have been approved for the second 90-day period of the sale, which allows Iraq to sell up to $1 billion worth of oil every 90 days for an initial 6-month period. In mid-December 1996, Iraq restarted the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which is expected to carry up to 450,000 b/d of oil under the sales agreements approved so far under U.N. Security Council Resolution 986. Iraq’s remaining oil exports will flow through the Mina al-Bakr terminal.
1998 – Iraq again fired at US warplanes the missile site was destroyed in response.
2000 5 bomb blasts hit Manila and at least 22 people were killed. Muslim rebels were blamed. One of bombs was on a train and killed at least 13. Police arrested 17 men on Jan 4. 7 Muslim guerrillas were indicted including Salamat Hashim, chairman of the Moro Liberation Front. The Jemaah Islamiyah, an militant group linked to al Qaeda, was involved in the train bombing.
2002 – British and US warplanes flying multiple missions attacked Iraq air defense facilities after an Iraqi fighter jet penetrated the southern no-fly zone.
2002 – The UN passed a resolution by a 13-0 vote with Russia and Syria abstaining that put new limits on Iraq for purchases of certain communications equipment and antibiotics.
2002In Yemen a suspected Muslim extremist, hiding his gun cradled like a baby, slipped into the Jibla Baptist Hospital and opened fire, killing three American missionaries: Dr. Martha Myers (57), William Koehn (60), and Kathleen Gariety (53). A 4th was seriously wounding. Abed Abdul Razak Kamel was sentenced to death in May for killing the missionaries.
2003 – The Pentagon said it will end an arrangement with Halliburton to import fuel into Iraq due to recent government audits.
2006 – Saddam Hussein is hanged.
2006 – Former U.S. President Gerald Ford’s funeral is held at the United States Capitol.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

GRISWOLD, LUKE M.
Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, Massachusetts. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous rescue of the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Griswold, after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island, and spent many hours in the small boat at the mercy of the weather and high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.

HESSELTINE, FRANCIS S.
Rank and organization: Colonel, 13th Maine Infantry. Place and date: At Matagorda Bay, Tex., 29-30 December 1863. Entered service at: Maine. Born: 10 December 1833, Bangor, Maine. Date of issue: 2 March 1895. Citation: In command of a detachment of 100 men, conducted a reconnaissance for 2 days, baffling and beating back an attacking force of more than a thousand Confederate cavalry, and regained his transport without loss.

HORTON, LEWIS A.
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1839, Bristol Mass. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island, which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous task of rescuing the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Horton, after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island and spent many hours in the small boat at the mercy of the weather and high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.

JONES, JOHN
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, Bridgeport, Conn. Accredited to: New Hampshire, G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island, which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous rescue of the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Jones, after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island, and spent many hours m the small boat at the mercy of the weather and high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.

*LOGAN, HUGH
Rank and organization: Captain of the Afterguard, U.S. Navy. Born: 1834, Ireland. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in rescuing men from the stricken Monitor in Mobile Bay, on 30 December 1862. After the Monitor sprang a leak and went down, Logan courageously risked his life in a gallant attempt to rescue members of the crew. Although sacrificing his life during the hazardous operation, he had made every effort possible to save the lives of his fellow men.

McKEEN, NINEVEH S.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Company H, 21st Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 30 December 1862. At Liberty Gap, Tenn., 25 June 1863. Entered service at: Marshall, Clark County, Ill. Birth: Marshall, Clark County, Ill. Date of issue: 23 June 1890. Citation: Conspicuous in the charge at Stone River, Tenn., where he was three times wounded. At Liberty Gap, Tenn., captured colors of 8th Arkansas Infantry (C.S.A.).

MOORE, GEORGE
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the Monitor, 30 December 1862. Participating in the hazardous task of rescuing the officers and crew of the sinking Monitor, Moore after rescuing several of the men, became separated in a heavy gale with other members of the cutter that had set out from the Rhode Island, and spent many hours in the small boat at the mercy of the weather and high seas until finally picked up by a schooner 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.

NOLAN, RICHARD J.
Rank and organization: Farrier, Company I, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White Clay Creek, S. Dak., 30 December 1890. Entered service at:——. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 1 April 1891. Citation: Bravery.

RAGNAR, THEODORE
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company K, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White Clay Creek, S. Dak., 30 December 1890. Entered service at:——. Birth: Sweden. Date of issue: 13 April 1891. Citation: Bravery.

VARNUM, CHARLES A.
Rank and organization: Captain, Company B, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White Clay Creek, S. Dak., 30 December 1890. Entered service at: Pensacola, Fla. Birth: Troy, N.Y. Date of issue: 22 September 1897. Citation: While executing an order to withdraw, seeing that a continuance of the movement would expose another troop of his regiment to being cut off and surrounded, he disregarded orders to retire, placed himself in front of his men, led a charge upon the advancmg Indians, regained a commanding position that had just been vacated, and thus insured a safe withdrawal of both detachments without further loss.

WALKER, ALLEN
Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 3d U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: Texas, 30 December 1891. Entered service at:——. Birth: Patriot, Ind. Date of issue: 25 April 1892. Citation: While carrying dispatches, he attacked a party of 3 armed men and secured papers valuable to the United States.

ZIEGNER, HERMANN
Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, and White Clay Creek, S. Dak 29-30 December 1890. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Germany Date of issue: 23 June 1891. Citation: Conspicuous bravery.

HOWARD, ROBERT L.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 30 December 1968. Entered service at: Montgomery, Ala. Born: 11 July 1939, Opelika, Ala. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then Sfc .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam. The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer’s equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant’s belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard’s small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard’s gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

December 29

29 December

17783,000 British soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell capture Savannah, Georgia. The Capture of Savannah, or sometimes the First Battle of Savannah (because of a siege in 1779), was an American Revolutionary War battle between local American Patriot militia and Continental Army units holding the city and a British invasion force. It was the opening move in the British southern strategy to regain control of the rebellious southern provinces by appealing to the strong Loyalist sentiment believed to be there. General Sir Henry Clinton, the commander-in-chief of the British forces based in New York City, dispatched Campbell and a 3,100 man force from New York to capture Savannah, and begin the process of returning Georgia to British control. He was to be assisted by troops under the command of Brigadier General Augustine Prevost that were marching up from Saint Augustine in East Florida. After landing near Savannah on December 23, Campbell assessed the American defenses, which were comparatively weak, and decided to attack without waiting for Prevost. Taking advantage of local assistance he successfully flanked the American position outside the town, captured a large portion of Major General Robert Howe’s army, and drove the remnants to retreat into South Carolina. Campbell and Prevost followed up the victory with the capture of Sunbury and an expedition to Augusta. The latter was only occupied by Campbell for a few weeks before he retreated back to Savannah, citing insufficient Loyalist and Indian support and the threat of Patriot forces across the Savannah River in South Carolina. The British held off a Franco-American siege in 1779, and held the city until late in the war.
1808 – Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States who succeeded Lincoln (1865-1869), was born in a 2-room shack in Raleigh, N.C. [Waxhaw, South Carolina]
1812USS Constitution (Captain William Bainbridge) captures HMS Java off Brazil after a three hour battle. Shortly, after Christmas, 1812, Constitution was sailing in the Atlantic just off the coast of Brazil. In the morning sails were sighted on the horizon, and Constitution’s new captain, William Bainbridge, altered course to investigate. The ship proved to be HMS Java, a frigate similar to Guerriere. Both frigates stood for each other and cleared their decks for action. The defeat of Java, the second frigate lost to Constitution in six months, motivated a change in the tactics of the Royal Navy. No longer would their frigates be allowed to engage American frigates like Constitution alone. Only British ships-of-the-line or squadrons were permitted to come close enough to these ships to attack.
1813 – The British burned Buffalo, N.Y., during the War of 1812.
1831 – Adam Badeau (d.1895), Bvt Brig General (Union volunteers), was born.
1835The Treaty of New Echota was signed in New Echota, Georgia by officials of the United States government and representatives of a minority Cherokee political faction, the Treaty Party. The treaty established terms under which the entire Cherokee Nation ceded its territory in the southeast and agreed to move west to the Indian Territory. Although the treaty was not approved by the Cherokee National Council nor signed by Principal Chief John Ross, it was amended and ratified by the U.S. Senate in March 1836, and became the legal basis for the forcible removal known as the Trail of Tears.
1837 – Canadian militiamen, claiming self-defense, destroyed the Caroline, a US steamboat docked at Buffalo, N.Y. It was being used to ferry supplies to anti-British rebels in Canada.
1845Six months after the congress of the Republic of Texas accepts U.S. annexation of the territory, Texas is admitted into the United States as the 28th state. After gaining independence from Spain in the 1820s, Mexico welcomed foreign settlers to sparsely populated Texas, and a large group of Americans led by Stephen F. Austin settled along the Brazos River. The Americans soon outnumbered the resident Mexicans, and by the 1830s attempts by the Mexican government to regulate these semi-autonomous American communities led to rebellion. In March 1836, in the midst of armed conflict with the Mexican government, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. The Texas volunteers initially suffered defeat against the forces of Mexican General Santa Anna–the Alamo fell and Sam Houston’s troops were forced into an eastward retreat. However, in late April, Houston’s troops surprised a Mexican force at San Jacinto, and Santa Anna was captured, bringing an end to Mexico’s efforts to subdue Texas. The citizens of the independent Republic of Texas elected Sam Houston president but also endorsed the entrance of Texas into the Union. The likelihood of Texas joining the Union as a slave state delayed any formal action by the U.S. Congress for more than a decade. In 1844, Congress finally agreed to annex the territory of Texas. On December 29, 1845, Texas entered the United States as a slave state, broadening the irrepressible differences in the United States over the issue of slavery and setting off the Mexican-American War.
1849 – Gas light was installed in the White House.
1862Union General William T. Sherman is thwarted in his attempt to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, when he orders a frontal assault on entrenched Rebels. Chickasaw Bluffs was part of Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s attempt to capture Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. Grant planned a two-pronged assault. He planned to take a force from northern Mississippi while Sherman moved down the west side of the great river. In December, things began to go awry for the Yankees. Devastating Confederate cavalry raids by Nathan Bedford Forrest and Earl Van Dorn on Union supply lines in western Tennessee forced Grant to cancel his part of the campaign, but he was not able to get word to Sherman.Sherman moved into position just a few miles north of Vicksburg by December 27. He had 37,000 men and only 6,000 Confederates defending Vicksburg. While Sherman moved into position, another 6,000 troops arrived to reinforce the Confederates. The Rebels occupied strong positions on top of a river bluff with open ground in front of them. After two days of skirmishing, Sherman ordered a major attack on December 29. The attack never had a chance of success. When one Union brigade captured Confederate rifle pits at the foot of the bluff, they came under fire from above. No other Federal force got close to the bluff. Union loses totaled 1,776 men while the Confederates lost just 207. The attack was a mistake by Sherman, who should have never tried to attack fortified Rebels across open ground. Two years later, Sherman demonstrated that he had learned his lesson at Chickasaw Bluffs. During his campaign for Atlanta, Sherman made few frontal assaults and inflicted more casualties than he sustained, which was rare for an offensive campaign.
1863U.S.S. Reindeer, Acting Lieutenant Henry A. Glassford, with Army steamer Silver Lake No. 2 in company, beginning on the 26th, reconnoitered the Cumberland River at the request of General Grant. The force moved from Nashville to Carthage without incident but was taken under fire five times on the 29th. The Confederates’ positions, Glassford reported, “availed them nothing, however, against the guns of this vessel and those of the Silver Lake No. 2; they were completely shelled out of them. The gunboats continued as far as Creelsboro, Kentucky, before “the river gave unmistakable signs of a fall.” The ships subsequently returned to Nashville.
1879 – Billy Mitchell, aviation hero Gen (WW I), was born.
1890In the tragic final chapter of America’s long war against the Plains Indians, the U.S. Cavalry kills 146 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Tensions had been running high on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for months because of the growing popularity of a new Indian spiritual movement known as the Ghost Dance. Many of the Sioux at Pine Ridge had only recently been confined to reservations after long years of resistance, and they were deeply disheartened by the poor living conditions and deadening tedium of reservation life. The Ghost Dance movement taught that the Indians were defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional ways. If they practiced the Ghost Dance ritual and rejected white ways, many Sioux believed the gods would create the world anew, destroy the unbelievers, and bring back murdered Indians and the giant herds of bison. By late 1890, Pine Ridge Indian agent James McLaughlin was alarmed by the movement’s increasing influence and its prediction that all non-believers–presumably including whites–would be wiped out. McLaughlin telegraphed a warning to Washington, D.C. that: “Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy. We need protection now.” While waiting for the cavalry to arrive, McLaughlin attempted to arrest Sitting Bull, the famous Sioux chief, who he mistakenly believed was a Ghost Dance supporter. U.S. authorities killed Sitting Bull during the arrest, increasing the tensions at Pine Ridge rather than defusing them. On December 29, the 7th Cavalry under Colonel James Forsyth surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. Big Foot and his followers had no intentions of attacking anyone, but they were distrustful of the army and feared they would be attacked if they relinquished their guns. Nonetheless, the Sioux agreed to surrender and began turning over their guns. As that was happening, a scuffle broke out between an Indian and a soldier, and a shot was fired. Though no one is certain which side fired it, the ensuing melee was quick and brutal. Without arms and outnumbered, the Sioux were reduced to hand-to-hand fighting with knives, and they were cut down in a withering rain of bullets, many coming from the army’s rapid-fire repeating Hotchkiss guns. By the time the soldiers withdrew, 146 Indians were dead (including 44 women and 18 children) and 51 wounded. The 7th Cavalry had 25 dead and 39 wounded. Although sometimes referred to as a battle, the conflict at Wounded Knee is best seen as a tragic and avoidable massacre. Surrounded by heavily armed troops, it is highly unlikely that Big Foot’s band would have deliberately sought a confrontation. Some historians speculate that the soldiers of Custer’s old 7th Cavalry were deliberately taking revenge for the regiment’s defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Whatever the motives, the army’s massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement and was the final major confrontation in America’s deadly war against the Plains Indians.
1891 – Edison patented the “transmission of signals electrically” (radio).
1931 – The identification of heavy water was publicly announced by H.C. Urey.
1934 – Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
1939First flight of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and a small number of early models were sold under the name LB-30, for Land Bomber. The B-24 was used in World War II by several Allied air forces and navies, and by every branch of the American armed forces during the war, attaining a distinguished war record with its operations in the Western European, Pacific, Mediterranean, and China-Burma-India Theaters. Often compared with the better-known Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 was a more modern design with a higher top speed, greater range, and a heavier bomb load; it was also more difficult to fly, with heavy control forces and poor formation-flying characteristics. Popular opinion among aircrews and general staffs tended to favor the B-17’s rugged qualities above all other considerations in the European Theater. The placement of the B-24’s fuel tanks throughout the upper fuselage and its lightweight construction, designed to increase range and optimize assembly line production, made the aircraft vulnerable to battle damage. The B-24 was notorious among American aircrews for its tendency to catch fire. Its high fuselage-mounted “Davis wing” also meant it was dangerous to ditch or belly land, since the fuselage tended to break apart. Nevertheless, the B-24 provided excellent service in a variety of roles thanks to its large payload and long range and was the only bomber to operationally deploy the United States’ first forerunner to precision-guided munitions during the war, the 1,000 lb. Azon guided bomb. The B-24’s most costly mission was the low-level strike against the Ploești oil fields, in Romania on 1 August 1943, which turned into a disaster because the defense was underestimated and fully alerted while the attackers were disorganized. The B-24 ended World War II as the most produced heavy bomber in history. At over 18,400 units, half by Ford Motor Company, it still holds the distinction as the most-produced American military aircraft, with one B-24A and one B-24J restored to airworthiness as of 2014.
1940 – In one of his famous “fireside chat” broadcasts President Roosevelt describes how he wishes the United States to become the “arsenal of democracy” and to give full aid to Britain regardless of threats from other countries.’
1943 – USS Silversides (SS-236) sinks three Japanese ships and damages a fourth off Palau.
1944 – There is a lull in the fighting in the Ardennes as Allied forces buildup their forces for further counterattacks.
1948 – Tito declared Yugoslavia would follow its own Communist line.
1949 – KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut becomes the first Ultra high frequency (UHF) television station to operate a daily schedule.
1950 – The Associated Press named General of the Army Douglas MacArthur the outstanding newsmaker of 1950.
1950– Time magazine selected “GI Joe” as the Man of the Year.
1956Just days before an official announcement is to be issued by the Eisenhower administration, the New York Times leaks the news that the United States is preparing a major policy statement on the Middle East. In the wake of heightened tensions in the area caused by the French-British-Israeli invasion of Egypt in November, the announcement was greeted with caution both at home and abroad. According to the newspaper, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was set to appear before Congress and ask for two things. First, Congressional support of a declaration by the Eisenhower administration that the United States would oppose any Soviet military intervention in the Middle East. Since the outbreak of hostilities between Egypt and the alliance of France, Britain, and Israel in November, the Soviets had been threatening the use of military force in support of Egypt. Second, Dulles would ask Congress to establish a major economic assistance plan for the Middle East. This was largely in response to reports that the Soviets were making tremendous economic inroads into the area. The newspaper editorialized that the United States wanted “the Middle Eastern powers to know that they have not been abandoned by the West and that they can count on economic help and, if they want it, military help in opposing any Soviet aggression.” Congressional reaction to the story was somewhat cool. Some congressmen feared that the United States was heading toward armed confrontation with the Soviets in the Middle East. The British and French were glad to hear that the United States would oppose communist expansion in the region, but were also wary of expanding problems in the Middle East into an arena for a military East-West collision. The response from Egypt was decidedly negative, with the Egyptian government declaring that it wanted no outside interference in the region’s problems. Despite these less than enthusiastic responses to the proposed policy, it was evident that the United States was determined to take a much expanded and more active role in the Middle East. The NYT story was validated when the actual policy statement came in January 1957-it was almost exactly as the story predicted, though President Eisenhower, rather than Dulles, asked Congress for the resolutions supporting a greater U.S. economic and military presence in the Middle East.
1962Saigon announces that 4,077 strategic hamlets have been completed out of a projected total of 11,182. The figures also stated that 39 percent of the South Vietnamese population was housed in the hamlets. U.S. officials considered these figures questionable. The strategic hamlet program was started in 1962 and was modeled on a successful British counterinsurgency program used in Malaya from 1948 to 1960. The program aimed to bring the South Vietnamese peasants together in fortified strategic hamlets to provide security from Viet Cong attacks. Although much time and money was put into the program, it had several basic weaknesses. There was much animosity toward the program on the part of the South Vietnamese peasants, who were forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands. Also, the security afforded by the hamlets was inadequate and actually provided lucrative targets for the Viet Cong. Finally, the entire project was poorly managed. After the assassination of the program’s sponsor, President Ngo Dinh Diem, in November 1963, the program fell into disfavor and was abandoned.
1962Approximately 11,000 US advisory and support personnel are now in Vietnam, including 29 Special Forces detachments. One hundred and nine Americans have been killed or wounded this year, almost eight times as many as 1961. US Army aviation units have flown over 50,000 sorties, about one-half of which are combat support missions. China claims to have armed the Vietcong with more than 90,000 rifles and machine guns this year, and trained guerrilla forces in South Vietnam are estimated at 25,000, with active Vietcong sympathizers numbered at 150,000. The Vietcong are now killing or kidnapping 1,000 local officials per month. South Vietnamese government regular troops number 200,000 and 65,000 Self Defense Corps members have been trained to defend their villages.
1965 – A Christmas truce was observed in Vietnam, while President Johnson tried to get the North Vietnamese to the bargaining table.
1966Assistant Secretary of Defense Arthur Sylvester admits that the North Vietnamese city of Nam Dinh has been hit by U.S. planes 64 times since mid-1965, and that the air strikes were directed only against military targets: railroad yards, a warehouse, petroleum storage depots, and a thermal power plant. He denounced New York Times correspondent Harrison Salisbury’s reports on the results of the air raids in North Vietnam as “misstatements of fact.” Salisbury, an assistant managing editor of the Times, filed a report on December 25 from Hanoi describing U.S. bombing destruction in several North Vietnamese cities. Salisbury stated that Nam Dinh, about 50 miles southeast of Hanoi, had been bombed repeatedly by U.S. planes since June 28, 1965. Salisbury’s report caused a stir in Washington where, it was reported, Pentagon officials expressed irritation and contended that he was exaggerating the damage to civilian areas.
1975At 6:33 p.m. EST, a bomb with the equivalent force of 25 sticks of dynamite exploded in the main terminal of LaGuardia Airport in New York City, killing 11 and injuring 75. The victims included travelers, limousine drivers, and airline employees. It was the deadliest bombing in New York City since the Wall Street bombing of 1920. The bomb had been placed in a Trans World Airlines locker adjacent to a luggage carousel. The force of the explosion wrecked luggage carousels and destroyed the terminal’​s large metal doors and showered the area with shards of metal and broken glass. At the time, suspects included the FALN, the Jewish Defense League, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the Croatian nationalist Zvonko Busic; two similar bombings at New York ’​s Grand Central Terminal previously had been attributed to Croatians. No one ever claimed credit for the bombing or was arrested for it, and it remains unsolved.
1981 – President Reagan curtailed Soviet trade in reprisal for its harsh policy in Poland.
1987 – NASA delayed the planned June launch of the space shuttle — the first since the Challenger disaster — because a motor component failed during a test-firing of the shuttle’s redesigned booster rocket.
1988 – The Federal Aviation Administration, responding to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, announced tightened security measures for U.S. air carriers at 103 airports in the Middle East and Western Europe.
1990 – Iraq denied a report that it was engaged in secret contacts with the US to avert war, and might withdraw from Kuwait before the January 15th United Nations deadline.
1992 – The United States and Russia announced agreement on a nuclear arms reduction treaty.
1993 – Nearly three weeks after the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope was repaired by the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour, scientists reported “absolutely no sign of problems.”
1994 – U.S. officials confirmed the release in North Korea of Army helicopter pilot Bobby Hall, 12 days after he was captured in a shootdown in which co-pilot David Hilemon was killed.
1998 – In Kosovo 5 Albanians died in fighting with Serb police as NATO repeated threats of airstrikes. A group of US senators proposed to offer Milosevic sanctuary in a 3rd nation if he would step down.
2001 – Philippine troops raided a camp of Muslim rebels linked to Osama bin Laden and killed 13.
2002 – Secretary of State Colin Powell, making the rounds of the Sunday television talk shows, said there was still time to find a diplomatic resolution to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, and that the situation hadn’t yet reached the crisis stage.
2002Acting Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al Sabah says that Kuwait can keep producing and exporting oil in the event of a military conflict in Iraq. States Al Sabah: “I can’t go into details of this plan, but I can guarantee that production will continue, exports will continue…and I believe we can also meet the commitments we have made to our clients abroad.”
2003 – The Bush administration said it will require international air carriers in certain cases to place armed law enforcement officers on cargo and passenger flights to, from and over the United States.
2003 – Japan pledged to forgive “the vast majority” of its Iraqi debt if other Paris Club nations do the same. China later said it would consider the idea.
2004 – In Afghanistan masked gunmen killed Pashtun politician Shah Alam Khan, a close ally of Pres. Karzai.
2004 – Insurgents tried to ram a truck with half a ton of explosives into a U.S. military post in the northern city of Mosul then ambushed reinforcements in a huge gunbattle in which 25 rebels and one American soldier were killed.
2006 – The United Kingdom pays off the last of its debts from World War II by paying the last $100 million to the United States and Canada. The country still has debts outstanding from the Napoleonic Wars, which are cheaper to pay interest on than to redeem.
2012 – US Senate passes H.R. 5949, FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act, which extends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 five more years until December 31, 2017. The US House of Representatives also voted for the extension earlier this month.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

RUSSELL, MILTON
Rank and organization: Captain, Company A, 51st Indiana Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., 29 December 1862. Entered service at: North Salem, Ind. Birth: Hendricks County, Ind. Date of issue: 28 September 1897. Citation: Was the first man to cross Stone River and, in the face of a galling fire from the concealed skirmishers of the enemy, led his men up the hillside, driving the opposing skirmishers before them.

WILLIAMSON, JAMES A.
Rank and organization: Colonel, 4th lowa Infantry. Place and date: At Chickasaw Bayou, Miss., 29 December 1862. Entered service at: Des Moines, lowa. Born: 8 February 1829, Columbia, Adair County, Ky. Date of issue: 17 January 1895. Citation: Led his regiment against a superior force, strongly entrenched, and held his ground when all support had been withdrawn.

AUSTIN, WILLIAM G.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: Galveston, Tex. Date of issue: 27 June 1891. Citation: While the Indians were concealed in a ravine, assisted men on the skirmish line, directing their fire, etc., and using every effort to dislodge the enemy.

CLANCY, JOHN E.
Rank and organization: Musician, Company E, 1st U.S. Artillery. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: ——. Birth: New York, N.Y. Date of issue 23 January 1892. Citation: Twice voluntarily rescued wounded comrades under fire of the enemy.

FEASTER, MOSHEIM
Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Schellburg, Pa. Birth: Schellburg, Pa. Date of issue: 23 June 1891. Citation: Extraordinary gallantry.

GARLINGTON, ERNEST A.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Athens, Ga. Born: 20 February 1853, Newberry, S.C. Date of issue: 26 September 1893. Citation: Distinguished gallantry.

GRESHAM, JOHN C.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Lancaster Courthouse, Va. Birth: Virginia. Date of issue: 26 March 1895. Citation: Voluntarily led a party into a ravine to dislodge Sioux Indians concealed therein. He was wounded during this action.

HAMILTON, MATHEW H.
Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: Australia. Date of issue: 25 May 1891. Citation: Bravery in action.

HARTZOG, JOSHIJA B.
Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 1st U.S. Artillery. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Paulding County, Ohio, Date of issue: 24 March 1891. Citation: Went to the rescue of the commanding officer who had fallen severely wounded, picked him up, and carried him out of range of the hostile guns.

HAWTHORNE, HARRY L.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, 2d U S. Artillery. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Kentucky. Born: 1860, Minnesota. Date of issue: 1 1 October 1892. Citation: Distinguished conduct in battle with hostile Indians .

HILLOCK, MARVIN C.
Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Lead City, S. Dak. Birth: Michigan. Date of issue: 16 April 1891. Citation: Distinguished bravery.

HOBDAY, GEORGE
Rank and organization: Private, Company A, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Pulaski County, 111. Date of issue: 23 June 1891. Citation: Conspicuous and gallant conduct in battle.

LOYD, GEORGE
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company I, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 16 April 1891. Citation: Bravery, especially after having been severely wounded through the lung.

McMlLLAN, ALBERT W.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Birth: Baltimore, Md. Date of issue: 23 June 1891. Citation: While engaged with Indians concealed in a ravine, he assisted the men on the skirmish line, directed their fire, encouraged them by example, and used every effort to dislodge the enemy.

SULLIVAN, THOMAS
Rank and organization: Private, Company E, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Newark, N.J. Birth: Ireland. Date of issue: 17 December 1891. Citation: Conspicuous bravery in action against Indians concealed in a ravine.

TOY, FREDERICK E.
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company C, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at:——. Birth: Buffalo, N.Y. Date of issue: 26 May 1891. Citation: Bravery.

TRAUTMAN, JACOB
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company I, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: ——. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 27 March 1891. Citation: Killed a hostile Indian at close quarters, and, although entitled to retirement from service, remained to the close of the campaign.

WARD, JAMES
Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company B, 7th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Boston, Mass. Birth: Quincy, Mass. Date of issue: 16 April 1891. Citation: Continued to flght after being severely wounded.

WEINERT, PAUL H.
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company E, 1st U.S. Artillery. Place and date: At Wounded Knee Creek, S. Dak., 29 December 1890. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 24 March 1891. Citation: Taking the place of his commanding of ficer who had fallen severely wounded, he gallantly served his piece, after each flre advancing it to a better position.

*NASH, DAVID P.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 2d Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Place and date: Giao Duc District, Dinh Tuong Province, Republic of Vietnam, 29 December 1968. Entered service at: Louisville, Ky. Born: 3 November 1947, Whitesville, Ky. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Nash distinguished himself while serving as a grenadier with Company B, in Giao Duc District. When an ambush patrol of which he was a member suddenly came under intense attack before reaching its destination, he was the first to return the enemy fire. Taking an exposed location, Pfc. Nash suppressed the hostile fusillade with a rapid series of rounds from his grenade launcher, enabling artillery fire to be adjusted on the enemy. After the foe had been routed, his small element continued to the ambush site where he established a position with 3 fellow soldiers on a narrow dike. Shortly past midnight, while Pfc. Nash and a comrade kept watch and the 2 other men took their turn sleeping, an enemy grenade wounded 2 soldiers in the adjacent position. Seconds later, Pfc. Nash saw another grenade land only a few feet from his own position. Although he could have escaped harm by rolling down the other side of the dike, he shouted a warning to his comrades and leaped upon the lethal explosive. Absorbing the blast with his body, he saved the lives of the 3 men in the area at the sacrifice of his life. By his gallantry at the cost of his life are in the highest traditions of the military service, Pfc. Nash has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

December 28

28 December

1793Thomas Paine is arrested in France for treason. Though the charges against him were never detailed, he had been tried in absentia on December 26 and convicted. Before moving to France, Paine was an instrumental figure in the American Revolution as the author of Common Sense, writings used by George Washington to inspire the American troops. Paine moved to Paris to become involved with the French Revolution, but the chaotic political climate turned against him, and he was arrested and jailed for crimes against the country. When he first arrived in Paris, Paine was heartily welcomed and granted honorary citizenship by leaders of the revolution who enjoyed his anti-royalty book The Rights of Man. However, before long, he ran afoul of his new hosts. Paine was strictly opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and he vocally opposed the French revolutionaries who were sending hundreds to the guillotine. He also began writing a provocative new book, The Age of Reason, which promoted the controversial notion that God did not influence the actions of people and that science and rationality would prevail over religion and superstition. Although Paine realized that sentiment was turning against him in the autumn of 1793, he remained in France because he believed he was helping the people. After he was arrested, Paine was taken to Luxembourg Prison. The jail was formerly a palace and was unlike any other detainment center in the world. He was treated to a large room with two windows and was locked inside only at night. His meals were catered from outside, and servants were permitted, though Paine did not take advantage of that particular luxury. However, he did carry a small sword that was permitted by jail authorities. While in prison, he continued to work on The Age of Reason and began an affair with actress Muriel Alette, who had been sentenced to death for being the mistress of a nobleman. Paine’s imprisonment in France caused a general uproar in America and future President James Monroe used all of his diplomatic connections to get Paine released in November 1794. Ironically, it wasn’t long before Paine came to be despised in the United States, as well. After The Age of Reason was published, he was called an anti-Christ, and his reputation was ruined. Thomas Paine died a poor man in 1809 in New York.
1822Confederate General William Taliaferro is born in Gloucester County, Virginia. Taliaferro served in under General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson for the first part of the war, then spent the second half preparing coastal defenses in the lower South. Taliaferro attended William and Mary College and Harvard Law School. He practiced law in Virginia before volunteering during the Mexican War, where he rose to the rank of major. Before the Civil War, he served in the Virginia legislature and the state militia. He was at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 when John Brown made his raid on the arsenal in an attempt to stir up a slave insurrection. Taliaferro became a colonel in the Confederate Army when the war began. He fought in western Virginia in 1861, then served under Jackson in 1862. His relationship with Jackson was rocky at first, as he became involved in a dispute between Jackson and General William Loring. Taliaferro signed a petition circulated by Loring that protested Jackson’s placement of troops at Romney, Virginia. Taliaferro fought alongside Jackson during the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign, and he impressed his commander later in the summer at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Jackson gave him permanent command of Jackson’s old division for the Second Battle of Bull Run in late August, but a wound kept Taliaferro from seeing action. Shortly after the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Taliaferro was transferred to Charleston. He helped General Pierre G. T. Beauregard fortify the city, for which Beauregard gave him an enthusiastic commendation. Taliaferro’s work made Charleston impenetrable for the Union; it did not fall until the end of the war. He helped evacuate Savannah, Georgia, before William T. Sherman’s army captured the city in 1864. Taliaferro ended the war fighting with General Joseph Johnston’s army at Bentonville, North Carolina. He spent the years after the war practicing law and serving in the Virginia legislature and as a county judge before his death in 1898.
1832Citing political differences with President Andrew Jackson and a desire to fill a vacant Senate seat in South Carolina, John C. Calhoun becomes the first vice president in U.S. history to resign the office. Born near Abbeville, South Carolina, in 1782, Calhoun was an advocate of states’ rights and a defender of the agrarian South against the industrial North. Calhoun served as secretary of war under President James Monroe and in 1824 ran for the presidency. However, bitter partisan attacks from other contenders forced him out of the race, and he had to settle for the vice presidency under President John Quincy Adams. In 1828, he was again elected vice president while Andrew Jackson won the presidency. Calhoun soon found himself politically isolated from national affairs under President Jackson. On December 12, 1832, Calhoun was elected to fill a South Carolina Senate seat left vacant after the resignation of Senator Robert Hayne. Sixteen days later, he resigned the vice presidency. For the rest of his political life, Calhoun defended the slave-plantation system against the growing anti-slavery stance of the free states. In the early 1840s, while secretary of state under President John Tyler, he secured the admission of Texas into the Union as a slave state. Together with Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun dominated American political life in the first half of the 19th century.
1835 – Osceola leads his Seminole warriors in Florida into the Second Seminole War against the United States Army. On December 23, 1835 two companies of US troops, totaling 110 men, left Fort Brooke under the command of Maj. Francis L. Dade. Seminoles shadowed the marching soldiers for five days. On December 28 the Seminoles ambushed the soldiers, and killed all but three of the command, which became known as the Dade Massacre. Only three white men survived; Edwin De Courcey, was hunted down and killed by a Seminole the next day. The two survivors, Ransome Clarke and Joseph Sprague, returned to Fort Brooke. Only Clarke, who died of his wounds a few years later, left any account of the battle from the Army’s perspective. Joseph Sprague was unharmed and lived quite a while longer, but was not able to give an account of the battle as he had sought immediate refuge in a nearby pond. The Seminoles lost just three men, with five wounded. On the same day as the Dade Massacre, Osceola and his followers shot and killed Wiley Thompson and six others outside of Fort King.
1846 – Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union. Iowa is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, a region sometimes called the “American Heartland”. Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west; it is the only U.S. state whose eastern and western borders are formed entirely by rivers. Iowa is bordered by Wisconsin and Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska and South Dakota to the west, and Minnesota to the north. In colonial times, Iowa was a part of French Louisiana; its current state flag is patterned after the flag of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, settlers laid the foundation for an agriculture-based economy in the heart of the Corn Belt.
1856 – Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States (1912-1921), who brought the country into World War I, was born in Staunton, Va. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919. “The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.”
1862Rear Admiral D. D. Porter’s gunboats supported General Sherman’s attempt to capture Confederate-held Chickasaw Bluffs, a vantage point upstream from Vicksburg. “Throughout these operations,” Porter wrote, “the Navy did everything that could be done to ensure the success of General Sherman’s movement.” Though the Navy supplied shore bombardment from the squadron and created diversionary movements, the Union troops, hindered by heavy rains and faced by the timely arrival of Confederate reinforcements, were forced to withdraw.
1864The military situation having been stabilized in the Tulifinny River area of South Carolina (see 5-9 Dec.), Rear Admiral Dahlgren withdrew the naval brigade under Commander Preble and returned the sailors and marines comprising it to their respective ships. The 500-man brigade, hastily brought together and trained in infantry tactics, performed vital service in the arduous four-week campaign. Major General Foster, commanding the Military District of the South, complimented Dahlgren on the Brigade’s courage and skill: “-its gallantry in action and good conduct during the irksome life in camp won from all the land forces with which it served the highest praises.” Although the Savannah-Charleston railroad was not cut by the expedition, it did succeed in diverting Confederate troops opposing Sherman’s march across Georgia.
1867 – U.S. claims Midway Island, first territory annexed outside Continental limits. The atoll was sighted on July 5, 1859, by Captain N.C. Middlebrooks, though he was most commonly known as Captain Brooks, of the sealing ship Gambia. The islands were named the “Middlebrook Islands” or the “Brook Islands”. Brooks claimed Midway for the United States under the Guano Islands Act of 1856, which authorized Americans to occupy uninhabited islands temporarily to obtain guano. On August 28, 1867, Captain William Reynolds of the USS Lackawanna formally took possession of the atoll for the United States; the name changed to “Midway” some time after this. The atoll became the first Pacific island annexed by the U.S. government, as the Unincorporated Territory of Midway Island, and administered by the United States Navy. Midway is the only island in the entire Hawaiian archipelago that was not later part of the State of Hawaii.
1872 – A U.S. Army force defeated a group of Apache warriors at Salt River Canyon, Arizona Territory, with 57 Indians killed but only one soldier.
1905 – Drydock Dewey left Solomon’s Island, MD, enroute through the Suez Canal to the Philippines to serve as repair base. This, the longest towing job ever accomplished, was completed by Brutus, Caesar, and Glacier on 10 July 1906.
1917 – The New York Evening Mail published a facetious and fictitious essay by H.L. Mencken on the history of the bathtub in America. Mencken claimed, for example, that Millard Fillmore was the first president to have a bathtub installed in the White House.
1933 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “The definite policy of the U.S. from now on is one opposed to armed intervention.”
1936 – Benito Mussolini sent planes to Spain to support Francisco Franco’s forces.
1941 – In the Philippines, American and allied troops continue to fall back. They are now at the Tarlac-Cabanatuan line. Japanese attacks continue.
1941Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks requests that construction battalions be recruited. The need for a militarized Naval Construction Force to build advance bases in the war zone was self-evident. Therefore, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell determined to activate, organize, and man Navy construction units. On 28 December 1941, he requested specific authority to carry out this decision, and on 5 January 1942, he gained authority from the Bureau of Navigation to recruit men from the construction trades for assignment to a Naval Construction Regiment composed of three Naval Construction Battalions. This is the actual beginning of the renowned Seabees, who obtained their designation from the initial letters of Construction Battalion. Admiral Moreell personally furnished them with their official motto: Construimus, Batuimus — “We Build, We Fight.”
1942 – US President Roosevelt confirms the policy of non cooperation with the British that his advisors have been recommending. He orders than no information be given to British scientists unless it is in a area in which they are directly working. The British are upset at the decision.
1943 – On New Britain, the US 1st Marine Division begins advancing to attack the Japanese airfield at Cape Gloucester.
1944 – The US 5th Army, fighting in the Italian Serchio valley, has pulled back from the town of Barga in response to German counterattacks.
1944 – AEF Commander in Chief General Eisenhower meets with British 21st Army Group command Field Marshal Montgomery to coordinate the counteroffensive in the Ardennes.
1944 – About 1200 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, escorted by 700 fighters, attacked Coblenz and other targets. Late in the day, Bomber Command bombs Cologne.
1945 – Congress officially recognized the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
1946 – The French declared martial law in Vietnam as a full-scale war appeared inevitable.
1950 – Chinese troops crossed the 38th Parallel into South Korea.
1951 – The U.S. paid $120,000 to free four fliers convicted of espionage in Hungary.
1952 – The Far East Air Force mounted its heaviest bombing attack since August 1952 with a 200-plane attack against targets southwest of Pyongyang.
1964South Vietnamese troops retake Binh Gia in a costly battle. The Viet Cong launched a major offensive on December 4 and took the village of Binh Gia, 40 miles southeast of Saigon. The South Vietnamese forces recaptured the village, but only after an eight-hour battle and three battalions of reinforcements were brought in on helicopters. The operation continued into the first week of January. Losses included an estimated 200 South Vietnamese and five U.S. advisors killed, plus 300 more South Vietnamese wounded or missing. Battles such this, in which the South Vietnamese suffered such heavy losses at the hands of the Viet Cong, convinced President Lyndon B. Johnson that the South Vietnamese could not defeat the communist without the commitment of U.S. ground troops to the war.
1972After 11 days of round-the-clock bombing (with the exception of a 36-hour break for Christmas), North Vietnamese officials agree to return to the peace negotiations in Paris. The Linebacker II bombing was initiated on December 18 by President Richard Nixon when the North Vietnamese, who walked out of the peace negotiations in Paris, refused his ultimatum to return to the talks. During the course of the bombing, 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. During the ensuing battle, the North Vietnamese launched their entire stock of more than 1,200 surface-to-air missiles against the U.S. planes. Fifteen B-52s and 11 other U.S. aircraft were lost, along with 93 flyers downed, killed, missing or captured. Hanoi claimed heavy damage and destruction of densely populated civilian areas in Hanoi, Haiphong, and their suburbs. The bombing resulted in the deaths of 1,318 in Hanoi. While some news reporters alleged that the U.S. was guilty of “carpet bombing” the area (deliberately targetting civilian areas with intensive bombing to “carpet” a city with bombs), the bombing was intended to focus on specific military targets. The Linebacker II bombing was effective in bringing the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table. When they returned to Paris, the peace talks moved along quickly. On January 23, 1973, the United States, North Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Viet Cong signed a cease-fire agreement that took effect five days later.
1982 – Recommissioning of USS New Jersey (BB-62), the first of four Iowa-class battleships that were returned to service in 1980s.
1988 – British authorities investigating the explosion that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, concluded that a bomb caused the blast aboard the jumbo jet.
1990 – LCDR Darlene M. Iskra becomes commander of USS Opportune, a salvage vessel.
1990 – USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and USS America (CV-66) Carrier Battle Groups deploy from Norfolk, VA, for Middle East to join Operation Desert Shield.
1992 – Somalia’s two main warlords, Mohamed Farrah Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, promised an end to their hostilities.
1998 – American aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone in Iraq destroyed an air defense site after the battery opened fire on them. President Clinton said there would be no letup in American and British pressure on Saddam Hussein.
2001 – Gen. Mohammad Fahim, Afghanistan’s new defense minister, called for an end to US bombing. Meanwhile al Qaeda remnants in the Tora Bora region fired missiles at a joint Afghan-American command base.
2002 – Iraq delivered a list to UN officials naming over 500 scientists who have worked on nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs.
2002 – The U.N. nuclear agency said its inspectors would leave North Korea early next week after the communist state said it would expel them and press on with its nuclear plans.
2003 – A team led by U.N. nuclear chief Mohammed ElBaradei toured 4 atomic facilities in Libya and found dismantled equipment. ElBaradei said Libya appeared to reach only an experimental level in its attempts to enrich uranium, essential for a nuclear bomb.
2004 – Insurgents launched multiple attacks on Iraqi police across the dangerous Sunni Triangle, killing at least 33 police officers and national guardsmen. 12 of the policemen near Tikrit had their throats slit.
2004 – Insurgents lured police to a house in west Baghdad with an anonymous tip about a rebel hideout, then set off explosives, killing at least 29 people and wounding 18.
2014 – The United States and NATO formally ended their war in Afghanistan with a ceremony at their military headquarters in Kabul as the insurgency they fought for 13 years remains as ferocious and deadly as at any time since the 2001 invasion that unseated the Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

None this Day.

December 27

27 December

1777 – Floating mines intended for use against British Fleet found in Delaware River.
1814 – Destruction of schooner Carolina, the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson’s make-shift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans. After loss of craft, the naval guns were mounted on shore to continue the fight.
1836 – Stephen Fuller Austin (43), founder of state of Texas, died.
1845 – Journalist John L. O’Sullivan, writing in his newspaper the New York Morning News, argues that the United States had the right to claim the entire Oregon Country “by the right of our manifest destiny”.
1846The rag-tag army of volunteers known as Doniphan’s Thousand, led by Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan, wins a major victory in the war with Mexico with the occupation of El Paso. Born in Kentucky in 1808, Doniphan moved to Missouri in 1830 to practice law. But the tall redheaded man was not satisfied with fighting only courtroom battles, and he volunteered as a brigadier general in the Missouri militia. When war between Mexico and the U.S. erupted in 1846, the men of the 1st Missouri Mounted Volunteers elected Doniphan their colonel, and marched south to join General Stephen Kearny’s army in New Mexico. Since they were not professional military men, Doniphan’s troops cared little for the traditional spit-and-polish of the regular troops, and reportedly looked more like tramps than soldiers. Likewise, Doniphan was a casual officer who led more by example than by strict discipline. Nonetheless, Doniphan’s Thousand proved to be a surprisingly effective force in the war with Mexico. In December, Doniphan led 500 of his men and a large wagon train of supplies south to join General John E. Wool in his planned invasion of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Before he had a chance to meet up with Wool’s larger force near the city of Chihuahua, Doniphan encountered an army of 1,200 Mexican soldiers about 30 miles north of El Paso, Texas. Although his opponents had twice the number of soldiers, Doniphan led his men to victory, and with the path to El Paso now largely undefended was able to occupy the city two days later. When nearing the Mexican border, Doniphan learned that General Wool’s forces had broken off their invasion of Chihuahua because the army’s wheeled vehicles had proved unworkable in the desert landscape. But rather than turn back, Doniphan reassembled his army to its full force of about 1,000 men and was allowed to proceed with the invasion unassisted. Once again grossly outnumbered-the Mexican army was four times the size of Doniphan’s-the Missouri troops were still able to quickly break through the defensive lines and occupy Chihuahua City. By mid-summer 1847, Doniphan’s victorious army reached the Gulf Coast, where they were picked up by ships and taken to New Orleans for discharge. By then, the focus of the battle had shifted to General Winfield Scott’s campaign to take Mexico City. In September of that year, Scott’s troops ended the war by successfully occupying Mexico City, and for the first time in U.S. history an American flag flew over a foreign capital. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed early in 1848, gave the U.S. the vast western territory stretching from Texas to the Pacific and north to Oregon.
1860 – U.S. Revenue Cutter Aiken was surrendered to South Carolina authorities.
1862 – Rosecrans’ army moved slowly toward General Bragg at Murfreesboro.
1862 – Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, Miss. (Chickasaw Bayou), began.1862 – Battle of Elizabethtown, KY.
1864The broken and defeated Confederate Army of Tennessee finishes crossing the Tennessee River as General John Bell Hood’s force retreats into Mississippi. The last half of 1864 was a disaster for the army. In May, Union General William T. Sherman began his drive on Atlanta from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Confederate army was commanded then by Joseph Johnston, who responded to Sherman’s flanking maneuvers by retreating slightly each time. From May to July, Johnston slowly backed into Atlanta, exchanging territory for time. When the troops reached Atlanta, Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaced Johnston with the offensive minded Hood. Hood immediately attacked Sherman three times in late July, losing each time. His offensive capabilities spent, Hood endured a monthlong siege of Atlanta. In early September, Hood was finally forced to relinquish the city to Sherman. Hood hung around to try cutting into Sherman’s supply lines but then retreated into Alabama. In November, Hood tried to draw Sherman from the deep South by moving towards Nashville, Tennessee. In response, Sherman dispatched part of his army back to Tennessee while taking the rest on his devastating march across Georgia, during which the Yankees destroyed nearly everything in their path. Hood moved north and fought two battles that were disastrous for the Confederates. At Franklin on November 30, Confederate attacks on entrenched Union soldiers resulted in ghastly casualties and the loss of six of the army’s finest generals. On December 15 and 16, the Confederates were crushed by the Yankees in front of Nashville. The dwindling numbers of participating soldiers tell the sad story of the Rebel army. In May, some 65,000 Confederates faced Sherman in northern Georgia. On September 20, after Atlanta fell, Hood’s force numbered 40,403. After crossing the Tennessee River, Hood reported 18,708 officers and enlisted men, a figure that another Confederate general, Pierre Beauregard, thought was significantly inflated. The Confederate Army of Tennessee was no longer a viable fighting force.
1939 – The American government protests the British seizure of US mail en route to Europe.
1941 – The Americans declare Manila an open city. The defenders are now at their third of five lines of defense in their delaying action against the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. This line runs east and west from Paniqui.
1941 – Rubber rationing was instituted by the U.S. government, due to shortages caused by World War II. Tires were the first items to be restricted by law.
1942 – On Guadalcanal, US attacks on Mount Austen renew. Attacking troops from the 132nd Infantry regiment, suffer heavy loses and make no real gains despite a heavy artillery barrage prior to the attack.
1943 – The American divisional beachhead near Cape Gloucester is extended with little resistance from the Japanese. The weather and terrain prove more formidable obstacles. The American regiment on Arawe receives reinforcements.
1943The threat of a paralyzing railroad strike loomed over the United States during the 1943 holiday season. President Franklin Roosevelt stepped in to serve as a negotiator, imploring the rail unions to give America a “Christmas present” and settle the smoldering wage dispute. But, as Christmas came and went, only two of the five railroad brotherhoods agreed to let Roosevelt arbitrate the situation. So, on December 27, just three days before the scheduled walk-out, the President shelved his nice-guy rhetoric and seized the railroads. Lest the move look too aggressive, Roosevelt assured that the railroads would only be temporarily placed under the “supervision” of the War Department; he also pledged that the situation would not alter daily rail operations. The gambit worked, as officials for the recalcitrant brotherhoods made an eleventh-hour decision to avert the strike. The action was taken under the wartime Labor Disputes Act. The railroads were returned to private management on January 18, 1944.
1944 – Attacks by the British 30th Corps (part of US 1st Army) force the German 2nd Panzer Division (an element of 5th Panzer Army) out of Celles. The US 3rd Army expands the corridor to Bastogne.
1944 – The US 8th Air Force bombs Coblenz, Bonn and Kaiserslautern (nominally railway targets). The RAF conducts nighttime raids on Munchen-Gladbach and Bonn.
1945 – Foreign ministers from the former Allied nations of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain agreed to divide Korea into two separate occupation zones and to govern the nation for five years.
1945The International Monetary Fund and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development was created. 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank. Better known as the World Bank, the IMF was created to promote healthy international trade and began transactions in 1947. The World Bank was designed by Englishman John Maynard Keynes and American Harry Dexter White.
1949 – Queen Juliana of the Netherlands granted sovereignty to the United States Indonesia after more than 300 years of Dutch rule. The Netherlands retained control of Irian Jaya, inhabited by Melanesians, until 1963.
1950 – U.S. and Spain resumed relations for the first time since the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.
1950Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway took command of U.N. ground forces in Korea. Ridgway was a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps in Europe during World War II. Upon assuming command, he moved immediately to the front to learn the situation first hand. Concurrently with Ridgway’s assumption of command, X Corps passed from control of General Headquarters, Far East Command, to the Eighth Army.
1950 – Captain Marcus L. Sullivan became the first Army aviator to pilot a helicopter, a Bell H-13, in Korea.
1966A United States and South Vietnamese joint-service operation takes place against one of the best-fortified Viet Cong strongholds, located in the U Minh Forest in the Mekong Delta, 125 miles southwest of Saigon. U.S. warplanes dropped bombs and napalm on the forest in preparation for the assault. Then, 6,000 South Vietnamese troops attacked Viet Cong positions in the forest. The U.S. Navy also participated in the operation–on December 29, the U.S. destroyer Herbert J. Thomas shelled suspected Viet Cong positions in the same area for seven hours. The operation ended on December 31, with 104 Viet Cong reported killed and 18 captured. The operation was considered a success in weakening the communist strength in the U Minh Forest.
1968 – The U.S. agreed to sell fifty F-4 Phantom jets to Israel.
1968Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, returns safely to Earth after an historic six-day journey. On December 21, Apollo 8 was launched by a three-stage Saturn 5 rocket 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 the 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 following year, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission, became the first men to walk on the moon.
1968In October 1968, the United States Air Force requested additional LORAN-C Coverage in Southeast Asia and by December 27, 1968 the Coast Guard had received authorization to proceed with the project. This led to the construction of a number of LORAN sites in the area, including South Vietnam.
1969In the fiercest battle in six weeks, U.S. and North Vietnamese forces clash near Loc Ninh, about 80 miles north of Saigon. Elements of the 1st Infantry Division reported killing 72 of 250 North Vietnamese soldiers in a daylong battle. Loc Ninh, a village of fewer than 10,000 people, was located at the northern limit of national Route 13, only a few miles from the Cambodian border. It was the site of several major battles between U.S. and Communist forces. On April 5, 1972, as part of their Easter Offensive, North Vietnamese forces overtook Loc Ninh during their attempt to capture the An Loc provincial capital to the south.
1978 – King Juan Carlos ratified Spain’s 1st democratic constitution. A parliamentary monarchy was established with power in the hands of the legislative branch.
1979In an attempt to stabilize the turbulent political situation in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union sends 75,000 troops to enforce the installation of Babrak Karmal as the new leader of the nation. The new government and the imposing Soviet presence, however, had little success in putting down antigovernment rebels. Thus began nearly 10 years of an agonizing, destructive, and ultimately fruitless Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. Ironically, Karmal overthrew and murdered another Afghan communist, Hafizullah Amin, to take power. Amin’s government became unpopular and unstable after it attempted to install a harsh communist regime, declared one-party rule and abolished the Afghan constitution. Muslims in the nation rejected his rule and formed a rebel force, the Mujahideen. When it became apparent that Amin could not control the rebellion, Soviet troops intervened and put a puppet ruler, Karmal, into power. For the Soviets, political turbulence in this bordering nation, which was viewed by some officials as a potentially useful ally pursuing its interests in the Middle East, was unacceptable. The Soviet intervention cost Russia dearly. The seemingly endless civil war in Afghanistan resulted in thousands of Soviet dead and untold monetary costs. It also brought an abrupt end to the era of dýtente between the United States and the Soviet Union that began during the Nixon years. In response to the Soviet intervention, President Jimmy Carter withdrew the SALT II agreement from consideration by Congress. The treaty, which had been signed in June 1979, was designed to establish parity in nuclear delivery vehicles between the United States and the Soviet Union. Carter also halted grain shipments to the Soviet Union and ordered a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics that were to be held in Moscow.
1983 – President Reagan took all responsibility for the lack of security in Beirut that allowed a terrorist on a suicide mission to kill 241 Marines.
1985 – Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; a total of twenty people were killed, including five of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel. Abu Nidal was considered responsible. President Reagan blamed Libyan leader 1989 – President Bush, on a visit to Beeville, Texas, said he was determined to bring deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega to justice “for poisoning the children of the United States” with illegal drugs.
1991 – The United States and the Philippines announced that the United States would abandon the Subic Bay naval base by the end of 1992.
1992 – The United States shot down an Iraqi fighter jet during what the Pentagon described as a confrontation between a pair of Iraqi warplanes and U.S. F-16 jets in U.N.-restricted airspace over southern Iraq.
1996 – In France the foreign ministry said that it would no longer participate in the Operation Provide Comfort after the end of the year. The operation was a multi-national air reconnaissance effort to safeguard Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq.
1998 – Iraq said it would reject any extension of a UN monitored food program and would require monitors to leave.
1999 – Space shuttle Discovery landed at Cape Canaveral, Fla., following a successful repair of the Hubble Space Telescope.
2001 – The US announced plans to hold Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.
2001 – US warplanes destroyed a compound in eastern Afghanistan believed to used by a Taliban intelligence chief. Qari Ahmadullah (40), former Taliban chief of intelligence, was killed while fleeing US bombardment near Naka village in Paktia province.
2002 – A defiant North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. But the U.N. nuclear watchdog said its inspectors were “staying put” for the time being.
2002 – Poland announced it will buy 48 U.S.-made F-16 jet fighters from Lockheed Martin for $3.5 billion to upgrade its air force to NATO standards.
2003 – In Afghanistan suspected al Qaeda fighters ambushed Afghan security forces near the Pakistani border. A senior Afghan intelligence official was killed along with 6 attackers.
2003 – In Iraq insurgents launched 3 coordinated attacks in the southern city of Karbala, killing 12 people, including six Iraqi police officers, 2 Thai soldiers and 5 Bulgarians.
2003 – Russia removed all Soviet-built anti-aircraft missiles from its vast arms depots in a Moldova province to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. The missiles were flown from Trans-Dniester Province to the Moscow.
2004In an audiotape, a man purported to be Osama bin Laden endorsed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of January’s elections in the country.
2004 – A suicide bomber detonated his car at the gate of the home of the leader of Iraq’s biggest political party and most powerful Shiite political group, killing 15 people and injuring dozens. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country’s, was unharmed.
2004 – The Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni political group, pulled out of the Jan. 30 elections citing the deteriorating security situation.
2004 – Jordan’s military court on acquitted 13 Muslim militants, including three Saudi fugitives, of conspiring to commit terror attacks against U.S. targets in Jordan, but sentenced 11 of them to prison terms ranging from six to 15 years for possessing explosives.
2012 – Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., commander of the combined coalition forces during the Gulf War, dies from pneumonia complications at age 78.
2013 – U.S. District Judge William Pauley rules that the country’s National Security Agency (NSA) acted lawfully, within the limits of the U.S. Constitution, when, after the September 11, 2001 attacks, it began an en masse bulk collection of metadata from American telephone records. The opinion, which throws out an ACLU lawsuit for now, is in contrast to Judge Richard Leon’s earlier ruling in another district.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

COTTON, PETER
Rank and organization: Ordinary Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1839, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863. Citation: Cotton served on board the U.S.S. Baron De Kalb in the Yazoo River expedition, 23 to 27 December 1862. Proceeding under orders up the Yazoo River, the Baron De Kalb, with the object of capturing or destroying the enemy’s transports, came upon the steamers John Walsh, R. J. Locklan, Golden Age and the Scotland, sunk on a bar where they were ordered to be burned. Continuing up the river, the Baron De Kalb was fired upon but, upon returning the fire, caused the enemy’s retreat. Returning down the Yazoo, she destroyed and captured large quantities of enemy equipment and several prisoners. Serving bravely throughout this action, Cotton, as coxswain “distinguished himself in the various actions.”

LEON, PIERRE
Rank and organization: Captain of the Forecastle, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, New Orleans, La. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Baron De Kalb, Yazoo River Expedition, 23 to 27 December 1862. Proceeding under orders up the Yazoo River, the U.S.S. Baron De Kalb, with the object of capturing or destroying the enemy’s transports, came upon the steamers John Walsh, R. J. Locklan, Golden Age and the Scotland sunk on a bar where they were ordered fired. Continuing up the river, she was fired on, but upon returning the fire, caused the enemy’s retreat. Returning down the Yazoo, she destroyed and captured larger quantities of enemy equipment and several prisoners. Serving bravely throughout this action, Leon, as captain of the forecastle, “distinguished himself in the various actions.”

MARTIN, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1842, Prussia. Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863. Citation: Serving as boatswain’s mate on board the U.S.S. Benton during the attack on Haines Bluff, Yazoo River, 27 December 1862. Taking part in the hour_and_a_half engagement with the enemy, who had the dead range of the vessel and was punishing her with heavy fire, Martin served courageously throughout the battle until the Benton was ordered to withdraw.

McDONALD, JOHN
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1817, Scotland. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 11 , 3 April 1 863. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Baron De Kalb, Yazoo River Expedition, 23 to 27 December 1862. Proceeding under orders up the Yazoo River, the U.S.S. Baron De Kalb, with the object of capturing or destroying the enemy’s transports, came upon the steamers John Walsh, R. J. Locklan, Golden Age, and the Scotland, sunk on a bar where they were ordered burned. Continuing up the river, she was fired on but, upon returning the fire, caused the enemy’s retreat. Returning down the Yazoo, she destroyed and captured large quantities of enemy equipment and several prisoners. Serving bravely throughout this action, McDonald, as boatswain’s mate, “distinguished himself in the various actions.”

MOORE, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1834, Boston, Mass. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 32, 16 April 1864. Citation: Serving as boatswain’s mate on board the U.S.S. Benton during the attack on Haines Bluff, Yazoo River, 27 December 1862. Wounded during the hour_and_a_half engagement in which the enemy had the dead range of the vessel and was punishing her with heavy fire, Moore served courageously in carrying lines to the shore until the Benton was ordered to withdraw.

MORTON, CHARLES W.
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1836, Ireland. Accredited to: Maryland. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863. Citation: Serving as boatswain’s mate on board the U.S.S. Benton during the Yazoo River Expedition, 23 to 27 December 1863. Taking part in the hour_and_a_half engagement with the enemy at Drumgould’s Bluff, 27 December, Morton served courageously throughout the battle against the hostile forces, who had the dead range of the vessel and were punishing her with heavy fire, until the Benton was ordered to withdraw.

ROBINSON, CHARLES
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1832 Scotland. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Baron de Kalb, Yazoo River Expedition, 23 to 27 December 1862. Proceeding under orders up the Yazoo River, the U.S.S. Baron de Kalb, with the object of capturing or destroying the enemy’s transports, came upon the steamers John Walsh, R. J. Locklan, Golden Age, and the Scotland sunk on a bar where they were ordered fired. Continuing up the river, she was fired on by the enemy, but upon returning the fire, caused the rebels to retreat. Returning down the Yazoo, she destroyed and captured large quantities of enemy equipment and several prisoners. Serving bravely throughout this action, Robinson, as boatswain’s mate, “d1stinguished himself in the various actions.”

WILLIAMS, ROBERT
Rank and organization: Signal Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: 1837, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863. Citation: Serving as quartermaster on board the U.S.S. Benton during the Yazoo River Expedition, 23 to 27 December 1862. Taking part in the hour_and_a_half engagement with the enemy at Drumgould’s Bluff, 27 December, Williams served courageously throughout that battle against hostile forces in which the enemy had the dead range of the vessel and were punishing her with heavy fire and, for various other action in which he took part during the Yazoo River Expedition.

WHITELEY, ELI
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company L, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Sigolsheim, France, 27 December 1944. Entered service at: Georgetown, Tex. Birth: Florence, Tex. G.O. No.: 79, 14 September 1945. Citation: While leading his platoon on 27 December 1944, in savage house-to-house fighting through the fortress town of Sigolsheim, France, he attacked a building through a street swept by withering mortar and automatic weapons fire. He was hit and severely wounded in the arm and shoulder; but he charged into the house alone and killed its 2 defenders. Hurling smoke and fragmentation grenades before him, he reached the next house and stormed inside, killing 2 and capturing 11 of the enemy. He continued leading his platoon in the extremely dangerous task of clearing hostile troops from strong points along the street until he reached a building held by fanatical Nazi troops. Although suffering from wounds which had rendered his left arm useless, he advanced on this strongly defended house, and after blasting out a wall with bazooka fire, charged through a hail of bullets. Wedging his submachinegun under his uninjured arm, he rushed into the house through the hole torn by his rockets, killed 5 of the enemy and forced the remaining 12 to surrender. As he emerged to continue his fearless attack, he was again hit and critically wounded. In agony and with 1 eye pierced by a shell fragment, he shouted for his men to follow him to the next house. He was determined to stay in the fighting, and remained at the head of his platoon until forcibly evacuated. By his disregard for personal safety, his aggressiveness while suffering from severe wounds, his determined leadership and superb courage, 1st Lt. Whiteley killed 9 Germans, captured 23 more and spearheaded an attack which cracked the core of enemy resistance in a vital area.

JENNINGS, DELBERT O.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 12th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division. Place and date: Kim Song Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 27 December 1966. Entered service at: San Francisco, Calif. Born: 23 July 1936, Silver City, N. Mex. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Part of Company C was defending an artillery position when attacked by a North Vietnamese Army regiment supported by mortar, recoilless-rifle, and machine gun fire. At the outset, S/Sgt. Jennings sprang to his bunker, astride the main attack route, and slowed the on-coming enemy wave with highly effective machine gun fire. Despite a tenacious defense in which he killed at least 12 of the enemy, his squad was forced to the rear. After covering the withdrawal of the squad, he rejoined his men, destroyed an enemy demolition crew about to blow up a nearby howitzer, and killed 3 enemy soldiers at his initial bunker position. Ordering his men back into a secondary position, he again covered their withdrawal, killing 1 enemy with the butt of his weapon. Observing that some of the defenders were unaware of an enemy force in their rear, he raced through a fire-swept area to warn the men, turn their fire on the enemy, and lead them into the secondary perimeter. Assisting in the defense of the new position, he aided the air-landing of reinforcements by throwing white phosphorous grenades on the landing zone despite dangerously silhouetting himself with the light. After helping to repulse the final enemy assaults, he led a group of volunteers well beyond friendly lines to an area where 8 seriously wounded men lay. Braving enemy sniper fire and ignoring the presence of booby traps in the area, they recovered the 8 men who would have probably perished without early medical treatment. S/Sgt. Jenning’s extraordinary heroism and inspirational leadership saved the lives of many of his comrades and contributed greatly to the defeat of a superior enemy force. His actions stand with the highest traditions of the military profession and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

December 26

26 December

1776The British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War. After crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey, George Washington led an attack on Hessian mercenaries and took 900 men prisoner. Two Americans froze to death on the march but none died in battle. There were 30 German casualties, 1,000 prisoners and 6 cannon captured. Four Americans were wounded in the overwhelming American victory, while 22 Hessians were killed and 78 wounded. The surprise attack caught most of the 1,200 Hessian soldiers at Trenton sleeping after a day of Christmas celebration. The Americans captured 918 Hessians, who were taken as prisoners to Philadelphia. The victory was a huge morale booster for the American army and the country. The victory at Trenton was a huge success and morale booster for the American army and people. However, the enlistments of more than 4,500 of Washington’s soldiers were set to end four days later and it was critical that the force remain intact. General George Washington offered a bounty of $10 to any of his soldiers who extended their enlistments six weeks beyond their December 31, 1776, expiration dates. The American Revolution Battle of Trenton saw the routing of 1,400 Hessian mercenaries, with 101 killed or wounded and about 900 taken prisoner, with no Americans killed in the combat. Four Americans were wounded and two had died of exhaustion en route to Trenton.
1786Daniel Shay led a rebellion in Massachusetts to protest the seizure of property for the non-payment of debt. Shay was a Revolutionary War veteran who led a short-lived insurrection in western Massachusetts to protest a tax increase that had to be paid in cash, a hardship for veteran farmers who relied on barter and didn‘t own enough land to vote. The taxes were to pay off the debts from the Revolutionary War, and those who couldn‘t pay were evicted or sent to prison.
1799 – The late George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
1820Hoping to recover from bankruptcy with a bold scheme of colonization, Moses Austin meets with Spanish authorities in San Antonio to ask permission for 300 Anglo-American families to settle in Texas. A native of Durham, Connecticut, Austin had been a successful merchant in Philadelphia and Virginia. After hearing reports of rich lead mines in the Spanish-controlled regions to the west, Austin obtained permission in 1798 from the Spanish to mine land in an area that lies in what is now the state of Missouri. Austin quickly built a lead mine, smelter, and town on his property, and his mine turned a steady profit for more than a decade. Unfortunately, the economic collapse following the War of 1812 destroyed the lead market and left him bankrupt. Determined to rebuild his fortune, Austin decided to draw on his experience with the Spanish and try to establish an American colony in Texas. In 1820, he traveled to San Antonio to request a land grant from the Spanish governor, who initially turned him down. Austin persisted and was finally granted permission to settle 300 Anglo families on 200,000 acres of Texas land. Overjoyed, Austin immediately set out for the United States to begin recruiting colonists, but he became ill and died on the long journey back. The task of completing the arrangements for Austin’s Texas colony fell to his son, Stephen Fuller Austin. The younger Austin selected the lower reaches of Colorado River and Brazos River as the site for the colony, and the first colonists began arriving in December 1821. Over the next decade, Stephen Austin and other colonizers brought nearly 25,000 people into Texas, most of them Anglo-Americans. Always more loyal to the United States than to Mexico, the settlers eventually broke from Mexico to form the independent Republic of Texas in 1836. Nine years later, they led the successful movement to make Texas an American state.
1837 – George Dewey, Admiral of the Navy, was born: Spanish-American War: hero of Manila: “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”
1860 – Following the secession of South Carolina (20 December) Major Robert Anderson, USA, removed his loyal garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, on an island in Charleston Harbor; this created spe­cial need for sea-borne reinforcements of troops and supplies.
1861Confederate diplomatic envoys James Mason and John Slidell are freed by the Lincoln administration, thus heading off a possible war between the United States and Great Britain. The two men were aboard the British mail steamer Trent on November 8 when they were pulled over by the U.S.S. San Jacinto. They were headed to London to lobby for recognition of the Confederacy. The Union ship intercepted the English ship near the Bahamas, arrested the Southerners, and took them back to Boston. The British were outraged when word of the interception reached London in late November, fueling anti-American sentiment among the British. The British had not taken sides in the American Civil War and their policy was to accept any paying customer that wished to travel aboard their ships. The British government dispatched a message to the American government demanding the release of Mason and Slidell and an apology for the transgression of British rights on the high seas. The British cabinet sent a message on December 1 insisting that the U.S. respond within a week. It also began preparing for war, banning exports of war materials to the U.S. and sending 11,000 troops to Canada. Plans were made to attack the American fleet that was blockading the South, and the British planned a blockade of northern ports. Lincoln decided not to push the issue. On December 26, he ordered the envoys released and averted a war with England in the process. The incident gave the Confederates hope that there was support for their cause in Britain, but it also demonstrated how hard the Union would work to avoid conflict with Britain.
1862 – 38 Santee Sioux were hanged in Mankato, Minn., for their part in the Sioux Uprising. 1862 – Four nuns who were volunteer nurses on board Red Rover were the first female nurses on a U.S. Navy hospital ship.
1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou begins. The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, also called the Battle of Walnut Hills, begins. It was the opening engagement of the Vicksburg Campaign during the American Civil War. Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton repulsed an advance by Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman that was intended to lead to the capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Three Union divisions under Sherman disembarked at Johnson’s Plantation on the Yazoo River to approach the Vicksburg defenses from the northeast while a fourth landed farther upstream on December 27. On December 27, the Federals pushed their lines forward through the swamps toward the Walnut Hills, which were strongly defended. On December 28, several futile attempts were made to get around these defenses. On December 29, Sherman ordered a frontal assault, which was repulsed with heavy casualties, and then withdrew. This Confederate victory frustrated Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s attempts to take Vicksburg by a direct approach.
1865 – James H. Mason of Franklin, Mass., received a patent for a coffee percolator.
1866 – Brig. Gen. Philip St. George Cooke, head of the Department of the Platte received word of the Dec 21 Fetterman Fight in Powder River County in the Dakota territory.
1917 – As a wartime measure, President Wilson placed railroads under government control, with Secretary of War William McAdoo as director general.
1925 – Six U.S. destroyers were ordered from Manila to China to protect interests in the civil war that was being waged there.
1941Less than three weeks after the American entrance into World War II, Winston Churchill becomes the first British prime minister to address Congress. Churchill, a gifted orator, urged Congress to back President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal that America become the “great arsenal of democracy” and warned that the Axis powers would “stop at nothing” in pursuit of their war aims. Born at Blenheim Palace in 1874, Churchill joined the British Fourth Hussars upon his father’s death in 1895. During the next five years, he enjoyed an illustrious military career, serving in India, the Sudan, and South Africa, and distinguishing himself several times in battle. In 1899, he resigned his commission to concentrate on his literary and political career and in 1900 was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP from Oldham. In 1904, he joined the Liberals, serving a number of important posts before being appointed Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, where he worked to bring the British navy to a readiness for the war he foresaw. In 1915, in the second year of World War I, Churchill was held responsible for the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns and was thus excluded from the war coalition government. However, in 1917 he returned to politics as a cabinet member in the Liberal government of Lloyd George. From 1919 to 1921, he was secretary of state for war and in 1924 returned to the Conservative Party, where two years later he played a leading role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill issued unheeded warnings of the threat of Nazi and Japanese aggression. After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Churchill returned to his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and eight months later replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister of a new coalition government. In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that Britain would “never surrender.” He rallied the British people to a resolute resistance and expertly orchestrated Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin into an alliance that eventually crushed the Axis. After a postwar Labor Party victory in 1945, he became leader of the opposition and in 1951 was again elected prime minister. In 1953, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. After his retirement as prime minister, he remained in Parliament until 1964, the year before his death.
1941 – General Douglas MacArthur declared Manila an open city in the face of the onrushing Japanese Army.
1943Under command of Seventh Amphibious Force, landings at Cape Gloucester, New Britain was conducted with Coast Guard-manned LST’s 18, 22, 66, 67, 68, 168, 202, 204, and 206. The LST-22 shot down a Japanese “Val” dive bomber while LST-66 was officially credited with downing three enemy aircraft. Two of her crew were killed by near misses. LST-67 brought down one Japanese dive bomber while LST-204 shot down two and the gunners aboard LST-68 claimed another. The LST-202 claimed three enemy planes shot down.
1943 – Count Claus von Stauffenberg tried in vain to plant a bomb in Hitler’s headquarters.
1943 – The US 5th Army clears Monte Sammucro and the surrounding hills of German forces.
1944General George S. Patton employs an audacious strategy to relieve the besieged Allied defenders of Bastogne, Belgium, during the brutal Battle of the Bulge. The capture of Bastogne was the immediate goal of the Battle of the Bulge, with eyes on the port city of Antwerp if a campaign could be strung together, the German offensive through the Ardennes forest. Bastogne provided a road junction in rough terrain where few roads existed; it would open up a valuable pathway further north for German expansion. The Belgian town was defended by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, which had to be reinforced by troops who straggled in from other battlefields. Food, medical supplies, and other resources eroded as bad weather and relentless German assaults threatened the Americans’ ability to hold out. Nevertheless, Brigadier General Anthony C. MacAuliffe met a German surrender demand with a typewritten response of a single word: “Nuts.” Enter “Old Blood and Guts,” General Patton. Employing a complex and quick-witted strategy wherein he literally wheeled his 3rd Army a sharp 90 degrees in a counterthrust movement, Patton broke through the German lines and entered Bastogne, relieving the valiant defenders and ultimately pushing the Germans east across the Rhine. Meanwhile, British Bomber Command makes a daylight raid on the German held transportation hub of St. Vith. The Allies claim to have captured 13,273 German prisoners while the Germans claim over 30,000 Allied POWs and the destruction of 700 American tanks.
1944In Italy two platoons of the segregated 92nd Infantry Division fought the German 14th Army at Sommocolonia. Of 70 “Buffalo Soldiers” and 25 Italian Partisans only 18 survived. In 1977 Lt. John Fox and 6 other black Americans were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. By the end of the war 2,916 Buffalo soldiers fell breaking the Gothic Line.
1944 – Japanese naval force arriving from Indochina bombards the American beachhead on Mindoro. The force consists of 2 cruisers and 6 destroyers. An American PT Boat sinks one of the destroyers. This is the last sortie by a Japanese naval force in the Philippines.
1945 – The Big Three, the US, Soviet Union and Great Britain, ended a 10-day meeting, seeking an atomic rule by the UN Council.
1953 – The U.S. announced the withdrawal of two divisions from Korea.
1957 – Twenty helicopters from Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 162, were rushed to Ceylon onboard the USS PRINCETON where Marines participated in the rescue and evacuation of flood victims.
1967Laotian Premier Souvanna Phouma reports that North Vietnamese troops have started a general offensive against government forces in southern Laos. Phouma reported that at least one battle was being waged near Pha Lane, but said Laotian troops appeared to be in control of the situation. On December 29, North Vietnam denied that its forces began a drive in Laos, but it was supporting the communist Pathet Lao in their long-time campaign against the Royal Lao government.
1971In the sharpest escalation of the war since Operation Rolling Thunder ended in November 1968, U.S. fighter-bombers begin striking at North Vietnamese airfields, missile sites, antiaircraft emplacements, and supply facilities. These raids continued for five days. They were begun in response to intelligence that predicted a North Vietnamese build up of forces and equipment for a new offensive. At a press conference on December 27, U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird said the increase in bombing was in retaliation for the communist failure to honor agreements made prior to the 1968 bombing halt. As evidence, Laird cited the shelling of Saigon the week before, DMZ violations–including an infiltration route being built through the buffer zone, and attacks on unarmed U.S. reconnaissance planes. Pentagon figures showed that U.S. planes–with as many as 250 aircraft participating in some missions–attacked communist targets over 100 times in 1971, a figure comparable to U.S. air activity in the previous 26 months.
1972As part of Operation Linebacker II, 120 American B-52 Stratofortress bombers attacked Hanoi, including 78 launched from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the largest single combat launch in Strategic Air Command history. Operation Linebacker II was a US Seventh Air Force and US Navy Task Force 77 aerial bombing campaign, conducted against targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) during the final period of US involvement in the Vietnam War. The operation was conducted from 18–29 December 1972, leading to several of informal names such as “The December Raids” and “The Christmas Bombings”. Unlike the Operation Rolling Thunder and Operation Linebacker interdiction operations, Linebacker II, would be a “maximum effort” bombing campaign to “destroy major target complexes in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas which could only be accomplished by B-52s.” It saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the US Air Force since the end of World War II. Linebacker II was a modified extension of the Operation Linebacker bombings conducted from May to October, with the emphasis of the new campaign shifted to attacks by B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers rather than smaller tactical fighter aircraft.
1972 – The 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo. In 1995 Robert H. Ferrell published the biography “Harry S. Truman: A Life.” In 1999 Ferrell published “Truman and Pendergrast.”
1979 – The Soviet Union flew 5,000 troops into the Afghanistan conflict.
1987 – A bomb exploded at a USO bar in Barcelona, Spain, killing one U.S. sailor and injuring nine others; a little-known group called the Red Army of Catalonian Liberation claimed responsibility.
1991 – Jack Ruby’s gun sold for $220,000 in auction.
1991 – The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union meets and formally dissolves the Soviet Union.
1998 – Iraq fired on Western aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone and said it would shoot at all military aircraft patrolling no-fly zones.
1999 – The crew of space shuttle “Discovery” packed up its tools and prepared to return home after an eight-day mission of repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope that NASA declared a success.
1999 – In Iran members of the opposition Mujahedeen Khalq crossed from Iraq and attacked Republican Guard barracks in Khuzestan.
2001The Al Jazeera Arab network broadcast a new video-taped statement from Osama bin Laden that appeared to have been made in late Nov or early Dec. “Our terrorism is benign,” he claims. The al-Qaida leader condemned the United States as a nation that committed crimes against millions of Afghans.
2002 – The Int’l. Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said North Korea had moved 1,000 fresh fuel rods to a nuclear reactor that produces plutonium used in nuclear warheads.
2004 – The world’s most powerful earthquake in 40 years triggered massive tidal waves that slammed into villages and seaside resorts across southern and southeast Asia killed. The initial estimated death toll of 9,000 soon rose to more than 225,000 people in 12 countries. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake was the world’s fifth-largest since 1900 and the largest since a 9.2 temblor hit Prince William Sound Alaska in 1964. The epicenter was located 155 miles south-southeast of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on Sumatra, and six miles under the seabed of the Indian Ocean. In Indonesia at least 166,320 people were killed.
2004 – The Russian unmanned cargo ship, Progress M-51,docked at the international space station, ending a shortage that forced astronauts to ration supplies.
2006Gerald Ford, former President of the United States, dies at 93. Gerald Rudolph “Jerry” Ford, Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.; July 14, 1913) was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and, prior to this, was the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974 under President Richard Nixon. He was the first person appointed to the Vice Presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, after Spiro Agnew resigned. When he became president upon Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974, he became the first and to date only person to have served as both Vice President and President of the United States without being elected by the Electoral College. Before ascending to the Vice Presidency, Ford served nearly 25 years as the Representative from Michigan’s 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader. As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over the worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal. During Ford’s incumbency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In 1976, Ford defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but narrowly lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter. Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems, Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. Ford lived longer than any other U.S. president, living 93 years and 165 days, while his 895-day presidency remains the shortest of all presidents who did not die in office.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

NOIL, JOSEPH B.
Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1841, Nova Scotia. Accredited to: New York. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Powhatan at Norfolk, 26 December 1872, Noil saved Boatswain J. C. Walton from drowning.

*FOX, JOHN R.
Citation: For extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Sommocolonia, Italy on 26 December 1944, while serving as a member of Cannon Company, 366th Infantry Regiment, 92d Infantry Division. During the preceding few weeks, Lieutenant Fox served with the 598th Field Artillery Battalion as a forward observer. On Christmas night, enemy soldiers gradually infiltrated the town of Sommocolonia in civilian clothes, and by early morning the town was largely in hostile hands. Commencing with a heavy barrage of enemy artillery at 0400 hours on 26 December 1944, an organized attack by uniformed German units began. Being greatly outnumbered, most of the United States Infantry forces were forced to withdraw from the town, but Lieutenant Fox and some other members of his observer party voluntarily remained on the second floor of a house to direct defensive artillery fire. At 0800 hours, Lieutenant Fox reported that the Germans were in the streets and attacking in strength. He then called for defensive artillery fire to slow the enemy advance. As the Germans continued to press the attack towards the area that Lieutenant Fox occupied, he adjusted the artillery fire closer to his position. Finally he was warned that the next adjustment would bring the deadly artillery right on top of his position. After acknowledging the danger, Lieutenant Fox insisted that the last adjustment be fired as this was the only way to defeat the attacking soldiers. Later, when a counterattack retook the position from the Germans, Lieutenant Fox’s body was found with the bodies of approximately 100 German soldiers. Lieutenant Fox’s gallant and courageous actions, at the supreme sacrifice of his own life, contributed greatly to delaying the enemy advance until other infantry and artillery units could reorganize to repel the attack. His extraordinary valorous actions were in keeping with the most cherished traditions of military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

*FRYAR, ELMER E.
Rank and organization: Private, U .S. Army, Company E, 511th Parachute Infantry, 11th Airborne Division. Place and date: Leyte, Philippine Islands, 8 December 1944. Entered service at: Denver, Colo. Birth: Denver, Colo. G.O. No.: 35, 9 May 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pvt. Fryar’s battalion encountered the enemy strongly entrenched in a position supported by mortars and automatic weapons. The battalion attacked, but in spite of repeated efforts was unable to take the position. Pvt. Fryar’s company was ordered to cover the battalion’s withdrawal to a more suitable point from which to attack, but the enemy launched a strong counterattack which threatened to cut off the company. Seeing an enemy platoon moving to outflank his company, he moved to higher ground and opened heavy and accurate fire. He was hit, and wounded, but continuing his attack he drove the enemy back with a loss of 27 killed. While withdrawing to overtake his squad, he found a seriously wounded comrade, helped him to the rear, and soon overtook his platoon leader, who was assisting another wounded. While these 4 were moving to rejoin their platoon, an enemy sniper appeared and aimed his weapon at the platoon leader. Pvt. Fryar instantly sprang forward, received the full burst of automatic fire in his own body and fell mortally wounded. With his remaining strength he threw a hand grenade and killed the sniper. Pvt. Fryar’s indomitable fighting spirit and extraordinary gallantry above and beyond the call of duty contributed outstandingly to the success of the battalion’s withdrawal and its subsequent attack and defeat of the enemy. His heroic action in unhesitatingly giving his own life for his comrade in arms exemplifies the highest tradition of the U.S. Armed Forces.

HENDRIX, JAMES R.
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company C, 53d Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division. Place and date: Near Assenois, Belgium, 26 December 1944. Entered service at: Lepanto, Ark. Birth: Lepanto, Ark. G.O. No.: 74, 1 September 1945. Citation: On the night of 26 December 1944, near Assenois, Belgium, he was with the leading element engaged in the final thrust to break through to the besieged garrison at Bastogne when halted by a fierce combination of artillery and small arms fire. He dismounted from his half-track and advanced against two 88mm. guns, and, by the ferocity of his rifle fire, compelled the guncrews to take cover and then to surrender. Later in the attack he again left his vehicle, voluntarily, to aid 2 wounded soldiers, helpless and exposed to intense machinegun fire. Effectively silencing 2 hostile machineguns, he held off the enemy by his own fire until the wounded men were evacuated. Pvt. Hendrix again distinguished himself when he hastened to the aid of still another soldier who was trapped in a burning half-track. Braving enemy sniper fire and exploding mines and ammunition in the vehicle, he extricated the wounded man and extinguished his flaming clothing, thereby saving the life of his fellow soldier. Pvt. Hendrix, by his superb courage and heroism, exemplified the highest traditions of the military service.

*McGUlRE, THOMAS B., JR. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army Air Corps, 13th Air Force. Place and date: Over Luzon, Philippine Islands, 25-26 December 1944. Entered service at: Sebring, Fla.. Birth: Ridgewood, N.J. G.O. No.: 24, 7 March 1946. Citation: He fought with conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity over Luzon, Philippine Islands. Voluntarily, he led a squadron of 15 P-38’s as top cover for heavy bombers striking Mabalacat Airdrome, where his formation was attacked by 20 aggressive Japanese fighters. In the ensuing action he repeatedly flew to the aid of embattled comrades, driving off enemy assaults while himself under attack and at times outnumbered 3 to 1, and even after his guns jammed, continuing the fight by forcing a hostile plane into his wingman’s line of fire. Before he started back to his base he had shot down 3 Zeros. The next day he again volunteered to lead escort fighters on a mission to strongly defended Clark Field. During the resultant engagement he again exposed himself to attacks so that he might rescue a crippled bomber. In rapid succession he shot down 1 aircraft, parried the attack of 4 enemy fighters, 1 of which he shot down, single-handedly engaged 3 more Japanese, destroying 1, and then shot down still another, his 38th victory in aerial combat. On 7 January 1945, while leading a voluntary fighter sweep over Los Negros Island, he risked an extremely hazardous maneuver at low altitude in an attempt to save a fellow flyer from attack, crashed, and was reported missing in action. With gallant initiative, deep and unselfish concern for the safety of others, and heroic determination to destroy the enemy at all costs, Maj. McGuire set an inspiring example in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

WARE, KEITH L.
Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S . Army, 1st Battalion, 1 5th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Sigolsheim, France, 26 December 1944. Entered service at: Glendale, Calif. Born: 23 November 1915, Denver, Colo. G.O. No.: 47, 18 June 1945. Citation: Commanding the 1st Battalion attacking a strongly held enemy position on a hill near Sigolsheim, France, on 26 December 1944, found that 1 of his assault companies had been stopped and forced to dig in by a concentration of enemy artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire. The company had suffered casualties in attempting to take the hill. Realizing that his men must be inspired to new courage, Lt. Col. Ware went forward 150 yards beyond the most forward elements of his command, and for 2 hours reconnoitered the enemy positions, deliberately drawing fire upon himself which caused the enemy to disclose his dispositions. Returning to his company, he armed himself with an automatic rifle and boldly advanced upon the enemy, followed by 2 officers, 9 enlisted men, and a tank. Approaching an enemy machinegun, Lt. Col. Ware shot 2 German riflemen and fired tracers into the emplacement, indicating its position to his tank, which promptly knocked the gun out of action. Lt. Col. Ware turned his attention to a second machinegun, killing 2 of its supporting riflemen and forcing the others to surrender. The tank destroyed the gun. Having expended the ammunition for the automatic rifle, Lt. Col. Ware took up an Ml rifle, killed a German rifleman, and fired upon a third machinegun 50 yards away. His tank silenced the gun. Upon his approach to a fourth machinegun, its supporting riflemen surrendered and his tank disposed of the gun. During this action Lt. Col. Ware’s small assault group was fully engaged in attacking enemy positions that were not receiving his direct and personal attention. Five of his party of 11 were casualties and Lt. Col. Ware was wounded but refused medical attention until this important hill position was cleared of the enemy and securely occupied by his command.

December 25

MERRY CHRISTMAS

25 December

274 – Emperor Aurelian imported into Rome the cult of Sol Invictus and made its Dec 25 festival a national holiday.
336 – The first recorded celebration of Christmas on this day took place in Rome. By this year Dec 25 was established in the Liturgy of the Roman Church as the birthday of Jesus.
1492 – Carrack Santa María captained by Christopher Columbus runs onto reefs off Haiti due to a proper watch not being kept. Local natives help to save food, armory and ammunition but not the ship.
1776During the American Revolution, Patriot General George Washington crosses the Delaware River with 5,400 troops, hoping to surprise a Hessian force celebrating Christmas at their winter quarters in Trenton, New Jersey. The unconventional attack came after several months of substantial defeats for Washington’s army that had resulted in the loss of New York City and other strategic points in the region. At about 11 p.m. on Christmas, Washington’s army commenced its crossing of the half-frozen river at three locations. The 2,400 soldiers led by Washington successfully braved the icy and freezing river and reached the New Jersey side of the Delaware just before dawn. The other two divisions, made up of some 3,000 men and crucial artillery, failed to reach the meeting point at the appointed time. At approximately 8 a.m. on the morning of December 26, Washington’s remaining force, separated into two columns, reached the outskirts of Trenton and descended on the unsuspecting Hessians. Trenton’s 1,400 Hessian defenders were groggy from the previous evening’s festivities and underestimated the Patriot threat after months of decisive British victories throughout New York. Washington’s men quickly overwhelmed the Germans’ defenses, and by 9:30 a.m. the town was surrounded. Although several hundred Hessians escaped, nearly 1,000 were captured at the cost of only four American lives. However, because most of Washington’s army had failed to cross the Delaware, he was without adequate artillery or men and was forced to withdraw from the town. The victory was not particularly significant from a strategic point of view, but news of Washington’s initiative raised the spirits of the American colonists, who previously feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory.
1779 – A court-martial was convened against Benedict Arnold. He defended himself successfully on 6 of 8 charges but was convicted of illegally issuing a government pass and using government wagons to transport personal goods.
1821Clara Barton (d.1912), the founder of the American Red Cross, was born in North Oxford, Massachusetts. She worked as a volunteer nurse during the Civil War, distributing food and medical supplies to troops and earning herself the label “Angel of the Battlefield.” She later served alongside the International Red Cross in Europe–however, she could not work directly with the organization because she was a woman. In 1882 she formed an American branch of the Red Cross. Barton lobbied for the Geneva Convention and she expanded the mission of the Red Cross to include helping victims of peacetime disasters. Clara Barton died at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland, on April 12, 1912, when she was 90 years old.
1837American general Zachary Taylor leads 1100 troops against the Seminoles at the Battle of Lake Okeechobee. The Battle of Lake Okeechobee was one of the major battles of the Second Seminole War. It was fought between 800 troops of the 1st, 4th, and 6th Infantry Regiments and 132 Missouri Volunteers (under the command of Colonel Zachary Taylor), and between 380 and 480 Seminoles led by Billy Bowlegs, Abiaca, and Alligator. The Seminole warriors were resisting forced relocation to a reservation out west. Though both the Seminoles and Taylor’s troops emerged from the battle claiming victory, Taylor was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General as a result, and his nickname of “Old Rough and Ready” came mostly due to this battle.
1862 – President and Mrs. Lincoln visited hospitals in the Washington D.C. area on this Christmas Day.
1862 – John Hunt Morgan and his raiders clashed with Union forces near Bear Wallow, Kentucky. Fighting also occurred at Green’s Chapel.
1864On the 24th Naval forces under the command of Rear Admiral Porter and Army units under Major General Butler launched an unsuccessful attack against Fort Fisher. Transports carrying Butler’s troops had retired to Beaufort in order to avoid the anticipated effects of the explosion of the powder boat Louisiana, and fleet units had assembled in a rendezvous area 12 miles from the fort. At daylight on 24 December, the huge fleet got underway, formed in line of battle before the formidable Confederate works, and commenced a furious bombardment. The staunch Southern defenders, under the command of Colonel William Lamb, were driven from their guns and into the bombproofs of Fort Fisher, but managed to return the Federal fire from a few of their heavy cannon. Transports carrying the Union soldiers did not arrive from Beaufort until evening; too late for an assault that day. Accordingly, Porter withdrew his ships, intending to renew the attack the next day. Most of the casualties resulted from the bursting of five 100-pounder Parrott guns on board five different ships. By taking shelter the defenders, too, suffered few casualties, despite the heavy bombardment. At 10:30 the following morning the ships again opened fire on the fort and maintained the bombardment while troops landed north of the works, near Flag Pond Battery. Naval gunfire kept the garrison largely pinned down and away from their guns as Butler landed about 2,000 men who advanced toward the land face of the fort. eanwhile, the Admiral attempted to find a channel through New Inlet in order to attack the forts from Cape Fear River. When Commander Guest, U.S.S. Iosco and a detachment of double-ender gunboats encountered a shallow bar over which they could not pass, Porter called on the indomitable Lieutenant Cushing, hero of the Albemarle destruction, to sound the channel in small boats, buoying it for the ships to pass through. Under withering fire from the forts, even the daring Cushing was forced to turn back, one of his boats being cut in half by a Confederate shell. Late in the afternoon, Army skirmishers advanced to within yards of the fort, supported by heavy fire from Union vessels. Lieutenant Aeneas Armstrong, CSN, inside Fort Fisher, later described the bombardment: “The whole of the interior of the fort, which consists of sand, merlons, etc., was as one eleven-inch shell bursting. You can now inspect the works and walk on nothing but iron.” Union Army commanders, however, considered the works too strongly defended to be carried by assault with the troops available, and the soldiers began to reembark. Some 700 troops were left on the beaches as the weather worsened. They were protected by gun-boats under Captain Glisson, U.S.S. Santiago de Cuba, who had lent continuous close support to the landing. By 27 December the last troops were embarked; the first major attack on Fort Fisher had failed. Confederate reinforcements under General R. F. Hoke were in Wilmington and arrived at Confederate Point just after Union forces departed. The Army transports returned to Hampton Roads to prepare for a second move on the Confederate bastion, while Porter’s fleet remained in the Wilmington-Beaufort area and continued sporadic bombardment in an effort to prevent repair of the fort.
1868 – President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion that resulted in the Civil War.
1896 – “Stars & Stripes Forever” was written by John Philip Sousa.
Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with might endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.
1925 – U.S. troops under Admiral Latimer disarmed Nicaraguan insurgents in support of the Diaz regime.
1926 – Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito (Hirohito was formally enthroned almost two years later). This marked the beginning of the Showa Period (1926-1989).
1941 – Admiral Chester W. Nimitz arrives at Pearl Harbor to assume command of U.S. Pacific Fleet.
1941 – The US defensive strategy in the Philippines continues with their withdrawal to the second line of defense at the Agno River. Japanese attacks continue.
1942 – The Japanese base at Rabaul is attacked by bombers from Guadalcanal.
1943 – US Task Group 50.2 (Admiral Sherman) raids Kavieng with 86 aircraft. There are 2 carriers and 6 destroyers employed in the operation but they succeed in sinking only 1 Japanese transport ship.
1944Allied forces surrounding the German-held bulge begin counterattacking. The US 4th Armored Division, an element of US 3rd Army, aims at relieving the Americans surrounded in Bastogne. Meanwhile, German attacks are halted by American armor at Celles, about 6 km east of the Meuse River, after having advanced about 80 km since the beginning of the offensive in mid-December.
1944On Leyte, part of the US 77th Division makes an amphibious move from Ormoc to San Juan, on the west coast of the island, north of Palompon, where the Japanese forces are concentrated. The landing is unopposed. General MacArthur announces that the Leyte campaign has ended with Japanese losses totalling 113,221.
1946 – The first in artificial, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction outside the US is initiated within Soviet F-1 nuclear reactor.
1950 – Chinese forces crossed the 38th parallel.
1962 – The Bay of Pigs captives who were ransomed, vowed to return and topple Castro.
1966Harrison Salisbury, assistant managing editor of the New York Times, files a report from Hanoi chronicling the damage to civilian areas in North Vietnam by the U.S. bombing campaign. Salisbury stated that Nam Dinh, a city about 50 miles southeast of Hanoi, was bombed repeatedly by U.S. planes starting on June 28, 1965. Salisbury’s press report caused a stir in Washington where, it was reported, Pentagon officials expressed irritation and contended that he was exaggerating the damage to civilian areas. On December 26, the U.S. Defense Department conceded that American pilots bombed North Vietnamese civilians accidentally during missions against military targets. The spokesman restated administration policy that air raids were confined to military targets but added, “It is sometimes impossible to avoid all damage to civilian areas.”
1968 – Apollo 8 performs the very first successful Trans-Earth injection (TEI) maneuver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit.
1972After a 36-hour respite for Christmas, the U.S. resumes Operation Linebacker II. The extensive bombing campaign was resumed because, according to U.S. officials, Hanoi sent no word that it would return to the peace talks. On December 13, North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of secret talks in Paris with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. President Nixon issued an ultimatum that North Vietnam 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 that began on December 18. During the 11 days of Linebacker II, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties dropped an estimated 20,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam–half the total tonnage of bombs dropped on England during World War II. Also on this day: U.S. headquarters in Saigon announces that American military strength in South Vietnam was reduced by 700 men during the previous week. The reduction brought the total U.S. forces in South Vietnam to 24,000, the lowest in almost eight years.
1973 – Skylab astronauts took a seven hour walk in space and photographed the comet Kohoutek.
1974Marshall Fields drives a vehicle through the gates of the White House, resulting in a four-hour standoff. Fields crashed his Chevrolet Impala into the Northwest Gate of the White House complex. Dressed in Arab clothing, Fields claimed that he was the Messiah and that he was laden with explosives. He drove up to the North Portico and positioned himself only several feet from the front door. After four hours of negotiations, Fields surrendered. The explosives he claimed to be in possession of were discovered to be flares. President Gerald Ford and his family were not home at the time.
1979In Tong-du-cheon, Korea, two US soldiers, David Medina and Reinaldo Roa, approached an MP station under cover of darkness. Medina and Roa had earlier been arrested for beating up an elderly Korean store owner. They tossed a hand-grenade through the front door and several MPs were injured by shrapnel and other debris. In the ensuing confusion, the suspects escaped. Roa and Medina were later caught after they bragged about their feat.
1987 – Authorities recaptured Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who had escaped two days earlier from the federal prison in Alderson, W.V., where she was serving a life sentence for her attempt on the life of President Ford.
1992 – U.S. Marines delivered wheat to a refugee camp in Bardera, Somalia, setting off a small riot among the Somalis; American and French troops also took control of Hoddur.
1997 – Richard Bliss, a field technician for Qualcomm Inc. accused of spying in Russia, arrived in San Diego after Russian authorities were persuaded to let him return home. (However, Russia says its investigation of Bliss continues).
1998 – In Serbia US diplomats in Kosovo persuaded army officers to pull back some of their forces.
1999 – Space shuttle “Discovery’s” astronauts finished their repair job on the Hubble Space Telescope.
2001 – From Mazar-e-Sharif to Kandahar in Afghanistan and the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, American forces celebrated Christmas with carols, touch football and turkey dinners.
2003 – In Iraq leaders of Sunni Muslim groups agreed to form a State Council for the Sunnis in order to speak with a unified voice during the transition to Iraqi governance.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

BARNUM, JAMES
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1816 Massachusetts. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Barnum served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and on 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close in shore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well_directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship. Barnum was commended for highly meritorious conduct during this period.

BINDER, RICHARD
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 1840, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga during the attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864, and 13 to 15 January 1865. Despite heavy return fire by the enemy and the explosion of the 100-pounder Parrott rifle which killed 8 men and wounded 12 more, Sgt. Binder, as captain of a gun, performed his duties with skill and courage during the first 2 days of battle. As his ship again took position on the 13th, he remained steadfast as the Ticonderoga maintained a well-placed fire upon the batteries on shore, and thereafter, as she materially lessened the power of guns on the mound which had been turned upon our assaulting columns. During this action the flag was planted on one of the strongest fortifications possessed by the rebels.

BLAKE, ROBERT
Rank and organization: Contraband, U.S. Navy. Entered service at: Virginia. G.O. No.: 32, 16 April 1864. Accredited to: Virginia. Citation: On board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, in an engagement with the enemy on John’s Island. Serving the rifle gun, Blake, an escaped slave, carried out his duties bravely throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy’s abandonment of positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind.

CAMPBELL, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, Indiana. Accredited to: Indiana. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga during attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13 to 15 January 1865. Despite heavy return fire by the enemy and the explosion of the 100-pounder Parrott rifle which killed 8 men and wounded 12 more, Campbell, as captain of a gun, performed his duties with skill and courage during the first 2 days of battle. As his ship again took position on the line of the 13th, he remained steadfast as the Ticonderoga maintained a well-placed fire upon the batteries on shore, and thereafter, as she materially lessened the power of guns on the mound which had been turned upon our assaulting columns. During this action the flag was planted on one of the strongest fortifications possessed by the rebels.

DEMPSTER, JOHN
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1839, Scotland. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Dempster served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship.

DUNN, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: Maine. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Monadnock in action during several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. With his ship anchored well inshore to insure perfect range against the severe fire of rebel guns, Dunn continued his duties when the vessel was at anchor, as her propellers were kept in motion to make her turrets bear, and the shooting away of her chain might have caused her to ground. Disdainful of shelter despite severe weather conditions, he inspired his shipmates and contributed to the success of his vessel in reducing the enemy guns to silence.

ENGLISH, THOMAS
Rank and organization: Signal Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: 1819, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: English served on board the U.S.S. New Iron sides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship.

FARLEY, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1835, Whitefield, Maine. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 32, 16 April 1864. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, during an engagement with the enemy on John’s Island. Behaving in a gallant manner, Farley animated his men and kept up a rapid and effective fire on the enemy throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy’s abandonment of his positions, leaving a caisson and 1 gun behind.

HAFFEE, EDMUND
Rank and organization: Quarter Gunner, U.S. Navy. Born: 1832, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Haffee served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore, and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire, as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproof to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship.

JONES, THOMAS
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1820, Baltimore, Md. Accredited to: Maryland. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga during attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13 to 15 January 1865. Despite heavy return fire by the enemy and the explosion of the 100-pounder Parrott rifle which killed 8 men and wounded 12 more, Jones, as captain of a gun, performed his duties with skill and courage during the first 2 days of battle. As his ship again took position on the line on the 13th, he remained steadfast as the Ticonderoga maintained a well-placed fire upon the batteries on shore, and thereafter, as she materially lessened the power of guns on the mound which had been turned upon our assaulting columns. During this action the flag was planted on one side of the strongest fortifications possessed by the rebels.

LEAR, NICHOLAS
Rank and organization. Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: 1826, Rhode Island. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Lear served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire order was given by the flagship.

MILLER, JAMES
Rank and organization. Quartermaster, U.S. Navy Born 1835 Denmark. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 32, 16 April 1864 Citation: Served as quartermaster on board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, during an engagement with the enemy on John’s Island. Acting courageously under the fierce hostile fire, Miller behaved gallantly throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy’s withdrawal and abandonment of its arms.

MILLIKEN, DANIEL
Rank and organization: Quarter Gunner, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838 Maine. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation Milliken served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864_ and 13,14 and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the Ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease_fire orders were given by the flagship.

MOORE, CHARLES
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1839, Ireland. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 32, 16 April 1864. Citation: Serving on board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, during an engagement with the enemy on John’s Island. Wounded in the fierce battle, Moore returned to his quarters until so exhausted by loss of blood that he had to be taken below. This engagement resulted in the enemy’s abandonment of his positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind.

PRANCE, GEORGE
Rank and organization: Captain of the Main Top, U.S. Navy. Born: 1827, France. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga during attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13 to 15 January 1865. Despite heavy return fire by the enemy and the explosion of the 100-pounder Parrott rifle which killed 8 men and wounded 12 more, Prance as captain of a gun, performed his duties with skill and courage during the first 2 days of battle. As his ship again took position on the line on the 13th, he remained steadfast as the Ticonderoga maintained a well_placed fire upon the batteries on shore, and thereafter as she materially lessened the power of guns on the mound which had been turned upon our assaulting columns. During this action the flag was planted on one of the strongest fortifications possessed by the rebels.

TAYLOR, WILLIAM G.
Rank and organization: Captain of the Forecastle, U.S. Navy. Born: 1831, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga during attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864. As captain of a gun, Taylor performed his duties with coolness and skill as his ship took position in the line of battle and delivered its fire on the batteries on shore. Despite the depressing effect caused when an explosion of the 100-pounder Parrott rifle killed 8 men and wounded 12 more, and the enemy’s heavy return fire, he calmly remained at his station during the 2 days’ operations.

WALLING, WILLIAM H.
Rank and organization: Captain, Company C, 142d New York Infantry. Place and date: At Fort Fisher, N.C., 25 December 1864. Entered service at:——. Birth: Hartford, N.Y. Date of issue: 28 March 1892. Citation: During the bombardment of the fort by the fleet, captured and brought the flag of the fort, the flagstaff having been shot down.

WHITE, JOSEPH
Rank and organization: Captain of the Gun, U.S. Navy. Born: 1840, Washington, D.C. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: White served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13,14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well_directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ships battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the ceasefire order was given by the flagship.

WILLIS, RICHARD
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1826, England. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Willis served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14 and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well_directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night, despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy troops came out of their bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the ceasefire order was given by the flagship.

MORRIS, JOHN
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 25 January 1855, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: For leaping overboard from the U.S. Flagship Lancaster, at Villefranche, France, 25 December 1881, and rescuing from drowning Robert Blizzard, ordinary seaman, a prisoner, who had jumped overboard.

WIEDORFER, PAUL J.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant (then Private), U.S. Army, Company G, 318th Infantry, 80th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near, Chaumont, Belgium, 25 December 1944. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Birth: Baltimore, Md. G.O. No.: 45, 12 June 1945. Citation: He alone made it possible for his company to advance until its objective was seized. Company G had cleared a wooded area of snipers, and 1 platoon was advancing across an open clearing toward another wood when it was met by heavy machinegun fire from 2 German positions dug in at the edge of the second wood. These positions were flanked by enemy riflemen. The platoon took cover behind a small ridge approximately 40 yards from the enemy position. There was no other available protection and the entire platoon was pinned down by the German fire. It was about noon and the day was clear, but the terrain extremely difficult due to a 3-inch snowfall the night before over ice-covered ground. Pvt. Wiedorfer, realizing that the platoon advance could not continue until the 2 enemy machinegun nests were destroyed, voluntarily charged alone across the slippery open ground with no protecting cover of any kind. Running in a crouched position, under a hail of enemy fire, he slipped and fell in the snow, but quickly rose and continued forward with the enemy concentrating automatic and small-arms fire on him as he advanced. Miraculously escaping injury, Pvt. Wiedorfer reached a point some 10 yards from the first machinegun emplacement and hurled a handgrenade into it. With his rifle he killed the remaining Germans, and, without hesitation, wheeled to the right and attacked the second emplacement. One of the enemy was wounded by his fire and the other 6 immediately surrendered. This heroic action by 1 man enabled the platoon to advance from behind its protecting ridge and continue successfully to reach its objective. A few minutes later, when both the platoon leader and the platoon sergeant were wounded, Pvt. Wiedorfer assumed command of the platoon, leading it forward with inspired energy until the mission was accomplished.

December 24

24 December

1724 – Benjamin Franklin arrived in London.
1809Christopher Houston “Kit” Carson, one of the most celebrated heroes of the American West, is born in Richmond, Kentucky. Shortly after Carson was born, his family moved west to Howard County, Missouri, an ideal spot for a future frontiersman to learn his trade. By the early 1820s, nearby Franklin, Missouri, had become the starting point for the newly opened Santa Fe Trail. As an apprentice to a Franklin saddle maker, Carson spent three years watching the covered wagons head westward for Santa Fe. Finally, the yearning to follow overwhelmed young Carson, and he ran away from home to join a trading caravan. Intelligent and resourceful, Carson made a new life for himself once he reached Santa Fe. He learned enough Spanish to serve as a translator, and soaked up information about frontier knowledge and skills from the many mountain men who came to town. When Carson was 22 years old, he met the famous Irish mountain man Thomas Fitzpatrick, who offered to take Carson on a trapping expedition in the northern Rockies. Carson jumped at the chance, and soon became a skilled trapper and a cunning tracker. In January 1833, when a band of Crow Indians stole his party’s horses, Carson trailed the Indians for 40 miles and his party was able to recover the stolen steeds. Possessed of an uncanny ability to remember geography and topography, the illiterate Carson gained international fame after he served as a guide for John C. Fremont’s 1842 western mapping expedition along the Oregon Trail. Fremont was so impressed with Carson’s frontier and guiding skills that he rehired him to guide his 1843 exploration of the Great Salt Lake and the Sierra Nevada. When Fremont published his reports on the two expeditions, he wrote glowingly of the young scout, and Carson had his first taste of national fame. After serving with Fremont in the Mexican War, Carson gained even greater renown as an Indian fighter in New Mexico, and the authors of popular dime novels began featuring him in their western tales. Literally a legend in his own time, Carson had the bizarre experience of colliding with his own mythic self. Late in 1849, Carson led the pursuit of a band of Jicarilla Apache who had kidnapped Mrs. J.M. White and her child from an emigrant caravan. Carson and a company of Taos soldiers tracked down and defeated the Apache, but they were too late to save Mrs. White, who was found with an arrow through her heart. Carson discovered a dime novel lying near White’s body-the novel featured Carson as the hero of a story where he single-handedly fought off eight Indians. Although he spent much of his life fighting Indians, Carson apparently had great sympathy and respect for them–in 1867 he became the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Colorado Territory. Despite his failing health, Carson made a strenuous trip to Washington with delegates from the Ute tribe to argue on the Indians’ behalf in treaty negotiations. Shortly after he returned to his home in Boggsville, Colorado, he died at the age of 58, but his legend continues to grow, thanks to countless novels and movies celebrating his life and adventures.
1812 – Joel Barlow, aged 58, American poet and lawyer, died from exposure near Vilna, Poland [Lithuania], during Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. Barlow was on a diplomatic mission to the emperor for President Madison.
1814The Treaty of Peace and Amity between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America is signed by British and American representatives at Ghent, Belgium, ending the War of 1812. By terms of the treaty, all conquered territory was to be returned, and commissions were planned to settle the boundary of the United States and Canada. In June 1812, the United States declared war against Great Britain in reaction to three issues: the British economic blockade of France, the induction of thousands of neutral American seamen into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress, made up mostly of western and southern congressmen, had been advocating the declaration of war for several years. These “War Hawks,” as they were known, hoped that war with Britain, which was preoccupied with its struggle against Napoleonic France, would result in U.S. territorial gains in Canada and British-protected Florida. In the months following the U.S. declaration of war, American forces launched a three-point invasion of Canada, all of which were repulsed. At sea, however, the United States was more successful, and the USS Constitution and other American frigates won a series of victories over British warships. In 1813, American forces won several key victories in the Great Lakes region, but Britain regained control of the sea and blockaded the eastern seaboard. In 1814, with the downfall of Napoleon, the British were able to allocate more military resources to the American war, and Washington, D.C., fell to the British in August. In Washington, British troops burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings in retaliation for the earlier burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. soldiers. The British soon retreated, however, and Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor withstood a massive British bombardment and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the “Star-Spangled Banner.” On September 11, 1814, the tide of the war turned when Thomas Macdonough’s American naval force won a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg Bay on Lake Champlain. A large British army under Sir George Prevost was thus forced to abandon its invasion of the U.S. northeast and retreat to Canada. The American victory on Lake Champlain led to the conclusion of U.S.-British peace negotiations in Belgium, and on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, ending the war. Although the treaty said nothing about two of the key issues that started the war–the rights of neutral U.S. vessels and the impressment of U.S. sailors–it did open up the Great Lakes region to American expansion and was hailed as a diplomatic victory in the United States. News of the treaty took almost two months to cross the Atlantic, and British forces were not informed of the end of hostilities in time to end their drive against the mouth of the Mississippi River. On January 8, 1815, a large British army attacked New Orleans and was decimated by an inferior American force under General Andrew Jackson in the most spectacular U.S. victory of the war. The American public heard of the Battle of New Orleans and the Treaty of Ghent at approximately the same time, fostering a greater sentiment of self-confidence and shared identity throughout the young republic.
1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning. The Eggnog Riot, sometimes known as the Grog Mutiny, was a riot that took place at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, on 24–25 December 1826. It was caused by a drunken Christmas Day party in the North Barracks of the Academy. Two days prior to the incident, a large quantity of whiskey was smuggled into the academy to make eggnog for the party, giving the riot its name. The riot eventually involved more than one-third of the cadets by the time it ceased on Christmas morning. A subsequent investigation by Academy officials resulted in the implication of seventy cadets and the court-martialing of twenty of them and one enlisted soldier. Among the participants in the riot—though he was not court-martialed—was future Confederate States President Jefferson Davis.
1851A devastating fire at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroys about two-thirds of its 55,000 volumes, including most of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, sold to the institution in 1815. The Library of Congress was established in 1800, when President John Adams approved legislation that appropriated $5,000 to purchase “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress.” The first books, ordered from London, arrived in 1801 and were stored in the U.S. Capitol, the library’s first home. The first library catalog, dated April 1802, listed 964 volumes and nine maps. Twelve years later, the British army invaded the city of Washington and burned the Capitol, including the 3,000-volume Library of Congress. Former president Thomas Jefferson, who advocated the expansion of the library during his two terms in office, responded to the loss by selling his personal library, the largest and finest in the country, to Congress to “recommence” the library. The purchase of Jefferson’s 6,487 volumes was approved in the next year, and a professional librarian, George Watterston, was hired to replace the House clerks in the administration of the library. In 1851, a second major fire at the library destroyed about two-thirds of its books. Congress responded quickly and generously to the disaster, and within a few years a majority of the lost books were replaced. After the Civil War, the collection was greatly expanded, and by the 20th century the Library of Congress had become the de facto national library of the United States and one of the largest in the world. Today, the collection, housed in three enormous buildings in Washington, contains more than 17 million books, as well as millions of maps, manuscripts, photographs, films, audio and video recordings, prints, and drawings.
1861 – The USS Gem of the Sea destroyed the British blockade runner Prince of Wales off the coast at Georgetown, S.C.
1862 – A Christmas present arrived a day early for the Federal troops at Columbus, Ky., in the way of artillery on board the USS New Era.
1864A Union fleet under Admiral David Dixon Porter begins a bombardment of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Although an impressive display of firepower, the attack failed to destroy the fort; a ground attack the next day did not succeed either. Fort Fisher guarded the mouth of the Cape Fear River, the approach to Wilmington. Throughout the war, Wilmington was one of the most important ports as the Confederates tried to break the Union blockade of its coasts. By late 1864, Wilmington was one of the last ports open in the South. The massive wood and sand Fort Fisher was built in 1862 to withstand attack by the most powerful Federal cannon. Even though it was an important city, the Union leaders directed more attention to other targets, such as the capture of the Confederate capital of Richmond. Not until late 1864 did the Union turn attention to Fort Fisher. Now, 60 ships attacked the fort on Christmas Eve. Inside the stronghold, 500 Confederates hunkered down and withstood the siege. Although buildings in the fort caught fire, there were few casualties. The next day, a small Yankee force attacked on the ground, but reinforcing Confederates from Wilmington drove them away. The Union fleet sailed back to Hampton Roads, Virginia, with nothing to show for their efforts. The Union tried again to take Fort Fisher in January. After two days, a Union force overwhelmed the fort and the last major Confederate port was closed.
1864Rear Admiral Lee, commanding the Mississippi Squadron, arrived off Chickasaw, Alabama, in an attempt to cut off the retreat of Confederate General Hood’s army from Tennessee. At Chickasaw, U.S.S. Fairy, Acting Ensign Charles Swendson, with Lee embarked, destroyed a Confederate fort and magazine, but even this small, shallow-draft river boat was unable to go beyond Great Mussel Shoals on the Tennessee River because of low water.
1865In Pulaski, Tennessee, a group of Confederate veterans convenes to form a secret society that they christen the “Ku Klux Klan.” The KKK rapidly grew from a secret social fraternity to a paramilitary force bent on reversing the federal government’s progressive Reconstruction Era-activities in the South, especially policies that elevated the rights of the local African American population. The name of the Ku Klux Klan was derived from the Greek word kyklos, meaning “circle,” and the Scottish-Gaelic word “clan,” which was probably chosen for the sake of alliteration. Under a platform of philosophized white racial superiority, the group employed violence as a means of pushing back Reconstruction and its enfranchisement of African Americans. Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was the KKK’s first grand wizard; in 1869, he unsuccessfully tried to disband it after he grew critical of the Klan’s excessive violence. Most prominent in counties where the races were relatively balanced, the KKK engaged in terrorist raids against African Americans and white Republicans at night, employing intimidation, destruction of property, assault, and murder to achieve its aims and influence upcoming elections. In a few Southern states, Republicans organized militia units to break up the Klan. In 1871, the Ku Klux Act passed Congress, authorizing President Ulysses S. Grant to use military force to suppress the KKK. The Ku Klux Act resulted in nine South Carolina counties being placed under martial law and thousands of arrests. In 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Ku Klux Act unconstitutional, but by that time Reconstruction had ended and the KKK had faded away. The 20th century witnessed two revivals of the KKK: one in response to immigration in the 1910s and ’20s, and another in response to the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s.
1904 – Herbert D Riley, US vice-admiral (WW II, Guadalcanal, Okinawa), was born.
1905Howard Hughes, the manufacturing magnate, Hollywood mogul, and record-setting aviator, is born. Born in Houston, Hughes entered the business world at age seventeen, taking the reigns of his family’s Texas-based tool company after his father passed away. However, Hughes wasn’t long for the Lone Star State: in 1926 he headed to Hollywood to become a producer of gritty classics like Hell’s Angels and Scarface. In 1948, Hughes snapped up a “controlling interest” in RKO Pictures, though a few years later he relinquished his shares in the company only to buy the studio outright in 1954. However, in 1955 Hughes reversed course again and sold RKO. Along the way, the eccentric millionaire indulged his passion for aviation, establishing the Hughes Aircraft Company and later buying a majority stake in Trans World Airlines. During the 1930s, Hughes flew his own custom-made plane into the record books, breaking various speed and flight-time records. Despite his glittery achievements and hefty bankroll, Hughes was never one for publicity. As the years wore on, his reclusive tendencies increased: Hughes eventually sequestered himself away in an ever-rotating series of luxury hotels, where he would toil on end for days, surviving on a diet that leaned heavier on drugs than food. Hughes died in 1976 while on a flight back to his hometown of Houston.
1906 – Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to broadcast a music program over radio, from Brant Rock, Mass.
1941About 7000 troops of the Japanese 16th Infantry Division land at Lamon Bay in southeast Luzon. In northern Luzon, the Allies have taken the first of five defensive positions designed to delay the Japanese movement toward the Bataan Peninsula. General Douglas MacArthur still commands the forces.
1941 – The 1st ships of Admiral Nagumo’s (Pearl Harbor) fleet returned to Japan.
1943 – President Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord. Almost everyone had believed the position would go to American Chief of Staff George C. Marshall.
1943 – An American task force of cruisers and destroyers bombards Buka Island and the Japanese base at Buin on Bougainville. These are diversionary attacks from the imminent landing on New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago.
1944The German Ardennes offensive is exhausted by the end of the day. The furthest advance has been achieved by elements of the German 5th Panzer Army. The 2nd Panzer Division has reached the outskirts of Dinant with the 116th Panzer Division on the right flank near Hotten and the Panzer Lehr Division on the left flank to the west of St. Hubert. American forces in Bastogne continue to resist; some 260 Allied transports drop supplies to the defenders. Allied fighter-bombers fly over 600 sorties in the Ardennes.
1944 – All beef products are again being rationed. New quotas are introduced for most other commodities as well.
1946 – US General MacNarney gave 800,000 “minor Nazis” amnesty.
1950In a major feat of naval arms, the U.S. amphibious fleet, Task Force 90, commanded by Rear Admiral James H. Doyle, completed evacuation of X Corps from Hungnam. Supported by the Seventh Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble aboard the battleship USS Missouri, TF 90 evacuated 105,000 U.S. and ROK Marines and soldiers, 17,500 vehicles, 350,000 tons of cargo and 91,000 Korean civilians in just over 190 ships. This enormously complex operation has been termed “Inchon in Reverse.”
1950 – In a daring helicopter rescue, the U.S. Air Force’s 33rd Air Rescue Squadron snatched 35 U.S. and ROK soldiers from behind enemy lines.
1952The McCarren-Walter Act takes effect and revises America’s immigration laws. The law was hailed by supporters as a necessary step in preventing communist subversion in the United States, while opponents decried the legislation as being xenophobic and discriminatory. The act, named after Senator Pat McCarren (Democrat-Nevada) and Representative Francis Walter (Democratic-Pennsylvania), did relatively little to alter the quota system for immigration into the United States that had been established in the Immigration Act of 1924. The skewed nature of the quotas was readily apparent. Immigrants from Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany were allotted two-thirds of the 154,657 spots available each year. However, the act did specifically remove previously established racial barriers that had acted to exclude immigrants from nations such as Japan and China. These countries were now assigned very small quotas. The changes that were of more concern for many critics centered on the act’s provision of much more strenuous screening of potential immigrants. It banned admission to anyone declared a subversive by the attorney general and indicated that members of communist and “communist-front” organizations were subject to deportation. In defending the act, Senator McCarren declared, “If this oasis of the world should be overrun, perverted, contaminated, or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished.” President Harry S. Truman took a very different view, calling the legislation “un-American” and inhumane. When the bill was passed in June 1952, Truman vetoed the bill. Congress overrode his veto, and the act took effect in December. The McCarren-Walter Act set America’s immigration standards until new legislation was passed in 1965.
1955NORAD Tracks Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition. The program began in 1955, when a Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper which told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. However, the telephone number printed was misprinted and calls instead came through to Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Harry Shoup, who was on duty that night, told his staff to give all children who called in a “current location” for Santa Claus. A tradition began which continued when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) replaced CONAD in 1958. Today, NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible. Each volunteer handles about forty telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories. Most of these contacts happen during the twenty-five hours from 2 a.m. on December 24 until 3 a.m. MST on December 25. Volunteers include NORAD military and civilian personnel.
1963 – New York’s Idlewild Airport was renamed JFK Airport in honor of the murdered President Kennedy.
1964Two Viet Cong agents disguised as South Vietnamese soldiers leave a car filled with explosives parked at the Brinks Hotel in Saigon. The hotel was housing U.S. officers. Two Americans were killed in the blast and 65 Americans and Vietnamese were injured. Ambassador Maxwell Taylor, Gen. William Westmoreland, and other senior U.S. officials tried to persuade President Lyndon B. Johnson to respond with retaliatory raids on North Vietnam, but Johnson refused. In his cable to Taylor explaining his decision, he indicated for the first time that he was considering a commitment of U.S. combat troops.
1968The 3 Apollo 8 astronauts (James A. Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman), orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve television broadcast. The first pictures of an Earth-rise over the Moon are seen as the crew of Apollo 8 orbits the moon.
1972 – Hanoi barred all peace talks with the U.S. until the air raids are stopped.
1972Comedian Bob Hope gives what he says is his last Christmas show to U.S. servicemen in Saigon. Hope was a comedian and star of stage, radio, television, and over 50 feature films. Hope was one of many Hollywood stars who followed the tradition of travelling overseas to entertain American troops stationed abroad. The 1972 show marked Hope’s ninth consecutive Christmas appearance in Vietnam. Hope endorsed President Nixon’s bombing of North Vietnam to force it to accept U.S. peace terms, and received South Vietnam’s highest civilian medal for his “anti-communist zeal.” Although some antiwar protesters criticized Hope for supporting government policies in Vietnam, the comedian said he believed it was his responsibility to lift spirits by entertaining the troops.
1972 President Nixon suspends Operation Linebacker II for 36 hours to mark the Christmas holiday. The bombing campaign against North Vietnam had been operating since December 18, when Nixon initiated the campaign to force the North Vietnamese back to the Paris peace negotiations. On December 28, the North Vietnamese announced that they would return to Paris if Nixon ended the bombing. The bombing campaign was halted and the negotiators met during the first week of 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.
1979 – Russia sent airborne troops into Afghanistan in a surprise attack.
1980 – Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.
1987In Lebanon, the kidnappers of Terry Anderson released a videotape in which The Associated Press correspondent told his family he was in good health, and said to President Reagan, “Surely by now you know what must be done and how you can do it.” Anderson was freed nearly four years later.
1989Charles Taylor, a member of the Gio tribe and a former cabinet minister under Samuel Doe, led a small group of fighters across the border from the Ivory Coast into Liberia. Within a few months he had looted and terrorized much of the countryside and reached the capital. Taylor led the NPFL or National Patriotic Front. The NPFL was composed mainly of the Mano and Gio tribes from northern Nimba County.
1989Ousted Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega, who had succeeded in eluding U.S. forces, took refuge at the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Panama City. It took weeks of negotiation and loud rock music played incessantly outside the embassy by American forces before Noriega agreed to give himself up.
1992 – Pres. Bush had the US Embassy in Belgrade read to Pres. Milosevic the “Christmas Warning” cable: “In the event of conflict in Kosovo caused by Serbian action, the US will be prepared to employ military force against Serbians in Kosovo and in Serbia proper.
1992 – President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.
1997 – From California it was reported that the Air Force agreed to sell McClellan Air Force Base to Sacramento County for a maximum of $90 million. Payments would begin in Dec 2008 and continue over 45 years.
1997 – In Afghanistan the Taliban launched an offensive at Kotel Toopkhana in Badakhshan province and by the next day claimed to have driven out the soldiers of Ahmed Shah Massood.
1997 – It was reported that Iraq completed a 150-mile canal to supply water to Basra.
1998 – In Podujevo, Yugoslavia, Serb forces used tanks and armored vehicles against separatist guerrillas breaking a 2-month cease fire. Ignoring NATO warnings, Serb tanks and troops struck an ethnic Albanian stronghold in Kosovo.
1999In Nepal 5 Sikh men, members of the Kashmir Harakut ul-Mujahedeen, hijacked an Indian Airlines A-300 Airbus with 189 people onboard. After 3 stops for refueling it landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where it was surrounded by Taliban militia. 26 passengers were released in Dubai. They called for the release of Maulana Massood Azhar, a Pakistani religious leader and other Kashmiri militants. They later raised their demands to $200 million, the release of 35 jailed guerrillas and the exhumation of a dead comrade buried in India.
1999 – Ignoring NATO warnings, Serb tanks and troops struck an ethnic Albanian stronghold in Kosovo.
2001 – In Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim named Gen. Rashid Dostum as deputy defense minister.
2002 – Saddam Hussein said in an address read on television that Iraqis were ready to fight a holy war against the United States.
2002 – Israeli PM Sharon said Saddam Hussein had transferred chemical and biological weapons to Syria.
2002 – North Korea ratcheted up its standoff with Washington, starting repairs at a long-frozen nuclear reactor and warning that U.S. policy was leading to an “uncontrollable catastrophe” and the “brink of nuclear war.”
2003 – Several Air France flights to Los Angeles were cancelled stranding hundreds of people in Paris on Christmas Eve amid fears of a terrorist attack.
2003 – It was reported that U.S. and Russian experts recovered 37 pounds of weapons-grade uranium, enough to develop a nuclear warhead, from a closed atomic facility in Bulgaria.
2003Pakistan’s Pres. Gen. Pervez Musharraf agreed to step down as head of the armed forces by the end of 2004, part of a deal with the hardline Islamic opposition to end a long standoff that has stalled this nation’s return to democracy. Musharraf also agreed to scale back some of the special powers he decreed himself after taking power in a 1999 military coup.
2004 – US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, bearing gifts of praise and encouragement, paid a surprise Christmas Eve visit to US troops in some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq.
2004 – A suicide bomber blew up a gas tanker in Baghdad in an attack that killed at least nine people.
2013 – Two NASA astronauts at the International Space Station complete a series of spacewalks to replace a faulty ammonia coolant pump.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

ANGLING, JOHN
Rank and organization: Cabin Boy, U.S. Navy. Born: 1850, Portland, Maine. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Pontoosuc during the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, 24 December 1864 to 22 January 1865. Carrying out his duties faithfully during this period, C.B. Angling was recommended for gallantry and skill and for his cool courage while under the fire of the enemy throughout these various actions.

BETHAM, ASA
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Pontoosuc during the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, 24 December 1864, to 22 January 1865. Carrying out his duties faithfully during this period, Betham was recommended for gallantry and skill and for his cool courage while under the fire of the enemy throughout these various actions.

BLAIR, ROBERT M.
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1836, Peacham, Vt. Accredited to: Vermont. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Pontoosuc during the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, 24 December 1864 to 22 January 1865. Carrying out his duties faithfully throughout this period, Blair was recommended for gallantry and skill and for his cool courage while under the fire of the enemy throughout these actions.

COLLINS, HARRISON
Rank and organization. Corporal, Company A, 1st Tennessee Cavalry. Place and date: At Richland Creek, Tenn., 24 December 1864. Entered service at: Cumberland Gap, Tenn. Born: 1834, Hawkins County, Tenn. Date of issue: 24 February 1865. Citation: Capture of flag of Chalmer’s Division (C.S.A.).

ERICKSON, JOHN P.
Rank and organization: Captain of the Forecastle, U.S. Navy. Birth: London, England. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Pontoosuc during the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, 24 December 1864, to 22 February 1865. Carrying out his duties faithfully throughout this period, Erickson was so severely wounded in the assault upon Fort Fisher that he was sent to the hospital at Portsmouth, Va. Erickson was recommended for his gallantry, skill, and coolness in action while under the fire of the enemy.

McWlLLlAMS, GEORGE W.
Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1844, Pennsylvania. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O). No.. 59, 22 June 1865. Citation. Served on board the U.S.S. Pontoosuc during the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, 24 December 1864, to 22 February 1865. Carrying out his duties faithfully throughout this period, McWilliams was so severely wounded in the assault upon Fort Fisher that he was sent to the hospital at Portsmouth, Va. McWilliams was recommended for his gallantry, skill and coolness in action while under the fire of the enemy.

VERNEY, JAMES W.
Rank and organization: Chief Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: 1834 Maine. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation. Served as chief quartermaster on board the U.S.S. Pontoosuc during the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, 24 December 1864 to 22 February 1865. Carrying out his duties faithfully throughout this period, Verney was recommended for gallantry and skill and for his cool courage while under fire of the enemy throughout these various actions.

WILLIAMS, ANTHONY
Rank and organization: Sailmaker’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1822, Plymouth, Mass. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Served as sailmaker’s mate on board the U.S.S. Pontoosuc during the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, 24 December 1864 to 22 February 1865. Carrying out his duties faithfully throughout this period, Williams was recommended for gallantry and skill and for his cool courage while under the fire of the enemy throughout these various actions.

BIDDLE, MELVIN E.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Place and date: Near Soy, Belgium, 23-24 December 1944. Entered service at: Anderson, Ind. Birth: Daleville, Ind. G.O. No.. 95, 30 October 1945. Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy near Soy, Belgium, on 23 and 24 December 1944. Serving as lead scout during an attack to relieve the enemy-encircled town of Hotton, he aggressively penetrated a densely wooded area, advanced 400 yards until he came within range of intense enemy rifle fire, and within 20 yards of enemy positions killed 3 snipers with unerring marksmanship. Courageously continuing his advance an additional 200 yards, he discovered a hostile machinegun position and dispatched its 2 occupants. He then located the approximate position of a well-concealed enemy machinegun nest, and crawling forward threw hand grenades which killed two Germans and fatally wounded a third. After signaling his company to advance, he entered a determined line of enemy defense, coolly and deliberately shifted his position, and shot 3 more enemy soldiers. Undaunted by enemy fire, he crawled within 20 yards of a machinegun nest, tossed his last hand grenade into the position, and after the explosion charged the emplacement firing his rifle. When night fell, he scouted enemy positions alone for several hours and returned with valuable information which enabled our attacking infantry and armor to knock out 2 enemy tanks. At daybreak he again led the advance and, when flanking elements were pinned down by enemy fire, without hesitation made his way toward a hostile machinegun position and from a distance of 50 yards killed the crew and 2 supporting riflemen. The remainder of the enemy, finding themselves without automatic weapon support, fled panic stricken. Pfc. Biddle’s intrepid courage and superb daring during his 20-hour action enabled his battalion to break the enemy grasp on Hotton with a minimum of casualties.

*BURR, ELMER J.
Rank and organization: First Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company 1, 127th Infantry, 32d Infantry Division. Place and date: Buna, New Guinea, 24 December 1942. Entered service at: Menasha, Wis. Birth: Neenah, Wis. G.O. No.: 66, 11 Oct. 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. During an attack near Buna, New Guinea, on 24 December 1942, 1st Sgt. Burr saw an enemy grenade strike near his company commander. Instantly and with heroic self-sacrifice he threw himself upon it, smothering the explosion with his body. 1st Sgt. Burr thus gave his life in saving that of his commander.

*CASTLE, FREDERICK W. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Brigadier General. Assistant Commander, 4th Bomber Wing, U.S. Army Air Corps. Place and date: Germany, 24 December 1944. Entered service at: Mountain Lake, N.J. Born: 14 October 1908, Manila P.I. G.O. No. 22, 28 February 1947. Citation: He was air commander and leader of more than 2,000 heavy bombers in a strike against German airfields on 24 December 1944. En route to the target, the failure of 1 engine forced him to relinquish his place at the head of the formation. In order not to endanger friendly troops on the ground below, he refused to jettison his bombs to gain speed maneuverability. His lagging, unescorted aircraft became the target of numerous enemy fighters which ripped the left wing with cannon shells. set the oxygen system afire, and wounded 2 members of the crew. Repeated attacks started fires in 2 engines, leaving the Flying Fortress in imminent danger of exploding. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, the bail-out order was given. Without regard for his personal safety he gallantly remained alone at the controls to afford all other crewmembers an opportunity to escape. Still another attack exploded gasoline tanks in the right wing, and the bomber plunged earthward. carrying Gen. Castle to his death. His intrepidity and willing sacrifice of his life to save members of the crew were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

*GRUENNERT, KENNETH E.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company L, 127th Infantry, 32d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Buna, New Guinea, 24 December 1942. Entered service at: Helenville, Wis. Birth: Helenville, Wis. G.O. No.: 66, 11 October 1943. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. On 24 December 1942, near Buna, New Guinea, Sgt. Gruennert was second in command of a platoon with a mission to drive through the enemy lines to the beach 600 yards ahead. Within 150 yards of the objective, the platoon encountered 2 hostile pillboxes. Sgt. Gruennert advanced alone on the first and put it out of action with hand grenades and rifle fire, killing 3 of the enemy. Seriously wounded in the shoulder, he bandaged his wound under cover of the pillbox, refusing to withdraw to the aid station and leave his men. He then, with undiminished daring, and under extremely heavy fire, attacked the second pillbox. As he neared it he threw grenades which forced the enemy out where they were easy targets for his platoon. Before the leading elements of his platoon could reach him he was shot by enemy snipers. His inspiring valor cleared the way for his platoon which was the first to attain the beach in this successful effort to split the enemy position.

*KEFURT, GUS
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company K, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Bennwihr, France, 23-24 December 1944. Entered service at: Youngstown, Ohio. Birth: Greenville, Pa. Citation: He distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 23 and 24 December 1944, near Bennwihr, France. Early in the attack S/Sgt. Kefurt jumped through an opening in a wall to be confronted by about 15 Germans. Although outnumbered he opened fire, killing 10 and capturing the others. During a seesaw battle which developed he effectively adjusted artillery fire on an enemy tank close to his position although exposed to small arms fire. When night fell he maintained a 3-man outpost in the center of the town in the middle of the German positions and successfully fought off several hostile patrols attempting to penetrate our lines. Assuming command of his platoon the following morning he led it in hand-to-hand fighting through the town until blocked by a tank. Using rifle grenades he forced surrender of its crew and some supporting infantry. He then continued his attack from house to house against heavy machinegun and rifle fire. Advancing against a strongpoint that was holding up the company, his platoon was subjected to a strong counterattack and infiltration to its rear. Suffering heavy casualties in their exposed position the men remained there due to S/Sgt. Kefurt’s personal example of bravery, determination and leadership. He constantly exposed himself to fire by going from man to man to direct fire. During this time he killed approximately 15 of the enemy at close range. Although severely wounded in the leg he refused first aid and immediately resumed fighting. When the forces to his rear were pushed back 3 hours later, he refused to be evacuated, but, during several more counterattacks moved painfully about under intense small arms and mortar fire, stiffening the resistance of his platoon by encouraging individual men and by his own fire until he was killed. As a result of S/Sgt. Kefurt’s gallantry the position was maintained.

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.