On this day in 2004: About 170 members of an Illinois National Guard unit have been called for duty in Iraq. Members of the 1644th Transportation Company will be mobilized August 9th. The unit includes detachments based in both Springfield and Rock Falls. The company will train at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, before being deployed.
On this day in 1864: The Union’s ingenious attempt to break the Confederate lines at Petersburg by blowing up a tunnel that had been dug under the Rebel trenches fails. Although the explosion created a gap in the Confederate defenses, a poorly planned Yankee attack wasted the effort and the result was an eight-month continuation of the siege.
On this day in 1967: Fire sweeps the U.S. aircraft carrier Forrestal off the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. It was the worst U.S. naval disaster in a combat zone since World War II. The accident took the lives of 134 crewmen and injured 62 more. Of the carrier’s 80 planes, 21 were destroyed and 42 were damaged.
On this day in 1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson announces that he has ordered an increase in U.S. military forces in Vietnam, from the present 75,000 to 125,000. Johnson also said that he would order additional increases if necessary. He pointed out that to fill the increase in military manpower needs, the monthly draft calls would be raised from 17,000 to 35,000.
On this day in 2003: Bob Hope (b.1903), master of the one-liner and favorite comedian of servicemen and presidents alike, died at his home in Toluca Lake, Ca. He was born Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England, the 5th of 7 sons of a British stonemason and a Welsh singer of light opera.
On this day in 2000: The U.S. Navy reported that an F-14 Tomcat jet crashed in Saudi Arabia during a training flight. Iraqi air defense later reported that Iraqi units had shot down a US Air Force F-14 over southern Iraq in mid July and claimed that the Navy report was a coverup. The U.S. Air Force does not fly F-14s.
On this day in 2010: The release of 91,731 classified documents from the Wikileaks organization was made public. The documents cover U.S. military incident and intelligence reports from January 2004 to December 2009. The leaked documents also contain reports of Pakistan collusion with the Taliban.
On this day in 2003: The House and Senate intelligence committees issued their final report on the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The report cited blunders, oversights and miscalculations that prevented authorities from stopping the attackers but failed to address these issues in the recommendations it made.
On this day in 1973: Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace, died in Zurich, Switzerland at the age of 82. Known as a race-car driver before World War I, he became America’s premier flying ace during the war and returned home to a hero’s welcome.
On this day in 2004: The USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier collided with a dhow in the Arabian Gulf while running night flights in support of U.S. operations in Iraq. The crew of the small boat was missing.
On this day in 1950: Major General William F. Dean was reported missing in action as his 24th Infantry Division fought its way out of Taejon. During that action, he set the example by single-handedly attacking a T-34 tank with a grenade and directing the fire of others from an exposed position.
On this day in 2003: American generals said a new Iraqi civil defense force would be created over the next 45 days with some 7,000 militia members. Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander of coalition forces in Iraq, predicted that resistance to U.S. forces in Iraq would grow in coming months as progress was made in creating a new government to replace the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein.
On this day in 1943: The United States bombs railway yards in Rome in an attempt to break the will of the Italian people to resist-as Hitler lectures their leader, Benito Mussolini, on how to prosecute the war further. On July 16, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to the Italian civilian population to reject Mussolini and Hitler and “live for Italy and civilization.” As an “incentive,” American bombers raided the city, destroying its railways.
On this day in 1863: Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and 272 of his troops are killed in an assault on Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina.
On this day in 2003: The US combat death toll in Iraq hit a milestone as the Pentagon acknowledged its casualties from hostile fire reached 147, the same number of troops who died at enemy hands in the first Gulf War. Gen. John Abizaid, head of central command, said loyalists are fighting an increasingly organized “guerrilla-type campaign.”
On this day in 2004: About 2,100 Fort Campbell soldiers received orders to return to Iraq for another year of duty. All the units involved — which include aviation and support elements of the 101st, along with a military police unit — spent time in Iraq during the division’s deployment as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On this day in 1950: F-80s accounted for 85 percent of the enemy’s losses to air attack. Far East Air Forces Commander, Lieutenant General George E. Stratemeyer, stated that he wouldn’t trade the F-80 for all the F-47s and F-51s he could get. “It does a wonderful job in ground support and can take care of the top-side job if enemy jets appear.”
On this day in 1993: The USS IWO JIMA was decommissioned after over 30 years of service in a ceremony at Norfolk Naval Base, Virginia. The ship was named for the World War II battle during which three Marine divisions ousted 20,000 entrenched Japanese troops.
On this day in 2001: CGC Sherman became the second cutter to circumnavigate the globe when she returned to the United States from a six-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf in support of U.N. operations. She conducted 219 queries, 115 boardings, and five diverts. The Eastwind was the first cutter to circumnavigate the globe on a cruise in 1960-1961.
On this day in 1862: President Abraham Lincoln signs into law a measure calling for the awarding of a U.S. Army Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress, “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.”
On this day in 1798: President John Adams signed the bill that re-established the Marine Corps. The Continental Congress had disbanded the service in April of 1783 at the end of the American Revolution. The Marine Corps, however, recognizes its “official” birthday to be the date that the Second Continental Congress first authorized the establishment of the “Corps of Marines” on 10 November 1775.
On this day in 1965: U.S. planes continue heavy raids in South Vietnam and claim to have killed 580 guerrillas. U.S. Phantom jets, escorting fighter-bombers in a raid on the Yen Sen ammunition depot northwest of Hanoi, engaged North Vietnamese MiG-17s. Capt. Thomas S. Roberts with his backseater Capt. Ronald C. Anderson, and Capt. Kenneth E. Holcombe and his backseater Capt. Arthur C. Clark shot down two MiG-17s with Sidewinder missiles. The action marked the first U.S. Air Force air-to-air victories of the Vietnam War.
On this day in 1943: Operation Husky: The invasion of Sicily begins. The landing force is concentrated around Malta. There are 1200 transports and 2000 landing craft which will land elements of 8 divisions. In the evening, there are airborne landings by the US 82nd Airborne Division and British units which cause disruption in the Axis defenses, although they do not manage to seize their objectives.
On this day in 1776: In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell rings out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall), summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, by Colonel John Nixon.
On this day in 1976: For the first time in history, women are enrolled into the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. On May 28, 1980, 62 of these female cadets graduated and were commissioned as second lieutenants.
On this day in 1976: In Annapolis, Maryland, the United States Naval Academy admits women for the first time in its history with the induction of 81 female midshipmen. In May 1980, Elizabeth Anne Rowe became the first woman member of the class to graduate. Four years later, Kristine Holderied became the first female midshipman to graduate at the top of her class.
On this day in 1861: The first large-scale engagement of the Civil War is fought in southwestern Missouri, signaling an escalation in the hostilities between the North and South. Missouri was the scene of some of the most bitter partisan fighting during the war. After the clash at Fort Sumter in April, the state was deeply divided.
On this day in 1776: The Declaration of Independence was signed by president of Congress John Hancock and secretary Charles Thomson. John Hancock said, “There, I guess King George will be able to read that.” referring to his signature on the Declaration of Independence. Other signers later included Benjamin Rush and Robert Morris. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, eight were born outside North America.
On this day in 1988: In the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy cruiser shoots down an Iranian passenger jet that it mistakes for a hostile Iranian fighter aircraft. Two missiles were fired from the American warship–the aircraft was hit, and all 290 people aboard were killed. The attack came near the end of the Iran-Iraq War, when U.S. vessels were in the gulf defending Kuwaiti oil tankers.
On this day in 1926: The Distinguished Flying Cross was established in the Air Corps Act (Act of Congress, Public Law No. 446, 69th Congress). This act provided for award “to any person, while serving in any capacity with the Air Corps of the Army of the United States, including the National Guard and the Organized Reserves, or with the United States Navy, since the 6th day of April 1917, has distinguished, or who, after the approval of this Act, distinguishes himself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”
On this day in 1863: The largest military conflict in North American history begins this day when Union and Confederate forces collide at Gettysburg. The epic battle lasted three days and resulted in a retreat to Virginia by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.