JANUARY 04 - TODAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
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4 JANUARY/ TODAY IN MILITARY HISTORY:
◆46 BCE Battle of Ruspina: Labienus defeats Caesar, who retreats.★
◆871 Battle of Reading: King Ethelred of Wessex defeated by the Danes.★
◆1762 England declares war on Spain and Naples.
◆1780 A snowstorm hits Washington's army at Morristown New Jersey.
◆1846 General Mariano Paredes becomes the President of Mexico, announcing he will defend all territory he considers Mexico's.
◆1847 Samuel Colt rescues the future of his faltering gun company by winning a contract to provide the U.S. government with 1,000 of his .44 caliber revolvers.★
◆1853 USN buys Mare Is, San Francisco Bay, for a shipyard.
◆1863 Union General Henry Halleck, by direction of President Abraham Lincoln, orders General Ulysses Grant to revoke his infamous General Order No. 11 that expelled Jews from his operational area.
◆1863 General Roger Hanson dies.★
◆1863 Blockading ship USS Quaker City captures the sloop Mercury carrying dispatches emphasizing desperate plight of the South.
◆1902 The French offered to sell their Nicaraguan Canal rights to the U.S.
◆1910 Commissioning of USS Michigan (BB-27), the first U.S. dreadnought battleship.
◆1928 Marines participated in the Battle of Quilali during the occupation of Nicaragua.
◆1941 On the Greek-Albanian front, the Greeks launch an attack towards Valona from Berat to Klisura against the Italians.
◆1942 Japanese forces begin the evacuation of Guadalcanal. The Japanese base at Munda is bombarded by the US TF 67. A second group of cruisers and destroyers is in support.
◆1943 US Task Force 67, commanded by Admiral Ainsworth, bombards the Japanese base at Munda, on New Georgia. A second group of cruisers and destroyers is in support of the effort. Proximity fuses for antiaircraft ammunition is used for the first time by one of the vessels involved in the bombardment.
◆1943 Time Magazine declares Stalin as Man of the Year.★
◆1944 Admiral Sherman's carrier group attacks Kavieng. The Japanese destroyer Fujimitsu is damaged.
◆1944 Operation Carpetbagger.★
◆1944 Fifth Army launches new attacks on a ten-mile from along the south end of the Gustav line in Italy.
◆1945 The fighting in the Ardennes continues; a German counterattack near Bastogne is repulsed by troops of US 3rd Army. There are attacks by US 8th and 3rd Corps and by the British 30th Corps. Some of the units of the 6th SS Panzer Army (Dietrich) are withdrawn and sent to the Eastern Front. In Alsace, the German attacks in the Bitche area continue.
◆1945 Americans B-24 Liberator bombers attack Clark Field in Manila, on Luzon and claim to destroy 20 Japanese aircraft. Shipping near Luzon is also attacked. It is claimed that 35 Japanese vessels have been sunk or severely damaged.
◆1945 US jeep-aircraft carrier Ommaney Bay sinks after kamikaze attack.
◆1951 For the third time in six months, Seoul changed hands as CCF troops moved in.
◆1952 The French Army in Indochina launches Operation Nenuphar in hopes of ejecting a Viet Minh division from the Ba Tai forest.
◆1953 Fifth Air Force mounted a 124-plane strike against the Huichon supply center.
◆1965 Johnson reaffirms commitment to South Vietnam: In his State of the Union message, President Lyndon B. Johnson reaffirms U.S. commitment to support South Vietnam in fighting communist aggression. In justifying the continued support to Saigon, Johnson pointed outthat U.S. presidents had been giving the South Vietnamese help for 10 years, and, he said, "Our own security is tied to the peace of Asia."
◆1974 War resumes in South Vietnam.★
◆1975 The Khmer Rouge launches its newest assault in its five-year war in Phnom Penh. The war in Cambodia would go on until the spring of 1975.
◆1989 Second Gulf of Sidra Incident: Aircraft (VF-32) from USS John F. Kennedy shoot down 2 hostile Libyan Migs over the Mediterranean. ★
◆1991 Marines evacuated 260 U.S. and foreign citizens from the American Embassy, Mogadishu, Somalia, during Operation Eastern Exit.
Medal of Honor Citations for Actions taken This Day
MANNING, HENRY J.
Rank and organization: Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: 1859, New Haven, Conn. Accredited to: Connecticut. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: Serving on board the U.S. Training Ship New Hampshire, off Newport, R.I., 4 January 1882. Jumping overboard, Manning endeavored to rescue Jabez Smith, second class musician, fromdrowning.
Rank and organization: Ship's Printer, U.S. Navy. Born: 1847, Brooklyn, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 326, 18 October 1884. Citation: For jumping overboard from the U.S. Training Ship New Hampshire off Coasters Harbor Island, near Newport, R.l., 4 January 1882, and endeavoring to rescue Jabez Smith, second class musician, from drowning.
SNYDER, WILLIAM E.
Rank and organization: Chief Electrician, U.S. Navy. Born: 24 February 1883, South Bethlehem, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 58, 2 March 1910. Citation: Serving on board the U.S.S. Birmingham, for extraordinary heroism, rescuing G.H. Kephart seaman, from drowning at Hampton Roads, Va., 4 January 1910.
*JACHMAN, ISADORE S.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company B, 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Place and date: Flamierge, Belgium, 4 January 1945. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Birth: Berlin, Germany. G.O. No.: 25, 9 June 1950. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at Flamierge, Belgium, on 4 January 1945, when his company was pinned down by enemy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire, 2 hostile tanks attacked the unit, inflicting heavy. casualties. S/Sgt. Jachman, seeing the desperate plight of his comrades, left his place of cover and with total disregard for his own safety dashed across open ground through a hail of fire and seizing a bazooka from a fallen comrade advanced on the tanks, which concentrated their fire on him. Firing the weapon alone, he damaged one and forced both to retire. S/Sgt. Jachman's heroic action, in which he suffered fatal wounds, disrupted the entire enemy attack, reflecting the highest credit upon himself and the parachute infantry.
4 JANUARY 46BCE
THE BATTLE OF RUSPINA was fought in the Roman province of Africa, between the Republican forces of the Optimates and forces loyal to Julius Caesar. The Republican army was commanded by Titus Labienus, Caesar's former supporter who had defected to the Republican side at the beginning of the civil war. Julius Caesar defeated Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BCE.
Later that same year, Pompey was killed in Egypt. Caesar then traveled to Tunisia to battle his former lieutenant and friend, Titus Labienus. As Labienus's force significantly outnumbered Caesar's, Caesar fell back onto high ground, drawing Labienus into land of his choosing. The Numidian cavalry began to wear the Caesarian troops down with missiles.
This proved very effective, as the Caesarian legionaries could not retaliate. The Numidians would simply withdraw to a safe distance and keep firing. Caesar's cavalry fought in vain to prevent being surrounded. The Caesarian troops faced a charge by the Pompeian cavalry and Numidian light troops. The Numidian light infantry bombarded the legionaries with javelins. Caesar's legionaries threw their pila at the enemy in return, but were most ineffective. The Caesarian legionaries then huddled together in the circular orbis formation.
Titus Labienus rode up to the front rank of Caesar's troops, coming very near in order to taunt the enemy troops. A veteran of the Tenth Legion approached Labienus, who recognized him. The veteran threw his pilum at Labienus's horse, killing it. "That'll teach you Labienus, that a soldier of the Tenth is attacking you", the veteran growled, shaming Labienus in front of his own men. Some men however began to panic. One aquilifer panicked and attempted to flee. Caesar grabbed the man, spun him around and shouted "the enemy are over there!".
Caesar gave the order to make the battle line as long as possible. He ordered that every second cohort to turn around, so the standards would be facing the rear. The legionaries charged and threw their pila, scattering the Pompeians. They pursued their enemy for a short distance, and began to march back to camp.
However Marcus Petreius, and Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso appeared with 1,600 Numidian cavalry and a large number of infantry. The Caesarians were surrounded. They might have formed the testudo for protection. The Caesarians got ready for another breakout. They successfully broke out, but then both armies slowly retired to their camps.
The battle was a bloody affair, with Caesar losing as much as one-third of his forces. Caesar would again face Optimate forces three months later in the Battle of Thapsus, eventually achieving victory.
Ruspina is located in modern-day Tunisia.
4 JANUARY 871
THE FIRST BATTLE OF READING was a battle at Reading in what is now the English county of Berkshire. It was one of a series of battles, with honors to both sides, that took place following an invasion of the then kingdom of Wessex by an army of Danes led by Bagsecg and Halfdan Ragnarsson in an attempt to conquer Wessex. Both battle and campaign are described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and this account provides the earliest known written record of the existence of the town of Reading.
The Danes had established a camp at Reading, defended by the Thames and Kennet rivers on two sides, and by a rampart on the western side. Three days after their arrival, a party of Danes rode out towards nearby Englefield, where a West Saxon force under the command of Æthelwulf, the Ealdorman of the shire, was waiting for them. In the ensuing Battle of Englefield many of the Danes were killed, and the rest driven back to Reading.
Four days later, Æthelwulf had been joined by the main West Saxon army, led by King Æthelred and his brother, Alfred the Great. The entire Saxon force marched on Reading. The assault was directed mainly at a gateway through the ramparts, and fierce and bloody fighting followed, before the attack was repulsed. Among the many dead of both sides was Æthelwulf. The Saxon forces were forced to retreat, allowing the Danes to continue their advance into Wessex.
Following the Battle of Reading, Æthelred and Alfred reformed their army, and a few days later won a famous victory at the Battle of Ashdown, forcing the Danes to retreat to Reading once more. Two weeks later the Danes won the Battle of Basing, and then, on 22 March, the Battle of Marton. In April Æthelred died, to be succeeded by Alfred. The Danish army remained in Reading until late in 871, when they retreated to winter quarters in London, and much of King Alfred's 28-year reign was taken up with the Danish conflict
4 JANUARY 1847
SAMUEL COLT rescues the future of his faltering gun company by winning a contract to provide the U.S. government with 1,000 of his .44 caliber revolvers. Before Colt began mass-producing his popular revolvers in 1847, handguns had not played a significant role in the history of either the American West or the nation as a whole.
Expensive and inaccurate, short-barreled handguns were impractical for the majority of Americans, though a handful of elite still insisted on using dueling pistols to solve disputes in highly formalized combat. When choosing a practical weapon for self-defense and close-quarter fighting, most Americans preferred knives, and western pioneers especially favored the deadly and versatile Bowie knife.
That began to change when Samuel Colt patented his percussion-repeating revolver in 1836. The heart of Colt's invention was a mechanism that combined a single rifled barrel with a revolving chamber that held five or six shots. When the weapon was cocked for firing, the chamber revolved automatically to bring the next shot into line with the barrel.
Though still far less accurate than a well-made hunting rifle, the Colt revolver could be aimed with reasonable precision at a short distance (30 to 40 yards in the hands of an expert), because the interior bore was "rifled"--cut with a series of grooves spiraling down its length. The spiral grooves caused the slug to spin rapidly as it left the bbarrel, giving it gyroscopic stability.
The five or six-shoot capacity also made accuracy less important, since a missed shot could quickly be followed with others. Yet most cowboys, gamblers, and gunslingers could never have afforded such a revolver if not for the de facto subsidy the federal government provided to Colt by purchasing his revolvers in such great quantities. After the first batch of revolvers proved popular with soldiers, the federal government became one of Colt's biggest customers, providing him with the much-needed capital to improve his production facilities.
With the help of Eli Whitney and other inventors, Colt developed a system of mass production and interchangeable parts for his pistols that greatly lowered their cost. Though never cheap, by the early 1850s, Colt revolvers were inexpensive enough to be a favorite with Americans headed westward during the California Gold Rush. Between 1850 and 1860, Colt sold 170,000 of his "pocket" revolvers and 98,000 "belt" revolvers, mostly to civilians looking for a powerful and effective means of self-defense in the Wild West.
4 JANUARY 1863
GENERAL ROGER HANSON DIES. Confederate General Roger Weightman Hanson dies at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His death was a result of wounds sustained two days earlier at the Battle of Stones River. Hanson was born in 1827 in Clark City, Tennessee. He served during the Mexican War and was a lawyer and a colonel in the Kentucky State Guard before the Civil War.
He joined the Confederate army in September 1861 and received a commission as colonel in the 2nd Kentucky. He was assigned to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River and when Union General Ulysses S. Grant captured the post on February 16, 1862, Hanson was sent to a Federal prison. He was exchanged after eight months and placed in command of the “Orphan Brigade.”
The Orphan Brigade was a unit composed of 5,000 Kentucky residents who were cut off from their homes by the Union occupation of their state. In December 1862, Hanson and his men marched with General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry to Hartsville, Tennessee, on a raid that netted 2,000 Union prisoners.
The brigade then joined the Army of Tennessee for the Stones River campaign later that month. During the battle, which lasted from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, the Orphan Brigade participated in a failed attack on Union artillery positions.
The cannonade against the Kentucky fighters was so strong that one Union officer commented that the Confederates must have thought that they had, “opened the door of Hell, and the devil himself was there to greet them.” Hanson was struck in the leg during the attack, and he died the following morning.
4 JANUARY 1943
JOSEPH STALIN NAMED TIME MAGAZINES 'PERSON OF THE YEAR' FOR A SECOND TIME.
“The year 1942 was a year of blood and strength. The man whose name means steel in Russian, whose few words of English include the American expression "tough guy" was the man of 1942. Only Joseph Stalin fully knew how close Russia stood to defeat in 1942, and only Joseph Stalin fully knew how he brought Russia through.”
— Time Magazine
Time's most famous feature throughout its history has been the annual "Person of the Year" (formerly "Man of the Year") cover story, in which Time recognizes the individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest effect on the year's news.
Despite the title, the recipient is not necessarily individuals or even human beings – for instance, on January 3, 1983 the personal computer was recognized as "Machine of the Year" (Time.com). In 1989 "Endangered Earth" was named as "Planet Of The Year." In 1999, Albert Einstein was chosen by Time as Person of the Century.
Controversy has occasionally arisen because of the designation of alleged dictators and warmongers as "Persons of the Year". The distinction is supposed to go to the person who, for good or ill, has most affected the course of the year; it is therefore not necessarily an honor or a reward. In the past, such figures as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin have been Man of the Year.
In 2001, Time was accused of giving way to political correctness when it named Rudy Giuliani Person of the Year. Corazon Aquino who restored democracy in the Philippines and impressed the U.S. Congress with her speeches is one of four women to grace Time as Woman of the Year.
4 JANUARY 1944
OPERATION CARPETBAGGER: U.S. aircraft begin dropping supplies to guerrilla forces throughout Western Europe. The action demonstrated that the U.S. believed guerrillas were a vital support to the formal armies of the Allies in their battle against the Axis powers.
Virtually every country that experienced Axis invasion raised a guerrilla force; they were especially effective and numerous in Italy, France, China, Greece, the Philippines, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union. Also referred to as a “partisan force,” a guerrilla army is defined roughly as a member of a small-scale “irregular” fighting force that relies on the limited and quick engagements of a conventional fighting force.
Their main weapon is sabotage-in addition to killing enemy soldiers, the goal is to incapacitate or destroy communication lines, transportation centers, and supply lines. In Italy, the partisan resistance to fascism began with assaults against Mussolini and his “black shirts.” Upon Italy’s surrender, the guerrillas turned their attention to the German occupiers, especially in the north.
By the summer of 1944, resistance fighters immobilized eight of the 26 German divisions in northern Italy. By the end of the war, Italian guerillas controlled Venice, Milan, and Genoa, but at a considerable cost—all told, the Italian resistance lost roughly 50,000 fighters. Perhaps the most renowned wartime guerrilla force was the French Resistance – also known as the “Free French” force – which began as two separate groups.
One faction was organized and led by Gen. Charles de Gaulle, who left France upon the Vichy/Petain armistice with Germany but rallied his forces via the British airwaves. The other arm of the movement began in Africa under the direction of the commander in chief of the French forces in North Africa, Gen. Henri Giraud. De Gaulle eventually joined Giraud in Africa after tension began to build between de Gaulle and the British.
Initially, de Gaulle agreed to share power with Giraud in the organization and control of the exiled French forces, but Giraud resigned in 1943, apparently unwilling to stand in de Gaulle’s shadow or struggle against his deft political maneuvering. The Allies realized that guerrilla activity was essential to ending the war and supported the patriots with airdrops.
The American support was critical, because guerrillas fought admirably in difficult conditions. Those partisans who were captured by the enemy were invariably treated barbarically (torture was not uncommon), as were any civilians who had aided them in their mission. Tens of thousands of guerillas died in the course of the war, but were never awarded the formal recognition given the “official” fighting forces, despite the enormous risks and sacrifices.
4 JANUARY 1974
WAR RESUMES IN SOUTH VIETNAM. Thieu announces war has resumed: South Vietnamese troops report that 55 soldiers have been killed in two clashes with communist forces. Claiming that the war had “restarted,” South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu asserted, “We cannot allow the communists a situation in which…they can launch harassing attacks against us,” and ordered his forces to launch a counter-offensive to retake lost territory.
The announcement essentially marked the end of attempts to adhere to the agreements of the Paris Peace Accords. A cease-fire had been initiated in Vietnam on January 28, 1973, under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords. These most recent battles were only the latest rounds in ongoing fighting that had followed the brief lull provided by the cease-fire.
A large part of the problem was that the Peace Accords had left an estimated 200,000 North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. Renewed fighting broke out after the cease-fire as both sides jockeyed for control of territory in South Vietnam. Each side held that military operations were justified by the other side’s violations of the cease-fire. What resulted was an almost endless chain of retaliations.
During the period between the initiation of the cease-fire and the end of 1973, there were an average of 2,980 combat incidents per month in South Vietnam. Most of these were generally low-intensity harassing attacks by the North Vietnamese designed to wear down the South Vietnamese forces, but the communists intensified their efforts in the Central Highlands in September when they attacked government positions with tanks west of Pleiku. As a result of these post-cease-fire actions, the South Vietnamese lost an estimated 25,473 soldiers in battle in 1973.
4 JANUARY 1989
THE LINE OF DEATH: Second Gulf of Sidra Incident: Aircraft (VF-32) from USS John F. Kennedy shoot down two hostile Libyan MiGs over the Mediterranean. On January 4, 1989, two US F-14 Tomcats downed two Libyan MiG-23 Flogger Es in an engagement that has come to be known as the Gulf of Sidra incident. This was the second Gulf of Sidra incident following the downing of two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters in August 19, 1981.
In 1973 Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi claimed the Gulf of Sidra as territorial waters. Gaddafi named it The Line of Death, crossing this line would invite a military response. The USS John F. Kennedy was deployed near the Libyan coast. Late in the morning on January 4, 1989, Combat Air Patrol station was taken by two F-14A Tomcats belonging to the VF-32 Swordsmen squadron.Due to the presence of the Kennedy battle group near the Libyan coast, pilots were advised to expect some hostilities.
CDR Joseph Bernard Connelly and CDR Leo F. Enright were in F-14 AC207 (AC was the tail code for VF-32 Swordsmen) and LT Hermon C. Cook III and CDR Steven Patrick Collins were in AC204. At 11:50 the two aircraft were informed by a Grumman E-2 Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft that four Libyan MiG-23 Floggers had taken off from Al Bumbaw airfield near Tobruk.
The Tomcats turned for an intercept, the first two MiGs were 50 km ahead of the rear pair. The common procedure at the time was to acquire and lock the enemy aircraft with the Tomcats powerful AWG-9 radar, a maneuver that generally ended with the enemy aircraft reversing their course and avoiding an engagement. The Tomcats locked the Floggers from 72 nautical miles away. The Tomcats then turned away from the head-on approach, thus indicating to the Floggers they do not wish to engage in combat.
The two Libyan MiGs changed their course and gained speed. They accelerated to 870 KTS (1,600 km/h) and were on an intercepting course, heading towards the two Tomcats. The Tomcats descended to 3,000 feet with their radars still tracking the Floggers. Due to the low altitude of the Tomcats, the Flogger pilots had no clear radar image of the Tomcats. This diving and climbing maneuver was executed four times, hoping the Floggers will be intimated and reverse heading.
“Warning Yellow weapons hold” was heard over the radio at 11:59 meaning the Tomcats were authorized to fire if threatened. The order to arm the Sidewinder and Sparrow missiles was given by the lead Tomcat’s RIO (Radar Intercept Officer). You can clearly hear him say “Master arm on, Master arm on” followed by “Bogeys have jinked back at me again”. At a range of 14 miles AC207′s RIO launches an AIM-7M Sparrow, surprising his pilot. “Fox 1 Fox 1″ was heard over the radio. The missile failed to track so a second missile was launched “Fox 1 again”.
The Tomcats split. As the lead tomcat was circling to get a tail angle, the wingman engaged a Flogger with a Sparrow. The words “Good kill! Good kill!” and “Pilot ejected” can be heard over the radio. The last Flogger is shot down by the lead Tomcat using a Sidewinder missile. Both pilots were seen safely ejecting their planes. They were however lost at sea. The Tomcats set course for home, after one pilot broadcasts over the radio “Let’s get out of here.”
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