1862: President Abraham Lincoln signs a law creating the Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest decoration for valor. The award is presented to “such non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” The Navy had established their version, the “Medal of Valor,” six months previously. To date, 3,498 Americans have been awarded the Medal of Honor – roughly half of which were from the Civil War.
1916: In Pensacola Bay, Fla. the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (ACR-12) becomes the first naval vessel to carry and operate aircraft when aviation pioneer Lt. Godfrey de Chevalier launches his AB-3 flying boat from a catapult while the ship is underway.
1950: Elements of the 21st Infantry Regiment continue fighting delay operations against the advancing North Korean Army. Although the Americans are outgunned and outnumbered, they manage to hold off the enemy long enough for the establishment of the Pusan Perimeter. Col. Robert R. Martin, commanding officer of the 34th Infantry Regiment is posthumously awarded the first Distinguished Service Cross (the Army’s second-highest decoration for valor) of the Korean War after he is killed while attacking a North Korean T-34 tank with a bazooka.
1993: 17 American AH-64 “Cobra” helicopters attack a safe house in Mogadishu, believing that the infamous Somali warlord Muhamad Farrah Aidid is present. Dozens of Somalis are killed, but the self-declared president is not among the dead. Four journalists attempting to cover the attack are stoned to death by an angry mob.