[Featured image: Marine Corps “Hawk” missiles on Hill 327, near Da Nang Air Base in 1965]
1799: In the Caribbean, the American frigate Constellation spots the larger and more heavily armed French frigate L’Insurgente and gives chase. After pursuing the French vessel through a storm, Capt. Thomas Truxtun – one of the first six Naval officers appointed by President George Washington – manages to force his counterpart into a clash that lasts over an hour, with Constellation inflicting heavy casualties and capturing the ship in the United States’ first naval engagement since the end of the Revolutionary War.
1942: Gen. George Marshall (Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army), Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold (Chief of Army Air Forces), Adm. Harold Stark (Chief of Naval Operations), and Adm. Ernest King (Commander in Chief, United States Fleet) meet to discuss better coordination between the Navy and War Departments – the first formal meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
Today, the President of the United States appoints a chairman, vice-chairman, four service chiefs, and the head of the National Guard to JCS. Their mission is to advise the White House on military matters.
1965: In response to the Viet Cong attack on Camp Holloway two days before, President Lyndon Johnson orders the deployment of a Marine Corps surface-to-air missile battalion to Vietnam. The Marines, which will be stationed at Da Nang Air Base, are the first U.S. troops sent to Vietnam in a non-advisory capacity.
1972: 173 years after Constellation’s victory in the Caribbean, the Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier Constellation arrives off the coast of Vietnam. Connie (the fourth so-named vessel to serve the U.S. Navy) is one of three U.S. carriers operating in theater, until four more flattops are sent to Vietnam during the North Vietnam Army’s Easter Offensive, which begins in March.