Military and Police

17 May: This Day in Military History

1943: (featured image)The crew of the B-17F Flying Fortress named Memphis Belle lands safely in England after a bombing raid on Lorient, France. Capt. Robert K Morgan’s crew have completed their 25th mission of the war – a remarkable feat considering crews averaged between eight and 12 missions before being shot down. The Memphis Belle dropped 60 tons of bombs and her gunners shot down eight German fighters during her tour of duty.

Although virtually every part of the plane is replaced at least once – including both wings and nine engines – none of the crew are seriously injured. Morgan will fly another 26 missions against Japan in ha B-29 Superfortress.

The crew of the Memphis Belle back from its 25th operational mission. All hold the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak clusters, and all started with this Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and survived with only one casualty, a leg wound to the tail gunner.

1962: When communist Pathet Lao forces mass near the border during the Laotian Crisis, Thailand requests assistance from the United States. President John F. Kennedy deploys a 3,000-man Marine Expeditionary Brigade to Udorn, Thailand in a show of force.

1968: When Private First Class Robert C. Burke’s company comes under heavy mortar, machine gun, rocket-propelled grenade, and rifle fire, the Marine grabs his machine gun and charges single-handedly against the large fortified enemy position. As Burke maneuvers from one position to another, suppressing enemy bunkers and neutralizing machine gun crews, his fellow Marines are able to move forward and evacuate their wounded. When his automatic weapon malfunctions, he picks up a weapon from a casualty and keeps firing. Once his machine gun is operational, he moves to an exposed position and pours heavy fire into the treeline, but will be mortally wounded. Burke was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallant actions.

ROBERT CHARLES BURKE (Panel 61E, Row 24 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

1987: An Iraqi aircraft fires two Exocet anti-ship missiles at the frigate USS Stark (FFG-31) while on patrol in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq-Iran War. Both missiles hit the American warship, igniting a blaze that kills 37 sailors and injures 21.

A view of damage sustained by the guided missile frigate USS STARK (FFG-31) when it was hit by two Iraqi-launched Exocet missile while on patrol in the Persian Gulf.
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Chris Carter

Chris Carter is the Director of the Victory Institute, and deputy regional director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team. His work appears at The US Report, International Analyst Network, Human Events, Canada Free Press, Family Security Matters, Deutsche Welle,, Blackfive and other publications. Chris is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, non-commissioned officer in the South Carolina State Guard, and retired firefighter.

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