1830: Following nearly four years at sea, the sloop of war USS Vincennes arrives at New York, becoming the first United States warship to circumnavigate the globe.
1912: At College Park, Md., U.S. Army Capt. Charles deForest Chandler – the first commander of the Army Signal Corps’ Aeronautical Division – fires the first machine gun ever mounted to an aircraft. The plane is a Wright Model B flown by Lt. Roy C. Kirtland – the namesake of Kirtland Air Force Base. While The “Lewis Gun,” designed by Col. Isaac N. Lewis is not picked up by the United States military, the weapon sees extensive service during World War I with both the British and French.
Meanwhile, Company A of the 1st Marines land at Santiago, Cuba (west of Guantanamo Bay) to assist in putting down the Negro Rebellion.
1942: Japan lands an invasion force and occupies the Alaskan islands of Attu and Kiska. 25 American soldiers are killed on Attu and the inhabitants of both islands are relocated and placed in internment. The attack was originally intended to be a diversion for the U.S. Navy during the Battle of Midway, which by this time has been cancelled. Less than a year later, U.S. and Canadian troops will wipe out the Japanese occupying force nearly to a man.
1944: (D-Day Plus 1) The 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions make slow progress expanding the beachhead at Omaha Beach, where casualties are heavier than all other sectors combined. On Utah Beach, the 4th Infantry Division begins linking up with the heavily scattered paratroopers (only ten percent landed in their drop zones) of the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions. Overhead, Allied warplanes pound enemy armor and vehicles moving towards the beaches of Normandy.
Three companies of 2d Battalion Rangers, which famously scaled the 100-ft. cliffs at Pointe du Hoc under fire the day before, have taken 50 percent casualties, with their commander Lt. Col. James Rudder having been shot twice. The isolated Rangers will endure numerous counter-attacks by Germany’s 914th Grenadier Regiment throughout the day and won’t be relieved until D-Day Plus 2.
Meanwhile, construction begins on harbors that will deliver soldiers, vehicles, and materiel to the new Western Front.
1945: The Marines have isolated the Japanese defenders on Okinawa’s Oruku Peninsula. As the Marines work to consolidate a newly-captured hill, Pvt. Robert M. McTureous spots enemy machine guns firing on stretcher bearers from nearby caves and loads up on grenades. He charges towards the enemy and devastates their position with grenades before dashing back to friendly lines for another one-man grenade attack. Six Japanese are dead and the position is disorganized, and by drawing all the enemy fire on himself, he permits the medics to focus on the wounded. McTureous is mortally wounded, however, and he crawls 200 yards to a position where corpsmen can collect him from a position of relative safely. He will die from his wounds days later and is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1951: When the enemy launches a “furious assault” that threatens to overrun an American command post near Pachi-Dong, Korea, Pvt. 1st Class Jack G. Hanson volunteers to stay behind to cover the platoon as they withdraw to a better position. His assistant machine gunner and three riflemen accompanying him are wounded and crawl to safety, leaving Hanson to fend for himself. When the Americans counterattack and reach Hanson’s position, they find him with an empty machine gun, empty pistol, and a bloody machete. 22 dead communists are stacked around the fallen soldier, who is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1959: 100 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla., the Balao-class submarine USS Barbero (SSA-317) fires a Regulus cruise missile loaded with 3,000 pieces of mail towards the Naval Air Station at Mayport, Fla. 22 minutes later, the first-ever “missile mail” arrives.
1965: Gen. William Westmoreland requests – and will eventually receive – 44 battalions of combat troops to Vietnam.
1968: When a company of communist soldiers opens fire on his platoon, Pvt. 1st Class Phill G. McDonald volunteers to lead the wounded to an evacuation site. He destroys one automatic weapon with a grenade and the enemy focuses on McDonald’s position. From an exposed position, he suppresses the hostile force with a borrowed machine gun. As he crawls forward to silence another machine gun that has pinned down his fellow soldiers, he is mortally wounded. McDonald will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1970: As Staff Sgt. Robert C. Murray and his company search for an enemy mortar near Hiep Duc, South Vietnam, he trips a booby trap. Murray dives on the triggered grenade and shields his fellow soldiers from the blast. Murray is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
2006: A massive manhunt by special operations hunter-killer teams of Task Force 145 has finally pinpointed the position of Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. As the “Sheikh of the Slaughterers” enters a safe house north of Baqubah, Iraq to meet with his fellow jihadists, the military quickly re-routes two nearby Air Force F-16s to the area to bring an end to the terrorist responsible for the brutal deaths of thousands of Iraqis. The lead F-16 drops two precision-guided 500-lb. bombs, leveling the target. Zarqawi, who had replaced Osama bin Laden and his right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as Special Operations Command’s most-wanted man, is finally dead.
His terrorist group lives on, however, and will become the Islamic State.