This Day in Military History

17 October: This Day in Military History

Today’s post is in honor of Cpl. Jorge Villarreal Jr., who gave his life on this day in 2010 in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. The 22-year-old San Antonio native was killed when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle. Villarreal was serving with the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.


1918: Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell meets with American Expeditionary Force Commander Gen. John J. Pershing and floats the idea of dropping soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division behind enemy lines. Pershing approves the concept, but the war ends before paratroopers become a reality.

1922: Lt. Commander Virgil C. Griffin, piloting a Vought VE-7SF bi-winged fighter, makes the first-ever “official” takeoff from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Langley – a coaling ship which had been converted into America’s first aircraft carrier – in York River, Va.

Though Griffin is indeed the first man to takeoff from a “carrier”, he is not the first to takeoff from a warship. That distinction belongs to Eugene B. Ely who took-off from a platform affixed to a cruiser in 1910.

1941: When a “wolfpack” of German U-boats attacks an allied convoy, overwhelming its Canadian escort ships, USS Kearny and three other American destroyers depart their base at Iceland and begin dropping depth charges. A German torpedo strikes Kearny, killing 11 sailors and injuring 22 – the first American casualties of World War II. Adolf Hitler will use the engagement as a reason for declaring war on the United States in December.

1944: The 6th Ranger Battalion lands on Dinagat, Homonhon, and Suluan and sweep the islands guarding the entrance of Leyte Gulf in preparation for Sixth Army’s upcoming invasion (Operation KING II).

Soldiers of the 6th Ranger Battalion on Dinagat Island, 18 Oct., 1944

1962: Light Photographic Squadron 62 (VFP-62) begins Operation BLUE MOON – low-level reconnaissance of suspected Soviet military installations on Cuba. Soon, pairs of RF-8A Crusader jets (featured image) will streak through Cuban airspace, avoiding enemy anti-aircraft fire while snapping photos of Soviet ballistic and tactical nuclear missile sites.

Aerial view of the San Cristobal medium range ballistic missile launch site number two.

1986: Lt. Cmdr. Barry D. Gabler of VFP-206, the Navy’s last photoreconnaissance squadron, makes the final catapult takeoff and carrier landing of an F-8 Crusader, aboard USS America (CV-66).

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
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, NavySEALs.com, 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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