This Day in Military History

14 December: This Day in Military History

Today’s post is in honor of Staff Sgt. Kimberly A. Voelz, who was killed while trying to defuse an improvised explosive device in Iskandariyah, Iraq on this day in 2003. The 27-year-old from of Carlisle, Pa. was assigned to the 703rd Explosive Ordnance Detachment .

1799: (Featured Image) Former president and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army George Washington passes away at his home in Mount Vernon (Va.) at age 67.

1924: The battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41) launches a Martin MO-1 observation plane by using its forward turret as an explosive-powered catapult.

1941: While a Japanese sub shells the Hawaiian Islands, Vice Adm. Wilson Brown’s Task Force 11 departs Pearl Harbor, attempting to divert the Japanese fleet from their attack on Wake Island. The fleet consists of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, three cruisers, and nine destroyers.

1944: Congress creates the temporary, five-star grades of Fleet Admiral and General of the Army. Admirals William Leahy, Ernest King, and Chester Nimitz are promoted to the new rank within days, as are Generals George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, and the Army Air Force’s Henry “Hap” Arnold (who in 1947 will become the only “General of the Air Force”). William Halsey, the United States’ last fleet admiral, will pin on his fifth star on December 11, 1945. And during the Korean War, Gen. Omar Bradley becomes the last man promoted to the elite rank.

These 5-star general’s insignia belonged to Henry “Hap” Arnold, and they flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2011.  In 1945 Gen. Arnold anticipated that spaceflight would eventually become a reality.

1961: President John F. Kennedy informs President Ngo Dinh Diem that the United States would increase military aid and expand our military commitment to South Vietnam. Upon their return from a fact-finding mission, Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor and Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Walt W. Rostow recommend that Kennedy send helicopters, aircraft, military advisors, and support personnel. They also suggested the secret deployment of 8,000 troops for combat operations. Kennedy will implement all but the combat forces.

President Kennedy utilizing CIA map during briefing on Vietnam

1964: U.S. warplanes attack targets of opportunity in northern Laos in the first strikes of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s top-secret Operation BARREL ROLL. The air campaign is intended to interdict the flow of communist supplies along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but also becomes a close air support campaign against Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese forces. Over time, neutral Laos will become the most heavily bombed country in the world.

1972: After Apollo 17 commander – and U.S. Navy captain – Eugene Cernan sets the unofficial lunar speed record at 11.2 mph on the Lunar Rover, Cernan becomes the last human to set foot on the moon.

Capt. Eugene Cernan on the Lunar Rover


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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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