Today’s post is in honor of Cpl. Joseph E. Fite, who was killed by enemy action on this day in 2005 in Iraq’s Anbar province. The 23-year-old from Round Rock, Texas was serving with 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve.
1861: Confederate coastal-artillery batteries – including a four-gun battery manned by cadets under the command of Maj. Peter F. Stevens of the Citadel (the Military College of South Carolina) – open fire on the U.S. commercial paddlesteamer Star of the West in Charleston harbor. The shots – the first of the American Civil War – repel the Star, forcing the ship to abort its mission of resupplying Maj. Robert Anderson and his 80 besieged soldiers garrisoning Fort Sumter.
That same day, Mississippi becomes the second state to secede from the Union.
1918: (Featured Image) Near the Mexican border, a group of Yaqui Indians open fire on “Buffalo Soldiers” of the U.S. Army’s 10th Cavalry (before the U.S. Border Patrol’s founding in 1924, the Army handled border security). After the brief firefight, the leader of the Yaqui lay dead and nine are captured in what is the last engagement of the American Indian Wars.
1945: On the beaches of Luzon Island, 68,000 soldiers of Gen. Walter Krueger’s Sixth Army storm ashore at Luzon Island. During the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 5,000 Japanese kamikaze pilots will sink 24 Allied warships and damage 67 with their desperate – and devastating – new tactic.
Meanwhile in Rimling France, 200 German infantry and a dozen supporting tanks attack Tech. Sgt. Charles F. Carey Jr.’s anti-tank platoon. They picked the wrong fight. The acting platoon leader organizes a patrol, rescuing two squads from danger, then attacks an enemy-held house. While his troops provide cover fire, Carey kills two snipers with his rifle and tosses a grenade into the position. Carey then enters the house alone, walking out with 16 prisoners and information on nearby enemy troop locations that lead to the capture of dozens more Germans. On another patrol, Carey knocks out an enemy tank, then dispatches its crew as they exit the burning vehicle. Carey then leads another patrol to rescue another squad trapped in an attic and encircled by Germans.
An enemy sniper takes out Carey, but his courage proved essential in allowing the Americans to withstand the German attack and Carey is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
1970: When a column of armored personnel carriers (APC) comes under heavy fire from well-fortified enemy positions in the Republic of Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province – disabling one of the vehicles – Specialist Fourth Class Danny J. Petersen places his APC between the pinned down vehicle and the enemy. Petersen’s vehicle provides suppressing fire, allowing their fellow soldiers to repair the disabled vehicle. Petersen orders his vehicle to move within 10 feet of the emplacement, and the crew takes a direct hit. Petersen carries his wounded driver through 45 yards of fire-swept terrain to relative safety and returns to his vehicle to provide covering fire as the armored vehicles withdraw. Surrounded on three sides, Petersen is mortally wounded while protecting his comrades – earning a posthumous Medal of Honor.