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Discussion Starter #261
December 15th ~ { continued... }

1941 – An American Federation of Labor council adopted a no-strike policy in war industries, which included automotive plants being converted to military production (domestic automobile manufacturing stopped completely from 1941 to 1944). The U.S. was gearing up for the worst years of World War II.

1942 – Admiral Tanaka’s supply flotilla begins missions to aid the building of an airfield on New Georgia to support the Japanese positions on Guadalcanal.

1942 – The Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign. The battle, part of which is sometimes called the Battle of the Gifu, lasted to 23 January 1943 and was primarily an engagement between United States and Imperial Japanese forces in the hills near the Matanikau River area on Guadalcanal during the Guadalcanal Campaign. The U.S. forces were under the overall command of Alexander Patch and the Japanese forces were under the overall command of Harukichi Hyakutake. In the battle, U.S. Soldiers and Marines, assisted by native Solomon Islanders, attacked Japanese Army (IJA) forces defending well-fortified and entrenched positions on several hills and ridges. The most prominent hills were called Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse by the Americans.
The U.S. was attempting to destroy the Japanese forces on Guadalcanal and the Japanese were trying to hold their defensive positions until reinforcements could arrive. Both sides experienced extreme difficulties in fighting in the thick jungles and tropical environment that existed in the battle area. Many of the American troops were also involved in their first combat operations. The Japanese were mostly cut off from resupply and suffered greatly from malnourishment and lack of medical care. After some difficulty, the U.S. succeeded in taking Mount Austen, in the process reducing a strongly defended position called the Gifu, as well as the Galloping Horse and the Sea Horse.

In the meantime, the Japanese secretly decided to abandon Guadalcanal and withdrew to the west coast of the island. From that location most of the surviving Japanese troops were successfully evacuated during the first week of February 1943.

1943 – The US 5th Army begins new attacks. The 2nd Corps renews its drive toward San Pietro and Monte Lungo. To the right the 6th Corps attacks as well. The 1st Moroccan Division performs well.

1943 – The US 112th Cavalry Regiment (General Cunningham), with Coast Guard support, lands at Arawe, off the island of New Britain. This is a diversionary operation. Task Force 76 (Admiral Barbey) provides naval support for the operation. There is an air attack on the Japanese airfield at Cape Gloucester in support of the operation as well.

1944 – On the island of Mindoro (about 75 miles from Manila), American forces, under the command of General Dunckel, land at San Augustin. The force consists of part of US 24th Division and a parachute regiment. There is almost no resistance and American troops advance up to 8 miles inland. Naval support includes 3 battleships and 6 escort carriers. One carrier and two destroyers are damaged by Kamikaze attacks. Meanwhile, TF38 continues air strikes on airfields on Luzon. Coast Guardsmen participated in the landings.

1944 – Army Air Force Band leader and trombonist Glenn Miller boarded a single-engine C-64 Norseman in England for a flight to France, where he was to make arrangements for a Christmas broadcast. The plane never reached France and no trace of it or its occupants was ever found. Iowa-born Glenn Miller became a professional musician after graduating from high school. By the time he volunteered for military service in 1942, the Glenn Miller Orchestra was world famous and had appeared in two motion pictures. Miller persuaded the U.S. Army to accept his service to “put a little more spring into the feet of our marching men and a little more joy into their hearts.” For the next 18 months, Miller’s 50-member band stayed busy with morale-building concerts and radio broadcasts. No cause has ever been established for the loss of Miller’s aircraft, but the Norseman did not have de-icing equipment on board and it is likely that icy weather forced the plane down in the English Channel.

1944 – In Hungary a gold train departed Budapest on orders from Adolf Eichmann. In May it was intercepted by American forces in Austria. Some of the valuables were requisitioned by US commanders and the rest was later auctioned in NY and the proceeds given to a UN agency to help Jewish refugees. Kenneth Alford later authored “The Spoils of World War II.”

1945 – General Douglas MacArthur, in his capacity as Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in the Pacific, brings an end to Shintoism as Japan’s established religion. The Shinto system included the belief that the emperor, in this case Hirohito, was divine. On September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, MacArthur signed the instrument of Japanese surrender on behalf of the victorious Allies.

Before the economic and political reforms the Allies devised for Japan’s future could be enacted, however, the country had to be demilitarized. Step one in the plan to reform Japan entailed the demobilization of Japan’s armed forces, and the return of all troops from abroad. Japan had had a long history of its foreign policy being dominated by the military, as evidenced by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye’s failed attempts to reform his government and being virtually pushed out of power by career army officer Hideki Tojo. Step two was the dismantling of Shintoism as the Japanese national religion. Allied powers believed that serious democratic reforms, and a constitutional form of government, could not be put into place as long as the Japanese people looked to an emperor as their ultimate authority.

Hirohito was forced to renounce his divine status, and his powers were severely limited–he was reduced to little more than a figurehead. And not merely religion, but even compulsory courses on ethics–the power to influence the Japanese population’s traditional religious and moral duties–were wrenched from state control as part of a larger decentralization of all power.
 

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Discussion Starter #262
December 15th ~ { continued... }

1946 – Vietnam leader Ho Chi Minh sent a note to the new French Premier, Leon Blum, asking for peace talks.

1946 – U.S.-backed Iranian troops evict the leadership of the breakaway Republic of Mahabad, a short-lived self-governing Kurdish state in present-day Iran, putting an end to the Iran crisis of 1946. The Iran crisis of 1946, also known as the Iran-Azerbaijan Crisis, followed the end of World War II and stemmed from the Soviet Union’s refusal to relinquish occupied Iranian territory, despite repeated assurances. In 1941 Iran had been jointly invaded and occupied by the Allied powers of the Soviet Red Army in the north and by the British in the center and south. Iran was used by the Americans and the British as a transportation route to provide vital supplies to the Soviet Union’s war efforts.

1948 – The Secretary of the Navy signed a “Memorandum of Agreement” with the State Department which laid the basis for the modern Marine Security Guard program at U.S. embassies throughout the world.

1948 – Former State Department official Alger Hiss was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on charges of perjury. They charged that he lied in denying that he gave Chambers confidential documents and that he had spoken with Chambers in Feb and Mar of 1938. A first trial ended in a hung jury. Hiss, accused of lying about dealings with confessed Communist spy Whittaker Chambers, was convicted in 1950 and served nearly four years in prison.

1950 – The F-86 Sabre jets of the U.S. Air Force’s 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing flew their first missions of the Korean War.

1950 – U.N. forces withdraw south of the 38th parallel. Eighth Army established the Imjin River defense line north of Seoul.

1960 – Richard Pavlick is arrested for plotting to assassinate U.S. President-Elect John F. Kennedy. Pavlick was a retired postal worker from New Hampshire who stalked U.S. President-Elect John F. Kennedy, with the intent of assassinating him. On December 11, 1960 in Palm Beach, Florida, Pavlick positioned himself to carry out the assassination by blowing up Kennedy and himself with dynamite, but delayed the attempt because Kennedy was with his wife and children. He was then arrested before he was able to stage another attempt.

1965 – In the first raid on a major North Vietnamese industrial target, U.S. Air Force planes destroy a thermal power plant at Uong Bi, l4 miles north of Haiphong. The plant reportedly supplied about 15 percent of North Vietnam’s total electric power production.

1965 – Launch of Gemini 6 with Captain Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN, as Command Pilot. The mission included 16 orbits in 25 hours and 51 minutes. Recovery was by HS-11 helicopters from USS Wasp (CVS-18).

1965 – Two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6 and Gemini 7, maneuvered to within 10 feet of each other while in orbit.

1969 – President Richard Nixon announces that 50,000 additional U.S. troops will be pulled out of South Vietnam by April 15, 1970. This was the third reduction since the June Midway conference, when Nixon announced his Vietnamization program.

1978 – In one of the most dramatic announcements of the Cold War, President Jimmy Carter states that as of January 1, 1979, the United States will formally recognize the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) and sever relations with Taiwan.

1979 – The deposed Shah of Iran left the United States for Panama, the same day the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Iran should release all its American hostages.

1988 – End of Earnest Will convoy operations to escort reflagged tankers in the Persian Gulf.

1990 – With one month left before a UN deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait, Iraq gave no indication it was prepared to pull out.

1991 – Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev asked U.S. Secretary of State James Baker for formal U.S. recognition of the various Soviet republics that had declared independence.

1997 – US Defense Sec. Cohen ordered all 1.5 million men and women in uniform to be inoculated against anthrax.

1997 – In Missouri the nation’s last workable Minuteman II missile silo was destroyed in Dederick. It was the last of 150 in Missouri aimed at the Soviet Union. The missiles were deactivated and the silos destroyed due to the 1995 signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

1998 – US forces in the Persian Gulf were ordered on high alert following credible information of an imminent terrorist attack.

1998 – The Endeavour shuttle and crew returned to Cape Canaveral in a night time landing following NASA’s first space station-building mission.
 

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Discussion Starter #263
December 15th ~ { continued... }

1999 – The US and China agreed to a $28 million compensation package for damage to the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on May 7. China agreed to pay $2.87 million for damage to the US Embassy and consular offices.

1999 – In North Korea a US led consortium signed a $4.6 billion deal to build 2 nuclear reactors in Kumho.

2000 – The US Army planned to hold closing ceremonies for the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. The school planned to reopen in January as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

2000 – Mazen Al-Najjar, a Palestinian immigrant who had taught at the Univ. of South Florida, was released following 3½ years in jail on secret evidence. He still faced deportation and was suspected of having ties with the Syrian-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

2001 – With a crash and a large dust cloud, a 50-foot tall section of steel, the last standing piece of the World Trade Center’s façade, was brought down in New York.

2003 – The US Navy seized a boat carrying nearly two tons of hashish in the Persian Gulf. It was soon considered as the first hard evidence of al-Qaida links to drug smuggling.

2003 – Cambodia’s prime minister ordered the destruction of the country’s surface-to-air missiles to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. Hun Sen issued the order after a meeting in Phnom Penh with U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray.

2003 – In Pakistan police arrested 10 people suspected of links to the Taliban and al-Qaida in two nighttime raids at Rawalpindi.

2003 – Oil prices fall 4% on the news that U.S. military forces capture Saddam Hussein near his hometown of Tikrit, Iraq.

2004 – A US interceptor missile failed to fire in a test flight from the Marshall Islands. It was the 1st test flight for the missile defense system in 2 years.

2005 – Iraq holds it’s first Parliamentary election. over 2600 precincts are established, and 300,000 election observers watch as Iraqi voters fill 275 seats in their new Parliament.

2005 – Introduction of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor into USAF active service. The Raptor achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC) in December 2007, when General John Corley of Air Combat Command (ACC) officially declared the F-22s of the integrated active duty 1st Fighter Wing and Virginia Air National Guard 192d Fighter Wing fully operational.

2006 – NATO forces launched Operation Falcon Summit with the intention of expelling Taliban fighters from the Panjawi and Zhari districts of Kandahar. Canadian troops had been fighting with Taliban fighters in the area for several months. Although the operation was under British command, the majority of movements and elements on the ground were Canadians operating from forward operating bases set up in the district during the fighting of Operation Mountain Thrust and Operation Medusa.

2006 – First flight of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing testing and final development. The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions.

The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based CATOBAR (CV) variant. The F-35 is descended from the X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. Other major F-35 industry partners include Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems.

The F-35 variants are intended to provide the bulk of its manned tactical airpower for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy over the coming decades. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled to be completed in 2037. F-35 JSF development is being principally funded by the United States with additional funding from partners. The partner nations are either NATO members or close U.S. allies. The United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey are part of the active development program; Several additional countries have ordered, or are considering ordering, the F-35.

2007 – The focus of this operation was Iskandariyah, Babil province. On the first day of the operation, Coalition forces uncovered and destroyed a large tunnel network used by AQI to hide weapons and fighters along the banks of the Euphrates River. A large cache was turned over to coalition forces by a Concerned Local Citizen group on the same day. Operation Marne Roundup concluded at the beginning of January 2008.

2010 – Data confirms that Voyager 1 has entered the heliopause, the area of space where the Sun’s solar wind is stopped by the interstellar wind. It is believed the probe will now leave the Solar System within the next four years.

2011 – The United States flag is lowered in Baghdad marking the end of U.S. military operations in Iraq after eight years of the Iraq War. The last U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq on 18 December, although the US embassy and consulates continue to maintain a staff of more than 20,000 including US Marine Embassy Guards and between 4,000 and 5,000 private military contractors.

2011 – A French court convicts Venezuela-born terrorist Carlos the Jackal of organizing four deadly attacks in the 1980s.
 

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Discussion Starter #264
December 16th ~

1689 – English Parliament adopted a Bill of Rights after Glorious Revolution. The Bill of Rights included a right to bear arms.

1773 – In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade.

The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. When three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the “tea party” with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group. The British tea dumped in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was valued at some 18,000 pounds. Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774.

The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

1821 – LT Robert F. Stockton and Dr. Eli Ayers, a naval surgeon and member of American Colonizing Society, induce a local African king to sell territory for a colony which became the Republic of Liberia.

1826 – In an act that foreshadowed the American rebellions to come, Benjamin Edwards rides into Mexican-controlled Nacogdoches, Texas, and proclaims himself the ruler of the Republic of Fredonia. The brother of a corrupt backer of an American colony in Texas, Benjamin Edwards made the bold (and perhaps foolish) decision to rebel against the Mexican government while his brother was away in the United States raising money for his colony.

Under the empresario system–which was created by the Mexican government in the 1820s to encourage colonization of its northern provinces–men like the Edwards were allowed to settle Anglo families in Texas. However, many of the Anglo settlers retained stronger ties to the United States than to Mexico, and Benjamin Edwards hoped that many former Americans would support his attempt to split from Mexico. Accompanied by a force of about 30 men, Edwards seized a stone fort in Nacogdoches and declared that the new “Republic of Fredonia” was now independent of Mexican control. Edwards claimed his new nation extended from the Sabine River to the Rio Grande River, and would be governed under the principles of “Independence, Liberty, and Justice.”

In a bid to build up a defense against the Mexican soldiers who were on their way to quell the rebellion, Edwards quickly negotiated an agreement with the Cherokee Indians offering to share Texas in exchange for military aid. Edwards was less successful in winning the support of the local Anglo and Mexican inhabitants of Nacogdoches, in whose name he was supposedly acting. When the Mexican militia approached Nacogdoches six weeks later, Edwards’ ill-planned revolution quickly disintegrated and he fled to the United States for sanctuary.

While short-lived and premature, Edwards’ Fredonian Rebellion nonetheless reflected the growing tensions between the American colonialists in Texas and their Mexican rulers. Less than a decade later, in 1835, other Texans followed in Edwards’ footsteps and staged the far more successful revolution that established the independent Republic of Texas.
 

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Discussion Starter #265
December 16th ~ { continued... }

1863 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis names General Joseph Johnston commander of the Army of Tennessee. Johnston replaced Braxton Bragg, who managed to lose all of Tennessee to the Union during 1863. A Virginia native, Johnston graduated from West Point in 1829 along with Robert E. Lee. Johnston fought in the Black Hawk, Creek, and Seminole wars of the 1830s before serving with distinction in the Mexican War.

When Virginia seceded from the Union after the firing on Fort Sumter, Johnston joined his native state and accepted a commission in the Confederate army. He fought at the First Battle of Bull Run and commanded the Army of Northern Virginia during the early stages of the Peninsular Campaign in 1862. When he was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, Lee replaced Johnston. After recovering from his wounds, Johnston was sent to coordinate the operations of the armies the Tennessee and Mississippi regions. Since he did not have a command of his own, Johnston resented this duty. In 1863, Johnston made a futile attempt to relieve John C. Pemberton’s army at Vicksburg. He wanted Pemberton to fight his way out of Vicksburg, but Union General Ulysses S. Grant had Pemberton trapped. The surrender of Pemberton’s army put additional stress on the already strained relationship between Johnston and President Davis.

After the campaigns of 1863, however, Davis felt he had little choice but to name Johnston commander of the Army of Tennessee. The Confederates were losing large sections of territory to the Union. Bragg was literally maneuvered right out of Tennessee during the summer, although he engineered a victory at Chickamauga before laying siege to Union troops at Chattanooga. When Grant broke the Confederate hold on Chattanooga in November, Bragg resigned his command. Davis reluctantly appointed Johnston to save the situation in the West. Johnston took the field with his army in the spring of 1864, when Union General William T. Sherman began his drive toward Atlanta. Johnston employed a defensive strategy that avoided direct battle with Sherman but which also resulted in lost territory as Johnston slowly backed up to Atlanta. Johnston’s command lasted until July 1864, when Davis replaced Johnston after the Army of the Tennessee was backed into Atlanta.

1864 – Union General George Thomas continues his attack on the army of Confederate General John Bell Hood at Nashville. Hood’s drastically outnumbered force retreated, and only some heroic rear-guard action prevented the total destruction of the Confederate army.

1864 – Acting Master Charles A. Pettit, U.S.S. Monticello, performed a dangerous reconnaissance off New Inlet, North Carolina, removing several Confederate torpedoes and their firing apparatus near the base of Fort Caswell. Pettit’s expedition was part of the extensive Union preparations for the bombardment and assault on Fort Fisher and the defenses of Wilmington planned for late December.

1897 – The 1st submarine with an internal combustion engine was demonstrated.

1907 – Great White Fleet departs Hampton Roads, VA to circumnavigate the world. The “Great White Fleet” sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909 consisted of sixteen new battleships of the Atlantic Fleet. The battleships were painted white except for gilded scrollwork on their bows. The Atlantic Fleet battleships only later came to be known as the “Great White Fleet.”

The fourteen-month long voyage was a grand pageant of American sea power. The squadrons were manned by 14,000 sailors. They covered some 43,000 miles and made twenty port calls on six continents. The battleships were accompanied during the first leg of their voyage by a “Torpedo Flotilla” of six early destroyers, as well as by several auxiliary ships. The destroyers and their tender did not actually steam in company with the battleships, but followed their own itinerary from Hampton Roads to San Francisco. Two battleships were detached from the fleet at San Francisco, and two others substituted.

With the USS Connecticut as flagship under the command of Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, the fleet sailed from Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 16 December 1907 for Trinidad, British West Indies, thence to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Sandy Point, Chile; Callao, Peru; Magdalena Bay, Mexico, and up the west coast, arriving at San Francisco, 6 May 1908. After the arrival of the fleet off the west coast, the USS Glacier was detached and later became the supply ship of the Pacific Fleet.

At this time also, the USS Nebraska, Captain Reginald F. Nicholson, and the USS Wisconsin, Captain Frank E. Beatty, were substituted for the USS Maine and USS Alabama. At San Francisco, Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry assumed command of the Fleet, owing to the poor health of Admiral Evans. Leaving that port on 7 July, 1908, the U.S. Atlantic Fleet visited Honolulu, Hawaii; Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Manilia, Phillipine Islands; Yokohama, Japan; Colombo, Ceylon; arriving at Suez, Egypt, on 3 January 1909. In Egypt, word was received of an earthquake in Sicily, thus affording an opportunity for the United States to show it’s friendship to Italy by offering aid to the sufferers. The Connecticut, Illinois, Culgoa and Yankton were dispatched to Messina at once.

The crew of the Illinois recovered the bodies of the American consul and his wife, entombed in the ruins. The Scorpion, the Fleet’s station ship at Constantinople, and the Celtic, a refrigerator ship fitted out in New York, were hurried to Messina, relieving the Connecticut and Illinois, so that they could continue on the cruise. Leaving Messina on 9 January 1909, the Fleet stopped at Naples, Italy, thence to Gibraltar, arriving at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 22 February 1909. There President Roosevelt reviewed the Fleet as it passed into the roadstead.
 

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Discussion Starter #266
December 16th ~ { continued... }

1915 – Albert Einstein published his “General Theory of Relativity.” In 2000 David Bodanis authored “E=MC²: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation.”

1941 – USS Swordfish (SS-193) sinks Japanese cargo ship Atsutasan Maru.

1942 – Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Harry B. Roby, USNR, performs an appendectomy on Torpedoman First Class W. R. Jones on board USS Grayback (SS-208). It is the second appendectomy performed on board a submarine.

1942 – Admiral Tanaka’s supply run is attacked again, US dive bombers sink the destroyer Kagero off Guadalcanal. On land, US troops move on Mount Austen.

1944 – With the Anglo-Americans closing in on Germany from the west and the Soviets approaching from the east, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler orders a massive attack against the western Allies by three German armies. The German counterattack out of the densely wooded Ardennes region of Belgium took the Allies entirely by surprise, and the experienced German troops wrought havoc on the American line, creating a triangular “bulge” 60 miles deep and 50 miles wide along the Allied front.

Conditions of fog and mist prevented the unleashing of Allied air superiority, and for several days Hitler’s desperate gamble seemed to be paying off. However, unlike the French in 1940, the embattled Americans kept up a fierce resistance even after their lines of communication had been broken, buying time for a three-point counteroffensive led by British General Bernard Montgomery and Americans generals Omar Bradley and George Patton.

The Germans threw 250,000 soldiers into the initial assault, 14 German infantry divisions guarded by five panzer divisions-against a mere 80,000 Americans. Their assault came in early morning at the weakest part of the Allied line, an 80-mile poorly protected stretch of hilly, woody forest (the Allies simply believed the Ardennes too difficult to traverse, and therefore an unlikely location for a German offensive). Between the vulnerability of the thin, isolated American units and the thick fog that prevented Allied air cover from discovering German movement, the Germans were able to push the Americans into retreat. One particularly effective German trick was the use of English-speaking German commandos who infiltrated American lines and, using captured U.S. uniforms, trucks, and jeeps, impersonated U.S. military and sabotaged communications.

The ploy caused widespread chaos and suspicion among the American troops as to the identity of fellow soldiers–even after the ruse was discovered. Even General Omar Bradley himself had to prove his identity three times–by answering questions about football and Betty Grable–before being allowed to pass a sentry point. The battle raged for three weeks, resulting in a massive loss of American and civilian life. Nazi atrocities abounded, including the murder of 72 American soldiers by SS soldiers in the Ardennes town of Malmedy. Historian Stephen Ambrose estimated that by war’s end, “Of the 600,000 GIs involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 were captured, and 40,000 were wounded.”

The United States also suffered its second-largest surrender of troops of the war: More than 7,500 members of the 106th Infantry Division capitulated at one time at Schnee Eifel. The devastating ferocity of the conflict also made desertion an issue for the American troops; General Eisenhower was forced to make an example of Private Eddie Slovik, the first American executed for desertion since the Civil War. Fighting was particularly fierce at the town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division and part of the 10th Armored Division were encircled by German forces within the bulge.

On December 22, the German commander besieging the town demanded that the Americans surrender or face annihilation. U.S. Major General Anthony McAuliffe prepared a typed reply that read simply: “To the German Commander: Nuts! From the American Commander.” The Americans who delivered the message explained to the perplexed Germans that the one-word reply was translatable as “Go to hell!” Heavy fighting continued at Bastogne, but the 101st held on. On December 23, the skies finally cleared over the battle areas, and the Allied air forces inflicted heavy damage on German tanks and transport, which were jammed solidly along the main roads.

On December 26, Bastogne was relieved by elements of General Patton’s 3rd Army. A major Allied counteroffensive began at the end of December, and by January 21 the Germans had been pushed back to their original line. Germany’s last major offensive of the war had cost them 120,000 men, 1,600 planes, and 700 tanks.

1944 – Japanese planes attack American shipping while US aircraft strike at air bases (in continuing operations by TF38). On Mindoro, the landing forces consolidates the beachhead and begins construction of an landing strip.
 

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December 16th ~ { continued... }

1950 – In the wake of the massive Chinese intervention in the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency. Proclaiming that “Communist imperialism” threatened the world’s people, Truman called upon the American people to help construct an “arsenal of freedom.” In November, the stakes in the Korean War dramatically escalated with the intervention of hundreds of thousands of communist Chinese troops. Prior to their arrival on the battlefield, the U.S. forces seemed on the verge of victory in Korea. Just days after General Douglas MacArthur declared an “end the war offensive,” however, massive elements of the Chinese army smashed into the American lines and drove the U.S. forces back. The “limited war” in Korea threatened to turn into a widespread conflict. Against this backdrop, Truman issued his state of emergency and the U.S. military-industrial complex went into full preparations for a possible third world war. The president’s proclamation vastly expanded his executive powers and gave Mobilization Director Charles E. Wilson nearly unlimited authority to coordinate the country’s defense program. Such an increase in government power had not been seen since World War II. The Soviet Union, which Truman blamed for most of the current world problems in the course of his speech, blasted the United States for “warmongering.” Congress, most of America’s allies, and the American people appeared to be strongly supportive of the President’s tough talk and actions. Truman’s speech, and the events preceding it, indicated that the Cold War-so long a battle of words and threats-had become an actual military reality. The Korean War lasted from 1950 to 1953.

1950 – The U.S. 24th Infantry Division received the Distinguished Unit Citation (now the Presidential Unit Citation) for “extraordinary heroism in combat against a numerically superior enemy.” The division, commanded by Major General William F. Dean, by then a prisoner of war, was the first U.S. division to enter the Korean War.

1952 – The U.S. Air Force’s 3rd Bomb Wing completed its 25,000th sortie of the Korean War.

1953 – Charles E. Yeager flew 2,575 mph in Bell X-1A.

1960 – A United Airlines DC-8 with 83 passengers on board collided with a TWA Super Constellation carrying 42 in the New York city area. Coast Guard helicopters, working with the aircraft of the Army, Navy and New York Police Department, transported the injured passengers from the Constellation’s wreck on Staten Island to a nearby hospital. Coast Guard vessels also searched the New York harbor area. The debris they picked up was used by the Civil Aeronautics Board in its determination of the cause of the mishap.

1961 – Operation Farm Gate aircraft are authorized to fly combat missions, provided a Vietnamese crew member is aboard. Because the 1954 Geneva Agreements prohibit the introduction of bombers into Indochina, US B-26 and SC-47 bombers are redesignated, ‘reconnaissance bombers.’

1965 – Gen. William Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, sends a request for more troops. With nearly 200,000 U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam already, Westmoreland sent Defense Secretary Robert McNamara a message stating that he would need an additional 243,000 men by the end of 1966. Citing a rapidly deteriorating military situation in which the South Vietnamese were losing the equivalent of an infantry battalion (500 soldiers) a week in battle, Westmoreland predicted that he would need a total of 600,000 men by the end of 1967 to defeat the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. Although the high tide of U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam never reached the 600,000, there were more than 540,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam by 1969.

1972 – Henry Kissinger announces at a news conference in Washington that the North Vietnamese have walked out of the ongoing private negotiations in Paris. President Richard Nixon turned to private negotiations in August 1969 because of the all but total impasse in the official negotiations that had been in session since May 1968. The fact that these private talks were being conducted was not disclosed until January 25, 1972, when Nixon, in response to criticism that his administration had not made its best efforts to end the war, revealed that Kissinger had been conducting secret negotiations with North Vietnamese representatives in Paris. Although Kissinger had been able to make some progress in the private negotiations, the talks failed to achieve what President Nixon regarded as “just and fair agreement to end the war.”
 

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December 16th ~ { continued... }

1979 – Libya joined four other OPEC nations in raising the price of crude oil. Since the U.S. bought much of its oil from Libya, the price hike had an almost immediate effect on American gas prices. Gas became costly, and the cost of motoring rose. Heating-oil prices also jumped–a tough blow at the beginning of winter.

1989 – Federal Judge Robert Vance is instantly killed by a powerful explosion after opening a package mailed to his house in Birmingham, Alabama. Two days later, a mail bomb killed Robert Robinson, an attorney in Savannah, Georgia, in his office. Two other bomb packages, sent to the federal courthouse in Atlanta and to a NAACP lawyer, were intercepted before their intended victims opened them. The FBI immediately assigned a task force to find the terrorist, naming their operation VANPAC (for Vance package bomb). The investigators used nearly every forensic method available: DNA profiles were made from the saliva on the stamps, and both the paint on the boxes and the nails that acted as the bomb’s shrapnel were traced back to the manufacturer.

The first good lead came from an examination of the typewritten letters found in the unexploded packages. The typewriter that had been used was slightly defective, so investigators examined the judicial records of several states to see if any other documents or letters had come from the same defective typewriter. Indeed, at an Atlanta courthouse, the FBI located a letter from Enterprise, Alabama, with the same problem.

Although FBI investigators couldn’t find any other clues in Enterprise, an officer remembered that Walter LeRoy Moody had been convicted in 1972 for setting off a pipe bomb with a similar design to that of the 1989 bombs. A search of Moody’s home failed to turn up evidence linking him to the VANPAC bombs, but bomb experts compared his 1972 bomb to the VANPAC explosives and determined that there was little doubt that the same man had made them all. But Moody’s wife provided the key evidence against him: She admitted that her husband had sent her to make copies of the threatening letters. Her story was later verified when a copy store employee’s partial fingerprint was found on one of the letters. Purportedly, Moody was upset by the judicial system. In June 1991, a federal jury convicted Moody on charges related to the bombings and sentenced him to 400 years in prison.

1991 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin met for four hours with visiting U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, after which Yeltsin said the new Commonwealth of Independent States would begin operating by the end of the year.

1991 – Nearly 300 members of the 8th Marines arrived at Guantanamo Bay to participate in Haitian humanitarian efforts for 6,000 refugees.

1992 – US Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger said Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had to answer for atrocities committed in former Yugoslavia. In 2000 a US federal jury ordered Radovan Karadzic to pay $745 million to a group of women, who accused him of atrocities.

1997 – A Pentagon-appointed panel concluded that the Army, Navy and Air Force should segregate male and female recruits in their earliest phases of basic training.

1997 – The Galileo spacecraft flew to within 124 miles of the surface and recorded images of Europa. Volcanic ice flows implicated a vast ocean below the surface. Giant lightning bolts on Jupiter, a hundred times more powerful that those on Earth, were reported via the spacecraft and it indicated a magnetic field around Ganymede. It also indicated an atmosphere of hydrogen and carbon dioxide around Callisto. Metallic cores inside Io, Ganymede and Europa and the lack of a similar core inside Callisto was also indicated.

1997 – U.N. weapons monitor Richard Butler left Iraq after failing to persuade President Saddam Hussein to open his palaces to inspections.
 

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Discussion Starter #269
December 16th ~ { continued... }

1998 – In Operation Desert Fox, Navy cruise missiles attack Iraq. Pres. Clinton ordered a sustained series of missile strikes against Iraq forces in response to Saddam Hussein’s continued defiance of UN weapons inspectors. Iraqi envoy Nizar Hamdoon accused UN weapons inspector Richard Butler of producing a biased report on weapons inspections. The strike came one before scheduled vote on Clinton’s impeachment by the House of Representatives and days before the beginning of Ramadan. Some 200 missiles fell on Iraq in the first 24 hours of the attack and initial reports indicated two people killed and 30 injured. The House Republicans postponed impeachment by at least 24 hours.

1998 – Federal prosecutors in NYC charged 5 men in the Aug 7 bombing of the American Embassy in Tanzania. Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil of Egypt, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani of Tanzania, and Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam and Sheik Ahmed Salim Swedan of Kenya. A 6th man, “Ahmed the German,” detonated the explosive device and was killed.

2000 – Federal prisoner Theodore Kaczynski (58), aka the Unabomber, donated his writings to a special collection at the Univ. of Michigan, where he received his doctorate in 1977.

2001 – It was reported that all the anthrax spores mailed to Capital Hill were identical to stocks from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. (USAMRIID), maintained since 1980.

2001 – In Afghanistan 25 bin Laden soldiers were captured and 200 were killed in the Tora Bora region. After 9 weeks of fighting, Afghan militia leaders claimed control of the last mountain bastion of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida fighters.

2001 – The EU held a weekend summit near Brussels and declared their nascent joint military force operational. A constitutional convention was planned as well as the admittance of 10 new members over the next 2 years.

2002 – President Bush named Thomas Kean, former Gov. of New Jersey, to replace Henry Kissinger as head of the September 11th investigation panel.

2003 – U.S. special envoy James A. Baker III said France, Germany and the US agreed to seek reductions in Iraq’s foreign debt within the Paris Club of creditor nations.

2003 – In Afghanistan several dozen delegates broke away from a crucial constitutional assembly to celebrate the inauguration of the Kabul-Kandahar highway, a vital artery linking the capital with the lawless and poverty-stricken south.

2004 – Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein met with a lawyer for the first time since his capture a year earlier.

2004 – Rebel strikes across Baghdad killed 10 people, including three paramilitary policemen and a government official.

2009 – Coalition troops began Operation Septentrion, a 36-hour operation in the Uzbin Valley (east of Kabul). The force of 1100 troops included 800 members of the French Foreign Legion together with 200 US special forces and Afghan soldiers. The purpose of Operation Septentrion was “reaffirming the sovereignty of Afghan security forces in the north of the Uzbeen Valley,” according to a French military spokesperson, and also to plant an Afghan flag in a key strategic village. While 75% of the Uzbin Valley had been under coalition control, a corner of it had remained in Taliban hands.

2013 – American judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia rules that the National Security Agency collecting domestic phone records was unconstitutional in Klayman vs Obama. A stay has been placed on the ruling pending an appeal by the US Government.
 

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December 17th ~

1750 – Deborah Sampson, was born. She fought in the American Revolution as a man under the alias Robert Shurtleff.

1777 – George Washington’s army returned to winter quarters in Valley Forge, Pa.

1777 – France recognized American independence.

1812 – War of 1812: U.S. forces attack a Lenape village in the Battle of the Mississinewa. The Battle of the Mississinewa, also known as Mississineway, was an expedition ordered by William Henry Harrison against Miami Indian villages in response to the attacks on Fort Wayne and Fort Harrison in the Indiana Territory. The site is near the city of Marion, Indiana. Today, the location is the site of Mississinewa, the largest War of 1812 reenactment in the United States, which is held every October. The annual festival draws thousands of visitors from all over the world.

1835 – US Marines assist firefighters in efforts to control the Great Fire of New York as the fire levels lower Manhattan. The Great Fire of 1835 began in a five-story warehouse at 25 Merchant Street (now called Beaver Street) at the intersection with Pearl Street between Hanover Square, Manhattan and Wall Street in the snow-covered city and was fed by gale-force winds blowing from the northwest towards the East River. With temperatures as low as −17 °F (−27 °C) and the East River frozen solid, firefighters had to cut holes in the ice to get water. Water then froze in the hoses and pumps. Attempts to blow up buildings in its path (a technique later regarded as counterproductive) were thwarted by a lack of gunpowder in Manhattan.

Firefighters coming to help from Philadelphia said they could see signs of the fire there. About 2 a.m. Marines arrived with gunpowder from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and blew up buildings in the fire’s path. By then it covered 50 acres (200,000 m2), 17 blocks of the city, destroying between 530 and 700 buildings. The area is now reported as Coenties Slip in the south to Maiden Lane in the north and from William Street in the west to the East River. The losses were estimated at twenty million dollars, which, in today’s value would be hundreds of millions. Twenty people were killed.

1846 – Ships under Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry capture Laguna de Terminos during Mexican War.

1861 – The Stonewall Brigade began to dismantle Dam No. 5 of the C&O Canal.

1861 – Flag Officer Foote, Commanding U.S. Naval Forces, Western Waters, issued General Order regarding observance of Sunday on board ships of his flotilla: “It is the wish. . . that on Sunday the public worship of Almighty God may be observed . . . and that the respective commanders will either them­selves, or cause other persons to pronounce prayers publicly on Sunday. . .” Foote added: “Discipline to be permanent must be based on moral grounds, and officers must in themselves, show a good example in morals, order, and patriotism to secure these qualities in the men.” Since 1775 Navy Regulations have required that religious services be held on board ships of the Navy in peace and war.

1862 – Union General Ulysses S. Grant lashes out at cotton speculators when he expels all Jews from his department in the west. At the time, Grant was trying to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. Grant’s army now effectively controlled much territory in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and parts of Kentucky and Arkansas. As in other parts of the South, Grant was dealing with thousands of escaped slaves. John Eaton, a chaplain, devised a program through which the freed slaves picked cotton from abandoned fields and received part of the proceeds when it was sold by the government. Grant also had to deal with numerous speculators who followed his army in search of cotton. Cotton supplies were very short in the North, and these speculators could buy bales in the captured territories and sell it quickly for a good profit.

In December, Grant’s father arrived for a visit with two friends from Cincinnati. Grant soon realized that the friends, who were Jews, were speculators hoping to gain access to captured cotton. Grant was furious and fired off his notorious Order No. 11: “The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from receipt of this order.” The fallout from his action was swift. Among 30 Jewish families expelled from Paducah, Kentucky, was Cesar Kaskel, who rallied support in Congress against the order. Shortly after the uproar, President Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order. Grant later admitted to his wife that the criticism of his hasty action was well deserved. As Julia Grant put it, the general had “no right to make an order against any special sect.”

1863 – Lieutenant Commander Fitch, U.S.S. Moose, reported that he had sent landing parties ashore at Seven Mile Island and Palmyra, Tennessee, where they had destroyed distilleries used by Con-federate guerrilla troops.
 

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December 17th ~ { continued... }

1900 – Ellis Island immigration center re -opened following an 1897 fire.

1903 – Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight. Orville and Wilbur Wright grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and developed an interest in aviation after learning of the glider flights of the German engineer Otto Lilienthal in the 1890s.

Unlike their older brothers, Orville and Wilbur did not attend college, but they possessed extraordinary technical ability and a sophisticated approach to solving problems in mechanical design. They built printing presses and in 1892 opened a bicycle sales and repair shop. Soon, they were building their own bicycles, and this experience, combined with profits from their various businesses, allowed them to pursue actively their dream of building the world’s first airplane. After exhaustively researching other engineers’ efforts to build a heavier-than-air, controlled aircraft, the Wright brothers wrote the U.S. Weather Bureau inquiring about a suitable place to conduct glider tests. They settled on Kitty Hawk, an isolated village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which offered steady winds and sand dunes from which to glide and land softly.

Their first glider, tested in 1900, performed poorly, but a new design, tested in 1901, was more successful. Later that year, they built a wind tunnel where they tested nearly 200 wings and airframes of different shapes and designs. The brothers’ systematic experimentations paid off–they flew hundreds of successful flights in their 1902 glider at Kill Devils Hills near Kitty Hawk. Their biplane glider featured a steering system, based on a movable rudder, that solved the problem of controlled flight. They were now ready for powered flight.

In Dayton, they designed a 12-horsepower internal combustion engine with the assistance of machinist Charles Taylor and built a new aircraft to house it. They transported their aircraft in pieces to Kitty Hawk in the autumn of 1903, assembled it, made a few further tests, and on December 14 Orville made the first attempt at powered flight. The engine stalled during take-off and the plane was damaged, and they spent three days repairing it. Then at 10:35 a.m. on December 17, in front of five witnesses, the aircraft ran down a monorail track and into the air, staying aloft for 12 seconds and flying 120 feet. The modern aviation age was born. Three more tests were made that day, with Wilbur and Orville alternately flying the airplane. Wilbur flew the last flight, covering 852 feet in 59 seconds. During the next few years, the Wright brothers further developed their airplanes but kept a low profile about their successes in order to secure patents and contracts for their flying machines.

By 1905, their aircraft could perform complex maneuvers and remain aloft for up to 39 minutes at a time. In 1908, they traveled to France and made their first public flights, arousing widespread public excitement. In 1909, the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps purchased an especially constructed plane, and the brothers founded the Wright Company to build and market their aircraft. Wilbur Wright died of typhoid fever in 1912; Orville lived until 1948. The historic Wright brothers’ aircraft of 1903 is on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

1903 – Life-Saving Service personnel from Kill Devil Hills Life-Saving Station helped carry materials to the launch site for the first successful heavier-than-air aircraft flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC. The life-savers were John T. Daniels, W.S. Dough and A.D. Etheridge.

1925 – Col. William “Billy” Mitchell was convicted of insubordination at his court -martial. Mitchell was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good of the armed services.

1927 – U.S. Secretary of State Kellogg suggested a worldwide pact renouncing war.

1938 – German chemist Otto Hahn discovers the nuclear fission of the heavy element uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear energy.
 

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December 17th ~ { continued... }

1940 – President Roosevelt gives a press conference outlining a scheme which he plans to introduce to bring further aid to Britain which he will call Lend-Lease. His argument is that if a neighbor’s house is on fire it is only sensible to lend him a hose to stop the fire spreading to your own house, and that it would be stupid to think of asking for payment in such circumstances.

1941 – Admiral Chester W. Nimitz named Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet, to relieve Admiral Husband Kimmel. Admiral William Pye becomes acting commander until Nimitz’s arrival. Admiral Kimmel had enjoyed a successful military career, beginning in 1915 as an aide to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He served admirably on battleships in World War I, winning command of several in the interwar period. At the outbreak of World War II, Kimmel had already attained the rank of rear admiral and was commanding the cruiser forces at Pearl Harbor. In January 1941, he was promoted to commander of the Pacific Fleet, replacing James Richardson, who FDR relieved of duty after Richardson objected to basing the fleet at Pearl Harbor.

If Kimmel had a weakness, it was that he was a creature of habit, of routine. He knew only what had been done before, and lacked imagination-and therefore insight-regarding the unprecedented. So, even as word was out that Japan was likely to make a first strike against the United States as the negotiations in Washington floundered, Kimmel took no extraordinary actions at Pearl Harbor. In fact, he believed that a sneak attack was more likely at Wake Island or Midway Island, and requested from Lieutenant General Walter Short, Commander of the Army at Pearl Harbor, extra antiaircraft artillery for support there (none could be spared). Kimmel’s predictability was extremely easy to read by Japanese military observers and made his fleet highly vulnerable.

As a result, Kimmel was held accountable, to a certain degree, for the absolute devastation wrought on December 7th. Although he had no more reason than anyone else to believe Pearl Harbor was a possible Japanese target, a scapegoat had to be found to appease public outrage. He avoided a probable court-martial when he requested early retirement. When Admiral Kimmel’s Story, an “as told to” autobiography, was published in 1955, Kimmel made it plain that he believed FDR sacrificed him-and his career-to take suspicion off himself; Kimmel believed Roosevelt knew Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed, although no evidence has ever been adduced to support his allegation.

1941 – 17 SB 2U-3s of Marine Scout Bomber Squadron 281 flew 1,137 miles, the longest massed flight over water.

1942 – The Navy credited the CGC Ingham with attacking and sinking the submerged U-boat U-626 south of Greenland.

1942 – Heavy US air attacks continue on Tunis and Gabes and other German air bases in Tunisia.

1943 – Some German forces withdraw from San Pietro and other positions further north. The US 5th Army capture Monte Sammucro.

1944 – Eisenhower releases the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions from AEF reserve to reinforce American troops in the Ardennes. Other infantry and armored forces from US 12th Army Group are also being redeployed to meet the German offensive. Meanwhile, German forces capture 9000 Americans at Echternach, on the extreme right flank of the attack. Soldiers of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich kill some 71 American POWs near Malmedy.

1944 – During World War II, U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt issues Public Proclamation No. 21, declaring that, effective January 2, 1945, Japanese American “evacuees” from the West Coast could return to their homes. On February 19, 1942, 10 weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area.

By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military in scattered locations around the country. For the next two and a half years, many of these Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment by their military guards. During the course of World War II, 10 Americans were convicted of spying for Japan, but not one of them was of Japanese ancestry. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to recompense each surviving internee with a tax-free check for $20,000 and an apology from the U.S. government.

1944 – The Germans renewed their attack on the Belgian town of Losheimergraben against the American Army during the Battle of the Bulge.

1944 – Battle of the Bulge – Malmedy massacre – 84 American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion POWs are shot by Waffen-SS Kampfgruppe Peiper.

1944 – On Mindoro, American forces capture San Jose Airfield. On Leyte, parts of US 10th and 24th Corps record advances against Japanese positions.
 

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December 17th ~ { continued... }

1947 – First flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber. The Boeing B-47 Stratojet (company Model 450) was a long range, six-engine, jet-powered strategic bomber designed to fly at high subsonic speed and at high altitude to avoid enemy interception. The B-47’s primary mission was to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. With its engines carried in nacelles under the swept wing, the B-47 was a major innovation in post-World War II combat jet design, and helped lead to modern jet airliners.

The B-47 entered service with the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) in 1951. It never saw combat as a bomber, but was a mainstay of SAC’s bomber strength during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and remained in use as a bomber until 1965. It was also adapted to a number of other missions, including photographic reconnaissance, electronic intelligence and weather reconnaissance, remaining in service as a reconnaissance platform until 1969 and as a testbed until 1977.

1950 – U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Bruce H. Hinton, commander of the 336th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, earned the distinction of becoming the first F-86 Sabre fighter pilot to shoot down a MiG-15 during the Korean War.

1951 – President Harry Truman presented the Collier Trophy to the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense and the “helicopter industry” in a joint award, citing “outstanding development and use of rotary-winged aircraft for air rescue operations.” Coast Guard commandant VADM Merlin O’Neill accepted the trophy for the Coast Guard.

1957 – The United States successfully test -fired the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.

1960 – A Convair C-131D Samaritan operated by the United States Air Force on a flight from Munich to RAF Northolt, crashed shortly after take-off from Munich-Riem Airport, due to fuel contamination. All 20 passengers and crew on board as well as 32 people on the ground were killed.

1969 – The SALT I talks begin. SALT I is the common name for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement, also known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. SALT I froze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers at existing levels and provided for the addition of new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers only after the same number of older intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and SLBM launchers had been dismantled.

1969 – The U.S. Air Force closed its Project “Blue Book” by finding no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.

1971 – Cambodian government positions in Prak Ham, 40 miles north of Phnom Penh, and the 4,000-man base at Taing Kauk are the targets of continuous heavy bombardment by communist forces. The communist Khmer Rouge and their North Vietnamese allies were trying to encircle the capital city.

During the five years of war, approximately 10 percent of Cambodia’s 7 million people died. The victorious Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and forced millions of Cambodians into forced labor camps, murdered hundreds of thousands of real or imagined opponents, and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths from exhaustion, hunger, and disease.

1975 – A federal jury in Sacramento, California, sentences Lynette Alice Fromme, also known as “Squeaky” Fromme, to life in prison for her attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford. On September 5, a Secret Service agent wrested a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Fromme, who brandished the weapon during a public appearance of President Ford in Sacramento. “Squeaky” Fromme, a follower of incarcerated cult leader Charles Manson, was pointing the loaded gun at the president when the Secret Service agent grabbed it. Seventeen days later, Ford escaped injury in another assassination attempt when 45-year-old Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at him. Moore, a leftist radical who once served as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a history of mental illness. She was arrested at the scene, convicted, and sentenced to life.

In trial, Fromme pleaded not guilty to the “attempted assassination of a president” charge, arguing that although her gun contained bullets, it had not been cocked, and therefore she had not actually intended to shoot the president. She was convicted, sentenced to life in prison, and sent to the Alderson Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia. Fromme remained a dedicated disciple of Charles Manson and in December 1987 escaped from Alderson Prison after she heard that Manson, also imprisoned, had cancer. After 40 hours roaming the rugged West Virginia hills, she was caught on Christmas Day, about two miles from the prison. Five years were added to her life sentence for the escape.
 

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December 17th ~ { continued... }

1981 – Red Brigade terrorists kidnapped Brigadier General James Dozier, the highest-ranking U.S. NATO officer in Italy.

1986 – Eugene Hasenfus, the American convicted by Nicaragua for his part in running guns to the Contras, was pardoned, then released.

1990 – President Bush pledged “no negotiation for one inch” of Kuwaiti territory would take place as he repeated his demand for Iraq’s complete withdrawal.

1990 – Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a radical Roman Catholic priest and opponent of the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, is elected president of Haiti in a landslide victory. It was the first free election in Haiti’s history. However, less than one year later, in September 1991, Aristide was deposed in a bloody military coup. He escaped to exile, and a three-man junta took power. In 1994, reacting to evidence of atrocities committed by Haiti’s military dictators, the United Nations authorized the use of force to restore Aristide.

1991 – After a long meeting between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, a spokesman for the latter announces that the Soviet Union will officially cease to exist on or before New Year’s Eve. Yeltsin declared that, “There will be no more red flag.” It was a rather anti-climactic culmination of events leading toward the dismantling of the Soviet Union. Despite its dramatic implications, the announcement inspired mostly yawns and skeptical jokes from a Russian population weary from months of political intrigue and instability and a crumbling economy. For many people, the Soviet Union had already disintegrated. It was all a rather unexciting end to the nation President Ronald Reagan once called “the evil empire.”

1993 – 2/14 Infantry, 10th Mountain Division, departs Somalia.

1994 – Six shots were fired at the White House by an unidentified gunman.

1994 – North Korea shot down a U.S. Army helicopter which had strayed north of the demilitarized zone... the co -pilot, Chief Warrant Officer David Hilemon, was killed; the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Hall, was captured and held for nearly two weeks.

1996 – A U.N. panel rules that Kuwait Oil Company will receive $610 million, almost two-thirds of the $951 million it claims to have spent while extinguishing oil fires left by the retreating Iraqi army. In addition, the United Nations has approved 862,000 claims amounting to $3.2 billion for people forced to leave Kuwait because of the Iraqi occupation.

1997 – A US court ordered Cuba to pay $187.6 million for three men killed when their planes were shot down in 1996 by MiG fighters.

1998 – US and British forces launched more missiles on the 2nd day of attacks against Iraq. The strikes included some 100 cruise missiles with 2,000 pound warheads. Pres. Boris Yeltsin withdrew the Russian ambassador from Washington and demanded an immediate end to military action. France and Italy expressed strong opposition while Germany rallied to support the US and Britain.

1999 – The U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 1284 on returning weapons inspectors to Iraq. Under the Resolution, sanctions could be suspended if Iraq were to cooperate with the inspectors over a period of nine months. Iraq has stated that it does not accept the Resolution, which also creates the new United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) for Iraq.

2001 – The Bush administration announced that the anthrax attacks most likely originated from a domestic source.

2001 – Space shuttle Endeavour returned to Cape Canaveral following A 12 -day mission for a crew change at the Int’l. Space Station.

2001 – US Marines raised the Stars and Stripes over the long -abandoned American Embassy in Kabul, inaugurating what U.S. envoy James F. Dobbins promised would be a long commitment to the rebuilding.

2001 – The last cave complex at Tora Bora had been taken and its defenders overrun. U.S. and U.K. forces continued searching into January, but no sign of al-Qaeda leadership emerged. An estimated 200 al-Qaeda fighters were killed during the battle, along with an unknown number of tribal fighters. No American or British deaths were reported.

2002 – U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the military to begin deploying a national missile defence system with land – and sea -based interceptor rockets to be operational starting in 2004.

2003 – In Greece a court handed multiple life sentences to the leader, chief assassin and three other members of the November 17 terror organization.

2003 – SpaceShipOne, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first powered and first supersonic flight.

2004 – President Bush signed into law the largest overhaul of US intelligence-gathering in 50 years.

2007 – Russia delivers its first shipment of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2012 – Daniel Inouye, Medal of Honor recipient, senior Senator from Hawaii and the President pro tempore, dies in Honolulu at the age of 88.

2012 – NASA’s twin GRAIL spacecrafts crash into a mile-high cliff near the Lunar North Pole to close out a successful mission to map the Moon’s gravity field with unprecedented precision.

2013 – Edward Snowden offers Brazil information over the NSA spying of its citizens.

2014 – U.S. President Barack Obama announces release of Alan Gross, held prisoner by Cuba for five years; announces resumption of normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba for the first time since January 1961. An American embassy will open in Havana and talks to lift the embargo will begin.
 

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December 18th ~

1777 – The 1st America Thanksgiving Day commemorated Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga. A national Thanksgiving was declared by Congress after the American victory over the British at the Battle of Saratoga in December 1777. For many years Thanksgiving celebrations were haphazard with Presidents Washington, Adams and Madison declaring occasional national festivities.

1787 – New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by New York State, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania, and on the southwest by Delaware. The area was inhabited by Native Americans for more than 2,800 years, with historical tribes such as the Lenape along the coast. In the early 17th century, the Dutch and the Swedes made the first European settlements. The English later seized control of the region, naming it the Province of New Jersey. It was granted as a colony to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton. At this time, it was named after the largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey, Carteret’s birthplace. New Jersey was the site of several decisive battles during the American Revolutionary War.

1799 – George Washington’s body was interred at Mount Vernon.

1813 – British took Ft. Niagara in War of 1812.

1859 – South Carolina declared itself an “independent commonwealth.”

1862 – Confederate cavalry leader General Nathan Bedford Forrest routs a Union force under the command of Colonel Robert Ingersoll on a raid into western Tennessee, an area held by the Union. With the main Union army in the region occupying northern Mississippi, General Braxton Bragg ordered Forrest to cut the Federal supply lines in Tennessee. Forrest left Columbia, Tennessee, on December 11 and began crossing the Tennessee River on December 13th.

On December 16, Union General Jeremiah Sullivan dispatched Ingersoll and 200 men from Jackson to Lexington, where Ingersoll picked up 470 reinforcements. Most of the troops were raw recruits with no combat experience. On December 17, Ingersoll’s scouts detected more than half of Forrest’s 2,500 men approaching Lexington from the south. Ingersoll guessed that Forrest would attack along one of two main roads, Old Stage Road and Lower Road. To impede the Confederate advance, Ingersoll ordered the destruction of a bridge across Beech Creek along Lower Road. He then concentrated the bulk of his force along Old Stage Road. Forrest pulled his force up to Lexington, but did not attack until December 18th.

In the morning, Forrest advanced along Lower Road. Ingersoll’s scouts had failed to eliminate the bridge the day before, leaving the Confederates a clear path towards the smaller part of Ingersoll’s command. The Yankees swung around to stop the attack, but it was too late. Forrest’s troops overwhelmed the panicked Federals and captured 147 men, including Ingersoll. The rest of the Union force scattered into the countryside. Forrest also captured two artillery pieces, 70 horses, many rifles, and supplies. Forrest continued to Jackson, but found the city well defended. He continued his raid into Kentucky, destroying bridges and hampering supplies to the Union armies in Mississippi.

1865 – Following its ratification by the requisite three-quarters of the states earlier in the month, the 13th Amendment is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution, ensuring that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Before the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and other leaders of the anti-slavery Republican Party sought not to abolish slavery but merely to stop its extension into new territories and states in the American West. This policy was unacceptable to most Southern politicians, who believed that the growth of free states would turn the U.S. power structure irrevocably against them.

In November 1860, Lincoln’s election as president signaled the secession of seven Southern states and the formation of the Confederate States of America. Shortly after his inauguration in 1861, the Civil War began. Four more Southern states joined the Confederacy, while four border slave states in the upper South remained in the Union. Lincoln, though he privately detested slavery, responded cautiously to the call by abolitionists for emancipation of all American slaves after the outbreak of the Civil War. As the war dragged on, however, the Republican-dominated federal government began to realize the strategic advantages of emancipation: The liberation of slaves would weaken the Confederacy by depriving it of a major portion of its labor force, which would in turn strengthen the Union by producing an influx of manpower. With 11 Southern states seceded from the Union, there were few pro-slavery congressmen to stand in the way of such an action.

In 1862, Congress annulled the fugitive slave laws, prohibited slavery in the U.S. territories, and authorized Lincoln to employ freed slaves in the army. Following the major Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in September, Lincoln issued a warning of his intent to issue an emancipation proclamation for all states still in rebellion on New Year’s Day. That day–January 1, 1863–President Lincoln formally issued the Emancipation Proclamation, calling on the Union army to liberate all slaves in states still in rebellion as “an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity.” These three million slaves were declared to be “then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

The proclamation exempted the border slave states that remained in the Union and all or parts of three Confederate states controlled by the Union army. The Emancipation Proclamation transformed the Civil War from a war against secession into a war for “a new birth of freedom,” as Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address in 1863. This ideological change discouraged the intervention of France or England on the Confederacy’s behalf and enabled the Union to enlist the 180,000 African American soldiers and sailors who volunteered to fight between January 1, 1863, and the conclusion of the war. As the Confederacy staggered toward defeat, Lincoln realized that the Emancipation Proclamation, a war measure, might have little constitutional authority once the war was over.

The Republican Party subsequently introduced the 13th Amendment into Congress, and in April 1864 the necessary two-thirds of the overwhelmingly Republican Senate passed the amendment. However, the House of Representatives, featuring a higher proportion of Democrats, did not pass the amendment by a two-thirds majority until January 1865, three months before Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

On December 2, 1865, Alabama became the 27th state to ratify the 13th Amendment, thus giving it the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval necessary to make it the law of the land. Alabama, a former Confederate state, was forced to ratify the amendment as a condition for re-admission into the Union. On December 18, the 13th Amendment was officially adopted into the Constitution–246 years after the first shipload of captive Africans landed at Jamestown, Virginia, and were bought as slaves. Slavery’s legacy and efforts to overcome it remained a central issue in U.S. politics for more than a century, particularly during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era and the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s.
 

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December 18th ~ { continued... }

1902 – Admiral of the Navy George Dewey receives orders to send his battleship to Trinidad and then to Venezuela to make sure that Great Britain’s and Germany’s dispute with Venezuela was settled by peaceful arbitration not force.

1917 – The resolution containing the language of the Eighteenth Amendment to enact Prohibition is passed by the United States Congress.

1939 – The US Navy promises to send 40 planes to Finland.

1940 – Hitler dictated Directive No. 21 to crush Russia in a quick campaign. Its message is simple: “The German Armed Forces must be prepared, even before the conclusion of the war against England, to crush Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign.” The projected operation is given the code name Barbarossa. Hitler has modified the draft plans prepared by the army in one important respect. Although three lines of attack are still suggested, Hitler’s scheme reduces the importance which has been laid on the advance to Moscow. He suggests that after the first battles the center group should swing north to help clear the Baltic States and Leningrad before moving on the capital.

1941 – Defended by 610 fighting men, the American-held island of Guam fell to more than 5,000 Japanese invaders in a three-hour battle.

1941 – Censorship is imposed with the passage of the 1st American War Powers Act. The War Powers Act is passed by Congress, authorizing the president to initiate and terminate defense contracts, reconfigure government agencies for wartime priorities, and regulate the freezing of foreign assets. It also permitted him to censor all communications coming in and leaving the country. FDR appointed the executive news director of the Associated Press, Byron Price, as director of censorship. Although invested with the awesome power to restrict and withhold news, Price took no extreme measures, allowing news outlets and radio stations to self-censor, which they did. Most top secret information, including the construction of the atom bomb, remained just that. The most extreme use of the censorship law seems to have been the restriction of the free flow of “girlie” magazines to servicemen-including Esquire, which the Post Office considered obscene for its occasional saucy cartoons and pinups. Esquire took the Post Office to court, and after three years the Supreme Court ultimately sided with the magazine.

1943 – The US 5th Army captures Monte Lungo, threatening the German position at San Pietro. German forces launch counterattacks. San Pietro falls to the US 36th Division (part of 2nd Corps, 5th Army). The 6th Corps advances as the German forces withdraw.

1944 – The Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans, but also said undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not be detained.

1944 – US Task Force 38 is caught in a typhoon while retiring to refuel and replenish. Three destroyers, “Hull,” “Spence” & “Monaghan,” are sunk and 3 fleet carriers, 4 escort carriers and 11 destroyers sustain damage.

1944 – US B-29 Superfortress bombers raid Nagoya (nominally the Mitsubishi aircraft assembly works).

1944 – Some 200 US 14th Air Force planes, and 84 B-29 bombers, attack the Japanese supply base at Hankow causing fires that burn for three days.

1950 – U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron 892, the first all-Reserve squadron to operate in Korea’s war zone, began operations from Iwakuni, Japan.

1951 – The U.N. command and the communists exchanged prisoner of war lists at Panmunjom. The UNC list contained 132,472 names. The communists listed 11,359.

1956 – Japan was admitted to the United Nations.

1957 – The Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States, went online. It was taken out of service in 1982.
 

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December 18th ~ { continued... }

1958 – Project SCORE, the world’s first communications satellite, is launched. Project SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment) was the world’s first communications satellite. Launched aboard an American Atlas rocket, SCORE provided a first test of a communications relay system in space, as well as the first successful use of the Atlas as a launch vehicle.

It captured world attention by broadcasting a Christmas message via short wave radio from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower through an on-board tape recorder. SCORE, as a geopolitical strategy, placed the United States at an even technological par with the Soviet Union as a highly functional response to the Sputnik satellites.

1965 – River Patrol Force established in Vietnam.

1965 – U.S. Marines attacked VC units in the Que Son Valley during Operation Harvest Moon.

1965 – The Borman and Lovell splash down in the Atlantic ended a 2 week Gemini VII mission.

1967 – Operation Preakness II begins in Mekong Delta.

1970 – An atomic leak in Nevada forced hundreds to flee the test site.

1971 – North Vietnamese troops captured the Plain of Jars in Laos.

1972 – The Nixon administration announces that the bombing and mining of North Vietnam will resume and continue until a “settlement” is reached.

1985 – UN Security Council unanimously condemned “acts of hostage-taking.”

1989 – Robert E. Robinson, an attorney and alderman in Savannah, Ga., was killed by a mail bomb similar to a device that had claimed the life of a federal judge in Alabama two days earlier. Walter Leroy Moody Junior was later convicted of both bombings, and is on Alabama’s death row.

1990 – Less than a month before a UN deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, President Bush told reporters he believed Americans would support a military strike, if one proved necessary. In Baghdad, the ruling Revolutionary Command Council said Iraq was “ready for the decisive showdown.”

1995 – A powerful fertilizer bomb was found outside an Internal Revenue Service office in Reno, Nevada, but fizzled before its lit fuse could do much damage.

1996 – Earl Edwin Pitts, a senior US FBI agent, was arrested on espionage charges. He was most active as a Russian spy from 1987-1992. Pitts was sentenced in June 1997 to 27 years in prison after admitting that he’d conspired and attempted to commit espionage.

1997 – HTML 4.0 is published by the World Wide Web Consortium.

1998 – US and British struck Iraq for a 3rd day with little resistance. The US B-1 bomber was used to drop bombs. Gen’l. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more cruise missiles were launched in the first 2 days than the 289 in the 1991 Gulf War.

1999 – NASA launches into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT. Terra (EOS AM-1) is a multi-national NASA scientific research satellite in a Sun-synchronous orbit around the Earth. It is the flagship of the Earth Observing System (EOS). The name “Terra” comes from the Latin word for Earth.
 

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December 18th ~ { continued... }

2000 – US electors voted for their party’s candidates. In the 224 years of the Electoral College only 9 electors had switched votes. The DC elector withheld her vote to protest lack of representation. Bush won 271 votes, one over the constitutional minimum, and became the official president-elect.

2000 – In Canada President Putin of Russia met with Prime Minister Chretien and together supported existing nuclear arms accords. Chretien did not join Putin’s opposition to a US missile defense plan.

2001 – Yemeni troops assaulted tribal forces in the Marib region after local leaders refused to turn over suspected members of al Qaeda. At least 12 people were killed and 22 wounded.

2002 – DoD issues preliminary orders for the deployment of 50,000 troops to threaten Iraq.

2003 – A federal judge in NY ruled that Pres. Bush does not have the power to order that a US citizen captured in this country be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant. Federal judges in SF ruled that the administration’s policy of imprisoning some 600 non-citizens in Cuba without access to US legal protection raises concerns under US and International law.

2003 – Lee Boyd Malvo (18) was convicted in Virginia for his role in the 2002 sniper shootings.

2003 – Iran signed a key accord opening its nuclear facilities to unfettered and unannounced inspections.

2003 – The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq announces that it will provide the Iraqi Oil Ministry with $600 million for infrastructure improvement. The director-general of the state-owned Iraqi Drilling Company says that he expects that the investment could raise daily production, now at about 1.9 million barrels per day, by as much as 1.05 million barrels per day over an 18 month period.

2004 – In Haiti bands of former soldiers and armed residents looted police arsenals, set bonfires and fired shots into the air amid escalating chaos.

2004 – The former Iraqi general known as “Chemical Ali,” Ali Hassan al-Majid, went before a judge in the first investigative hearings of former members of his regime.

2004 – Insurgents claiming to represent three Iraqi militant groups issued a videotape saying they had captured 10 Iraqis working for an American security and reconstruction company and would kill them if the firm did not leave this turbulent country. A clash in Mosul left an Iraqi child dead. An insurgent attack in Mosul left one Iraqi dead. National Guardsmen there killed 3 insurgents.

2010 – The United States Senate repeals “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” by a vote of 65-35. The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama to be signed.

2011 – The last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq, although the US embassy and consulates continues to maintain a staff of more than 20,000 including US Marine Embassy Guards and between 4,000 and 5,000 private military contractors.
 

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December 19th ~

1776 – Thomas Paine published his first “American Crisis” essay in the Pennsylvania Journal, writing: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

1777 – With the onset of the bitter winter cold, the Continental Army under General George Washington, still in the field, enters its winter camp at Valley Forge, 22 miles from British-occupied Philadelphia. Washington chose a site on the west bank of the Schuylkill River that could be effectively defended in the event of a British attack. During 1777, Patriot forces under General Washington suffered major defeats against the British at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown; Philadelphia, the capital of the United States, fell into British hands.

The particularly severe winter of 1777-1778 proved to be a great trial for the American army, and of the 11,000 soldiers stationed at Valley Forge, hundreds died from disease. However, the suffering troops were held together by loyalty to the Patriot cause and to General Washington, who stayed with his men. As the winter stretched on, Prussian military adviser Frederick von Steuben kept the soldiers busy with drills and training in modern military strategy. When Washington’s army marched out of Valley Forge on June 19, 1778, the men were better disciplined and stronger in spirit than when they had entered. Nine days later, they won a victory against the British under Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey.

1817 – Confederate General James Archer is born in Harford County, Maryland. Archer received his education at Princeton University and Boston College before serving in the Maryland volunteers during the Mexican War. He earned a brevet promotion (an honorary promotion usually given for battlefield heroism) to major for bravery at the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexico City campaign. After the war, he practiced law until he joined the U.S. Army in 1855. Archer served in the Pacific Northwest, and when the Civil War broke out, he joined General John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade in the Confederate Army.

Archer fought with the Army of Northern Virginia throughout the war. He earned a promotion to brigadier general for his gallantry at the Battle of Seven Pines in June 1862, and his brigade played a key role during the Seven Days’ battles later that month. He was ill during the army’s invasion of Maryland in September 1862, so he relinquished his command for the Battle of Antietam. In 1863, Archer marched north to Gettysburg as part of Henry Heth’s division in A.P. Hill’s corps. This placed him in the middle of battle’s initial action on July 1. Archer led an attack on the center of the Union line on Seminary Ridge that was so successful that Archer and his men were cut off from the rest of the Confederates. He was captured, the first Confederate general from the Army of Northern Virginia to be captured since Robert E. Lee assumed command on June 1, 1862.

Ironically, Archer’s old friend, General Abner Doubleday, commanded the Union force that captured Archer. When he saw Archer being led to the rear, he rode up and extended a handshake and said he was happy to see his old friend. Archer reportedly retorted, “Well, I’m not glad to see you by a damned sight!” Archer was held at prisons in Ohio and Delaware for more than a year before he was exchanged in August 1864. After his release, Archer received orders to return to his old brigade, which was now serving as part of Hood’s Army of Tennessee in Atlanta. Prison life, however, had compromised his health and his orders were changed. He was sent instead to the trenches around Petersburg, Virginia. His health continued to deteriorate and he died there on October 24, 1864.

1828 – In the Nullification Crisis, Vice President of the United States John C. Calhoun pens the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, protesting the Tariff of 1828.

1862 – Nathan B. Forrest tore up the railroads in Grant and Rosecrans’ rear, causing considerable delays in the movement of Union supplies.

1862 – Skirmish at Jackson-Salem Church, Tenn., left 80 casualties.

1863 – Expedition under Acting Master W. R. Browne, comprising U.S.S. Restless, Bloomer, and Caroline, proceeded up St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida, to continue the destruction of salt works. A landing party went ashore under Bloomer’s guns and destroyed those works not already demolished by the Southerners when reports of the naval party were received. Browne was able to report that he had “cleared the three arms of this extensive bay of salt works. . . .Within the past ten days,” he added, “290 salt works, 33 covered wagons, 12 flatboats, 2 sloops (3 ton each) 6 ox carts, 4,000 bushels of salt, 268 buildings at the different salt works, 529 iron kettles averaging 150 gallons each, 103 iron boilers for boiling brine [were destroyed], and it is believed that the enemy destroyed as many more to prevent us from doing so.”

1864 – C.S.S. Water Witch, captured from the Union on 3 June, was burned by the Confederates in the Vernon River near Savannah, in order to prevent her capture by General Sherman’s troops advancing on the city.

1870 – After a month at sea in a 22-foot boat, Coxswain William Halford, the lone survivor of 5, reaches Hawaii to seek help for crew of USS Saginaw, wrecked near Midway Island. Rescuers reach the 88 Saginaw survivors on 4 January 1871.
 

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December 19th ~ { continued... }

1912 – William Van Schaick, captain of the steamship General Slocum which caught fire and killed over 1,000 people, is pardoned by U.S. President William Howard Taft after three-and-a-half-years in Sing Sing prison.

1928 – The 1st autogiro flight was made in the US. It was a predecessor of the helicopter.

1939 – The German liner Columbus, closely trailed by the US cruiser Tuscaloosa, is scuttled some 300 miles from the American coast, to avoid capture by the approaching British destroyer HMS Hyperion. The American warship has been trailing the German liner since its departure from Vera Cruz, Mexico and has been constantly reporting the position of the Columbus by radio for any and all ships to hear. The actions taken by the USS Tuscaloosa make the official US position of neutrality highly suspect, but Berlin never protests the incident.

1941 – Adolf Hitler assumes the position of commander in chief of the German army. The German offensive against Moscow was proving to be a disaster. A perimeter had been established by the Soviets 200 miles from the city-and the Germans couldn’t break through. The harsh winter weather-with temperatures often dropping to 31 degrees below zero-had virtually frozen German tanks in their tracks.

Soviet General Georgi Zhukov had unleashed a ferocious counteroffensive of infantry, tanks, and planes that had forced the flailing Germans into retreat. In short, the Germans were being beaten for the first time in the war, and the toll to their collective psyche was great. “The myth of the invincibility of the German army was broken,” German General Franz Halder would write later. But Hitler refused to accept this notion. He began removing officers from their command. General Fedor von Bock, who had been suffering severe stomach pains and who on December 1 had complained to Halder that he was no longer able to “operate” with his debilitated troops, was replaced by General Hans von Kluge, whose own 4th Army had been pushed into permanent retreat from Moscow. General Karl von Runstedt was relieved of the southern armies because he had retreated from Rostov.

Hitler clearly did not believe in giving back captured territory, so in the biggest shake-up of all, he declared himself commander in chief of the army. He would train it “in a National Socialist way”-that is, by personal fiat. He would compose the strategies and the officers would dance to his tune.

1941 – Japanese land 500 men from the 56th Infantry Regiment near Davao on Mindanao.

1942 – On Guadalcanal, US forces on Mount Austen meet heavy resistance.

1943 – The American regiment at Arawe captures the nearby Japanese airstrip and hold against counterattacks.

1944 – At a meeting of senior Allied commanders, Eisenhower decides to appoint Field Marshal Montgomery, commanding British 21st Army Group, to lead all Allied forces to the north of ” the Bulge” in the line created by the German attack. General Bradley, commanding US 12th Army Group, is responsible for all Allied forces to the south. The arrangement is not made public at this time.

1944 – It is decided that the Japanese 35th Army on Leyte is no longer to be reinforced or supplied. Nonetheless, fighting continues to the north of Ormoc and throughout the northwest of the island.

1944 – Forces of the German 6th SS Panzer Army reach Stavelot in the north while elements of 5th Panzer Army approach Houffalize. Some US forces between these advance continue to defend positions around Gouvy and St. Vith.

1944 – During the Battle of the Bulge, American troops began pulling back from the twin Belgian cities of Krinkelt and Rocherath in front of the advancing German Army.

1946 – In Hanoi, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam launches its first attack against the French. Following months of steadily deteriaorating relations, a bloody ‘pacification’ of Haiphong in November, and unacceptable French demands including the disarmament of the Vietminh militia, the attack has the support of most Vietnamese and begins what comes to be known as the Indochina War.

1950 – The North Atlantic Council named General Eisenhower supreme commander of Western European defense forces of NATO.

1950 – The carrier USS Bataan, commanded by Captain T. N. Neale, arrived on station in Korean waters.

1959 – Reputed to be the last civil war veteran, Walter Williams, died at 117 in Houston Texas.

1960 – A fire aboard USS Constellation, under construction at Brooklyn, killed 50.
 
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