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Discussion Starter #301
December 24th ~ { continued... }

1941 – About 7000 troops of the Japanese 16th Infantry Division land at Lamon Bay in southeast Luzon. In northern Luzon, the Allies have taken the first of five defensive positions designed to delay the Japanese movement toward the Bataan Peninsula. General Douglas MacArthur still commands the forces.

1941 – The 1st ships of Admiral Nagumo’s (Pearl Harbor) fleet returned to Japan.

1943 – President Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord. Almost everyone had believed the position would go to American Chief of Staff George C. Marshall.

1943 – An American task force of cruisers and destroyers bombards Buka Island and the Japanese base at Buin on Bougainville. These are diversionary attacks from the imminent landing on New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago.

1944 – The German Ardennes offensive is exhausted by the end of the day. The furthest advance has been achieved by elements of the German 5th Panzer Army. The 2nd Panzer Division has reached the outskirts of Dinant with the 116th Panzer Division on the right flank near Hotten and the Panzer Lehr Division on the left flank to the west of St. Hubert. American forces in Bastogne continue to resist; some 260 Allied transports drop supplies to the defenders. Allied fighter-bombers fly over 600 sorties in the Ardennes.

1944 – All beef products are again being rationed. New quotas are introduced for most other commodities as well.

1946 – US General MacNarney gave 800,000 “minor Nazis” amnesty.

1950 – In a major feat of naval arms, the U.S. amphibious fleet, Task Force 90, commanded by Rear Admiral James H. Doyle, completed evacuation of X Corps from Hungnam. Supported by the Seventh Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble aboard the battleship USS Missouri, TF 90 evacuated 105,000 U.S. and ROK Marines and soldiers, 17,500 vehicles, 350,000 tons of cargo and 91,000 Korean civilians in just over 190 ships. This enormously complex operation has been termed “Inchon in Reverse.”

1950 – In a daring helicopter rescue, the U.S. Air Force’s 33rd Air Rescue Squadron snatched 35 U.S. and ROK soldiers from behind enemy lines.

1952 – The McCarren-Walter Act takes effect and revises America’s immigration laws. The law was hailed by supporters as a necessary step in preventing communist subversion in the United States, while opponents decried the legislation as being xenophobic and discriminatory.
The act, named after Senator Pat McCarren (Democrat-Nevada) and Representative Francis Walter (Democratic-Pennsylvania), did relatively little to alter the quota system for immigration into the United States that had been established in the Immigration Act of 1924. The skewed nature of the quotas was readily apparent. Immigrants from Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany were allotted two-thirds of the 154,657 spots available each year. However, the act did specifically remove previously established racial barriers that had acted to exclude immigrants from nations such as Japan and China. These countries were now assigned very small quotas.

The changes that were of more concern for many critics centered on the act’s provision of much more strenuous screening of potential immigrants. It banned admission to anyone declared a subversive by the attorney general and indicated that members of communist and “communist-front” organizations were subject to deportation. In defending the act, Senator McCarren declared, “If this oasis of the world should be overrun, perverted, contaminated, or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished.” President Harry S. Truman took a very different view, calling the legislation “un-American” and inhumane. When the bill was passed in June 1952, Truman vetoed the bill. Congress overrode his veto, and the act took effect in December. The McCarren-Walter Act set America’s immigration standards until new legislation was passed in 1965.

1955 – NORAD Tracks Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition. The program began in 1955, when a Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper which told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. However, the telephone number printed was misprinted and calls instead came through to Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Harry Shoup, who was on duty that night, told his staff to give all children who called in a “current location” for Santa Claus.

A tradition began which continued when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) replaced CONAD in 1958. Today, NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible. Each volunteer handles about forty telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories. Most of these contacts happen during the twenty-five hours from 2 a.m. on December 24 until 3 a.m. MST on December 25. Volunteers include NORAD military and civilian personnel.
 

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Discussion Starter #302
December 24th ~ { continued... }

1963 – New York’s Idlewild Airport was renamed JFK Airport in honor of the murdered President Kennedy.

1964 – Two Viet Cong agents disguised as South Vietnamese soldiers leave a car filled with explosives parked at the Brinks Hotel in Saigon. The hotel was housing U.S. officers. Two Americans were killed in the blast and 65 Americans and Vietnamese were injured. Ambassador Maxwell Taylor, Gen. William Westmoreland, and other senior U.S. officials tried to persuade President Lyndon B. Johnson to respond with retaliatory raids on North Vietnam, but Johnson refused. In his cable to Taylor explaining his decision, he indicated for the first time that he was considering a commitment of U.S. combat troops.

1968 – The 3 Apollo 8 astronauts (James A. Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman), orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve television broadcast. The first pictures of an Earth-rise over the Moon are seen as the crew of Apollo 8 orbits the moon.

1972 – Hanoi barred all peace talks with the U.S. until the air raids are stopped.

1972 – Comedian Bob Hope gives what he says is his last Christmas show to U.S. servicemen in Saigon. Hope was a comedian and star of stage, radio, television, and over 50 feature films. Hope was one of many Hollywood stars who followed the tradition of travelling overseas to entertain American troops stationed abroad. The 1972 show marked Hope’s ninth consecutive Christmas appearance in Vietnam.
Hope endorsed President Nixon’s bombing of North Vietnam to force it to accept U.S. peace terms, and received South Vietnam’s highest civilian medal for his “anti-communist zeal.” Although some antiwar protesters criticized Hope for supporting government policies in Vietnam, the comedian said he believed it was his responsibility to lift spirits by entertaining the troops.

1972 – President Nixon suspends Operation Linebacker II for 36 hours to mark the Christmas holiday. The bombing campaign against North Vietnam had been operating since December 18, when Nixon initiated the campaign to force the North Vietnamese back to the Paris peace negotiations. On December 28, the North Vietnamese announced that they would return to Paris if Nixon ended the bombing. The bombing campaign was halted and the negotiators met during the first week of January. They quickly arrived at a settlement–the Paris Peace Accords were signed on January 23, and a cease-fire went into effect five days later.

1979 – Russia sent airborne troops into Afghanistan in a surprise invasion attack.

1980 – Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.

1987 – In Lebanon, the kidnappers of Terry Anderson released a videotape in which The Associated Press correspondent told his family he was in good health, and said to President Reagan, “Surely by now you know what must be done and how you can do it.” Anderson was freed nearly four years later.

1989 – Charles Taylor, a member of the Gio tribe and a former cabinet minister under Samuel Doe, led a small group of fighters across the border from the Ivory Coast into Liberia. Within a few months he had looted and terrorized much of the countryside and reached the capital. Taylor led the NPFL or National Patriotic Front. The NPFL was composed mainly of the Mano and Gio tribes from northern Nimba County.

1989 – Ousted Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega, who had succeeded in eluding U.S. forces, took refuge at the Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Panama City. It took weeks of negotiation and loud rock music played incessantly outside the embassy by American forces before Noriega agreed to give himself up.

1992 – President Bush had the US Embassy in Belgrade read to Pres. Milosevic the “Christmas Warning” cable: “In the event of conflict in Kosovo caused by Serbian action, the US will be prepared to employ military force against Serbians in Kosovo and in Serbia proper.

1992 – President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.
 

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Discussion Starter #303
December 24th ~ { continued... }

1997 – From California it was reported that the Air Force agreed to sell McClellan Air Force Base to Sacramento County for a maximum of $90 million. Payments would begin in Dec 2008 and continue over 45 years.

1997 – In Afghanistan the Taliban launched an offensive at Kotel Toopkhana in Badakhshan province and by the next day claimed to have driven out the soldiers of Ahmed Shah Massood.

1997 – It was reported that Iraq completed a 150-mile canal to supply water to Basra.

1998 – In Podujevo, Yugoslavia, Serb forces used tanks and armored vehicles against separatist guerrillas breaking a 2-month cease fire. Ignoring NATO warnings, Serb tanks and troops struck an ethnic Albanian stronghold in Kosovo.

1999 – In Nepal 5 Sikh men, members of the Kashmir Harakut ul-Mujahedeen, hijacked an Indian Airlines A-300 Airbus with 189 people onboard. After 3 stops for refueling it landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where it was surrounded by Taliban militia. 26 passengers were released in Dubai. They called for the release of Maulana Massood Azhar, a Pakistani religious leader and other Kashmiri militants. They later raised their demands to $200 million, the release of 35 jailed guerrillas and the exhumation of a dead comrade buried in India.

1999 – Ignoring NATO warnings, Serb tanks and troops struck an ethnic Albanian stronghold in Kosovo.

2001 – In Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim named Gen. Rashid Dostum as deputy defense minister.

2002 – Saddam Hussein said in an address read on television that Iraqis were ready to fight a holy war against the United States.

2002 – Israeli PM Sharon said Saddam Hussein had transferred chemical and biological weapons to Syria.

2002 – North Korea ratcheted up its standoff with Washington, starting repairs at a long-frozen nuclear reactor and warning that U.S. policy was leading to an “uncontrollable catastrophe” and the “brink of nuclear war.”

2003 – Several Air France flights to Los Angeles were cancelled stranding hundreds of people in Paris on Christmas Eve amid fears of a terrorist attack.

2003 – It was reported that U.S. and Russian experts recovered 37 pounds of weapons-grade uranium, enough to develop a nuclear warhead, from a closed atomic facility in Bulgaria.

2003 – Pakistan’s President Gen. Pervez Musharraf agreed to step down as head of the armed forces by the end of 2004, part of a deal with the hardline Islamic opposition to end a long standoff that has stalled this nation’s return to democracy. Musharraf also agreed to scale back some of the special powers he decreed himself after taking power in a 1999 military coup.

2004 – US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, bearing gifts of praise and encouragement, paid a surprise Christmas Eve visit to US troops in some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq.

2004 – A suicide bomber blew up a gas tanker in Baghdad in an attack that killed at least nine people.

2013 – Two NASA astronauts at the International Space Station complete a series of spacewalks to replace a faulty ammonia coolant pump.
 

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Discussion Starter #304
December 25th ~ Christmas Day

274 – Emperor Aurelian imported into Rome the cult of Sol Invictus and made its December 25th festival a national holiday.

336 – The first recorded celebration of Christmas on this day took place in Rome. By this year December 25th was established in the Liturgy of the Roman Church as the birthday of Jesus.

1492 – Carrack Santa María captained by Christopher Columbus runs onto reefs off Haiti due to a proper watch not being kept. Local natives help to save food, armory and ammunition but not the ship.

1776 – During the American Revolution, Patriot General George Washington crosses the Delaware River with 5,400 troops, hoping to surprise a Hessian force celebrating Christmas at their winter quarters in Trenton, New Jersey. The unconventional attack came after several months of substantial defeats for Washington’s army that had resulted in the loss of New York City and other strategic points in the region.

At about 11 p.m. on Christmas, Washington’s army commenced its crossing of the half-frozen river at three locations. The 2,400 soldiers led by Washington successfully braved the icy and freezing river and reached the New Jersey side of the Delaware just before dawn. The other two divisions, made up of some 3,000 men and crucial artillery, failed to reach the meeting point at the appointed time.

At approximately 8 a.m. on the morning of December 26, Washington’s remaining force, separated into two columns, reached the outskirts of Trenton and descended on the unsuspecting Hessians. Trenton’s 1,400 Hessian defenders were groggy from the previous evening’s festivities and underestimated the Patriot threat after months of decisive British victories throughout New York. Washington’s men quickly overwhelmed the Germans’ defenses, and by 9:30 a.m. the town was surrounded. Although several hundred Hessians escaped, nearly 1,000 were captured at the cost of only four American lives.

However, because most of Washington’s army had failed to cross the Delaware, he was without adequate artillery or men and was forced to withdraw from the town. The victory was not particularly significant from a strategic point of view, but news of Washington’s initiative raised the spirits of the American colonists, who previously feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory.


1779 – A court-martial was convened against Benedict Arnold. He defended himself successfully on 6 of 8 charges but was convicted of illegally issuing a government pass and using government wagons to transport personal goods.

1821 – Clara Barton (d.1912), the founder of the American Red Cross, was born in North Oxford, Massachusetts. She worked as a volunteer nurse during the Civil War, distributing food and medical supplies to troops and earning herself the label “Angel of the Battlefield.” She later served alongside the International Red Cross in Europe–however, she could not work directly with the organization because she was a woman.

In 1882 she formed an American branch of the Red Cross. Barton lobbied for the Geneva Convention and she expanded the mission of the Red Cross to include helping victims of peacetime disasters. Clara Barton died at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland, on April 12, 1912, when she was 90 years old.
 

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Discussion Starter #305
December 25th ~ { continued... }

1837 – American general Zachary Taylor leads 1100 troops against the Seminoles at the Battle of Lake Okeechobee. The Battle of Lake Okeechobee was one of the major battles of the Second Seminole War. It was fought between 800 troops of the 1st, 4th, and 6th Infantry Regiments and 132 Missouri Volunteers (under the command of Colonel Zachary Taylor), and between 380 and 480 Seminoles led by Billy Bowlegs, Abiaca, and Alligator. The Seminole warriors were resisting forced relocation to a reservation out west. Though both the Seminoles and Taylor’s troops emerged from the battle claiming victory, Taylor was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General as a result, and his nickname of “Old Rough and Ready” came mostly due to this battle.

1862 – President and Mrs. Lincoln visited hospitals in the Washington D.C. area on this Christmas Day.

1862 – John Hunt Morgan and his raiders clashed with Union forces near Bear Wallow, Kentucky. Fighting also occurred at Green’s Chapel.

1864 – On the 24th Naval forces under the command of Rear Admiral Porter and Army units under Major General Butler launched an unsuccessful attack against Fort Fisher. Transports carrying Butler’s troops had retired to Beaufort in order to avoid the anticipated effects of the explosion of the powder boat Louisiana, and fleet units had assembled in a rendezvous area 12 miles from the fort.

At daylight on 24 December, the huge fleet got underway, formed in line of battle before the formidable Confederate works, and commenced a furious bombardment. The staunch Southern defenders, under the command of Colonel William Lamb, were driven from their guns and into the bombproofs of Fort Fisher, but managed to return the Federal fire from a few of their heavy cannon. Transports carrying the Union soldiers did not arrive from Beaufort until evening; too late for an assault that day. Accordingly, Porter withdrew his ships, intending to renew the attack the next day. Most of the casualties resulted from the bursting of five 100-pounder Parrott guns on board five different ships. By taking shelter the defenders, too, suffered few casualties, despite the heavy bombardment.

At 10:30 the following morning the ships again opened fire on the fort and maintained the bombardment while troops landed north of the works, near Flag Pond Battery. Naval gunfire kept the garrison largely pinned down and away from their guns as Butler landed about 2,000 men who advanced toward the land face of the fort. Meanwhile, the Admiral attempted to find a channel through New Inlet in order to attack the forts from Cape Fear River. When Commander Guest, U.S.S. Iosco and a detachment of double-ender gunboats encountered a shallow bar over which they could not pass, Porter called on the indomitable Lieutenant Cushing, hero of the Albemarle destruction, to sound the channel in small boats, buoying it for the ships to pass through. Under withering fire from the forts, even the daring Cushing was forced to turn back, one of his boats being cut in half by a Confederate shell.

Late in the afternoon, Army skirmishers advanced to within yards of the fort, supported by heavy fire from Union vessels. Lieutenant Aeneas Armstrong, CSN, inside Fort Fisher, later described the bombardment: “The whole of the interior of the fort, which consists of sand, merlons, etc., was as one eleven-inch shell bursting. You can now inspect the works and walk on nothing but iron.” Union Army commanders, however, considered the works too strongly defended to be carried by assault with the troops available, and the soldiers began to reembark. Some 700 troops were left on the beaches as the weather worsened. They were protected by gun-boats under Captain Glisson, U.S.S. Santiago de Cuba, who had lent continuous close support to the landing.

By 27 December the last troops were embarked; the first major attack on Fort Fisher had failed. Confederate reinforcements under General R. F. Hoke were in Wilmington and arrived at Confederate Point just after Union forces departed. The Army transports returned to Hampton Roads to prepare for a second move on the Confederate bastion, while Porter’s fleet remained in the Wilmington-Beaufort area and continued sporadic bombardment in an effort to prevent repair of the fort.

1868 – President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion that resulted in the Civil War.

1896 – “Stars & Stripes Forever” was written by John Philip Sousa:

Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with might endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.
 

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Discussion Starter #306
December 25th ~ { continued... }

1925 – U.S. troops under Admiral Latimer disarmed Nicaraguan insurgents in support of the Diaz regime.

1926 – Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito (Hirohito was formally enthroned almost two years later). This marked the beginning of the Showa Period (1926-1989).

1941 – Admiral Chester W. Nimitz arrives at Pearl Harbor to assume command of U.S. Pacific Fleet.

1941 – The US defensive strategy in the Philippines continues with their withdrawal to the second line of defense at the Agno River. Japanese attacks continue.

1942 – The Japanese base at Rabaul is attacked by bombers from Guadalcanal.

1943 – US Task Group 50.2 (Admiral Sherman) raids Kavieng with 86 aircraft. There are 2 carriers and 6 destroyers employed in the operation but they succeed in sinking only 1 Japanese transport ship.

1944 – Allied forces surrounding the German-held bulge begin counterattacking. The US 4th Armored Division, an element of US 3rd Army, aims at relieving the Americans surrounded in Bastogne. Meanwhile, German attacks are halted by American armor at Celles, about 6 km east of the Meuse River, after having advanced about 80 km since the beginning of the offensive in mid-December.

1944–On Leyte, part of the US 77th Division makes an amphibious move from Ormoc to San Juan, on the west coast of the island, north of Palompon, where the Japanese forces are concentrated. The landing is unopposed. General MacArthur announces that the Leyte campaign has ended with Japanese losses totalling 113,221.

1946 – The first in artificial, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction outside the US is initiated within Soviet F-1 nuclear reactor.

1950 – Chinese forces crossed the 38th parallel.

1962 – The Bay of Pigs captives who were ransomed, vowed to return and topple Castro.

1966 – Harrison Salisbury, assistant managing editor of the New York Times, files a report from Hanoi chronicling the damage to civilian areas in North Vietnam by the U.S. bombing campaign. Salisbury stated that Nam Dinh, a city about 50 miles southeast of Hanoi, was bombed repeatedly by U.S. planes starting on June 28, 1965. Salisbury’s press report caused a stir in Washington where, it was reported, Pentagon officials expressed irritation and contended that he was exaggerating the damage to civilian areas. On December 26, the U.S. Defense Department conceded that American pilots bombed North Vietnamese civilians accidentally during missions against military targets. The spokesman restated administration policy that air raids were confined to military targets but added, “It is sometimes impossible to avoid all damage to civilian areas.”

1968 – Apollo 8 performs the very first successful Trans-Earth injection (TEI) maneuver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit.

1972 – After a 36-hour respite for Christmas, the U.S. resumes Operation Linebacker II. The extensive bombing campaign was resumed because, according to U.S. officials, Hanoi sent no word that it would return to the peace talks. On December 13, North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of secret talks in Paris with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. President Nixon issued an ultimatum that North Vietnam send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours “or else.” The North Vietnamese rejected Nixon’s demand and the president ordered Operation Linebacker II, a full-scale air campaign against the Hanoi area that began on December 18th.

During the 11 days of Linebacker II, 700 B-52 sorties and more than 1,000 fighter-bomber sorties dropped an estimated 20,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam–half the total tonnage of bombs dropped on England during World War II. Also on this day: U.S. headquarters in Saigon announces that American military strength in South Vietnam was reduced by 700 men during the previous week. The reduction brought the total U.S. forces in South Vietnam to 24,000, the lowest in almost eight years.

1973 – Skylab astronauts took a seven hour walk in space and photographed the comet Kohoutek.

1974 – Marshall Fields drives a vehicle through the gates of the White House, resulting in a four-hour standoff. Fields crashed his Chevrolet Impala into the Northwest Gate of the White House complex. Dressed in Arab clothing, Fields claimed that he was the Messiah and that he was laden with explosives.

He drove up to the North Portico and positioned himself only several feet from the front door. After four hours of negotiations, Fields surrendered. The explosives he claimed to be in possession of were discovered to be flares. President Gerald Ford and his family were not home at the time.

1979 – In Tong-du-cheon, Korea, two US soldiers, David Medina and Reinaldo Roa, approached an MP station under cover of darkness. Medina and Roa had earlier been arrested for beating up an elderly Korean store owner. They tossed a hand-grenade through the front door and several MPs were injured by shrapnel and other debris. In the ensuing confusion, the suspects escaped. Roa and Medina were later caught after they bragged about their feat.
 

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Discussion Starter #307
December 25th ~ { continued... }

1987 – Authorities recaptured Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who had escaped two days earlier from the federal prison in Alderson, W.V., where she was serving a life sentence for her attempt on the life of President Ford.

1992 – U.S. Marines delivered wheat to a refugee camp in Bardera, Somalia, setting off a small riot among the Somalis; American and French troops also took control of Hoddur.

1997 – Richard Bliss, a field technician for Qualcomm Inc. accused of spying in Russia, arrived in San Diego after Russian authorities were persuaded to let him return home. (However, Russia says its investigation of Bliss continues).

1998 – In Serbia US diplomats in Kosovo persuaded army officers to pull back some of their forces.

1999 – Space shuttle “Discovery’s” astronauts finished their repair job on the Hubble Space Telescope.

2001 – From Mazar-e-Sharif to Kandahar in Afghanistan and the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, American forces celebrated Christmas with carols, touch football and turkey dinners.

2003 – In Iraq leaders of Sunni Muslim groups agreed to form a State Council for the Sunnis in order to speak with a unified voice during the transition to Iraqi governance.

Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day

BARNUM, JAMES
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1816 Massachusetts. Accredited to: Massachusetts. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Barnum served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and on 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close in shore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship. Barnum was commended for highly meritorious conduct during this period.

BINDER, RICHARD
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 1840, Philadelphia, Pa. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga during the attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864, and 13 to 15 January 1865. Despite heavy return fire by the enemy and the explosion of the 100-pounder Parrott rifle which killed 8 men and wounded 12 more, Sgt. Binder, as captain of a gun, performed his duties with skill and courage during the first 2 days of battle. As his ship again took position on the 13th, he remained steadfast as the Ticonderoga maintained a well-placed fire upon the batteries on shore, and thereafter, as she materially lessened the power of guns on the mound which had been turned upon our assaulting columns. During this action the flag was planted on one of the strongest fortifications possessed by the rebels.

BLAKE, ROBERT
Rank and organization: Contraband, U.S. Navy. Entered service at: Virginia. G.O. No.: 32, 16 April 1864. Accredited to: Virginia. Citation: On board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, in an engagement with the enemy on John’s Island. Serving the rifle gun, Blake, an escaped slave, carried out his duties bravely throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy’s abandonment of positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind.

CAMPBELL, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Boatswain’s Mate, U.S. Navy. Born: 1838, Indiana. Accredited to: Indiana. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga during attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13 to 15 January 1865. Despite heavy return fire by the enemy and the explosion of the 100-pounder Parrott rifle which killed 8 men and wounded 12 more, Campbell, as captain of a gun, performed his duties with skill and courage during the first 2 days of battle. As his ship again took position on the line of the 13th, he remained steadfast as the Ticonderoga maintained a well-placed fire upon the batteries on shore, and thereafter, as she materially lessened the power of guns on the mound which had been turned upon our assaulting columns. During this action the flag was planted on one of the strongest fortifications possessed by the rebels.

DEMPSTER, JOHN
Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1839, Scotland. Accredited to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: Dempster served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship.

DUNN, WILLIAM
Rank and organization: Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: Maine. Accredited to: Maine. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: On board the U.S.S. Monadnock in action during several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. With his ship anchored well inshore to insure perfect range against the severe fire of rebel guns, Dunn continued his duties when the vessel was at anchor, as her propellers were kept in motion to make her turrets bear, and the shooting away of her chain might have caused her to ground. Disdainful of shelter despite severe weather conditions, he inspired his shipmates and contributed to the success of his vessel in reducing the enemy guns to silence.

ENGLISH, THOMAS
Rank and organization: Signal Quartermaster, U.S. Navy. Born: 1819, New York, N.Y. Accredited to: New York. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865. Citation: English served on board the U.S.S. New Iron sides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14, and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship.
 

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Discussion Starter #308
December 26th ~

1776 – The British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War. After crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey, George Washington led an attack on Hessian mercenaries and took 900 men prisoner. Two Americans froze to death on the march but none died in battle. There were 30 German casualties, 1,000 prisoners and 6 cannon captured. Four Americans were wounded in the overwhelming American victory, while 22 Hessians were killed and 78 wounded. The surprise attack caught most of the 1,200 Hessian soldiers at Trenton sleeping after a day of Christmas celebration.

The Americans captured 918 Hessians, who were taken as prisoners to Philadelphia. The victory was a huge morale booster for the American army and the country. The victory at Trenton was a huge success and morale booster for the American army and people. However, the enlistments of more than 4,500 of Washington’s soldiers were set to end four days later and it was critical that the force remain intact. General George Washington offered a bounty of $10 to any of his soldiers who extended their enlistments six weeks beyond their December 31, 1776, expiration dates. The American Revolution Battle of Trenton saw the routing of 1,400 Hessian mercenaries, with 101 killed or wounded and about 900 taken prisoner, with no Americans killed in the combat. Four Americans were wounded and two had died of exhaustion en route to Trenton.

1786 – Daniel Shay led a rebellion in Massachusetts to protest the seizure of property for the non-payment of debt. Shay was a Revolutionary War veteran who led a short-lived insurrection in western Massachusetts to protest a tax increase that had to be paid in cash, a hardship for veteran farmers who relied on barter and didn‘t own enough land to vote. The taxes were to pay off the debts from the Revolutionary War, and those who couldn‘t pay were evicted or sent to prison.

1799 – The late George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

1820 – Hoping to recover from bankruptcy with a bold scheme of colonization, Moses Austin meets with Spanish authorities in San Antonio to ask permission for 300 Anglo-American families to settle in Texas. A native of Durham, Connecticut, Austin had been a successful merchant in Philadelphia and Virginia. After hearing reports of rich lead mines in the Spanish-controlled regions to the west, Austin obtained permission in 1798 from the Spanish to mine land in an area that lies in what is now the state of Missouri. Austin quickly built a lead mine, smelter, and town on his property, and his mine turned a steady profit for more than a decade. Unfortunately, the economic collapse following the War of 1812 destroyed the lead market and left him bankrupt. Determined to rebuild his fortune, Austin decided to draw on his experience with the Spanish and try to establish an American colony in Texas. In 1820, he traveled to San Antonio to request a land grant from the Spanish governor, who initially turned him down. Austin persisted and was finally granted permission to settle 300 Anglo families on 200,000 acres of Texas land. Overjoyed, Austin immediately set out for the United States to begin recruiting colonists, but he became ill and died on the long journey back.

The task of completing the arrangements for Austin’s Texas colony fell to his son, Stephen Fuller Austin. The younger Austin selected the lower reaches of Colorado River and Brazos River as the site for the colony, and the first colonists began arriving in December 1821. Over the next decade, Stephen Austin and other colonizers brought nearly 25,000 people into Texas, most of them Anglo-Americans. Always more loyal to the United States than to Mexico, the settlers eventually broke from Mexico to form the independent Republic of Texas in 1836. Nine years later, they led the successful movement to make Texas an American state.

1837 – George Dewey, Admiral of the Navy, was born: Spanish-American War: Hero of Manila: “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”

1860 – Following the secession of South Carolina (20 December) Major Robert Anderson, USA, removed his loyal garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, on an island in Charleston Harbor; this created spe­cial need for sea-borne reinforcements of troops and supplies.

1861 – Confederate diplomatic envoys James Mason and John Slidell are freed by the Lincoln administration, thus heading off a possible war between the United States and Great Britain. The two men were aboard the British mail steamer Trent on November 8 when they were pulled over by the U.S.S. San Jacinto. They were headed to London to lobby for recognition of the Confederacy. The Union ship intercepted the English ship near the Bahamas, arrested the Southerners, and took them back to Boston.

1862 – 38 Santee Sioux were hanged in Mankato, Minn., for their part in the Sioux Uprising. 1862 – Four nuns who were volunteer nurses on board Red Rover were the first female nurses on a U.S. Navy hospital ship.

1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou begins. The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, also called the Battle of Walnut Hills, begins. It was the opening engagement of the Vicksburg Campaign during the American Civil War. Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton repulsed an advance by Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman that was intended to lead to the capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Three Union divisions under Sherman disembarked at Johnson’s Plantation on the Yazoo River to approach the Vicksburg defenses from the northeast while a fourth landed farther upstream on December 27th.

On December 27th, the Federals pushed their lines forward through the swamps toward the Walnut Hills, which were strongly defended. On December 28, several futile attempts were made to get around these defenses. On December 29, Sherman ordered a frontal assault, which was repulsed with heavy casualties, and then withdrew. This Confederate victory frustrated Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s attempts to take Vicksburg by a direct approach.

1865 – James H. Mason of Franklin, Mass., received a patent for a coffee percolator.

1866 – Brig. Gen. Philip St. George Cooke, head of the Department of the Platte received word of the Dec 21 Fetterman Fight in Powder River County in the Dakota territory.
 

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December 26th ~ { continued... }

1917 – As a wartime measure, President Wilson placed railroads under government control, with Secretary of War William McAdoo as director general.

1925 – Six U.S. destroyers were ordered from Manila to China to protect interests in the civil war that was being waged there.

1941 – Less than three weeks after the American entrance into World War II, Winston Churchill becomes the first British prime minister to address Congress. Churchill, a gifted orator, urged Congress to back President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal that America become the “great arsenal of democracy” and warned that the Axis powers would “stop at nothing” in pursuit of their war aims. Born at Blenheim Palace in 1874, Churchill joined the British Fourth Hussars upon his father’s death in 1895.

During the next five years, he enjoyed an illustrious military career, serving in India, the Sudan, and South Africa, and distinguishing himself several times in battle. In 1899, he resigned his commission to concentrate on his literary and political career and in 1900 was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP from Oldham. In 1904, he joined the Liberals, serving a number of important posts before being appointed Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, where he worked to bring the British navy to a readiness for the war he foresaw. In 1915, in the second year of World War I, Churchill was held responsible for the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns and was thus excluded from the war coalition government.

However, in 1917 he returned to politics as a cabinet member in the Liberal government of Lloyd George. From 1919 to 1921, he was secretary of state for war and in 1924 returned to the Conservative Party, where two years later he played a leading role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill issued unheeded warnings of the threat of Nazi and Japanese aggression. After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Churchill returned to his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and eight months later replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister of a new coalition government.

In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that Britain would “never surrender.” He rallied the British people to a resolute resistance and expertly orchestrated Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin into an alliance that eventually crushed the Axis. After a postwar Labor Party victory in 1945, he became leader of the opposition and in 1951 was again elected prime minister. In 1953, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. After his retirement as prime minister, he remained in Parliament until 1964, the year before his death.

1941 – General Douglas MacArthur declared Manila an open city in the face of the onrushing Japanese Army.

1943–Under command of Seventh Amphibious Force, landings at Cape Gloucester, New Britain was conducted with Coast Guard-manned LST’s 18, 22, 66, 67, 68, 168, 202, 204, and 206. The LST-22 shot down a Japanese “Val” dive bomber while LST-66 was officially credited with downing three enemy aircraft. Two of her crew were killed by near misses. LST-67 brought down one Japanese dive bomber while LST-204 shot down two and the gunners aboard LST-68 claimed another. The LST-202 claimed three enemy planes shot down.

1943 – Count Claus von Stauffenberg tried in vain to plant a bomb in Hitler’s headquarters.

1943 – The US 5th Army clears Monte Sammucro and the surrounding hills of German forces.

1944 – General George S. Patton employs an audacious strategy to relieve the besieged Allied defenders of Bastogne, Belgium, during the brutal Battle of the Bulge. The capture of Bastogne was the immediate goal of the Battle of the Bulge, with eyes on the port city of Antwerp if a campaign could be strung together, the German offensive through the Ardennes forest. Bastogne provided a road junction in rough terrain where few roads existed; it would open up a valuable pathway further north for German expansion. The Belgian town was defended by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, which had to be reinforced by troops who straggled in from other battlefields. Food, medical supplies, and other resources eroded as bad weather and relentless German assaults threatened the Americans’ ability to hold out. Nevertheless, Brigadier General Anthony C. MacAuliffe met a German surrender demand with a typewritten response of a single word: “Nuts.”

Enter “Old Blood and Guts,” General Patton. Employing a complex and quick-witted strategy wherein he literally wheeled his 3rd Army a sharp 90 degrees in a counterthrust movement, Patton broke through the German lines and entered Bastogne, relieving the valiant defenders and ultimately pushing the Germans east across the Rhine. Meanwhile, British Bomber Command makes a daylight raid on the German held transportation hub of St. Vith. The Allies claim to have captured 13,273 German prisoners while the Germans claim over 30,000 Allied POWs and the destruction of 700 American tanks.

1944 – In Italy two platoons of the segregated 92nd Infantry Division fought the German 14th Army at Sommocolonia. Of 70 “Buffalo Soldiers” and 25 Italian Partisans only 18 survived. In 1977 Lt. John Fox and 6 other black Americans were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. By the end of the war 2,916 Buffalo soldiers fell breaking the Gothic Line.

1944 – Japanese naval force arriving from Indochina bombards the American beachhead on Mindoro. The force consists of 2 cruisers and 6 destroyers. An American PT Boat sinks one of the destroyers. This is the last sortie by a Japanese naval force in the Philippines.

1945 – The Big Three, the US, Soviet Union and Great Britain, ended a 10-day meeting, seeking an atomic rule by the UN Council.
 

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December 26th ~ { continued... }

1953 – The U.S. announced the withdrawal of two divisions from Korea.

1957 – Twenty helicopters from Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 162, were rushed to Ceylon onboard the USS PRINCETON where Marines participated in the rescue and evacuation of flood victims.

1967 – Laotian Premier Souvanna Phouma reports that North Vietnamese troops have started a general offensive against government forces in southern Laos.

1971 – In the sharpest escalation of the war since Operation Rolling Thunder ended in November 1968, U.S. fighter-bombers begin striking at North Vietnamese airfields, missile sites, antiaircraft emplacements, and supply facilities. These raids continued for five days. They were begun in response to intelligence that predicted a North Vietnamese build up of forces and equipment for a new offensive.

At a press conference on December 27, U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird said the increase in bombing was in retaliation for the communist failure to honor agreements made prior to the 1968 bombing halt. As evidence, Laird cited the shelling of Saigon the week before, DMZ violations–including an infiltration route being built through the buffer zone, and attacks on unarmed U.S. reconnaissance planes. Pentagon figures showed that U.S. planes–with as many as 250 aircraft participating in some missions–attacked communist targets over 100 times in 1971, a figure comparable to U.S. air activity in the previous 26 months.

1972 – As part of Operation Linebacker II, 120 American B-52 Stratofortress bombers attacked Hanoi, including 78 launched from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the largest single combat launch in Strategic Air Command history. Operation Linebacker II was a US Seventh Air Force and US Navy Task Force 77 aerial bombing campaign, conducted against targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) during the final period of US involvement in the Vietnam War. The operation was conducted from 18–29 December 1972, leading to several of informal names such as “The December Raids” and “The Christmas Bombings”.

Unlike the Operation Rolling Thunder and Operation Linebacker interdiction operations, Linebacker II, would be a “maximum effort” bombing campaign to “destroy major target complexes in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas which could only be accomplished by B-52s.” It saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the US Air Force since the end of World War II. Linebacker II was a modified extension of the Operation Linebacker bombings conducted from May to October, with the emphasis of the new campaign shifted to attacks by B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers rather than smaller tactical fighter aircraft.

1972 – The 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo.

1979 – The Soviet Union flew 5,000 troops into the Afghanistan conflict.

1987 – A bomb exploded at a USO bar in Barcelona, Spain, killing one U.S. sailor and injuring nine others; a little-known group called the Red Army of Catalonian Liberation claimed responsibility.

1991 – Jack Ruby’s gun sold for $220,000 in auction.

1991 – The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union meets and formally dissolves the Soviet Union.

1998 – Iraq fired on Western aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone and said it would shoot at all military aircraft patrolling no-fly zones.

1999 – The crew of space shuttle “Discovery” packed up its tools and prepared to return home after an eight-day mission of repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope that NASA declared a success.

1999 – In Iran members of the opposition Mujahedeen Khalq crossed from Iraq and attacked Republican Guard barracks in Khuzestan.

2001 – The Al Jazeera Arab network broadcast a new video-taped statement from Osama bin Laden that appeared to have been made in late Nov or early Dec. “Our terrorism is benign,” he claims. The al-Qaida leader condemned the United States as a nation that committed crimes against millions of Afghans.

2002 – The Int’l. Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said North Korea had moved 1,000 fresh fuel rods to a nuclear reactor that produces plutonium used in nuclear warheads.

2004 – The world’s most powerful earthquake in 40 years triggered massive tidal waves that slammed into villages and seaside resorts across southern and southeast Asia killed. The initial estimated death toll of 9,000 soon rose to more than 225,000 people in 12 countries. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake was the world’s fifth-largest since 1900 and the largest since a 9.2 temblor hit Prince William Sound Alaska in 1964. The epicenter was located 155 miles south-southeast of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on Sumatra, and six miles under the seabed of the Indian Ocean. In Indonesia at least 166,320 people were killed.

2004 – The Russian unmanned cargo ship, Progress M-51,docked at the international space station, ending a shortage that forced astronauts to ration supplies.

2006 – Gerald Ford, former President of the United States, dies at 93. Gerald Rudolph “Jerry” Ford, Jr. (born Leslie Lynch King, Jr.; July 14, 1913) was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and, prior to this, was the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974 under President Richard Nixon. He was the first person appointed to the Vice Presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, after Spiro Agnew resigned.

When he became president upon Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974, he became the first and to date only person to have served as both Vice President and President of the United States without being elected by the Electoral College. Before ascending to the Vice Presidency, Ford served nearly 25 years as the Representative from Michigan’s 5th congressional district, eight of them as the Republican Minority Leader. As President, Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, marking a move toward détente in the Cold War. With the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam nine months into his presidency, U.S. involvement in Vietnam essentially ended. Domestically, Ford presided over the worst economy in the four decades since the Great Depression, with growing inflation and a recession during his tenure. One of his more controversial acts was to grant a presidential pardon to President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal.

During Ford’s incumbency, foreign policy was characterized in procedural terms by the increased role Congress began to play, and by the corresponding curb on the powers of the President. In 1976, Ford defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination, but narrowly lost the presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter. Following his years as president, Ford remained active in the Republican Party. After experiencing health problems, Ford died in his home on December 26, 2006. Ford lived longer than any other U.S. president, living 93 years and 165 days, while his 895-day presidency remains the shortest of all presidents who did not die in office.
 

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December 27th ~

1777 – Floating mines intended for use against British Fleet found in Delaware River.

1814 – Destruction of schooner Carolina, the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson’s make-shift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans. After loss of craft, the naval guns were mounted on shore to continue the fight.

1836 – Stephen Fuller Austin (43), founder of state of Texas, died.

1845 – Journalist John L. O’Sullivan, writing in his newspaper the New York Morning News, argues that the United States had the right to claim the entire Oregon Country “by the right of our manifest destiny”.

1846 – The rag-tag army of volunteers known as Doniphan’s Thousand, led by Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan, wins a major victory in the war with Mexico with the occupation of El Paso. Born in Kentucky in 1808, Doniphan moved to Missouri in 1830 to practice law. But the tall redheaded man was not satisfied with fighting only courtroom battles, and he volunteered as a brigadier general in the Missouri militia. When war between Mexico and the U.S. erupted in 1846, the men of the 1st Missouri Mounted Volunteers elected Doniphan their colonel, and marched south to join General Stephen Kearny’s army in New Mexico. Since they were not professional military men, Doniphan’s troops cared little for the traditional spit-and-polish of the regular troops, and reportedly looked more like tramps than soldiers. Likewise, Doniphan was a casual officer who led more by example than by strict discipline.

Nonetheless, Doniphan’s Thousand proved to be a surprisingly effective force in the war with Mexico. In December, Doniphan led 500 of his men and a large wagon train of supplies south to join General John E. Wool in his planned invasion of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Before he had a chance to meet up with Wool’s larger force near the city of Chihuahua, Doniphan encountered an army of 1,200 Mexican soldiers about 30 miles north of El Paso, Texas. Although his opponents had twice the number of soldiers, Doniphan led his men to victory, and with the path to El Paso now largely undefended was able to occupy the city two days later. When nearing the Mexican border, Doniphan learned that General Wool’s forces had broken off their invasion of Chihuahua because the army’s wheeled vehicles had proved unworkable in the desert landscape.

But rather than turn back, Doniphan reassembled his army to its full force of about 1,000 men and was allowed to proceed with the invasion unassisted. Once again grossly outnumbered-the Mexican army was four times the size of Doniphan’s-the Missouri troops were still able to quickly break through the defensive lines and occupy Chihuahua City. By mid-summer 1847, Doniphan’s victorious army reached the Gulf Coast, where they were picked up by ships and taken to New Orleans for discharge. By then, the focus of the battle had shifted to General Winfield Scott’s campaign to take Mexico City. In September of that year, Scott’s troops ended the war by successfully occupying Mexico City, and for the first time in U.S. history an American flag flew over a foreign capital. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed early in 1848, gave the U.S. the vast western territory stretching from Texas to the Pacific and north to Oregon.

1860 – U.S. Revenue Cutter Aiken was surrendered to South Carolina authorities.

1862 – Rosecrans’ army moved slowly toward General Bragg at Murfreesboro.

1862 – Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, Miss. (Chickasaw Bayou), began.1862 – Battle of Elizabethtown, KY.

1864 – The broken and defeated Confederate Army of Tennessee finishes crossing the Tennessee River as General John Bell Hood’s force retreats into Mississippi. The last half of 1864 was a disaster for the army. In May, Union General William T. Sherman began his drive on Atlanta from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Confederate army was commanded then by Joseph Johnston, who responded to Sherman’s flanking maneuvers by retreating slightly each time.

From May to July, Johnston slowly backed into Atlanta, exchanging territory for time. When the troops reached Atlanta, Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaced Johnston with the offensive minded Hood. Hood immediately attacked Sherman three times in late July, losing each time. His offensive capabilities spent, Hood endured a month long siege of Atlanta. In early September, Hood was finally forced to relinquish the city to Sherman. Hood hung around to try cutting into Sherman’s supply lines but then retreated into Alabama. In November, Hood tried to draw Sherman from the deep South by moving towards Nashville, Tennessee. In response, Sherman dispatched part of his army back to Tennessee while taking the rest on his devastating march across Georgia, during which the Yankees destroyed nearly everything in their path. Hood moved north and fought two battles that were disastrous for the Confederates.

At Franklin on November 30, Confederate attacks on entrenched Union soldiers resulted in ghastly casualties and the loss of six of the army’s finest generals. On December 15 and 16, the Confederates were crushed by the Yankees in front of Nashville. The dwindling numbers of participating soldiers tell the sad story of the Rebel army. In May, some 65,000 Confederates faced Sherman in northern Georgia. On September 20, after Atlanta fell, Hood’s force numbered 40,403. After crossing the Tennessee River, Hood reported 18,708 officers and enlisted men, a figure that another Confederate general, Pierre Beauregard, thought was significantly inflated. The Confederate Army of Tennessee was no longer a viable fighting force.

1939 – The American government protests the British seizure of US mail en route to Europe.

1941 – The Americans declare Manila an open city. The defenders are now at their third of five lines of defense in their delaying action against the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. This line runs east and west from Paniqui.

1941 – Rubber rationing was instituted by the U.S. government, due to shortages caused by World War II. Tires were the first items to be restricted by law.
 

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December 27th ~ { continued... }

1942 – On Guadalcanal, US attacks on Mount Austen renew. Attacking troops from the 132nd Infantry regiment, suffer heavy loses and make no real gains despite a heavy artillery barrage prior to the attack.

1943 – The American divisional beachhead near Cape Gloucester is extended with little resistance from the Japanese. The weather and terrain prove more formidable obstacles. The American regiment on Arawe receives reinforcements.

1943 – The threat of a paralyzing railroad strike loomed over the United States during the 1943 holiday season. President Franklin Roosevelt stepped in to serve as a negotiator, imploring the rail unions to give America a “Christmas present” and settle the smoldering wage dispute. But, as Christmas came and went, only two of the five railroad brotherhoods agreed to let Roosevelt arbitrate the situation. So, on December 27, just three days before the scheduled walk-out, the President shelved his nice-guy rhetoric and seized the railroads.

Lest the move look too aggressive, Roosevelt assured that the railroads would only be temporarily placed under the “supervision” of the War Department; he also pledged that the situation would not alter daily rail operations. The gambit worked, as officials for the recalcitrant brotherhoods made an eleventh-hour decision to avert the strike. The action was taken under the wartime Labor Disputes Act. The railroads were returned to private management on January 18, 1944.

1944 – Attacks by the British 30th Corps (part of US 1st Army) force the German 2nd Panzer Division (an element of 5th Panzer Army) out of Celles. The US 3rd Army expands the corridor to Bastogne.

1944 – The US 8th Air Force bombs Coblenz, Bonn and Kaiserslautern (nominally railway targets). The RAF conducts nighttime raids on Munchen-Gladbach and Bonn.

1945 – Foreign ministers from the former Allied nations of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain agreed to divide Korea into two separate occupation zones and to govern the nation for five years.

1945 – The International Monetary Fund and the Bank for Reconstruction and Development was created. 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank. Better known as the World Bank, the IMF was created to promote healthy international trade and began transactions in 1947. The World Bank was designed by Englishman John Maynard Keynes and American Harry Dexter White.

1949 – Queen Juliana of the Netherlands granted sovereignty to Indonesia after more than 300 years of Dutch rule.

1950 – U.S. and Spain resumed relations for the first time since the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.

1950 – Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway took command of U.N. ground forces in Korea. Ridgway was a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps in Europe during World War II. Upon assuming command, he moved immediately to the front to learn the situation first hand. Concurrently with Ridgway’s assumption of command, X Corps passed from control of General Headquarters, Far East Command, to the Eighth Army.

1950 – Captain Marcus L. Sullivan became the first Army aviator to pilot a helicopter, a Bell H-13, in Korea.

1966 – A United States and South Vietnamese joint-service operation takes place against one of the best-fortified Viet Cong strongholds, located in the U Minh Forest in the Mekong Delta, 125 miles southwest of Saigon. U.S. warplanes dropped bombs and napalm on the forest in preparation for the assault. Then, 6,000 South Vietnamese troops attacked Viet Cong positions in the forest.

The U.S. Navy also participated in the operation–on December 29, the U.S. destroyer Herbert J. Thomas shelled suspected Viet Cong positions in the same area for seven hours. The operation ended on December 31, with 104 Viet Cong reported killed and 18 captured. The operation was considered a success in weakening the communist strength in the U Minh Forest.

1969 – In the fiercest battle in six weeks, U.S. and North Vietnamese forces clash near Loc Ninh, about 80 miles north of Saigon. Elements of the 1st Infantry Division reported killing 72 of 250 North Vietnamese soldiers in a daylong battle. Loc Ninh, a village of fewer than 10,000 people, was located at the northern limit of national Route 13, only a few miles from the Cambodian border. It was the site of several major battles between U.S. and Communist forces.

1978 – King Juan Carlos ratified Spain’s 1st democratic constitution. A parliamentary monarchy was established with power in the hands of the legislative branch.

1979 – In an attempt to stabilize the turbulent political situation in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union sends 75,000 troops to enforce the installation of Babrak Karmal as the new leader of the nation. The new government and the imposing Soviet presence, however, had little success in putting down antigovernment rebels. Thus began nearly 10 years of an agonizing, destructive, and ultimately fruitless Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

Ironically, Karmal overthrew and murdered another Afghan communist, Hafizullah Amin, to take power. Amin’s government became unpopular and unstable after it attempted to install a harsh communist regime, declared one-party rule and abolished the Afghan constitution.
Muslims in the nation rejected his rule and formed a rebel force, the Mujahideen. When it became apparent that Amin could not control the rebellion, Soviet troops intervened and put a puppet ruler, Karmal, into power. For the Soviets, political turbulence in this bordering nation, which was viewed by some officials as a potentially useful ally pursuing its interests in the Middle East, was unacceptable. The Soviet intervention cost Russia dearly.

The seemingly endless civil war in Afghanistan resulted in thousands of Soviet dead and untold monetary costs. It also brought an abrupt end to the era of dýtente between the United States and the Soviet Union that began during the Nixon years. In response to the Soviet intervention, President Jimmy Carter withdrew the SALT II agreement from consideration by Congress. The treaty, which had been signed in June 1979, was designed to establish parity in nuclear delivery vehicles between the United States and the Soviet Union. Carter also halted grain shipments to the Soviet Union and ordered a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics that were to be held in Moscow.
 

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1983 – President Reagan took all responsibility for the lack of security in Beirut that allowed a terrorist on a suicide mission to kill 241 Marines.

1985 – Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; a total of twenty people were killed, including five of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel. Abu Nidal was considered responsible. President Reagan blamed Libyan leader 1989 – President Bush, on a visit to Beeville, Texas, said he was determined to bring deposed Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega to justice “for poisoning the children of the United States” with illegal drugs.

1991 – The United States and the Philippines announced that the United States would abandon the Subic Bay naval base by the end of 1992.

1992 – The United States shot down an Iraqi fighter jet during what the Pentagon described as a confrontation between a pair of Iraqi warplanes and U.S. F-16 jets in U.N.-restricted airspace over southern Iraq.

1996 – In France the foreign ministry said that it would no longer participate in the Operation Provide Comfort after the end of the year. The operation was a multi-national air reconnaissance effort to safeguard Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq.

1998 – Iraq said it would reject any extension of a UN monitored food program and would require monitors to leave.

1999 – Space shuttle Discovery landed at Cape Canaveral, Fla., following a successful repair of the Hubble Space Telescope.

2001 – The US announced plans to hold Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

2001 – US warplanes destroyed a compound in eastern Afghanistan believed to used by a Taliban intelligence chief. Qari Ahmadullah (40), former Taliban chief of intelligence, was killed while fleeing US bombardment near Naka village in Paktia province.

2002 – A defiant North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart a laboratory capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. But the U.N. nuclear watchdog said its inspectors were “staying put” for the time being.

2002 – Poland announced it will buy 48 U.S.-made F-16 jet fighters from Lockheed Martin for $3.5 billion to upgrade its air force to NATO standards.

2003 – In Afghanistan suspected al Qaeda fighters ambushed Afghan security forces near the Pakistani border. A senior Afghan intelligence official was killed along with 6 attackers.

2003 – In Iraq insurgents launched 3 coordinated attacks in the southern city of Karbala, killing 12 people, including six Iraqi police officers, 2 Thai soldiers and 5 Bulgarians.

2003 – Russia removed all Soviet-built anti-aircraft missiles from its vast arms depots in a Moldova province to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. The missiles were flown from Trans-Dniester Province to the Moscow.

2004 – In an audiotape, a man purported to be Osama bin Laden endorsed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of January’s elections in the country.

2004 – A suicide bomber detonated his car at the gate of the home of the leader of Iraq’s biggest political party and most powerful Shiite political group, killing 15 people and injuring dozens. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country’s, was unharmed.

2004 – The Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni political group, pulled out of the Jan. 30 elections citing the deteriorating security situation.

2004 – Jordan’s military court on acquitted 13 Muslim militants, including three Saudi fugitives, of conspiring to commit terror attacks against U.S. targets in Jordan, but sentenced 11 of them to prison terms ranging from six to 15 years for possessing explosives.

2012 – Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., commander of the combined coalition forces during the Gulf War, dies from pneumonia complications at age 78.

2013 – U.S. District Judge William Pauley rules that the country’s National Security Agency (NSA) acted lawfully, within the limits of the U.S. Constitution, when, after the September 11, 2001 attacks, it began an en masse bulk collection of metadata from American telephone records. The opinion, which throws out an ACLU lawsuit for now, is in contrast to Judge Richard Leon’s earlier ruling in another district.
 

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December 28th ~

1793 – Thomas Paine is arrested in France for treason. Though the charges against him were never detailed, he had been tried in absentia on December 26 and convicted. Before moving to France, Paine was an instrumental figure in the American Revolution as the author of Common Sense, writings used by George Washington to inspire the American troops.

Paine moved to Paris to become involved with the French Revolution, but the chaotic political climate turned against him, and he was arrested and jailed for crimes against the country. When he first arrived in Paris, Paine was heartily welcomed and granted honorary citizenship by leaders of the revolution who enjoyed his anti-royalty book The Rights of Man. However, before long, he ran afoul of his new hosts. Paine was strictly opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and he vocally opposed the French revolutionaries who were sending hundreds to the guillotine.

He also began writing a provocative new book, The Age of Reason, which promoted the controversial notion that God did not influence the actions of people and that science and rationality would prevail over religion and superstition. Although Paine realized that sentiment was turning against him in the autumn of 1793, he remained in France because he believed he was helping the people. After he was arrested, Paine was taken to Luxembourg Prison. The jail was formerly a palace and was unlike any other detainment center in the world. He was treated to a large room with two windows and was locked inside only at night. His meals were catered from outside, and servants were permitted, though Paine did not take advantage of that particular luxury. However, he did carry a small sword that was permitted by jail authorities.

While in prison, he continued to work on The Age of Reason and began an affair with actress Muriel Alette, who had been sentenced to death for being the mistress of a nobleman. Paine’s imprisonment in France caused a general uproar in America and future President James Monroe used all of his diplomatic connections to get Paine released in November 1794. Ironically, it wasn’t long before Paine came to be despised in the United States, as well. After The Age of Reason was published, he was called an anti-Christ, and his reputation was ruined. Thomas Paine died a poor man in 1809 in New York.

1822 – Confederate General William Taliaferro is born in Gloucester County, Virginia. Taliaferro served in under General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson for the first part of the war, then spent the second half preparing coastal defenses in the lower South. Taliaferro attended William and Mary College and Harvard Law School. He practiced law in Virginia before volunteering during the Mexican War, where he rose to the rank of major.

Before the Civil War, he served in the Virginia legislature and the state militia. He was at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 when John Brown made his raid on the arsenal in an attempt to stir up a slave insurrection. Taliaferro became a colonel in the Confederate Army when the war began. He fought in western Virginia in 1861, then served under Jackson in 1862. His relationship with Jackson was rocky at first, as he became involved in a dispute between Jackson and General William Loring. Taliaferro signed a petition circulated by Loring that protested Jackson’s placement of troops at Romney, Virginia. Taliaferro fought alongside Jackson during the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign, and he impressed his commander later in the summer at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Jackson gave him permanent command of Jackson’s old division for the Second Battle of Bull Run in late August, but a wound kept Taliaferro from seeing action.

Shortly after the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Taliaferro was transferred to Charleston. He helped General Pierre G. T. Beauregard fortify the city, for which Beauregard gave him an enthusiastic commendation. Taliaferro’s work made Charleston impenetrable for the Union; it did not fall until the end of the war. He helped evacuate Savannah, Georgia, before William T. Sherman’s army captured the city in 1864. Taliaferro ended the war fighting with General Joseph Johnston’s army at Bentonville, North Carolina. He spent the years after the war practicing law and serving in the Virginia legislature and as a county judge before his death in 1898.

1832 – Citing political differences with President Andrew Jackson and a desire to fill a vacant Senate seat in South Carolina, John C. Calhoun becomes the first vice president in U.S. history to resign the office. Born near Abbeville, South Carolina, in 1782, Calhoun was an advocate of states’ rights and a defender of the agrarian South against the industrial North. Calhoun served as secretary of war under President James Monroe and in 1824 ran for the presidency. However, bitter partisan attacks from other contenders forced him out of the race, and he had to settle for the vice presidency under President John Quincy Adams. In 1828, he was again elected vice president while Andrew Jackson won the presidency. Calhoun soon found himself politically isolated from national affairs under President Jackson.

On December 12, 1832, Calhoun was elected to fill a South Carolina Senate seat left vacant after the resignation of Senator Robert Hayne. Sixteen days later, he resigned the vice presidency. For the rest of his political life, Calhoun defended the slave-plantation system against the growing anti-slavery stance of the free states. In the early 1840s, while secretary of state under President John Tyler, he secured the admission of Texas into the Union as a slave state. Together with Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun dominated American political life in the first half of the 19th century.

1835 – Osceola leads his Seminole warriors in Florida into the Second Seminole War against the United States Army. On December 23, 1835 two companies of US troops, totaling 110 men, left Fort Brooke under the command of Maj. Francis L. Dade. Seminoles shadowed the marching soldiers for five days.

On December 28 the Seminoles ambushed the soldiers, and killed all but three of the command, which became known as the Dade Massacre. Only three white men survived; Edwin De Courcey, was hunted down and killed by a Seminole the next day. The two survivors, Ransome Clarke and Joseph Sprague, returned to Fort Brooke. Only Clarke, who died of his wounds a few years later, left any account of the battle from the Army’s perspective. Joseph Sprague was unharmed and lived quite a while longer, but was not able to give an account of the battle as he had sought immediate refuge in a nearby pond. The Seminoles lost just three men, with five wounded. On the same day as the Dade Massacre, Osceola and his followers shot and killed Wiley Thompson and six others outside of Fort King.

1846 – Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union. Iowa is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, a region sometimes called the “American Heartland”. Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west; it is the only U.S. state whose eastern and western borders are formed entirely by rivers. Iowa is bordered by Wisconsin and Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska and South Dakota to the west, and Minnesota to the north. In colonial times, Iowa was a part of French Louisiana; its current state flag is patterned after the flag of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, settlers laid the foundation for an agriculture-based economy in the heart of the Corn Belt.

1856 – Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States (1912-1921), who brought the country into World War I, was born in Staunton, Va. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919. “The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.”
 

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1862 – Rear Admiral D. D. Porter’s gunboats supported General Sherman’s attempt to capture Confederate-held Chickasaw Bluffs, a vantage point upstream from Vicksburg. “Throughout these operations,” Porter wrote, “the Navy did everything that could be done to ensure the success of General Sherman’s movement.” Though the Navy supplied shore bombardment from the squadron and created diversionary movements, the Union troops, hindered by heavy rains and faced by the timely arrival of Confederate reinforcements, were forced to withdraw.

1864 – The military situation having been stabilized in the Tulifinny River area of South Carolina, Rear Admiral Dahlgren withdrew the naval brigade under Commander Preble and returned the sailors and marines comprising it to their respective ships. The 500-man brigade, hastily brought together and trained in infantry tactics, performed vital service in the arduous four-week campaign. Major General Foster, commanding the Military District of the South, complimented Dahlgren on the Brigade’s courage and skill: “-its gallantry in action and good conduct during the irksome life in camp won from all the land forces with which it served the highest praises.” Although the Savannah-Charleston railroad was not cut by the expedition, it did succeed in diverting Confederate troops opposing Sherman’s march across Georgia.

1867 – U.S. claims Midway Island, first territory annexed outside Continental limits. The atoll was sighted on July 5, 1859, by Captain N.C. Middlebrooks, though he was most commonly known as Captain Brooks, of the sealing ship Gambia. The islands were named the “Middlebrook Islands” or the “Brook Islands”. Brooks claimed Midway for the United States under the Guano Islands Act of 1856, which authorized Americans to occupy uninhabited islands temporarily to obtain guano.

On August 28, 1867, Captain William Reynolds of the USS Lackawanna formally took possession of the atoll for the United States; the name changed to “Midway” some time after this. The atoll became the first Pacific island annexed by the U.S. government, as the Unincorporated Territory of Midway Island, and administered by the United States Navy. Midway is the only island in the entire Hawaiian archipelago that was not later part of the State of Hawaii.

1872 – A U.S. Army force defeated a group of Apache warriors at Salt River Canyon, Arizona Territory, with 57 Indians killed but only one soldier.

1905 – Drydock Dewey left Solomon’s Island, MD, enroute through the Suez Canal to the Philippines to serve as repair base. This, the longest towing job ever accomplished, was completed by Brutus, Caesar, and Glacier on 10 July 1906.

1917 – The New York Evening Mail published a facetious and fictitious essay by H.L. Mencken on the history of the bathtub in America. Mencken claimed, for example, that Millard Fillmore was the first president to have a bathtub installed in the White House.

1933 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “The definite policy of the U.S. from now on is one opposed to armed intervention.”

1936 – Benito Mussolini sent planes to Spain to support Francisco Franco’s forces.

1941 – In the Philippines, American and allied troops continue to fall back. They are now at the Tarlac-Cabanatuan line. Japanese attacks continue.

1941 – Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks requests that construction battalions be recruited. The need for a militarized Naval Construction Force to build advance bases in the war zone was self-evident. Therefore, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell determined to activate, organize, and man Navy construction units.

On 28 December 1941, he requested specific authority to carry out this decision, and on 5 January 1942, he gained authority from the Bureau of Navigation to recruit men from the construction trades for assignment to a Naval Construction Regiment composed of three Naval Construction Battalions. This is the actual beginning of the renowned Seabees, who obtained their designation from the initial letters of Construction Battalion. Admiral Moreell personally furnished them with their official motto: Construimus, Batuimus — “We Build, We Fight.”

1942 – US President Roosevelt confirms the policy of non cooperation with the British that his advisors have been recommending. He orders than no information be given to British scientists unless it is in a area in which they are directly working. The British are upset at the decision.

1943 – On New Britain, the US 1st Marine Division begins advancing to attack the Japanese airfield at Cape Gloucester.

1944 – The US 5th Army, fighting in the Italian Serchio valley, has pulled back from the town of Barga in response to German counterattacks.

1944 – AEF Commander in Chief General Eisenhower meets with British 21st Army Group command Field Marshal Montgomery to coordinate the counteroffensive in the Ardennes.

1944 – About 1200 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, escorted by 700 fighters, attacked Coblenz and other targets. Late in the day, Bomber Command bombs Cologne.

1945 – Congress officially recognized the “Pledge of Allegiance.”

1946 – The French declared martial law in Vietnam as a full-scale war appeared inevitable.

1950 – Chinese troops crossed the 38th Parallel into South Korea.

1951 – The U.S. paid $120,000 to free four fliers convicted of espionage in Hungary.

1952 – The Far East Air Force mounted its heaviest bombing attack since August 1952 with a 200-plane attack against targets southwest of Pyongyang.

1964 – South Vietnamese troops retake Binh Gia in a costly battle. The Viet Cong launched a major offensive on December 4 and took the village of Binh Gia, 40 miles southeast of Saigon. The South Vietnamese forces recaptured the village, but only after an eight-hour battle and three battalions of reinforcements were brought in on helicopters.

The operation continued into the first week of January. Losses included an estimated 200 South Vietnamese and five U.S. advisors killed, plus 300 more South Vietnamese wounded or missing. Battles such this, in which the South Vietnamese suffered such heavy losses at the hands of the Viet Cong, convinced President Lyndon B. Johnson that the South Vietnamese could not defeat the communist without the commitment of U.S. ground troops to the war.

1972 – After 11 days of round-the-clock bombing (with the exception of a 36-hour break for Christmas), North Vietnamese officials agree to return to the peace negotiations in Paris.
 

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1982 – Recommissioning of USS New Jersey (BB-62), the first of four Iowa-class battleships that were returned to service in 1980s.

1988 – British authorities investigating the explosion that destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, concluded that a bomb caused the blast aboard the jumbo jet.

1990 – LCDR Darlene M. Iskra becomes commander of USS Opportune, a salvage vessel.

1990 – USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and USS America (CV-66) Carrier Battle Groups deploy from Norfolk, VA, for Middle East to join Operation Desert Shield.

1992 – Somalia’s two main warlords, Mohamed Farrah Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, promised an end to their hostilities.

1998 – American aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone in Iraq destroyed an air defense site after the battery opened fire on them. President Clinton said there would be no letup in American and British pressure on Saddam Hussein.

2001 – Gen. Mohammad Fahim, Afghanistan’s new defense minister, called for an end to US bombing. Meanwhile al Qaeda remnants in the Tora Bora region fired missiles at a joint Afghan-American command base.

2002 – Iraq delivered a list to UN officials naming over 500 scientists who have worked on nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs.

2002 – The U.N. nuclear agency said its inspectors would leave North Korea early next week after the communist state said it would expel them and press on with its nuclear plans.

2003 – A team led by U.N. nuclear chief Mohammed ElBaradei toured 4 atomic facilities in Libya and found dismantled equipment. ElBaradei said Libya appeared to reach only an experimental level in its attempts to enrich uranium, essential for a nuclear bomb.

2004 – Insurgents launched multiple attacks on Iraqi police across the dangerous Sunni Triangle, killing at least 33 police officers and national guardsmen. 12 of the policemen near Tikrit had their throats slit.

2004 – Insurgents lured police to a house in west Baghdad with an anonymous tip about a rebel hideout, then set off explosives, killing at least 29 people and wounding 18.

2014 – The United States and NATO formally ended their war in Afghanistan with a ceremony at their military headquarters in Kabul as the insurgency they fought for 13 years remains as ferocious and deadly as at any time since the 2001 invasion that unseated the Taliban regime following the September 11th attacks.
 

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December 29th ~

1778 – 3,000 British soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell capture Savannah, Georgia. The Capture of Savannah, or sometimes the First Battle of Savannah (because of a siege in 1779), was an American Revolutionary War battle between local American Patriot militia and Continental Army units holding the city and a British invasion force.

It was the opening move in the British southern strategy to regain control of the rebellious southern provinces by appealing to the strong Loyalist sentiment believed to be there. General Sir Henry Clinton, the commander-in-chief of the British forces based in New York City, dispatched Campbell and a 3,100 man force from New York to capture Savannah, and begin the process of returning Georgia to British control. He was to be assisted by troops under the command of Brigadier General Augustine Prevost that were marching up from Saint Augustine in East Florida.

After landing near Savannah on December 23, Campbell assessed the American defenses, which were comparatively weak, and decided to attack without waiting for Prevost. Taking advantage of local assistance he successfully flanked the American position outside the town, captured a large portion of Major General Robert Howe’s army, and drove the remnants to retreat into South Carolina. Campbell and Prevost followed up the victory with the capture of Sunbury and an expedition to Augusta. The latter was only occupied by Campbell for a few weeks before he retreated back to Savannah, citing insufficient Loyalist and Indian support and the threat of Patriot forces across the Savannah River in South Carolina. The British held off a Franco-American siege in 1779, and held the city until late in the war.

1808 – Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States who succeeded Lincoln (1865-1869), was born in a 2-room shack in Raleigh, N.C. [Waxhaw, South Carolina]

1812 – USS Constitution (Captain William Bainbridge) captures HMS Java off Brazil after a three hour battle. Shortly, after Christmas, 1812, Constitution was sailing in the Atlantic just off the coast of Brazil.

In the morning sails were sighted on the horizon, and Constitution’s new captain, William Bainbridge, altered course to investigate. The ship proved to be HMS Java, a frigate similar to Guerriere. Both frigates stood for each other and cleared their decks for action. The defeat of Java, the second frigate lost to Constitution in six months, motivated a change in the tactics of the Royal Navy. No longer would their frigates be allowed to engage American frigates like Constitution alone. Only British ships-of-the-line or squadrons were permitted to come close enough to these ships to attack.

1813 – The British burned Buffalo, New York during the War of 1812.

1835 – The Treaty of New Echota was signed in Georgia by officials of the United States government and representatives of a minority Cherokee political faction, the Treaty Party. The treaty established terms under which the entire Cherokee Nation ceded its territory in the southeast and agreed to move west to the Indian Territory. Although the treaty was not approved by the Cherokee National Council nor signed by Principal Chief John Ross, it was amended and ratified by the U.S. Senate in March 1836, and became the legal basis for the forcible removal known as the Trail of Tears.

1837 – Canadian militiamen, claiming self-defense, destroyed the Caroline, a US steamboat docked at Buffalo, N.Y. It was being used to ferry supplies to anti-British rebels in Canada.

1845 – Six months after the congress of the Republic of Texas accepts U.S. annexation of the territory, Texas is admitted into the United States as the 28th state. After gaining independence from Spain in the 1820s, Mexico welcomed foreign settlers to sparsely populated Texas, and a large group of Americans led by Stephen F. Austin settled along the Brazos River. The Americans soon outnumbered the resident Mexicans, and by the 1830s attempts by the Mexican government to regulate these semi-autonomous American communities led to rebellion.

In March 1836, in the midst of armed conflict with the Mexican government, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. The Texas volunteers initially suffered defeat against the forces of Mexican General Santa Anna–the Alamo fell and Sam Houston’s troops were forced into an eastward retreat. However, in late April, Houston’s troops surprised a Mexican force at San Jacinto, and Santa Anna was captured, bringing an end to Mexico’s efforts to subdue Texas. The citizens of the independent Republic of Texas elected Sam Houston president but also endorsed the entrance of Texas into the Union.

The likelihood of Texas joining the Union as a slave state delayed any formal action by the U.S. Congress for more than a decade. In 1844, Congress finally agreed to annex the territory of Texas. On December 29, 1845, Texas entered the United States as a slave state, broadening the irrepressible differences in the United States over the issue of slavery and setting off the Mexican-American War.

1849 – Gas lighting was installed in the nations White House.

1862 – Union General William T. Sherman is thwarted in his attempt to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, when he orders a frontal assault on entrenched Rebels. Chickasaw Bluffs was part of Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s attempt to capture Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. Grant planned a two-pronged assault. He planned to take a force from northern Mississippi while Sherman moved down the west side of the great river. In December, things began to go awry for the Yankees. Devastating Confederate cavalry raids by Nathan Bedford Forrest and Earl Van Dorn on Union supply lines in western Tennessee forced Grant to cancel his part of the campaign, but he was not able to get word to Sherman.

Sherman moved into position just a few miles north of Vicksburg by December 27. He had 37,000 men and only 6,000 Confederates defending Vicksburg. While Sherman moved into position, another 6,000 troops arrived to reinforce the Confederates. The Rebels occupied strong positions on top of a river bluff with open ground in front of them. After two days of skirmishing, Sherman ordered a major attack on December 29. The attack never had a chance of success. When one Union brigade captured Confederate rifle pits at the foot of the bluff, they came under fire from above. No other Federal force got close to the bluff. Union loses totaled 1,776 men while the Confederates lost just 207.

The attack was a mistake by Sherman, who should have never tried to attack fortified Rebels across open ground. Two years later, Sherman demonstrated that he had learned his lesson at Chickasaw Bluffs. During his campaign for Atlanta, Sherman made few frontal assaults and inflicted more casualties than he sustained, which was rare for an offensive campaign.
 

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1863 – U.S.S. Reindeer, Acting Lieutenant Henry A. Glassford, with Army steamer Silver Lake No. 2 in company, beginning on the 26th, reconnoitered the Cumberland River at the request of General Grant. The force moved from Nashville to Carthage without incident but was taken under fire five times on the 29th. The Confederates’ positions, Glassford reported, “availed them nothing, however, against the guns of this vessel and those of the Silver Lake No. 2; they were completely shelled out of them. The gunboats continued as far as Creelsboro, Kentucky, before “the river gave unmistakable signs of a fall.” The ships subsequently returned to Nashville.

1879 – Billy Mitchell, aviation hero (WW I) was born.

1890 – In the tragic final chapter of America’s long war against the Plains Indians, the U.S. Cavalry kills 146 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Tensions had been running high on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for months because of the growing popularity of a new Indian spiritual movement known as the Ghost Dance. Many of the Sioux at Pine Ridge had only recently been confined to reservations after long years of resistance, and they were deeply disheartened by the poor living conditions and deadening tedium of reservation life.

The Ghost Dance movement taught that the Indians were defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional ways. If they practiced the Ghost Dance ritual and rejected white ways, many Sioux believed the gods would create the world anew, destroy the unbelievers, and bring back murdered Indians and the giant herds of bison. By late 1890, Pine Ridge Indian agent James McLaughlin was alarmed by the movement’s increasing influence and its prediction that all non-believers–presumably including whites–would be wiped out. McLaughlin telegraphed a warning to Washington, D.C. that: “Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy. We need protection now.”

While waiting for the cavalry to arrive, McLaughlin attempted to arrest Sitting Bull, the famous Sioux chief, who he mistakenly believed was a Ghost Dance supporter. U.S. authorities killed Sitting Bull during the arrest, increasing the tensions at Pine Ridge rather than defusing them. On December 29, the 7th Cavalry under Colonel James Forsyth surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. Big Foot and his followers had no intentions of attacking anyone, but they were distrustful of the army and feared they would be attacked if they relinquished their guns.

Nonetheless, the Sioux agreed to surrender and began turning over their guns. As that was happening, a scuffle broke out between an Indian and a soldier, and a shot was fired. Though no one is certain which side fired it, the ensuing melee was quick and brutal. Without arms and outnumbered, the Sioux were reduced to hand-to-hand fighting with knives, and they were cut down in a withering rain of bullets, many coming from the army’s rapid-fire repeating Hotchkiss guns.

By the time the soldiers withdrew, 146 Indians were dead (including 44 women and 18 children) and 51 wounded. The 7th Cavalry had 25 dead and 39 wounded. Although sometimes referred to as a battle, the conflict at Wounded Knee is best seen as a tragic and avoidable massacre. Surrounded by heavily armed troops, it is highly unlikely that Big Foot’s band would have deliberately sought a confrontation. Some historians speculate that the soldiers of Custer’s old 7th Cavalry were deliberately taking revenge for the regiment’s defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Whatever the motives, the army’s massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement and was the final major confrontation in America’s deadly war against the Plains Indians.

1891 – Edison patented the “transmission of signals electrically” (radio).

1931 – The identification of heavy water was publicly announced by H.C. Urey.

1934 – Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

1939 – First flight of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and a small number of early models were sold under the name LB-30, for Land Bomber. The B-24 was used in World War II by several Allied air forces and navies, and by every branch of the American armed forces during the war, attaining a distinguished war record with its operations in the Western European, Pacific, Mediterranean, and China-Burma-India Theaters.

Often compared with the better-known Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 was a more modern design with a higher top speed, greater range, and a heavier bomb load; it was also more difficult to fly, with heavy control forces and poor formation-flying characteristics. Popular opinion among aircrews and general staffs tended to favor the B-17’s rugged qualities above all other considerations in the European Theater. The placement of the B-24’s fuel tanks throughout the upper fuselage and its lightweight construction, designed to increase range and optimize assembly line production, made the aircraft vulnerable to battle damage. The B-24 was notorious among American aircrews for its tendency to catch fire. Its high fuselage-mounted “Davis wing” also meant it was dangerous to ditch or belly land, since the fuselage tended to break apart.
Nevertheless, the B-24 provided excellent service in a variety of roles thanks to its large payload and long range and was the only bomber to operationally deploy the United States’ first forerunner to precision-guided munitions during the war, the 1,000 lb. Azon guided bomb. The B-24’s most costly mission was the low-level strike against the Ploești oil fields, in Romania on 1 August 1943, which turned into a disaster because the defense was underestimated and fully alerted while the attackers were disorganized.

The B-24 ended World War II as the most produced heavy bomber in history. At over 18,400 units, half by Ford Motor Company, it still holds the distinction as the most-produced American military aircraft, with one B-24A and one B-24J restored to airworthiness as of 2014.

1940 – In one of his famous “fireside chat” broadcasts President Roosevelt describes how he wishes the United States to become the “arsenal of democracy” and to give full aid to Britain regardless of threats from other countries.’

1943 – USS Silversides (SS-236) sinks three Japanese ships and damages a fourth off Palau.

1944 – There is a lull in the fighting in the Ardennes as Allied forces buildup their forces for further counterattacks.

1948 – Tito declared Yugoslavia would follow its own Communist line.

1949 – KC2XAK of Bridgeport, Connecticut becomes the first Ultra high frequency (UHF) television station to operate a daily schedule.
 

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1950 – The Associated Press named General of the Army Douglas MacArthur the outstanding newsmaker of 1950.

1950– Time magazine selected “GI Joe” as the Man of the Year.

1956 – Just days before an official announcement is to be issued by the Eisenhower administration, the New York Times leaks the news that the United States is preparing a major policy statement on the Middle East. In the wake of heightened tensions in the area caused by the French-British-Israeli invasion of Egypt in November, the announcement was greeted with caution both at home and abroad. According to the newspaper, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was set to appear before Congress and ask for two things.

First, Congressional support of a declaration by the Eisenhower administration that the United States would oppose any Soviet military intervention in the Middle East. Since the outbreak of hostilities between Egypt and the alliance of France, Britain, and Israel in November, the Soviets had been threatening the use of military force in support of Egypt.

Second, Dulles would ask Congress to establish a major economic assistance plan for the Middle East. This was largely in response to reports that the Soviets were making tremendous economic inroads into the area. The newspaper editorialized that the United States wanted “the Middle Eastern powers to know that they have not been abandoned by the West and that they can count on economic help and, if they want it, military help in opposing any Soviet aggression.” Congressional reaction to the story was somewhat cool. Some congressmen feared that the United States was heading toward armed confrontation with the Soviets in the Middle East. The British and French were glad to hear that the United States would oppose communist expansion in the region, but were also wary of expanding problems in the Middle East into an arena for a military East-West collision.

The response from Egypt was decidedly negative, with the Egyptian government declaring that it wanted no outside interference in the region’s problems. Despite these less than enthusiastic responses to the proposed policy, it was evident that the United States was determined to take a much expanded and more active role in the Middle East. The NYT story was validated when the actual policy statement came in January 1957-it was almost exactly as the story predicted, though President Eisenhower, rather than Dulles, asked Congress for the resolutions supporting a greater U.S. economic and military presence in the Middle East.

1962 – Saigon announces that 4,077 strategic hamlets have been completed out of a projected total of 11,182. The figures also stated that 39 percent of the South Vietnamese population was housed in the hamlets. U.S. officials considered these figures questionable. The strategic hamlet program was started in 1962 and was modeled on a successful British counterinsurgency program used in Malaya from 1948 to 1960. The program aimed to bring the South Vietnamese peasants together in fortified strategic hamlets to provide security from Viet Cong attacks.

Although much time and money was put into the program, it had several basic weaknesses. There was much animosity toward the program on the part of the South Vietnamese peasants, who were forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands. Also, the security afforded by the hamlets was inadequate and actually provided lucrative targets for the Viet Cong. Finally, the entire project was poorly managed. After the assassination of the program’s sponsor, President Ngo Dinh Diem, in November 1963, the program fell into disfavor and was abandoned.

1962 – Approximately 11,000 US advisory and support personnel are now in Vietnam, including 29 Special Forces detachments. One hundred and nine Americans have been killed or wounded this year, almost eight times as many as 1961. US Army aviation units have flown over 50,000 sorties, about one-half of which are combat support missions.

China claims to have armed the Vietcong with more than 90,000 rifles and machine guns this year, and trained guerrilla forces in South Vietnam are estimated at 25,000, with active Vietcong sympathizers numbered at 150,000. The Vietcong are now killing or kidnapping 1,000 local officials per month. South Vietnamese government regular troops number 200,000 and 65,000 Self Defense Corps members have been trained to defend their villages.

1965 – A Christmas truce was observed in Vietnam, while President Johnson tried to get the North Vietnamese to the bargaining table.

1966 – Assistant Secretary of Defense Arthur Sylvester admits that the North Vietnamese city of Nam Dinh has been hit by U.S. planes 64 times since mid-1965, and that the air strikes were directed only against military targets: railroad yards, a warehouse, petroleum storage depots, and a thermal power plant. He denounced New York Times correspondent Harrison Salisbury’s reports on the results of the air raids in North Vietnam as “misstatements of fact.”

Salisbury, an assistant managing editor of the Times, filed a report on December 25 from Hanoi describing U.S. bombing destruction in several North Vietnamese cities. Salisbury stated that Nam Dinh, about 50 miles southeast of Hanoi, had been bombed repeatedly by U.S. planes since June 28, 1965. Salisbury’s report caused a stir in Washington where, it was reported, Pentagon officials expressed irritation and contended that he was exaggerating the damage to civilian areas.

1975 – At 6:33 p.m. EST, a bomb with the equivalent force of 25 sticks of dynamite exploded in the main terminal of LaGuardia Airport in New York City, killing 11 and injuring 75. The victims included travelers, limousine drivers, and airline employees. It was the deadliest bombing in New York City since the Wall Street bombing of 1920.

The bomb had been placed in a Trans World Airlines locker adjacent to a luggage carousel. The force of the explosion wrecked luggage carousels and destroyed the terminal’​s large metal doors and showered the area with shards of metal and broken glass. At the time, suspects included the FALN, the Jewish Defense League, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the Croatian nationalist Zvonko Busic; two similar bombings at New York ’​s Grand Central Terminal previously had been attributed to Croatians. No one ever claimed credit for the bombing or was arrested for it, and it remains unsolved.
 

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December 29th ~ { continued... }

1981 – President Reagan curtailed Soviet trade in reprisal for its harsh policy in Poland.

1987 – NASA delayed the planned June launch of the space shuttle — the first since the Challenger disaster — because a motor component failed during a test-firing of the shuttle’s redesigned booster rocket.

1988 – The Federal Aviation Administration, responding to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, announced tightened security measures for U.S. air carriers at 103 airports in the Middle East and Western Europe.

1990 – Iraq denied a report that it was engaged in secret contacts with the US to avert war, and might withdraw from Kuwait before the January 15th United Nations deadline.

1992 – The United States and Russia announced agreement on a nuclear arms reduction treaty.

1993 – Nearly three weeks after the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope was repaired by the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour, scientists reported “absolutely no sign of problems.”

1994 – U.S. officials confirmed the release in North Korea of Army helicopter pilot Bobby Hall, 12 days after he was captured in a shootdown in which co-pilot David Hilemon was killed.

1998 – In Kosovo 5 Albanians died in fighting with Serb police as NATO repeated threats of airstrikes. A group of US senators proposed to offer Milosevic sanctuary in a 3rd nation if he would step down.

2001 – Philippine troops raided a camp of Muslim rebels linked to Osama bin Laden and killed 13.

2002 – Secretary of State Colin Powell, making the rounds of the Sunday television talk shows, said there was still time to find a diplomatic resolution to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, and that the situation hadn’t yet reached the crisis stage.

2002 – Acting Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al Sabah says that Kuwait can keep producing and exporting oil in the event of a military conflict in Iraq. States Al Sabah: “I can’t go into details of this plan, but I can guarantee that production will continue, exports will continue…and I believe we can also meet the commitments we have made to our clients abroad.”

2003 – The Bush administration said it will require international air carriers in certain cases to place armed law enforcement officers on cargo and passenger flights to, from and over the United States.

2003 – Japan pledged to forgive “the vast majority” of its Iraqi debt if other Paris Club nations do the same. China later said it would consider the idea.

2004 – In Afghanistan masked gunmen killed Pashtun politician Shah Alam Khan, a close ally of President Karzai.

2004 – Insurgents tried to ram a truck with half a ton of explosives into a U.S. military post in the northern city of Mosul then ambushed reinforcements in a huge gunbattle in which 25 rebels and one American soldier were killed.

2006 – The United Kingdom pays off the last of its debts from World War II by paying the last $100 million to the United States and Canada. The country still has debts outstanding from the Napoleonic Wars, which are cheaper to pay interest on than to redeem.

2012 – US Senate passes H.R. 5949, FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act, which extends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 five more years until December 31, 2017. The US House of Representatives also voted for the extension earlier this month.
 
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