This Day in U.S. Military History…… June 7

7 June
1498 – Christopher Columbus left on his third voyage of exploration.
1712 – The Pennsylvania Assembly banned the importation of slaves.
1769 – Daniel Boone first began to explore the present-day Kentucky.
1775 – The United Colonies changed their name to United States.
1776 – Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed to the Continental Congress the resolution calling for a Declaration of Independence: that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States…” Congress delayed the vote on the resolution until July 1.
1819 – LT John White on merchant ship Franklin, anchored off Vung Tau is first U.S. naval officer to visit Vietnam.
1828 – A party led by Jebediah Smith completed a journey down the Klamath River and were on the verge of starvation when they were visited by Indians who brought food. Smith’s party proceeded north to Oregon and most of the party was killed by Umpqua Indians. Smith was killed in 1831 by Comanches on the Cimarron River. Smith’s party were the 1st white people to see Lake Earl, the biggest lagoon on the West Coast.
1862 – U.S.S. Wachusett, Commander W. Smith, U.S.S. Chocura, and Sebago escorted Army transports up the York River, supported the landing at West Point, Virginia, and countered a Confederate attack with accurate gunfire. U.S.S. Currituck, Acting Master William F. Shankland, sent on a reconnaissance of the Pamunkey River by Smith on the 6th, captured American Coaster and Planter the next day. Shankland reported that some twenty schooners had been sunk and two gunboats burned by the Confederates above West Point.
1862 – William Mumford became the 1st US citizen to be hanged for treason. New Orleanian William Mumford was hanged by occupying commander General Benjamin Butler for lowering the Union flag that flew over the New Orleans branch of the United States Mint.
1863 – A Confederate attempt to rescue Vicksburg and a Rebel garrison held back by Union forces to the east of the city fails when Union troops turn back the attack. By late May 1863, Union General Ulysses S. Grant had surrounded Vicksburg, the last major Confederate possession on the Mississippi River. In one of the more remarkable campaigns of the war, Grant had slipped his army around the city, dove toward the middle of Mississippi, and then bottled up Vicksburg from the east. He held off one Confederate army while pinning another, commanded by John C. Pemberton, in the city. Grant then laid siege and waited for surrender. Since Grant’s army was holding off Rebel forces to the east of Vicksburg, the Confederates would have to come from across the Mississippi to stage a rescue attempt. General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the South’s Trans-Mississippi Department, dispatched a force under Richard Taylor to attack Federal supply lines on the western side of the river. Taylor aimed the assault at Milliken’s Bend, once a key supply point for the Union forces, just north of Vicksburg. Unfortunately for the Confederates, the Yankees had already moved the supply point several miles away. Before dawn on June 7, the advancing Confederates encountered Union pickets and began driving them back toward the river. But once the Yankee defenders were backed up to the Mississippi, U.S.S. Choctaw, Lieutenant Commander Ramsay, and U.S.S. Lexington, Lieutenant Commander Bache, defended Union troops, blasting the Rebels with grapeshot and canister. The Confederates withdrew, while Federal gunboats broke up nearby attacks before they could materialize. Confederate losses stood at 44 killed, 131 wounded, and 10 missing; the Union suffered much heavier losses: 101 killed, 285 wounded, and 266 missing. Hardest hit were the newly formed African-American regiments that were made up of freed slaves from captured areas in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The 9th Louisiana lost 45 percent of its force.
1864 – Suspecting that Confederates were using cotton to erect breastworks on the banks of the Suwannee River, Florida, boat expedition commanded by Acting Ensign Louis R. Chester, composed of men from U.S.S. Clyde and Sagamore, proceeded upriver. They captured over 100 bales of cotton in the vicinity of Clay Landing.
1868 – The American flag was raised over Fort Wrangell, formerly known as Fort Stikine and Fort Dionysius.
1900 – Boxer rebels cut the rail links between Peking and Tientsin in China.
1912 – US army tested the 1st machine gun mounted on a plane.
1912 – Company A, 1st Marines landed at Santiago, Cuba.
1914 – The first vessel passed through the Panama Canal.
1915 – The resignation of William Jennings Bryan as Woodrow Wilson‘s secretary of state, was prompted by the “second Lusitania note.” Bryan, who had signed the first Lusitania note demanding that Germany stop unrestricted submarine warfare, disavow the sinking of the Lusitania and make reparations for the loss of U.S. lives, declined to sign a second note out of fear it might involve the U.S. in World War I. The second note, which demanded certain pledges from Germany, was dispatched on June 9 over the signature of Bryan‘s replacement, Robert Lansing. A third note, dispatched on July 21, was a virtual ultimatum warning that repetition of such acts as the sinking of Lusitania would be regarded as “deliberately unfriendly.”
1917 – U.S. subchasers arrive at Corfu for anti-submarine patrols.
1918 – French and Americans capture Veuilly-la-Poterie and Vinly (west of Chateau-Thierry), Bouresches and Hill 204 (west of Chateau-Thierry).
1932 – Over 7,000 war veterans march on Washington, D.C. demanding their bonuses for service in WW I.
1940 – A crew of 25 workmen began construction of Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage. In 1960, a memorial to the late Capt. M. Elmendorf was dedicated. Elmendorf was killed at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio while testing a new type of pursuit plane.
1942 – The Battle of Midway–one of the most decisive U.S. victories in its war against Japan–comes to an end. In the four-day sea and air battle, the outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet succeeded in destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers with the loss of only one of its own, the Yorktown, thus reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy. In six months of offensives, the Japanese had triumphed in lands throughout the Pacific, including Malaysia, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and numerous island groups. The United States, however, was a growing threat, and Japanese Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto sought to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet before it was large enough to outmatch his own. A thousand miles northwest of Honolulu, the strategic island of Midway became the focus of his scheme to smash U.S. resistance to Japan’s imperial designs. Yamamoto’s plan consisted of a feint toward Alaska followed by an invasion of Midway by a Japanese strike force. When the U.S. Pacific Fleet arrived at Midway to respond to the invasion, it would be destroyed by the superior Japanese fleet waiting unseen to the west. If successful, the plan would eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet and provide a forward outpost from which the Japanese could eliminate any future American threat in the Central Pacific. Unfortunately for the Japanese, U.S. intelligence broke the Japanese naval code, and the Americans anticipated the surprise attack. Three heavy aircraft carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were mustered to challenge the four heavy Japanese carriers steaming toward Midway. In early June, U.S. command correctly recognized a Japanese movement against Alaska’s Aleutian Islands as a diversionary tactic and kept its forces massed around Midway. On June 3, the Japanese occupation force was spotted steaming toward the island, and B-17 Flying Fortresses were sent out from Midway to bomb the strike force but failed to inflict damage. Early in the morning on June 4, a PBY Catalina flying boat torpedoed a Japanese tanker transport, striking the first blow of the Battle of Midway. Later that morning, an advance Japanese squadron numbering more than 100 bombers and Zero fighters took off from the Japanese carriers to bomb Midway. Twenty-six Wildcat fighters were sent up to intercept the Japanese force and suffered heavy losses in their heroic defense of Midway’s air base. Soon after, bombers and torpedo planes based on Midway took off to attack the Japanese carriers but failed to inflict serious damage. The first phase of the battle was over by 7:00 a.m. In the meantime, 200 miles to the northeast, two U.S. attack fleets caught the Japanese force entirely by surprise. Beginning around 9:30 a.m., torpedo bombers from the three U.S. carriers descended on the Japanese carriers. Although nearly wiped out, they drew off enemy fighters, and U.S. dive bombers penetrated, catching the Japanese carriers while their decks were cluttered with aircraft and fuel. The dive-bombers quickly destroyed three of the heavy Japanese carriers and one heavy cruiser. The only Japanese carrier that initially escaped destruction, the Hiryu, loosed all its aircraft against the American task force and managed to seriously damage the U.S. carrier Yorktown, forcing its abandonment. At about 5:00 p.m., dive-bombers from the U.S. carrier Enterprise returned the favor, mortally damaging the Hiryu. It was scuttled the next morning. Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto still had numerous warships at his command, but without his carriers and aircraft he was forced to abandon his Midway invasion plans and begin a westward retreat. On June 5, a U.S. task force pursued his fleet, but bad weather saved it from further destruction. On June 6, the skies cleared, and U.S. aircraft resumed their assault, sinking a cruiser and damaging several other warships. After the planes returned to their carriers, the Americans broke off from the pursuit. Meanwhile, a Japanese submarine torpedoed and fatally wounded the Yorktown, which was in the process of being salvaged. It finally rolled over and sank at dawn on June 7, bringing an end to the battle. At the Battle of Midway, Japan lost four carriers, a cruiser, and 292 aircraft, and suffered 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft, and suffered 307 casualties. Japan’s losses in the hobbled its naval might–bringing Japanese and American sea power to approximate parity–and marked the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. In August 1942, the great U.S. counteroffensive began at Guadalcanal and did not cease until Japan’s surrender three years later.
1942 – Japanese soldiers occupy the American islands of Attu and Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska, as the Axis power continues to expand its defensive perimeter. Having been defeated at the battle of Midway–stopped by the United States from even landing on the Midway Islands–the Japanese nevertheless proved successful in their invasion of the Aleutians, which had been American territory since purchased from Russia in 1867. Killing 25 American troops upon landing in Attu, the Japanese proceeded to relocate and intern the inhabitants, as well as those at Kiska. America would finally invade and recapture the Aleutians one year later-killing most of the 2,300 Japanese troops defending it–in three weeks of fighting.
1943 – The worst of the L.A. Zoot Suit Riot violence occurs as soldiers, sailors, and marines from as far away as San Diego travel to Los Angeles to join in the fighting. Taxi drivers offer free rides to servicemen and civilians to the riot areas. Approximately 5,000 civilians and military men gather downtown. The riot spreads into the predominantly African American section of Watts.
1944 – Construction of artificial harbors and sheltered anchorages begins off Normandy coast.
1944 – Allied forces attempt to link up the beachheads. Gold and Juno beach are already joined. Elements of US 7th Corps, on Utah beach, attempts to link up with the paratroops of 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and advances toward Carentan and Montebourg. The US 5th Corps, on Omaha, advances toward Isigny and Bayeux. Elements of the British 30th Corps cut the Caen-Bayeux road. The 50th Division captures Bayeux. Meanwhile, German reserves are concentrating on the right flank of the invasion against the British forces threatening Caen.
1944 – Elements of US 5th Army capture Bacciano and Civitavecchia. The port facilities are serviceable. Elements of British 8th Army advance as well. Subiaco is taken. The South African 6th Armored Division captures Civita Castellana and advances to Orvieto.
1944 – On Biak Island, elements of US 41st Division capture Mokmer Airfield. Japanese resistance continues.
1945 – On Luzon forces from US 1st Corps take Bambang and move northeast toward the Cagayan Valley. Other units are moving around the coast from the northwest to the north of the island.
1945 – On Okinawa, in the Oroku peninsula, Japanese forces hold attacks by the US 6th Marine Division while the US 1st Marine Division advances southward and isolates the peninsula defenders. The US 24th Corps is engaged in artillery bombardments.
1945 – All German citizens in the zone occupied by the western Allies are order to watch films of Belsen and Buchenwald — former Nazi concentration camps.
1953 – Pres. Eisenhower announced that proposals for a Korean truce are acceptable to the US and appealed to South Korea to accept terms to stop the war.
1955 – Pres. Eisenhower became the 1st president to appear on color TV.
1962 – Joseph A. Walker, NASA civilian test pilot, took the X-15 to 31,580 meters.
1963 – Diem’s sister-in-law, Madame Nhu, self-styled First lady of Vietnam, alleges the Buddhists are being manipulated by the Americans, publically contradicting Diem. This does nothing to improve the ‘Dragon Lady’ image that Madame Nhu has begun to acquire in the United States. Pressure form Deputy Ambassador William Trueheart forces Diem to create a cosmetic committee to investigate the Hue incident.
1964 – US officials report that Vietcong are blockading a 600-square-mile area south of Camau to starve the residents and to deprive South Vietnam of charcoal.
1965 – General Westmoreland requests a total of 35 battalions of combat troops, with another nine in reserve. This gave rise to the “44 battalion” debate within the Johnson administration, a discussion of how many U.S. combat troops to commit to the war. Westmoreland felt that the South Vietnamese could not defeat the communists alone and he wanted U.S. combat troops to go on the offensive against the enemy. His plan was to secure the coastlines, block infiltration of North Vietnamese troops into the south, and then wage a war of attrition with “search and destroy” missions into the countryside, using helicopters for rapid deployment and evacuation. Westmoreland had some supporters in the Johnson administration, but others of the president’s advisers did not support Westmoreland’s request for more troops, because they disagreed with what would be a fundamental change in the U.S. role in Vietnam. In the end, Johnson acquiesced to Westmoreland’s request; eventually there would be over 500,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam.
1965 – Gemini 4 completed 62 orbits.
1968 – In Operation Swift Saber, U.S. Marines swept an area 10 miles northwest of Danang in South Vietnam.
1968 – Tuy Hoa Air Base, Vietnam — New Mexico’s 188th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) arrives, becoming the third Air National Guard unit to serve in Vietnam. Combined on June 14th with New York’s newly arrived 136th TFS into the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, both squadrons immediately began flying close ground support missions for American troops. These two units are the only Guard units, Air or Army to actually be assigned to the same operational headquarters while serving in Vietnam. During the course of its tour the 188th will fly 6,029 sorties and lose three pilots in combat, including two missing in action and later declared killed. The 136th flew nearly as many sorties and fortunately lost no members to combat although it did have three pilots killed in stateside training. One member of the 188th, Sergeant Melvyn S. Montano, will become a commissioned officer after the unit returns home and in December 1994 he is appointed the Adjutant General of New Mexico; the only known enlisted Guardsman serving in Vietnam War to later achieve this position in any state.
1971 – In an unusual secret US Senate session to review the American military role in Laos, including some $350 million annually in aid, regular raids by B-52 bombers, and 4,800 CIA financed Thai troops, Stuart Symington (D-MO), J. William Fullbright (D-AR), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) attack the Nixon administration’s policies. The State Department defends the use of ‘volunteer’ Thais predating the 1970 congressional ban on the use of mercenaries.
1981 – Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers destroyed a nuclear power plant in Iraq at Osirak, Iraq, before it went into operation, a facility the Israelis charged could have been used to make nuclear weapons. Ilan Ramon (d.2003) flew the last of the 8 planes that bombed the reactor.
1998 – CNN and Time magazine reported that a secret 1970 raid called Operation Tailwind by a Special Forces unit called the Studies and Observations Group (SOG) used the nerve gas sarin in Laos to kill American armed service members who had defected. CNN and Time magazine later recanted the story due to insufficient evidence. Reporter April Oliver and senior producer Jack Smith were fired.
1999 – The FBI put alleged terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden on the bureau’s list of the Ten Most Wanted fugitives.
1999 – NATO dropped cluster bombs on an estimated 800-1,200 Yugoslav troops near the Kosovo-Albanian border. An estimated 650 sorties were flown in the last 24 hours.
1999 – Russia balked at a UN peace deal for Kosovo because it did not want its troops under NATO control.
2001 – The US and China agreed on a final plan for the removal of the US spy plane from Hainan Island.
2001 – A federal judge refused to stop plans for a World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
2002 – In El Salvador Mauricio Gonzalez (68), retired dental hygienist from San Ramon, Ca., was kidnapped near Sonsonate. A demand for $500,000 was made. This was the 4th kidnapping of a US citizen here since Jan 1, 2000.
2002 – In the Philippines Martin Burnham, an American missionary, was killed along with Philippine nurse Ediborah Yap when troops stormed an Abu Sayyaf outpost on Mindanao. Burnham’s wife, Gracia Burnham, was wounded.
2003 – The Saudi interior minister linked last month’s Riyadh bombings to the al-Qaida terror network in an interview, and his ministry identified 12 of the attackers.
2004 – In Iraq 9 militias agreed to disband in exchange for veteran’s pensions, jobs and other rewards. The Mahdi Army of al-Sadr was not included.
2004 – US and South Korean officials announced plans to withdraw a third of 37,000 US troops from South Korea by the end of next year.
2006 – Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, is killed by US airstrikes on a safe house north of Baghdad.

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