This Day in U.S. Military History…… March 24

24 March
1663 – Charles II of England awarded lands known as Carolina in America to eight members of the nobility who assisted in his restoration.
1664 – A charter to colonize Rhode Island was granted to Roger Williams.
1688 – Governor Edmund Andros issues an order placing the militia of the New England colonies under his own direct control.
1755 – Rufus King, framer of the U.S. Constitution, was born.
1765 – Britain enacted the Quartering Act, requiring American colonists to provide temporary housing to 10,000 British soldiers in public and private buildings.
1814 – Although US General James Wilkinson is acquitted by a court of inquiry for his conduct in the Montreal campaign, he is replaced by Major General Jacob Brown who, along with newly promoted Brigadier General Winfield Scott, is to head the military operations in the Niagra region.
1825 – The Mexican state of Tejas-Coahuilla officially declares itself open to US settlers.
1832 – As part of Jackson’s continuing effort to move Native American tribes, the Creeks sign a treaty to cede their territory east of the Mississippi to the US.
1855 – Manhattan, Kansas, was founded as New Boston, Kansas.
1864 – A closely coordinated Army-Navy expedition departed Beaufort, North Carolina, on board side-wheel steamer U.S.S. Britannia. Some 200 soldiers were commanded by Colonel James Jourdan, while about 50 sailors from U.S.S. Keystone State, Florida, and Cambridge were in charge of Commander Benjamin M. Dove. The aim of the expedition was the capture or destruction of two schooners used in blockade running at Swansboro, North Carolina, and the capture of a Confederate army group on the south end of Bogue Island Banks. Arriving off Bogue Inlet late at night, the expedition encountered high winds and heavy seas which prevented landing on the beach. Early on the morning of the 25th, a second attempt was made under similarly difficult conditions, but a party got through to Bear Creek where one of the schooners was burned. Bad weather persisted throughout the day and the expedition eventually returned to Beaufort on the 26th with its mission only partially completed.
1865 – President Lincoln visited General Grant at City Point, Virginia, arriving at this all important water-supported supply base at 9 p.m. on board the steamer River Queen. Accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln and his son Tad, he was escorted up the James River by U.S.S. Bat, Lieutenant Commander John S. Barnes.
1865 – U.S.S. Republic, Acting Ensign John W. Bennett, was dispatched up the Cape Fear River from Wilmington to check reports that detachments of General Wheeler’s cavalry were operating in the area. About six miles up the river a cavalry squad was driven away with gunfire. Bennett then landed a reconnoitering party. It was learned that the mounted Confederates had broken into small squads and were plundering the country the reconnaissance party also made contact with a rear guard detachment of General Sherman’s army en route to Fayetteville.
1883 – Long-distance telephone service was inaugurated between Chicago and New York.
1903 – George Dewey commissioned Admiral of the Navy with the date of rank, 2 March 1899. He was the only person to hold this rank.
1916 – German U-Boats sink the French vessel Sussex which is steaming through the English Channel. The ship is unarmed and three US citizens loose their lives. On 18 April this incident will lead Secretary of State Lansing to warn Germany that the US will break off diplomatic relations unless these attacks are discontinued.
1920 – The first Coast Guard air station was established at Morehead City, North Carolina. The station was closed on 1 July 1921 due to a lack of funding.
1923 – Edna Jo Hunter, expert on military families and prisoners of war, was born.
1932 – A New York radio station (WABC) broadcast a variety program from a moving train in Maryland.
1934 – President Roosevelt signed the Tydings-McDuffie Act granting future independence to the Philippines as a self-governing commonwealth.
1938 – The U.S. asked that all powers help refugees fleeing from the Nazis.
1942 – American positions on Bataan and Corregidor are attacked by Japanese aircraft and artillery.
1944 – 76 Allied officers escaped Stalag Luft 3. In 1949 Paul Brickall authored “The Great Escape.” The story of Jackson Barrett Mahon (d.1999 at 78), an American fighter pilot, and the Allied POW escape from Stalag Luft III in Germany during WW II. The 1963 film “The Great Escape” starred Steve McQueen, was directed by John Sturges and was based on the true story.
1944 – On Bougainville, significant Japanese resistance ends. American forces do not attempt to clear the Japanese remnants from the island. Over the course of the past few weeks, Japanese casualties are estimated at 8000 while the US forces have suffered about 300 casualties.
1944 – The 22nd Marine Regiment captured Ebon and Namu Atolls in the Marshall Islands.
1945 – The US 9th Army begins to cross the Rhine a little to the south of the British and Canadians forces.
1945 – Gens. Eisenhower, Montgomery and Bradley discussed advance in Germany.
1945 – US Task Force 58 (Admiral Mitscher) conduct air raids on Okinawa. The island is also bombarded by 5 battleships and 11 destroyers under the command of Admiral Lee. Japanese submarines make unsuccessful attacks on the American ships. Meanwhile, American scout planes sight a Japanese convoy south of Kyushu and subsequent attacks sink all 8 ships.
1947 – John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated a NYC East River site to the UN.
1951 – MacArthur threatened the Chinese with an extension of the Korean War if the proposed truce was not accepted.
1951 – ROK Army units crossed the 38th parallel.
1953 – The 2nd Infantry Division’s artillery units began to support the embattled 7th Infantry Division on Pork Chop Hill, firing 15,000 rounds in one week.
1958 – Elvis Presley is inducted into the army on this day in 1958. Although he had been drafted the previous December, the army granted him a deferral so he could finish shooting his film, King Creole.
1965 – NASA spacecraft Ranger 9, equipped to convert its signals into a form suitable for showing on domestic television, brings images of the Moon into ordinary homes before crash landing on it 10 miles (16 km) NE of crater Alphonsus.
1966 – Selective Service announced college deferments based on performance.
1967 – Viet Cong ambushed a truck convoy in South Vietnam, damaging 82 of the 121 trucks.
1975 – The North Vietnamese “Ho Chi Minh Campaign” begins. Despite the 1973 Paris Peace Accords cease fire, the fighting had continued between South Vietnamese forces and the North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. In December 1974, the North Vietnamese launched a major attack against the lightly defended province of Phuoc Long, located north of Saigon along the Cambodian border. They successfully overran the provincial capital at Phuoc Binh on January 6, 1975. President Richard Nixon had repeatedly promised South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu that the United States would come to the aid of South Vietnam if the North Vietnamese committed a major violation of the Peace Accords. However, by the time the communists had taken Phuoc Long, Nixon had resigned from office and his successor, Gerald Ford, was unable to convince a hostile Congress to make good on Nixon’s promises to Saigon. The North Vietnamese, emboldened by the situation, launched Campaign 275 in March 1975 to take the provincial capital of Ban Me Thuot in the Central Highlands. The South Vietnamese defenders fought very poorly and were quickly overwhelmed by the North Vietnamese attackers. Once again, the United States did nothing. President Thieu, however, ordered his forces in the Highlands to withdraw to more defensible positions to the south. What started out as a reasonably orderly withdrawal degenerated into a panic that spread throughout the South Vietnamese armed forces. They abandoned Pleiku and Kontum in the Highlands with very little fighting and the North Vietnamese pressed the attack from the west and north. In quick succession, Quang Tri, Hue, and Da Nang in the north fell to the communist onslaught. The North Vietnamese continued to attack south along the coast, defeating the South Vietnamese forces one at a time. As the North Vietnamese forces closed on the approaches to Saigon, the Politburo in Hanoi issued an order to Gen. Van Tien Dung to launch the “Ho Chi Minh Campaign,” the final assault on Saigon itself. By April 27, the North Vietnamese had completely encircled Saigon and by April 30, the North Vietnamese tanks broke through the gates of the Presidential Palace in Saigon and the Vietnam War came to an end.
1977 – For the first time since severing diplomatic relations in 1961, Cuba and the United States enter into direct negotiations when the two nations discuss fishing rights. The talks marked a dramatic, but short-lived, change in relations between the two Cold War enemies. Fidel Castro had led Cuba farther away from the U.S. orbit and closer to the Soviet bloc since coming to power in 1959. Throughout the 1960s, the United States and Cuba maintained hostility toward one another. By the mid-1970s, the deteriorating state of U.S.-Latin America relations suggested that perhaps the time had come to ease tensions with Castro. Though the Cuban dictator was feared by many in Latin America, he was also a hero to many others for his success in remaining independent from the “colossus of the North”-the United States. When Carter took office in 1977, he indicated to Cuba that the United States was prepared to enter into direct diplomatic negotiations on a number of issues, including fishing rights. On March 24, 1977, negotiators from the United States and Cuba met in New York City to discuss the fishing issue. It was the first time since 1961 that U.S. and Cuban officials had talked face to face on any issue. In the months that followed, other breakthroughs occurred. The two nations agreed to establish “interest sections” in the other’s country that would operate as de facto embassies pending the restoration of full diplomatic relations. Castro freed some political prisoners and Carter eased travel restrictions to Cuba. These were encouraging signs, but many factors worked together to prevent any progress toward normalized relations. The strong and vocal Cuban-American community in the United States pressured congressmen and the president to back away from closer relations with Castro. Officials within Carter’s administration cautioned the president about appearing too “soft” with the communist dictator. When Carter suffered a series of diplomatic setbacks in 1979, such as the fall of the pro-American leaders of Nicaragua and Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, he began to toughen his stance with Cuba. He criticized Cuba for its role in the Angolan civil war, and warned Castro about allowing Soviet troops into Cuba. Castro responded to these new attacks in a novel manner. In early 1980 he encouraged tens of thousand of Cubans, some from jails and asylums, to immigrate to the United States. Over 100,000 Cubans flooded into the United States, causing some serious problems, particularly in south Florida. By the end of 1980, U.S.-Cuban relations were as acrimonious as ever.
1980 – ABC’s nightly Iran Hostage crisis program was renamed “Nightline.”
1982 – The US submarine Jacksonville collided with a Turkish freighter near Virginia.
1988 – Former national security aides Oliver L. North and John M. Poindexter and businessmen Richard V. Secord and Albert Hakim pleaded innocent to Iran-Contra charges. North and Poindexter were convicted, but had their convictions thrown out; Secord and Hakim received probation after each pleaded guilty to a single count under a plea bargain.
1991 – General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the American commander of Operation Desert Storm, told reporters in Saudi Arabia the United States was closer to establishing a permanent military headquarters on Arab soil.
1991 – In liberated Kuwait, banks reopened for the first time since Iraqi troops had shut them down the previous December.
1992 – The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off with seven astronauts on the first shuttle mission devoted to the environment.
1993 – Mahmoud Abouhalima, a cab driver implicated in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was flown back to the United States from Egypt. Abouhalima was later convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to life in prison.
1996 – U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid transfers to the Russian space station Mir from the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis for a planned five-month stay. Lucid was the first female U.S. astronaut to live in a space station. Lucid, a biochemist, shared Mir with Russian cosmonauts Yuri Onufriyenko and Yuri Usachev, conducting scientific experiments during her stay. Beginning in August, her scheduled return to Earth was delayed more than six weeks because of last-minute repairs to the booster rockets of Atlantis and then by a hurricane. Finally, on September 26, 1996, she returned to Earth aboard Atlantis, touching down at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Her 188-day sojourn aboard Mir set a new space endurance record for an American and a world endurance record for a woman.
1998 – The UN announced a pullout from Afghanistan after the governor of Kandahar slapped the face of a UN employee.
1999 – North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commences air strikes against Yugoslavia with the bombing of Serbian military positions in the Former Yugoslav province of Kosovo. The NATO offensive came in response to a new wave of ethnic cleansing launched by Serbian forces against the Kosovar Albanians on March 20. The Kosovo region lay at the heart of the Serbian empire in the late Middle Ages but was lost to the Ottoman Turks in 1389 following Serbia’s defeat in the Battle of Kosovo. By the time Serbia regained control of Kosovo from Turkey in 1913, there were few Serbs left in a region that had come to be dominated by ethnic Albanians. In 1918, Kosovo formally became a province of Serbia, and it continued as such after communist leader Josip Broz Tito established the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945, comprising the Balkan states of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Macedonia. However, Tito eventually gave in to Kosovar demands for greater autonomy, and after 1974 Kosovo existed as independent state in all but name. Serbs came to resent Kosovo’s autonomy, which allowed it to act against Serbian interests, and in 1987 Slobodan Milosevic was elected leader of Serbia’s Communist Party with a promise of restoring Serbian rule to Kosovo. In 1989, Milosevic became president of Serbia and moved quickly to suppress Kosovo, stripping its autonomy and in 1990 sending troops to disband its government. Meanwhile, Serbian nationalism led to the dissolution of the Yugoslav federation in 1991, and in 1992 the Balkan crisis deteriorated into civil war. A new Yugoslav state, consisting only of Serbia and the small state of Montenegro, was created, and Kosovo began four years of nonviolent resistance to Serbian rule. The militant Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) emerged in 1996 and began attacking Serbian police in Kosovo. With arms obtained in Albania, the KLA stepped up its attacks in 1997, prompting a major offensive by Serbian troops against the rebel-held Drenica region in February-March 1998. Dozens of civilians were killed, and enlistment in the KLA increased dramatically. In July, the KLA launched an offensive across Kosovo, seizing control of nearly half the province before being routed in a Serbian counteroffensive later that summer. The Serbian troops drove thousands of ethnic Albanians from their homes and were accused of massacring Kosovo civilians. In October, NATO threatened Serbia with air strikes, and Milosevic agreed to allow the return of tens of thousands of refugees. Fighting soon resumed, however, and talks between Kosovar Albanians and Serbs in Rambouillet, France, in February 1999 ended in failure. On March 18, further peace talks in Paris collapsed after the Serbian delegation refused to sign a deal calling for Kosovo autonomy and the deployment of NATO troops to enforce the agreement. Two days later, the Serbian army launched a new offensive in Kosovo. On March 24, NATO air strikes began. In addition to Serbian military positions, the NATO air campaign targeted Serbian government buildings and the country’s infrastructure in an effort to destabilize the Milosevic regime. The bombing and continued Serbian offensives drove hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians into neighboring Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Many of these refugees were airlifted to safety in the United States and other NATO nations. On June 10, the NATO bombardment ended when Serbia agreed to a peace agreement calling for the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo and their replacement by NATO peacekeeping troops. With the exception of two U.S. pilots killed in a training mission in Albania, no NATO personnel lost their lives in the 78-day operation. There were some mishaps, however, such as miscalculated bombings that led to the deaths of Kosovar Albanian refugees, KLA members, and Serbian civilians. The most controversial incident was the May 7 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which killed three Chinese journalists and caused a diplomatic crisis in U.S.-Chinese relations. On June 12, NATO forces moved into Kosovo from Macedonia. The same day, Russian troops arrived in the Kosovo capital of Pristina and forced NATO into agreeing to a joint occupation. Despite the presence of peacekeeping troops, the returning Kosovar Albanians retaliated against Kosovo’s Serbian minority, forcing them to flee into Serbia. Under the NATO occupation, Kosovar autonomy was restored, but the province remained officially part of Serbia. Slobodan Milosevic was ousted from power by a popular revolution in Belgrade in October 2000. He was replaced by the popularly elected Vojislav Kostunica, a moderate Serbian nationalist who promised to reintegrate Serbia into Europe and the world after a decade of isolation.
1999 – Russia denounced the NATO attack on Serbia.
2000 – The US agreed to double the amount of money Iraq was allowed to spend to repair its oil industry and lifted holds on over $100 million in equipment.
2000 – A US federal judge awarded former hostage Terry Anderson $341 million from Iran, holding Iranian agents responsible for Anderson’s nearly seven years of captivity in Lebanon.
2003 – In the 6th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom US forces began strikes against the Medina Division of the Republican Guard guarding Baghdad. Hussein appeared on Iraqi TV as coalition forces held over 3,000 prisoners. 10 Marines were killed in combat around Nasiriya.
2003 – After Coalition forces have pushed further into Iraq securing most of the southern oilfields over the weekend, Kuwaiti fire fighters are able to enter Iraq and are able to extinguish one of the wellhead fires. Iraq’s southern fields represent about 40% of the country’s output. Damage is assessed to be relatively minimal. Some pockets or Iraqi resistance in the southern oilfields remain, however. Furthermore, heavy Iraqi resistance in some parts of Iraq gives rise to market speculation that the war could last longer than initially thought.
2003 – Arab League foreign ministers adopted a resolution that called for the US and Britain to withdraw their troops from Iraq immediately and without conditions.
2003 – In Georgia Pres. Shevardnadze confirmed that the US was flying U-2 spy planes over the Pankisi Gorge area to help fight Chechen rebel infiltration.
2003 – Saddam Hussein appeared on Iraqi TV telling his nation that “victory is soon.”
2003 – Iraqi state television showed two men said to have been the U.S. crew of an Apache helicopter forced down during heavy fighting in central Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer David Williams and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Junior spent three weeks in captivity before they were released along with five other POWs.
2004 – A NASA unpiloted X-43A jet, part of its Hyper-X program, reached a record speed of 5,200 mph, Mach 6.83, after a rocket boosted it to 3,500 mph. It used a new engine called a supersonic-combustion ramjet, or scramjet.
2004 – Insurgents bombed an oil well in northern Iraq, sparking a fire that raged for 24 hours before being extinguished.
2005 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced the US will release $3.2 million in aid to Guatemala for its progress in overhauling a military once blamed for human rights abuses.
2005 – Canada denied a US deserter’s bid for asylum.
2011 – Lian Yang, a US citizen, pleads guilty to conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act by trying to sell radiation-hardened” military and aerospace technology to the People’s Republic of China.

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