HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!
1497 – Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci left for his 1st voyage to New World.
1730 – George Ross, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born.
1773 – George III gives royal assent to the Tea Act of 773, taxing all tea in the colonies. The principal, overt, objective of the act was to reduce the massive surplus of tea held by the financially troubled British East India Company in its London warehouses and to help the struggling company survive. A related objective was to undercut the price of illegal tea, smuggled into Britain’s North American colonies. This was supposed to convince the colonists to purchase Company tea on which the Townshend duties were paid, thus implicitly agreeing to accept Parliament’s right of taxation. The Act granted the Company the right to directly ship its tea to North America and the right to the duty-free export of tea from Britain, although the tax imposed by the Townshend Acts and collected in the colonies remained in force. Colonists in the Thirteen Colonies recognized the implications of the Act’s provisions, and a coalition of merchants, smugglers, and artisans similar to that which had opposed the Stamp Act 1765 mobilized opposition to delivery and distribution of the tea. The company’s authorized consignees were harassed, and in many colonies successful efforts were made to prevent the tea from being landed. In Boston, this resistance culminated in the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773, when colonists (some disguised as Native Americans) boarded tea ships anchored in the harbor and dumped their tea cargo overboard. Parliamentary reaction to this event included passage of the Coercive Acts, designed to punish Massachusetts for its resistance, and the appointment of General Thomas Gage as royal governor of Massachusetts. These actions further raised tensions that broke out into the American War of Independence in April 1775. Parliament passed the Taxation of Colonies Act 1778, which repealed a number of taxes (including the tea tax that underlay this act) as one of a number of conciliatory proposals presented to the Second Continental Congress by the Carlisle Peace Commission. The commission’s proposals were rejected. The Act effectively became a “dead letter”, but was not formally removed from the books until passage of the Statute Law Revision Act 1861.
1775 – The Second Continental Congress convened in Pennsylvania and at the suggestion of John Adams, named George Washington as supreme commander. The Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting in the summer of 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met between September 5, 1774 and October 26, 1774, also in Philadelphia. The second Congress managed the colonial war effort, and moved incrementally towards independence, adopting the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. By raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and making formal treaties, the Congress acted as the de facto national government of what became the United States. When it came together it was, in effect, a reconvening of the First Continental Congress. Many of the same 56 delegates who attended the first meeting were in attendance at the second, and the delegates appointed the same president (Peyton Randolph) and secretary (Charles Thomson). Notable new arrivals included Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and John Hancock of Massachusetts. Within two weeks, Randolph was summoned back to Virginia to preside over the House of Burgesses; he was replaced in the Virginia delegation by Thomas Jefferson, who arrived several weeks later. Henry Middleton was elected as president to replace Randolph, but he declined. Hancock was elected president on May 24. Delegates from twelve of the Thirteen Colonies were present when the Second Continental Congress convened. Georgia had not participated in the First Continental Congress and did not initially send delegates to the Second Continental Congress.
1775 – The men defending the garrison of Ticonderoga were surprised in their beds. Fort Ticonderoga lay on the shores of Lake Champlain. Called Fort Carillon by the French, it was renamed Ticonderoga by the British after it was captured in 1759. The fort was positioned to cut the colonies in half, and two Americans, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, were determined to capture the fort. Allen was approached by Connecticut citizens to lead his men known as the Green Mountain men to take the fort. Meanwhile Benedict Arnold had himself been appointed to the same task by the Massachusetts committee of safety. The two men argued over command, but this did not deter them from attacking the fort. On May 11th, all the men who could fit were loaded in boats and set off for the fort. On arriving, Allen called out to Lieutenant Joceyln Feltham, “Come out of there you dammed old rat!” When Feltham asked on whose authority, Allen stated,”in the name of Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress.” The fort, with its heavy artillery, fell without a shot being fired. The small British garrison had not heard of the outbreak of war at Lexington and Concord on April 19th. The joint colonial militia force commanded by Allen and Benedict Arnold of Connecticut found more than 40 pieces of artillery inside the fort. These will be moved in a winter convoy to the American siege lines around Boston, compelling the British to evacuate the city.
1797 – The 1st American Navy ship, the “United States,” was launched.
1800 – USS Constitution captures Letter of Marque Sandwich.
1801 – The North African state of Tripoli declared war on the United States in a dispute over safe passage of merchant vessels through the Mediterranean. Tripoli declared war on the U.S. for refusing to pay tribute. On Jefferson’s inauguration as president in 1801, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha (or Bashaw) of Tripoli, had demanded $225,000 from the new administration. (In 1800, Federal revenues totaled a little over $10 million.) Putting his long-held beliefs into practice, Jefferson refused the demand.
1823 – The 1st steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River arrived at Ft. Snelling (between St. Paul and Minneapolis).
1845 – During a celebrated round-the-world tour in 1844-46, the Constitution dropped anchor in the bay outside of Tourane, Cochin China (Da Nang, Vietnam). While there, an imprisoned French missionary requested the assistance of the ship’s captain, “Mad Jack” Percival. The Americans attempted to negotiate with the Cochin Chinese, to no avail. Frustrated, they set sail from Cochin and continued on their course on May 26 without further word about or from the missionary, who was eventually retrieved by his own countrymen.
1861 – The border state of Missouri was an integral part of the violent tug-of-war over the secession issue. The thriving port city of St. Louis, although divided on the issue of secession, had a large population of German immigrants who were opposed to slavery and to secession. In spite of the state’s official decision for neutrality, strong secessionist sentiments still existed. Governor Claiborne Jackson, a vehement supporter of secession, personally corresponded with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and both awaited a turn of events in Missouri that would prove more favorable to the Confederacy. In May 1861, Postmaster Montgomery Blair learned of a secessionist plot to seize the Union depot at the St. Louis Armory, where large numbers of weapons and ammunition were allegedly stored. On May 10, 3,000 Union soldiers under the command of Capt. Nathaniel Lyon marched to the armory at the state militia barracks at Camp Jackson. Included were a large number of German immigrants serving in a unit known as the Home Guards. Missouri pro-secessionist militiamen, led by Gen. D.M. Frost, peacefully surrendered to Lyon, but trouble began when they refused to take a loyalty oath. To humiliate the Missouri militiamen, Lyon paraded them through the streets between two columns of Home Guards. Bystanders, hostile toward the Germans, cursed and spat at them. Soon rocks were thrown, and someone in the crowd opened fire on the Home Guards. The soldiers were ordered to fire back into the crowd. The mob retaliated by tearing up paving blocks and throwing them at the troops. Gunfire from both sides was so heavy that by nightfall 90 civilians had been hit, 28 of whom were dead or dying. Lyon dismissed the guardsmen in an effort to stop the fighting, but mobs roamed throughout the night, burning buildings. The next day, seven more citizens were killed by the Home Guards, who had been called out again to restore order. The idea of Missouri remaining neutral was now out of the question.
1862 – Confederate River Defense Fleet C.S.S. General Bragg, General Sumter, General Sterling Price, General Earl Van Dorn, General M. Jeff Thompson, General Lovell, General Beauregard, and Little Rebel–made a spirited attack on Union gunboats and mortar flotilla at Plum Point Bend, Tennessee. The Confederate fleet, Captain James E. Montgomery, attacked Mortar Boat No. 16, stationed just above Fort Pillow and engaged in bombarding the works. U.S.S. Cincinnati, Commander Stembel, coming to the mortar boat’s defense, was rammed by Bragg and sank on a bar in eleven feet of water. Van Dorn rammed U.S.S. Mound City, Commander Kilty, forcing her to run aground to avoid sinking. The draft of the Confederate vessels would not permit them to press the attack into the shoal water in which the Union squadron steamed, and, having sustained various but minor injuries, Montgomery withdrew under the guns of Fort Pillow. Cincinnati and Mound City were quickly repaired and returned to service.
1862 – Norfolk Navy Yard set afire before being evacuated by Confederate forces in a general withdrawal up the peninsula to defend Richmond. Union troops under Major General Wool crossed Hampton Roads from Fort Monroe, landed at Ocean View, and captured Norfolk.
1862 – Pensacola reoccupied by Union Army and Navy forces. Military installations in the area, includ-ing the Navy Yard, Forts Barrancas and McRee, C.S.S. Fulton, and an ironclad building on the Escambia River, were destroyed by the Confederates the preceding day before withdrawing.
1863 – The South loses one of its boldest and most colorful generals on this day. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson died of pneumonia a week after losing his arm when his own troops accidentally fired on him during the Battle of Chancellorsville. In the first two years of the war, Jackson terrorized Union commanders and led his army corps on bold and daring marches. He was the perfect complement to Robert E. Lee. A native Virginian, Jackson grew up in poverty in Clarksburg, in the mountains of what is now West Virginia. Orphaned at an early age, Jackson was raised by relatives and became a shy, lonely young man. He had only a rudimentary education but secured an appointment to West Point after another young man from the same congressional district turned his appointment down. Despite poor preparation, Jackson worked hard and graduated 17th in a class of 59 cadets. Upon graduating, Jackson served as an artillery officer during the Mexican War, seeing action at Vera Cruz and Chapultepec. He earned three brevets for bravery in just six months and then left the service in 1850 to teach at Virginia Military Institute. He was known as a difficult and eccentric classroom instructor, prone to strange and impromptu gestures in class. He was also a devout Presbyterian who refused to even talk of secular matters on the Sabbath. In 1859, he led a group of VMI cadets to serve as gallows guards for the hanging of John Brown. When war broke out in 1861, Jackson became a brigadier general in command of five regiments raised in the Shenandoah Valley. At the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, Jackson earned distinction by leading the attack that secured an advantage for the Confederates. Confederate General Bernard Bee, trying to inspire his troops, exclaimed “there stands Jackson like a stone wall,” and provided one of the most enduring monikers in history. By 1862, Jackson was recognized as one of the most effective commanders in the Confederate army. Leading his force on one of the most brilliant campaigns in military history during the summer of 1862, Jackson marched around the Shenandoah Valley and held off three Union armies while providing relief for Confederates pinned down on the James Peninsula by George McClellan’s army. He later rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia for the Seven Days battles, and his leadership was brilliant at Second Bull Run in August 1862. He soon became Lee’s most trusted corps commander. The Battle of Chancellorsville was Lee’s and Jackson’s shining moment. Despite the fact that they faced an army twice the size of theirs, Lee daringly split his force and sent Jackson around the Union flank—a move that resulted in perhaps the Army of the Potomac’s most stunning defeat of the war. When nightfall halted the attack, Jackson rode forward to reconnoiter the territory for another assault. But as he and his aides rode back to the lines, a group of Rebels opened fire. Jackson was hit three times, and a Southern bullet shattered his left arm. His arm had to be amputated the next day. Soon, pneumonia set in, and Jackson quickly began to fade. He died, as he had wished, on the Sabbath, May 10, 1863, with these last words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”
1864 – Colonel Emory Upton leads a 10-regiment “Attack-in-depth” assault against the Confederate works at The Battle of Spotsylvania, which, though ultimately unsuccessful, would provide the idea for the massive assault against the Bloody Angle on May 12. Upton is slightly wounded but is immediately promoted to Brigadier general. The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes more simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania (or the 19th century spelling Spottsylvania), was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the bloody but inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness, Grant’s army disengaged from Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army and moved to the southeast, attempting to lure Lee into battle under more favorable conditions. Elements of Lee’s army beat the Union army to the critical crossroads of Spotsylvania Court House and began entrenching. Fighting occurred on and off from May 8 through May 21, 1864, as Grant tried various schemes to break the Confederate line. In the end, the battle was tactically inconclusive, but with almost 32,000 casualties on both sides, it was the costliest battle of the campaign. On May 8, Union Maj. Gens. Gouverneur K. Warren and John Sedgwick had unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge the Confederates under Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson from Laurel Hill, a position that was blocking them from Spotsylvania Court House. On May 10, Grant ordered Upton’s attacks across the Confederate line of earthworks, which by now extended over 4 miles (6.5 km), including a prominent salient known as the Mule Shoe. Although the Union troops failed again at Laurel Hill, an innovative assault attempt by Col. Upton against the Mule Shoe showed promise. Grant used Upton’s assault technique on a much larger scale on May 12 when he ordered the 15,000 men of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock’s corps to assault the Mule Shoe. Hancock was initially successful, but the Confederate leadership rallied and repulsed his incursion. Attacks by Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright on the western edge of the Mule Shoe, which became known as the “Bloody Angle”, involved almost 24 hours of desperate hand-to-hand fighting, some of the most intense of the Civil War. Supporting attacks by Warren and by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside were unsuccessful. Grant repositioned his lines in another attempt to engage Lee under more favorable conditions and launched a final attack by Hancock on May 18, which made no progress. A reconnaissance in force by Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell at Harris farm on May 19 was a costly and pointless failure. On May 21, Grant disengaged from the Confederate Army and started southeast on another maneuver to turn Lee’s right flank, as the Overland Campaign continued toward the Battle of North Anna.
1864 – U.S.S. Mound City, Acting Lieutenant Amos R. Langthorne, and U.S.S. Carondelet, Lieutenant Commander John G. Mitchell, grounded near where work was proceeding on the wing dams across the Red River rapids above Alexandria. Next day, as the Red River slowly continued to rise behind the two wing dams, ironclads Mound City, Carondelet, and U.S.S. Pittsburg, Acting Lieutenant William R. Hoel, were finally hauled across the upper falls above the obstructions by throngs of straining soldiers. As the troops looked on in tense anticipation, the gunboats, all hatches battened down, successfully lurched through the gap between the dams to safety. Rear Admiral Porter later reported to Secretary Welles: “The passage of these vessels was a beautiful sight, only to be realized when seen.” U.S.S. Ozark, Louisville, and Chillicothe, ironclads which had crossed the upper falls, were preparing to follow the next day.
1865 – Jefferson Davis, president of the fallen Confederate government, is captured with his wife and entourage near Irwinville, Georgia, by a detachment of Union General James H. Wilson’s cavalry. On April 2, 1865, with the Confederate defeat at Petersburg, Virginia imminent, General Robert E. Lee informed President Davis that he could no longer protect Richmond and advised the Confederate government to evacuate its capital. Davis and his cabinet fled to Danville, Virginia, and with Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, deep into the South. Lee’s surrender of his massive Army of Northern Virginia effectively ended the Civil War, and during the next few weeks the remaining Confederate armies surrendered one by one. Davis was devastated by the fall of the Confederacy. Refusing to admit defeat, he hoped to flee to a sympathetic foreign nation such as Britain or France, and was weighing the merits of forming a government in exile when he was arrested by a detachment of the 4th Michigan Cavalry. A certain amount of controversy surrounds his capture, as Davis was wearing his wife’s black shawl when the Union troops cornered him. The Northern press ridiculed him as a coward, alleging that he had disguised himself as a woman in an ill-fated attempt to escape. However, Davis, and especially his wife, Varina, maintained that he was ill and that Varina had lent him her shawl to keep his health up during their difficult journey. Imprisoned for two years at Fort Monroe, Virginia, Davis was indicted for treason, but was never tried–the federal government feared that Davis would be able prove to a jury that the Southern secession of 1860 to 1861 was legal. Varina worked determinedly to secure his freedom, and in May 1867 Jefferson Davis was released on bail, with several wealthy Northerners helping him pay for his freedom. After a number of unsuccessful business ventures, he retired to Beauvoir, his home near Biloxi, Mississippi, and began writing his two-volume memoir The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881). He died in 1889 and was buried at New Orleans; four years later, his body was moved to its permanent resting spot in Richmond, Virginia.
1865 – In Kentucky, Union soldiers ambush and mortally wound Confederate raider William Quantrill, who lingers until his death on June 6.
1869 – In a remote corner of Utah, the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet and drive a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connects their railroads and makes transcontinental railroad service possible for the first time in U.S. history. Although travelers would have to take a roundabout journey to cross the country on this railroad system, the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Point, Utah, forever closed a chapter of U.S. history. No longer would western-bound travelers need to take the long and dangerous journey by wagon train, and the west would surely lose some its wild charm with the new connection to the civilized east. As early as 1852, Congress considered the construction of a transcontinental railroad, but the question became enmeshed in the regional politics of the time. In 1866, starting in Omaha and Sacramento, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads began working toward each other across a northern route, with land grants offered by the government as an incentive for their work. In their eagerness for land, the two lines built right past each other, and the final meeting place had to be renegotiated. On May 10, 1869, the two lines finally met at Promontory Point, Utah.
1922 – The United States annexes the Kingman Reef. The lagoon was used in 1937 and 1938 as a halfway station between Hawai’i and American Samoa by Pan American Airways flying boats (Sikorsky S-42B).
1922 – The 1,000th Rickenbacker car was produced. Named after the company co-founder, American World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, the Rickenbacker Car Company took off in 1922. Rickenbacker, a national darling for his dogfighting exploits, passed on offers from the aviation industry in Washington and from the movie studios in Hollywood in order to start his own car company. In January of 1922, the Rickenbacker car debuted at the New York Auto Show. Priced at $1,500 and equipped with a powerful V-6 and a flywheel at both ends of the crankshaft to reduce the teeth-chattering vibration to which consumers had become accustomed, the Rickenbacker sold 1,500 units on its first day. In two years the company climbed from 83rd in the industry to 19th. “The Car Worthy of the Name,” as it was called, was also the first model to introduce four-wheel braking into the economy car class. The 1925 Rickenbacker came with a V-8 and the snappy “hat in the ring” emblem that Rickenbacker’s squadron had painted on their planes. In 1926, Rickenbacker marketed the Super Sport as “America’s Fastest and Most Beautiful Stock Car.” But Rickenbacker resigned in September of that year, and four months later his company was dead. The rapid demise of Rickenbacker owes partly to the public’s mistrust of the company’s early introduction of front-wheel breaking, but more to the fragile ego of its war-hero founder. During a period of cutthroat price wars, Rickenbacker came under heavy personal criticism at the hands of automobile dealers, who taunted him, “You’re a hero today and a bum tomorrow.” Rickenbacker could not separate his company’s policies from his person and, injured, he resigned. The company was grounded without its captain’s name.
1933 – The Nazis staged massive public book burnings at Opernplatz in Berlin, Germany. Some 40,000 people watched or took part. In the great Nazi book-burning frenzy Freud’s work went up in flames, with the declaration: “Down with the soul-devouring exaggeration of instinctive life, up with the nobility of the human soul!” Also burned were books by “unGerman” writers such as: Marx, Brecht, Bloch, Hemingway, Heinrich Mann and Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front.
1940 – The Germans launch Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), the offensive in the west. Army Group C (Leeb) holds the German frontier opposite the French Maginot Line while Army Group A (Rundstedt) makes the main attack through the Ardennes and Army Group B (Bock) makes a secondary advance through Belgium and Holland to draw the main British and French forces north. During the day, Army Group A strikes, with three armored corps in the lead, heading for Sedan, Montherme and Dinant. The advance is rapid and the little opposition, mostly French cavalry, is thrown aside. To the north, Army Group B carries out parachute landings deep inside Holland which do much to paralyze Dutch resistance, while German units cross the Maas River near Arnhem and the Belgian fort at Eben Emael is put out of action by a German airborne force which lands its gliders literally on top of it. The fort is meant to cover the crossings of the Albert Canal nearby and this is not achieved. The Luftwaffe gives powerful support. At the end of the day the German advance has gone almost exactly according to plan. Meanwhile, the Allied Plan D provides for the French 1st Army Group ( General Billotte), consisting of the British Expeditionary Force ( General Lord Gort) and the French 7th Army (General Giraud) to advance to the line of the Dyle River and the Meuse River above Namur, to be joined there by the Belgian forces and on the left to link with the Dutch. General Gamelin is the Allied Supreme Commander and General Georges commands the armies on the French Northeast Front. The Allies react quickly to the German attacks as soon as they hear of them from the Belgians. By the evening much of the Dyle line has been occupied but the troops find that there are no fortifications to compare with the positions they have prepared along the Franco-Belgian frontier during the Phony War period. Some of the reserve is therefore committed to strengthen the line. Some of the advance forces of French 7th Army make contact with the Germans in southern Holland and are roughly handled.
1941 – The Vietminh or Vietnam Independence League (Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh) is formed as a united front organization after the Eighth Plenum of the Communist party at Pac Bo, chaired by Nguyen Ai Quoc, adopts a policy of collaboration with all nationalists. by far the most effective nationalist organization of any kind working form within or without Vietnam, under the direction of Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietminh organizes guerrilla and intelligence networks to operate against the Japanese and the French.
1942 – In the Philippines, American General Sharp commanding the few remaining resisting American forces issues orders of surrender. Some American troops continue with guerilla actions for the next several weeks.
1943 – The last organized Axis resistance in Tunisia is eliminated. Large scale surrenders, of Axis troops, begin.
1945 – Allies captured Rangoon from the Japanese.
1945 – On Luzon, the advance of US 43rd Division, part of US 11th Corps, loses momentum. On Mindanao, part of the US 40th Division lands on the coast of Macalajar Bay, in the north of the island. The naval support group is commanded by Rear-Admiral Struble. The landing is successful. Filipino guerrillas provide additional support and the beachhead is rapidly consolidated and extended. Some elements advance some 5 miles to the southeast and link up with units of the US 31st Division. There is heavy fighting between the American and Japanese forces already present on the island. Units of the US 19th Division begin to eliminate a number of Japanese pockets of resistance around Davao.
1945 – The 22d Marines, 6th Marine Division, executed a pre-dawn attack south across the Asa River Estuary and seized a bridgehead from which to continue the attack toward Naha, the capital of Okinawa. The bridgehead is about 1 mile wide and 400 yards deep. During the night a Bailey bridge is built to allow tanks and artillery to cross the river. The US 1st Marine Division makes slight progress towards Shuri, facing heavy Japanese opposition. At sea, Japanese Kamikaze strikes hit 1 American destroyer and 1 mine layer.
1945 – The forces of the Soviet 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Ukrainian Fronts join up as they reach Klagenfurt and Linz in Austria. They establish contact with American forces.
1945 – The government announces plans to withdraw 3.1 million American troops from Europe.
1946 – First successful launch of an American V-2 rocket at White Sands Proving Ground.
1949 – First shipboard launching of LARK, guided missile by USS Norton Sound.
1951 – The Battle of Bunker Hill began with action by the 38th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division.
1960 – USS Triton (SSRN-586) completes, Operation Sandblast, the first submerged circumnavigation of world, in 84 days following many of the routes taken by Magellan and cruising 46,000 miles.
1966 – CGC Point Grey was on patrol near the Ca Mau peninsula when she sighted a 110-foot trawler heading on various courses and speeds. Suspicions aroused, Point Grey commenced shadowing the trawler. After observing what appeared to be signal fires on the beach, she hailed the vessel, but received no response. The trawler ran aground and Point Grey personnel attempted to board it. Heavy automatic weapons fire from the beach prevented the boarding and two crew and one Army passenger were wounded aboard Point Grey. CGC Point Cypress, and U.S. Navy units came to assist. During the encounter the trawler exploded. U.S. Navy salvage teams recovered a substantial amount of war material from the sunken vessel. This incident was the largest, single known infiltration attempt since the Vung Ro Bay incident of February 1965 and was the first “suspicious trawler interdicted by a Market Time unit.”
1969 – The U.S. 9th Marine Regiment and the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, along with South Vietnamese forces, commence Operation Apache Snow in the A Shau Valley in western Thua Thien Province. The purpose of the operation was to cut off the North Vietnamese and prevent them from mounting an attack on the coastal provinces. The operation began with a heliborne assault along the Laotian border and then a sweep back to the east. First contact with the enemy was made by a rifle company from the 101st Airborne on the slopes of Hill 937, known to the Vietnamese as Ap Bia Mountain. Entrenched in prepared fighting positions, the North Vietnamese 29th Regiment repulsed the initial American assault and on May 14 beat back another attempt by the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry. An intense battle raged for the next 10 days and the mountain came under heavy Allied air strikes, artillery barrages, and 10 infantry assaults. On May 20, Maj. Gen. Melvin Zais, commanding general of the 101st, sent in two additional U.S. airborne battalions and a South Vietnamese battalion as reinforcements. The communist stronghold was finally captured in the 11th attack, when the American and South Vietnamese soldiers fought their way up to the summit of the mountain. In the face of the four-battalion attack, the North Vietnamese retreated to sanctuary areas in Laos. During the intense fighting, 597 North Vietnamese were reported killed and U.S. casualties were 56 killed and 420 wounded. Due to the bitter fighting and the high loss of life, the battle for Ap Bia Mountain received widespread unfavorable publicity in the United States and American media dubbed it “Hamburger Hill,” a name evidently derived from the fact that the battle turned into a “meat grinder.” Since the operation was not intended to hold territory but rather to keep the North Vietnamese Army off-balance, the mountain was abandoned soon after the battle and occupied by the North Vietnamese a month later. American public outrage over what appeared to be a senseless loss of American lives was exacerbated by publication in Life magazine of the pictures of the 241 U.S. soldiers killed the week of the Hamburger Hill battle. Gen. Creighton Abrams, commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, was ordered by the White House to avoid such battles. Because of Hamburger Hill, and other battles like it, the U.S. started to shift its policy towards Vietnamization, wherein primary responsibility for the fighting would be handed over to the South Vietnamese.
1972 – President Richard Nixon’s decision to mine North Vietnamese harbors is condemned by the Soviet Union, China, and their Eastern European allies, and receives only lukewarm support from Western Europe. The mining was meant to halt the massive North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam that had begun on March 30. In the continuing air war over North Vietnam, the United States lost at least three planes and the North Vietnamese 10, as 150 to 175 American planes struck targets over Hanoi, Haiphong, and along rail lines leading from China.
1972 – An F-4J of VF-96 flying from the USS Constellation by Lieutenant Randy Cunningham and Lieutenant (jg) Willie Driscoll, shoots down three MiGs in one combat mission. Added to two previous victories, this makes them the first American aces of the Vietnam War and the only US Navy aces.
1972 – Air Force Capt. Charles B. DeBellevue of the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, flying with Capt. Richard S. Ritchie in a McDonnell Douglas F-4D, records his first aerial kill. Later, DeBellevue recorded four additional victories with pilot Ritchie–both men achieved the designation of ace (traditionally awarded for five enemy aircraft confirmed shot down in aerial combatt). In August, DeBellevue, flying with Captain John A. Madden, Jr., shot down two more MiGs, becoming the leading American ace of the Vietnam War.
1972 – First flight of the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II (a.k.a. “Warthog”). The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American twin-engine, straight wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. It is the only United States Air Force production aircraft designed solely for close air support, including attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets with limited air defenses. The A-10 was designed around the 30mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon that is its primary armament. The A-10’s airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium aircraft armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying. The A-10A single-seat variant was the only version built, though one A-10A was converted to an A-10B twin-seat version. In 2005, a program was begun to upgrade remaining A-10A aircraft to the A-10C configuration. The A-10’s official name comes from the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt of World War II, a fighter that was particularly effective at close air support. The A-10 is more commonly known by its nicknames “Warthog” or “Hog”. Its secondary mission is to provide airborne forward air control, directing other aircraft in attacks on ground targets. Aircraft used primarily in this role are designated OA-10. With a variety of upgrades and wing replacements, the A-10’s service life may be extended to 2028, though there are proposals to retire it sooner.
1977 – Patti Hearst was sentenced to 5 years’ probation for her role in the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) crime spree May 16-17, 1974. She still faced a 7-year sentence for armed robbery.
1984 – The International Court of Justice said the U.S. should halt any actions to blockade Nicaragua’s ports. The U.S. had already said it would not recognize World Court jurisdiction on this issue.
1989 – In Panama, the government of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega announced it had nullified the country’s elections, which independent observers said the opposition had won by a 3-1 margin.
1990 – The government of the People’s Republic of China announces that it is releasing 211 people arrested during the massive protests held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in June 1989. Most observers viewed the prisoner release as an attempt by the communist government of China to dispel much of the terrible publicity it received for its brutal suppression of the 1989 protests. In early 1989, peaceful protests (largely composed of students) were held in a number of Chinese cities, calling for greater democracy and less governmental control of the economy. In April, thousands of students marched through Beijing. By May, the number of protesters had grown to nearly 1 million. On June 3, the government responded with troops sent in to crush the protests. In the ensuing violence, thousands of protesters were killed and an unknown number were arrested. The brutal Chinese government crackdown shocked the world. In the United States, calls went up for economic sanctions against China to punish the dramatic human rights violations. The U.S. government responded by temporarily suspending arms sales to China. Nearly one year later, on May 10, 1990, the Chinese government announced that it was releasing 211 people arrested during the Tiananmen Square crackdown. A brief government statement simply indicated, “Lawbreakers involved in the turmoil and counterrevolutionary rebellion last year have been given lenient treatment and released upon completion of investigations.” The statement also declared that over 400 other “law-breakers” were still being investigated while being held in custody. Western observers greeted the news with cautious optimism. In the United States, where the administration of President George Bush was considering the extension of most-favored-nation status to China, the release of the prisoners was hailed as a step in the right direction.
1992 – Astronaut Pierre Thuot tried but failed to snag a wayward satellite during a spacewalk outside the shuttle Endeavour. A trio of astronauts succeeded in capturing the Intelsat-Six three days later.
1993 – Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee visited the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia for a hearing on the issue of homosexuals in the military; most of the sailors said they favored keeping the ban on gays.
1995 – Terry Nichols was charged in the Oklahoma City bombing.
1996 – Two US Marine helicopters collided and killed 14 servicemen in a piney swamp at Camp LeJeune, N.C. during a U.S.-British training exercise. An AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter collided with a CH-46 Sea Knight troop copter.
1999 – A military jury at Camp Lejeuneh, North Carolina, sentenced Captain Richard Ashby, a Marine pilot whose jet had clipped an Italian gondola cable, sending 20 people plunging to their deaths, to six months in prison and dismissed him from the corps for helping hide a videotape shot during the flight. Ashby was acquitted earlier of manslaughter.
1999 – The US approved the export of 2 Motorola Iridium satellites to China.
1999 – In China Pres. Jiang Zemin said that NATO must stop bombing Yugoslavia before the UN Security Council considers any peace plan to end the Kosovo conflict. China broke off talks on arms control with the United States, and allowed demonstrators to hurl stones at the US Embassy in Beijing for a third day to protest NATO’s bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia.
1999 – NATO announced that it would begin launching strikes from Turkey and Hungary in addition to current launch sites in Western Europe, the US and carriers in the Adriatic.
2002 – F.B.I. agent Robert Hanssen is sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for selling United States secrets to Moscow for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds.
2004 – A U.S. aircraft destroyed a Baghdad office of Muqtada al-Sadr. His followers said two people were killed and six injured. US military said as many as 35 Al-Sadr supporters were killed. Gunmen fired on a vehicle in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, killing two foreign construction workers and their Iraqi driver.
2005 – A hand grenade thrown by Vladimir Arutinian lands about 65 feet (20 meters) from U.S. President George W. Bush while he is giving a speech to a crowd in Tbilisi, Georgia, but it malfunctions and does not detonate.
2007 – 144 Iraqi Parliamentary lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal.
2013 – One World Trade Center becomes the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.