This Day in U.S. Military History…… September 29

29 September
Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel, Patron Saint of Soldiers, marines, Military Police, Aviation, and Airborne: The name Michael signifies “Who is like to God?” and was the war cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against Satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as “one of the chief princes,” and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles. Although he is always called “the Archangel,” the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the angels – as Prince of the Seraphim.
1789 – The U.S. War Department established a regular U.S. army with a strength of several hundred men.
1789 – The 1st United States Congress adjourns.
1812 – Seminole Indians ambushed Marines at Twelve Mile Swamp, Florida.
1850 – Pres. Millard Fillmore named Mormon leader Brigham Young as the first governor of the Utah Territory.
1862 – Union General Jefferson C. Davis mortally wounds his commanding officer, General William Nelson, in Louisville, Kentucky. Davis had been upset by a reprimand handed down by Nelson. After quarreling in a hotel lobby, Nelson slapped Davis. Davis then chased him upstairs and shot him. Davis was never court-martialed, and it is thought that the influence of Indiana Governor Oliver Morton, who was with Davis at the time of the shooting, was instrumental in preventing a trial. Davis went on to serve with distinction at the Battles of Stones River, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga.
1863 – U.S.S. Lafayette, Lieutenant Commander J.P. Foster, and U.S.S. Kenwood, Acting Master John Swaney, arrived at Morganza, Louisiana, on Bayou Fordoche to support troops under Major General Napoleon J. T. Dana. More than 400 Union troops had been captured in an engagement with Confederates under Brigadier General Thomas Green. Foster noted, “the arrival of the gunboats was hailed . . . with perfect delight.” Next day, the presence of the ships, he added, “no doubt deterred [the Confederates] from attacking General Dana in his position at Morganza as they had about four brigades to do it with, while our forces did not amount to more than 1,500.” Foster ordered gunboats to cover the Army and prevent a renewal of the action.
1864 – Union General Ulysses S. Grant tries to break the stalemate around Richmond and Petersburg—25 miles south of Richmond—by attacking two points along the defenses of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The assault against Richmond, called the Battle of New Market Heights, and the assault against Petersburg, known as the Battle of Poplar Springs Church (Peeble’s Farm), both failed. But they kept the pressure on Lee and prevented him from sending reinforcements to the beleaguered General Jubal Early, who was fighting against General Philip Sheridan in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Grant gave the attack on New Market Heights to General Benjamin Butler’s Army of the James. Butler had carefully scouted the network of Confederate fortifications and determined that there were weaknesses. He instructed General Edward Ord to strike at Fort Harrison, a stronghold in the network, and General David Birney to attack New Market Heights. The assault began with Birney, who sent a division of African American soldiers against New Market Heights. Butler was correct about the weakness of the Richmond defenses, which were significantly undermanned since most of Lee’s force was protecting Petersburg. The 1,800 Confederate defenders of New Market Heights soon realized that the Yankee attack threatened to overrun their position. After a half-hour battle, they retreated closer to Richmond. At nearby Fort Harrison, Ord’s troops swarmed over the walls of the fort and scattered the 800 inexperienced defenders. Despite the initial success, the Union attack became bogged down. The leading units of the attack suffered significant casualties, including many officers. The Confederate defenses were deep, and the Yankees faced another set of fortifications. Butler instructed his men to secure the captured territory before renewing the attack. That night, Lee moved several brigades from Petersburg for an unsuccessful counterattack on September 30. In the end, Union soldiers bent the Richmond defenses but did not break them. Yankee casualties totaled 3,300 of the 20,000 troops engaged, while the Confederates lost 2,000 of 11,000 engaged. The stalemate continued until the following spring.
1864 – Ships of the Confederate James River Squadron, Flag Officer Mitchell, supported Southern troops in attacks against Fort Harrison, Chaffin’s Farm, James River, Virginia. Though the Confederates failed to retake Fort Harrison, with the aid of heavy fire from Mitchell’s ships, they prevented Union soldiers from capturing Chaffin’s Bluff.
1879 – Dissatisfied Ute Indians killed Agent Nathan Meeker and nine others in the “Meeker Massacre.”
1899 – VFW established.
1918 – At the Battle of St. Quentin Canal, Allied forces scored a decisive breakthrough of the Hindenburg Line during World War I. The Allied assualt involved British, Australian and American forces in the spearhead attack and as a single combined force against the German Siegfried Stellung of the Hindenburg Line. Under the command of Australian general Sir John Monash, the assault achieved all its objectives, resulting in the first full breach of the Hindenburg Line, in the face of heavy German resistance and, in concert with other attacks of the Great Offensive along the length of the line convinced the German high command that the writing was on the wall regarding any hope of German victory.
1918 – Lt. Frank Luke Jr. against orders destroyed 3 German balloons and downed 2 pursuing fighters in a final flight of vengeance for the loss of his wingman Lt. Joseph Wehner. Luke received a posthumous medal of honor.
1919 – The Secretary of War deploys federal troops to Omaha after the preceding day’s rioting. The race riot resulted in the brutal lynching of Will Brown, a black worker; the death of two white men; the attempted hanging of Mayor Edward Parsons Smith; and a public rampage by thousands of whites who set fire to the Douglas County Courthouse in downtown Omaha. The riot lasted until 3 a.m., at that hour, federal troops, under command of Colonel John E. Morris of the Twentieth Infantry, arrived from Fort Omaha and Fort Crook. Troops manning machine guns were placed in the heart of Omaha’s business district; in North Omaha, the center of the black community, to protect citizens there; and in South Omaha, to prevent more mobs from forming. Major General Leonard Wood, commander of the Central Department, came the next day to Omaha by order of Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. Peace was enforced by 1,600 soldiers. Martial law was not formally proclaimed in Omaha, but it was effectively enacted throughout the city. By the request of City Commissioner W.G. Ure, who was acting mayor, Wood took over control over the police department, too.
1938 – Munich Agreement: Germany is given permission from France, Italy, and Great Britain to seize the territory of Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. The meeting takes place in Munich, and leaders from neither the Soviet Union nor Czechoslovakia attend.
1939 – In New York city, Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the pro-Nazi German-American Bund, is imprisoned.
1939 – Germany and the Soviet Union agree to divide control of occupied Poland roughly along the Bug River–the Germans taking everything west, the Soviets taking everything east. As a follow-up to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, (also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact), that created a non-aggression treaty between the two behemoth military powers of Germany and the U.S.S.R., Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, met with his Soviet counterpart, V.M. Molotov, to sign the German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty. The fine print of the original non-aggression pact had promised the Soviets a slice of eastern Poland; now it was merely a matter of agreeing where to draw the lines. Joseph Stalin, Soviet premier and dictator, personally drew the line that partitioned Poland. Originally drawn at the River Vistula, just west of Warsaw, he agreed to pull it back east of the capital and Lublin, giving Germany control of most of Poland’s most heavily populated and industrialized regions. In return, Stalin wanted Lvov, and its rich oil wells, as well as Lithuania, which sits atop East Prussia. Germany now had 22 million Poles, “slaves of the Greater German Empire,” at its disposal; Russia had a western buffer zone.
1943 – Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf was published in the United States.
1943 – General Eisenhower and Marshal Badoglio sign the armistice agreement aboard the HMS Nelson in Malta harbor.
1943 – Elements the US 5th Army continue to advance. Elements of the US 6th Corps attack Avellino. The British 10th Corps reaches Pompeii.
1944 – USS Narwhal (SS-167) evacuates 81 Allied prisoners of war that survived sinking of Japanese Shinyo Maru from Sindangan Bay, Mindanao.
1944 – On Angaur, American forces confine Japanese resistance to a small area in the northwest of the island.
1946 – Lockheed P2V Neptune, Truculent Turtle, leaves Perth, Australia on long distance non-stop, non-refueling flight that ends October 1.
1950 – In a ceremony in the National Assembly Hall while fighting still raged in the outskirts, Seoul was officially restored as the capital of the Republic of Korea. An emotional President Rhee called General MacArthur “the savior of our race.”
1965 – Hanoi publishes the text of a letter it has written to the Red Cross claiming that since there is no formal state of war, U.S. pilots shot down over the North will not receive the rights of prisoners of war (POWs) and will be treated as war criminals. The U.S. State Department protested, but this had no impact on the way the American POWs were treated and most suffered extreme torture and other maltreatment while in captivity. The first pilot captured by the North Vietnamese was Navy Lieutenant Everett Alvarez, who was shot down on August 5, 1964. The American POW held longest was Army Special Forces Captain Floyd James Thompson, who had been captured in the South on March 26, 1964. American POWs were held in 11 different prisons in North Vietnam and their treatment by the North Vietnamese was characterized by isolation, torture, and psychological abuse. The exact number of POWs held by the North Vietnamese during the war remains a debatable issue, but the POWs themselves have accounted for at least 766 verified captives at one point. Under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords, the North Vietnamese released 565 American military and 26 civilian POWs in February and March 1973, but there were still more than 2,500 men listed as Missing in Action (MIA).
1966 – Operation “Monterey,” Vietnam.
1969 – Secretary of the Army Stanley Resor announces that the U.S. Army, conceding that it is helpless to enlist the cooperation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is dropping the murder charges (of August 6) against eight Special Forces accused of killing a Vietnamese national. Col. Robert B. Rheault, Commander of the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam, and seven other Green Berets had been charged with premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the summary execution of Thai Khac Chuyen, who had served as an agent for Detachment B-57. Chuyen was reportedly summarily executed for being a double agent who had compromised a secret mission. The case against the Green Berets was ultimately dismissed for reasons of national security when the CIA refused to release highly classified information about the operations in which Detachment B-57 had been involved. Colonel Rheault subsequently retired from the Army.
1986 – Coast Guard officials signed the contract papers to acquire the H-60 series helicopter to replace the venerable Sikorsky HH-3F Pelicans.
1988 – The space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., marking America’s return to manned space flight following the Challenger disaster.
1994 – Gunmen in Italy fired at the rental car of the Green family of Bodega Bay, Ca., and killed their young boy, Nicholas Green. The parents donated his organs and saved 7 lives in Italy. An appeals court in 1998 found 2 men guilty of the botched highway robbery. Michelle Ianello was sentenced to life in prison and Francesco Mesiano was sentenced to 20 years.
1990 – The YF-22, which would later become the F-22 Raptor, flies for the first time. The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine, all weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities including ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor and is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapon systems, and final assembly of the F-22, while program partner Boeing provides the wings, aft fuselage, avionics integration, and training systems.
1994 – The crew of Coast Guard LORAN Station Iwo Jima decommissioned their station and turned it over to a crew from the Japanese Maritime Safety Agency. The turnover of all of the Northwest Pacific LORAN chain stations was arranged under a 1992 agreement between the U.S. and Japan.
1995 – Three U-S servicemen were indicted in the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl and handed over to Japanese authorities. They were later convicted.
1995 – The United States Navy disbands Fighter Squadron 84 (VF-84), nicknamed the “Jolly Rogers”. VF-84, Fighter Squadron 84 was an aviation unit of the United States Navy active from 1955 to 1995. The squadron was nicknamed the Jolly Rogers and was based at NAS Oceana. It took the number but not the lineage of a World War II squadron active in 1944–45, the “Wolf Gang”, which was a new squadron formed around a nucleus of veterans of VF-17, the original “Jolly Rogers”.
1999 – The Associated Press reported on the alleged mass killing of civilians by US soldiers in the early days of the Korean War, beneath a bridge at a hamlet called No Gun Ri.
2000 – A US AMRAAM missile sale to Taiwan was designed so that delivery would not occur unless China threatened an attack.
2000 – US navy pilot, Lt. Bruce Joseph Donald, was killed when his F/A-18C Hornet fighter crashed into the Persian Gulf.
2001 – Pres. Bush in his weekly radio address condemned the Taliban for sheltering terrorists and said: “We did not seek this conflict, but we will win it.”
2003 – US The Justice Department launched a full-blown criminal investigation into who leaked the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame, the wife of ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and President Bush the next day directed his White House staff to cooperate fully. The White House denied that President Bush’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, had leaked a CIA agent’s identity to retaliate against an opponent of the administration’s Iraq policy.
2004 – The Burt Rutan Ansari X Prize entry SpaceShipOne performs a successful spaceflight, the first of two required to win the prize.
2004 – A US federal judge ruled that a section of the Patriot Act, that allowed the search of phone and Internet records, was unconstitutional.
2004 – Kyrgyzstan police arrested a man for attempting the black market sale of 60 small containers of what was confirmed as plutonium.
2004 – A Yemeni judge sentenced two men to death and four others to prison terms ranging from five to 10 years for orchestrating the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole.
2005 – The New York Times reporter Judith Miller is released from federal jail after receiving a waiver from her news source, allowing her to testify in the investigation of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
2006 – The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter takes its first low-orbit, high-resolution pictures of Mars.
2008 – Following the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual, The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 777.68 points, the largest single-day point loss in its history.
2010 – Germany makes the final payment of its World War I reparations.
2012 – One of the Guantanamo detainees, Omar Khadr, is transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence.
2014 – Ashraf Ghani is sworn in as new president of Afghanistan.

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