This Month in Military History

APR11945The first of 50,000 U.S. troops land on the beaches of Okinawa. Tenth Army quickly sweeps across southern portion of the island - capturing the Japanese airfields at Kadena and Yomitan within hours after landing.
APR21781Off the coast of France, the frigate USS Alliance captures two British privateers - the brigs Mars and Minerva.
APR21865After a siege lasting 292 days, Union forces under the command of LTG Ulysses S. Grant break through the thin Confederate lines in the Third Battle of Petersburg.
APR21944The first B-29 bomber lands in Chakulia, India, destined to serve in the Twentieth Air Force upon its creation in three days. Initially conducting operations from bases in China, Burma, and India, the Twentieth will carry out the strategic bombing against Japanese targets.
APR21951Two Grumman F9F-2B "Panthers" from Fighter Squadron 191 (VF-191) catapult from the deck of USS Princeton (CV-37) for an attack on a railroad bridge near Songjin, North Korea - marking the first time the Navy uses jet fighters in a bomber role.
APR21982Argentina launches an amphibious invasion of the British-held Falkland Islands. Caught by surprise, the Royal Navy hastily assembles a task force and sails south. In ten weeks, the United Kingdom reclaims their territories, thanks to material support from the United States.
APR31865During the Battle of Namozine Church, 2LT Thomas W. Custer of the 6th Michigan Cavalry earns his first of two Medals of Honor. Serving alongside his older brother, BG George Armstrong Custer, Thomas captures the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry's regimental flag.
APR31865Union troops march into the Confederate capital of Richmond, Va. The government had evacuated the city by rail the day before. Soldiers and citizens burned buildings set buildings on fire as they departed, and the conflagration will consume some 35 blocks of Richmond. It takes Union soldiers until the afternoon to contain the blaze.
APR31942Japan's 14th Army, led by LTG Masaharu Homma, launches a major offensive against American and Filipino forces on the Bataan Peninsula.
APR31946GEN Homma is convicted of nearly 50 counts of war crimes for his troops' treatment of prisoners in the Bataan Death March and is shot by firing squad.
APR31965In North Vietnam, Korean War ace COL James Robinson "Robbie" Risner leads a group of 79 planes in an attack on the Thanh Hoa Bridge. Although Air Force pilots score numerous direct hits on the bridge, they only manage to halt traffic for a few hours. This mission marks the first of 871 unsuccessful sorties against the stubborn bridge, and the first dogfight of the Vietnam War.
APR31965The Air Force targets the vital Paul Doumer Bridge for the first time. The mile-long bridge is the only span across the Red River connecting Hanoi and Haiphong Harbor, also withstanding strike after strike and becomes a symbol of communist resistance to the U.S. bombing campaign.
APR31965Two B-57 Canberra bombers, supported by a C-130 flare ship, fly the first interdiction mission on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in southeastern Laos as part of the covert Operation STEEL TIGER.
APR31969Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird introduces "Vietnamization," the Nixon Administration's plan to gradually withdraw U.S. combat forces while preparing the South Vietnamese to assume responsibility for the conflict, which had already cost over 30,000 American lives.
APR41933During a storm off the coast of New Jersey, the Navy's massive helium-filled airship USS Akron crashes into the ocean. 73 of the flying aircraft carrier's 76 crew members and passengers perish, mostly due to drowning and hypothermia.
APR41975During the first flight of Operation BABYLIFT, an Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport loaded with orphans from Saigon hospital experiences an explosive decompression and attempts an emergency landing at nearby Tan Son Nhat Airport. CPT Dennis W. Traynor, III and CPT Tilford W. Harp fight to keep the plane airborne with only one aileron and the thrust of the engines. The C-5 crash-lands in a rice paddy short of the runway, killing 138 passengers.
APR51862The Army of the Potomac - the largest army fielded in the United States to that point - clashes with Confederate forces at Yorktown.
APR51911The Army creates a provisional aero company in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, as part of the military buildup on the southern border to discourage Mexican revolutionaries. The outfit is commanded by CPT Paul W. Beck, who is joined by 1LT Benjamin Foulois, 2LT George E.M. Kelly, and 2LT John C. Walker, Jr.
APR5194518 U.S. divisions begin their attack on 370,000 encircled German soldiers in the Ruhr Pocket. With Nazi Germany on their last legs, much of the fighting force consists of old men with the Volksturm militia and boys of the Hitler Youth - so poorly supplied that many didn't even have weapons. While some units resist fanatically, most are captured.
APR51945A German firing squad executes the former commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp SS-Standartenführer Karl-Otto Koch for heinous crimes and brutal treatment of prisoners.
APR51951Corpsman Richard De Wert, serving with the 7th Marines in Korea, rushes through enemy fire to retrieve a wounded comrade. While wounded himself, De Wert refuses to stop to be treated and returns for another fallen Marine. Hit again, he braves incoming fire a third time, and on his fourth trip into the kill zone, the corpsman is mortally wounded. For his actions, De Wert is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
APR51964Retired GEN Douglas MacArthur passes away at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.
APR61862As LTG Ulysses S. Grant's 42,000-man force marches for the rail center of Corinth, they are intercepted and driven back by Confederate GEN Albert Sidney Johnston's Army of Mississippi near Shiloh Church.
APR61906An expedition led by CMDR Robert Peary reaches the geographic North Pole. Peary leaves behind a note in a bottle stating, "I have this day hoisted the national ensign of the United States of America at this place [...] and have formally taken possession of the entire region, and adjacent, for and in the name of the President of the United States of America."
APR61917After Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare on Allied shipping and discovery of the "Zimmerman Telegram", proposing German alliance with Mexico if the U.S. enters World War I, Congress declares war on Germany.
APR61924Four modified Douglas torpedo bombers known as the Douglas World Cruisers take off from Seattle on the first-ever circumnavigation of the globe by an airplane.
APR61952F-86 Sabre pilot CPT Iven C. Kincheloe, Jr. of the 25th Fighter Interceptor Squadron kills his fifth enemy MiG, becoming the United States' tenth ace of the Korean War.
APR61959The Northrop "Snark" missile undergoes its first full-range test, with the 67-foot-long cruise missile hitting its target 5,000 miles downrange. Capable of carrying a three-megaton warhead, the missile will be fielded the following year.
APR61965President Lyndon Johnson's National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy signs an order authorizing American combat troops to begin offensive operations in Vietnam. Prior to this order, soldiers and Marines were limited to defensive operations around air bases.
APR71945Carrier-based bombers and torpedo bombers from ADM Marc Mitscher's Task Force 58 engage and sink the Japanese battleship Yamato, the largest battleship ever constructed. Only 280 of the 2,778 crew are rescued, making the attack the largest loss of life at sea of a single ship during World War II.
APR71979The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine USS Ohio (SSBN-726), the largest submarine built by the U.S. Navy, is launched at the Groton, Connecticut shipyard.
APR82022Following over a month of battle, the Armed Forces of Ukraine successfully repel the Russians in the Battle of Mykolaiv. The city is a key logistical hub for shipbuilding on the Black Sea. With Mykolaiv secure, the Ukrainian city of Odesa is removed from immediate threat of invasion by Russian forces. Over 100 civilians are killed, and 500 more wounded in the battle. Armed Forces of Ukraine suffer around 150 casualties, while Russia suffers almost 1,000.
APR91865The war lost, Confederate GEN Robert E. Lee concludes, "There is nothing left for me to do, but to go and see GEN Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths."
APR91918The famed 94th "Hat in the Ring" Aero Squadron moves up to the Croix de Metz Aerodrome in France, becoming the first American aviation outfit to enter combat.
APR91942Having run out of food, ammunition, and supplies after months of fighting the Japanese, MG Edward P. King surrenders over 11,000 American and 60,000 Filipino forces under his command on Luzon Island to the Japanese.
APR91942The beginning of the brutal Bataan Death March. The sick, starving, and wounded prisoners march in extreme heat and humidity some 80-90 miles to a Japanese prison camp in the backcountry of Luzon.
APR91959NASA introduces the "Mercury Seven," the men chosen to become United States' first astronauts after an intensive selection process. Out of the 500 applicants, NASA chose Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, and Alan Shepard from the Navy; Gordo Cooper, Gus Grissom, and Deke Slayton from the Air Force; and John Glenn from the Marine Corps.
APR92003On televisions across the world, viewers watch the iconic footage of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square being pulled down by a Marine armored recovery vehicle. Baghdad is finally captured by the U.S. led coalition.
APR92003British forces secured Basra - Iraq's second-largest city.
APR101778The sloop-of-war USS Ranger sets sail from the port of Brest, France for action along the British and Irish coasts.
APR101865Confederate GEN Robert E. Lee issues General Order No. 9 - his farewell address to his troops.
APR101941When Germany invades Denmark, Greenland - a Danish colony - asks for U.S. military protection. Over the course of World War II, the United States will operate numerous weathers, navigation, airfields, and ports on the island.
APR101963The submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593) sinks while performing deep-diving tests in the northern Atlantic, taking 129 sailors and shipyard personnel with her. Thresher is the first nuclear sub lost at sea and the event marks the largest loss of life in submarine history.
APR101972B-52 bombers attack North Vietnamese SAM-2 sites near Vinh, the first deep-strike bombing mission since 1967.
APR101994Two U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons attack a Bosnian Serb command post after an attack on UN personnel. The strike is the first bombing operation in NATO history.
APR1119181st Aero Squadron pilots, equipped with the French Spad biplanes, perform the first American reconnaissance flight over enemy lines during World War I.
APR111945At 1515 local time a detachment of soldiers from the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion reaches the front gates of Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany. The emaciated prisoners give their American liberators a hero's welcome.
APR111951President Harry Truman removes GEN Douglas MacArthur from his position as Supreme Commander for the Allied Forces in South Korea for the esteemed general's repeated disrespect to the president. MacArthur's replacement is GEN Matthew B. Ridgway, who had been serving under MacArthur as Commanding Officer of the Eighth Army.
APR111966The 1st Infantry Division clashes with the Viet Cong east of Saigon and rescue helicopters are dispatched to evacuate the casualties. A1C Class William H. Pitsenbarger descends into the jungle to help hoist the wounded into the helicopter. When one of the choppers is hit by enemy ground fire and must depart, the Pararescueman waves off his ride and remains with the soldiers. Pitsenbarger helps treat the wounded and distributes ammunition from the dead, and when not dragging injured soldiers from withering fire that killed or wounded 80 percent of the unit, he returned fire. Pitsenbarger was killed during the assault and when he is found the next day, he is holding a rifle in one hand and a medical kit in the other.
APR111970At 1313 NASA Time, a Saturn V rocket blasts CPT Jim Lovell (US Navy), Jack Swigert (former U.S. Air Force CPT), and Fred Haise, Jr. (former Marine Corps/Air Force CPT) into space from the Kennedy Space Center.
APR121861Confederate BG Pierre G.T. Beauregard’s artillery forces — strategically positioned around Charleston Harbor, SC — open fire on Union-held Fort Sumter.
APR121862Andrews’ Raiders — an ad hoc Union Army commando force (22 Ohio Infantrymen led by civilian spy James J. Andrews) — commandeer a Confederate train at Big Shanty, Georgia during an operation aimed at disrupting the rail-line between Atlanta and Chattanooga.
APR121911LT Theodore Ellyson graduates the Glenn Curtiss Aviation Camp near San Diego, becoming Naval Aviator No. 1.
APR121945Former World War I artillery officer Harry S. Truman becomes president when Franklin D. Roosevelt passes away from a cerebral hemorrhage in his Georgia home.
APR121961Yuri Gargarin tells the control room "Let's go!" and his Vostok spacecraft launches the first human into space.
APR121975Marines evacuate nearly 300 Americans and foreign nationals from Cambodia during Operation EAGLE PULL.
APR121981Former Naval aviators John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen blast off on the first space shuttle mission. Columbia lands safely two days later at Edwards Air Force base after orbiting the earth 37 times.
APR121993U.S. aircraft from air bases across Europe and the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt begin enforcing NATO's no-fly zone over Bosnia during Operation DENY FLIGHT.
APR131941When Japan signs a five-year neutrality deal with the Soviet Union, President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the Navy to scale back operations in the Atlantic, considering the possibility that resources would now be needed more in the Pacific.
APR131943Germany announces the discovery of a mass grave in Russia's Katyn Forest. Josef Stalin ordered Soviet security forces to execute over 20,000 Polish officers, soldiers, and officials. Russia would deny involvement in the massacre until 2010.
APR131945As Nazi SS troops race to evacuate prisoners of war from advancing American forces, over 1,000 Polish prisoners of war are herded into a barn at Gardelegen, Germany and the building is set on fire. Those that attempted to escape the blaze are shot. The 102nd Infantry Division reaches Gardelegen the next day before the Nazis can destroy evidence of the massacre.
APR131953CIA Director Allen Dulles authorizes Project MK Ultra, the agency's secret experimental mind control program. The CIA sought to replicate and protect against communist mind control techniques used to interrogate U.S. troops during the Korean War.
APR131960A Thor-Ablestar rocket launches the satellite Transit 1B into orbit and America's first global positioning system (GPS) is born. The Navy will use Transit satellites to guide its ballistic missile submarine fleet.
APR131970Houston, we've had a problem": Apollo 13 command module's oxygen tank explodes, knocking out the crew's supply of power, water, and the means to remove toxic gases. The moon landing is cancelled, and NASA works furiously to engineer a means to return the crew to earth.
APR141918Two Nieuport 28 fighters flown by LTs Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell lift off from the Gengoult Aerodrome near Toul, France on an alert sortie. Immediately after takeoff, the pilots shoot down two German warplanes over the airfield, and then land. Winslow and Campbell have scored the first-ever victories for the American Air Service.
APR151861President Abraham Lincoln issues a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers to quell the rebellion by the Confederates.
APR151865President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater.
APR151912U.S. Navy scout cruisers USS Chester (CL-1) and USS Salem (CL-3) set out from Massachusetts to assist survivors of RMS Titanic.
APR151947Former 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion platoon leader Jack R. "Jackie" Robinson becomes the first player to break Major League Baseball's "color barrier."
APR151961B-26B Invader bombers, painted by the CIA to resemble Cuban Air Force planes, attack Cuban airfields in preparation for the upcoming Bay of Pigs Invasion. Under cover of darkness, a diversionary landing of 164 Cuban exiles, supported by U.S. Navy destroyers, departs for Baracoa, Cuba but turns around due to militia activity on the coast.
APR151961USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25) - America's first nuclear-powered frigate - launches at Quincy, Mass.
APR151962Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 deploys to the Mekong Delta, becoming the first operational Marine Corps unit to serve in Vietnam.
APR161898Following the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, the Secretary of the Navy orders Marine Corps commandant MG Charles Heywood to organize a battalion for duty in Cuba.
APR161916The French Air Service establishes the Escadrille Américaine — a group of volunteer American pilots flying for the French military.
APR161945Before dawn, thousands of Soviet guns open fire on the entrenched German soldiers defending Seelow Heights while nearly one million Red Army soldiers begin their assault. The Battle for Berlin has begun.
APR161972Former Naval aviators Kenn Mattingly, John Young, and Air Force fighter pilot Charles Duke lift off from Kennedy Space Center on the Apollo 16 mission.
APR161986Several hours before dawn, U.S. Air Force and Navy warplanes roar into Libyan airspace and begin a series of airstrikes against military and terrorist targets. Codenamed EL DORADO CANYON, the attacks are in retaliation for Libyan-leader COL Muammar Qaddafi’s direct involvement in terrorist attacks against Americans worldwide.
APR171847U.S. Army forces under the command of GEN Winfield Scott outmaneuver, drive from a superior position, inflict heavy losses, and decisively defeat a numerically superior Mexican Army under GEN Antonio López de Santa Anna at Cerro Gordo.
APR171915A month after the submarine USS F-4 (SS-23) goes down with all hands off the Hawaiian coast, diver Chief Gunner's Mate William F. Loughman becomes tangled in the wreckage 306 feet below the surface during recovery operations. Fellow diver Frank W. Crilley dives down to Louhgman and frees his trapped teammate.
APR171942Deep in the western Pacific Ocean, a task force consisting of two aircraft carriers, three cruisers, and eight destroyers takes on their last load of fuel before carrying out their secret mission. On the deck of USS Hornet (CV-8) sit 16 of LTC. James H. Doolittle's specially modified B-25 Mitchell bombers. RADM William F. Halsey, Jr.'s flagship USS Enterprise (CV-6) provides protection for Hornet as her warplanes will be stored below decks until the B-25s take off for their famous raid on Tokyo. The ships, traveling under radio silence, are now just 1,000 miles away from their target.
APR171961More than 1,500 CIA-trained and financed Cuban freedom fighters hit the beach along the Cuban coastline including the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), while nearly 180 "Free Cuba" paratroopers begin landing north of the beachhead.
APR171970A weary Apollo 13 crew splashes down safely in the South Pacific Ocean, just three miles away from their recovery ship USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) - nothing short of a miracle for the crew. NASA had to work furiously to devise new procedures on-the-fly to return the astronauts safely after an oxygen module explodes two days into the mission.
APR181775Paul Revere and William Dawes begin their famous "midnight ride" from Boston to Lexington, where they link-up with Samuel Prescott, who rides on to Concord. All three are sounding the alarm – warning town leaders and alerting the militia – that nearly 1,000 British infantrymen, grenadiers, and Royal Marines are advancing from Boston.
APR181942At 0738. a Japanese patrol vessel spots the task force bearing LTC James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle and his raiders 650 miles east of Japan. The ship is sunk, but not before her crew can report the position of the American aircraft carriers. Their cover blown, and the mission must begin ten hours earlier than planned. The crews will not have enough fuel to return to the carrier after the first raid against the Japanese mainland of World War II, so they have been instructed to strike Tokyo and other targets on Honshu, then fly to China and pray they’ll find suitable landing sites or bail out.
APR181943Naval intelligence intercepts communications that give them the travel itinerary of ADM Isoroku Yamamoto - the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, who is touring bases in the South Pacific to boost morale after the United States handily defeats Japan at Guadalcanal.
APR181945As the Red Army smashes through Berlin's defenses, 300,000 soldiers in the Ruhr Pocket surrender, bringing the total of German prisoners of war to 2 million.
APR181945The U.S. Ninth Army captures Magdeburg.
APR1819451,000 British bombers turn the island naval fortress of Heligoland into a cratered moonscape.
APR181945Ernie Pyle is killed by a Japanese machine gun after landing with the 77th Infantry Division on Ie Shima, a small island northwest of Okinawa. President Harry Truman states, "No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told." Pyle is posthumously awarded the Purple Heart - rarely awarded to civilians.
APR181983A Hezbollah suicide bomber crashes a truck carrying 2,000 lbs of explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, setting off a blast that kills 63 people. Among the fallen are 17 Americans, including the CIA's station chief Kenneth Haas, his deputy, the agency's regional director, and four service members.
APR191775An expedition of 700 British regulars under the command of LTC Frances Smith departs Boston to seize and destroy military stores of the Massachusetts Militia in Concord. At dawn, 70 militia members led by CPT John Parker meet the British at Lexington, and the two sides briefly skirmish. The Americans withdraw and regroup, attacking the redcoats again at North Bridge with a much larger force, forcing the British to turn back towards Boston.
APR191861Massachusetts volunteers headed for Washington, D.C. are attacked by a secessionist mob in Baltimore. Four soldiers and eight rioters die in the opening shots of the American Civil War.
APR191861President Abraham Lincoln orders a Naval blockade of Confederate ports in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
APR191917The Army-chartered transport ship SS Mongolia becomes the first vessel to challenge Germany's naval blockade of England. Fitted with three 6-in. guns manned by Naval crews, Mongolia drives off and damages - possibly sinking - a German U-boat in the United States' first Naval engagement since entering World War I.
APR191945Following the most massive artillery, Naval gunfire and air bombardment of the Pacific War, U.S. soldiers and Marines of LTG Simon Bolivar Bucker Jr.'s combined Tenth Army launch a coordinated ground assault against the dug-in Japanese defenders of the infamous Shuri Line on Okinawa.
APR191960Grumman's A-6 "Intruder" makes its first flight. The Navy and Marine Corps relied heavily on the versatile all weather/night attack aircraft until the Intruder's retirement 1997. The Marines operated the EA-6B "Prowler" electronic warfare variant until 2019.
APR191961Shortly after midnight, three pairs of B-26 Marauder bombers take off from a covert base in Nicaragua known as "Happy Valley" to provide air support to anti-Communist ground forces, now in their third day of fighting in Bahia de Cochinos - the Bay of Pigs. The CIA bombers are painted in Cuban Air Force colors and crewed by volunteer Alabama Air National Guard members.
APR191967MAJ Leo K. Thorsness, leading a flight of Air Force F-105 "Thunderchief" aircraft on a "Wild Weasel" mission in a heavily defended area around Hanoi, North Vietnam, destroys two surface-to-air missile sites. When one of his planes is hit and the crew must eject, Thorsness circles the area to notify search and rescue crews of the downed airmen's location. Spotting an enemy MiG-17 in the area, he engages and kills the enemy fighter, and draws its wingmen off as he heads for fuel. After refueling, helicopter crews attempting to rescue Thorsness' teammates reported more enemy fighters in the area. He damages one MiG and drives the rest away from the area. For his actions, Thorsness is awarded the Medal of Honor.
APR191989The number two 16-inch turret on USS Iowa (BB-61) explodes during a live-fire exercise near Puerto Rico, killing 47 sailors.
APR201861COL Robert E. Lee, considered for a top command by GEN Winfield Scott, and having just rejected an offer of command in the Confederate Army, reluctantly resigns his commission in the U.S. Army following the secession of his home state of Virginia.
APR201861Norfolk Navy Yard is abandoned and burned by Union forces to prevent the facility from falling into enemy hands after Virginia’s secession.
APR201914Following the arrest of U.S. sailors in Veracruz and the discovery of an illegal arms shipment from Germany to GEN Victoriano Huerta’s regime, President Woodrow Wilson obtains Congress’ approval to occupy the Mexican port.
APR201914During the first-ever combat deployment of a Naval aviation unit: LT John H. Towers, 1LT Bernard L. Smith (USMC), and ENS Godfrey de Chevalier, 12 enlisted support personnel, and three planes board the cruiser USS Birmingham and sail for Tampico.
APR201918In the skies over France, German pilot Manfred von Richtofen – the infamous “Red Baron” – guns down two Sopwith Camels of the Royal Air Force's No. 3 Squadron within three minutes, scoring what will be his final two kills.
APR201945The 7th Army captures Nuremberg. The Stars and Stripes are raised over Adolf Hitler Platz, the site of Nazi party rallies, on his 56th birthday.
APR201947U.S. Navy CPT L.O. Fox accepts the surrender of LT Ei Yamaguchi and 26 Japanese soldiers and sailors on the island of Peleliu. After the Japanese holdouts attack the island’s Marine Corps detachment in March, a Japanese admiral had to be flown in to convince Yamaguchi that the war had ended nearly two years ago.
APR202007With U.S. military airlift assets stretched to the maximum, a Russian An-124 "Condor" lands at Moffett Air Field to transport the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing and their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to Afghanistan.
APR211777British Army forces commanded by GEN William Tryon begin burning the village of Danbury. Much of the town is destroyed before Continental forces can arrive.
APR211836Texas Army forces led by GEN Sam Houston surprise and decisively defeat GEN Antonio López de Santa Anna’s Mexican army in the Battle of San Jacinto. In 18 minutes, some 650 Mexicans lay dead while less than a dozen Texans are killed. The Mexican army surrenders, and Texas secures its independence. Santa Anna is captured – hiding and dressed as a common soldier – the following day.
APR211898Spain severs diplomatic relations with the United States and President William McKinley orders the Naval blockade of Cuba, putting the United States on a war footing with Spain.
APR211940U.S. Army CPT Robert M. Losey becomes the first American casualty of World War II when he is killed by German bombing raid on a rail yard in Norway. Losey was attempting to evacuate U.S. personnel in the wake of the German invasion.
APR211951Two Marine Corps aviators, including World War II ace CPT Phillip DeLong from the USS Bataan (CVL-29), splash three Yak fighters and damage another in the first dogfight with North Korean pilots.
APR221856Despite Secretary of War Jefferson Davis's repeated attempts to halt construction on the rail bridge at Rock Island, the first railroad bridge is completed and open to traffic. The wooden bridge featured a draw span in the middle of the Mississippi River across a large stretch of rapids known as the Rock Island Rapids and crossed from Rock Island to Davenport, Iowa.
APR221863Union cavalry troopers, led by COL Benjamin Grierson, begin a two-week raid through Mississippi. Grierson’s raiders cut the state's telegraph lines, destroy two train loads of Confederate ammunition, sabotage 50 miles of railroad, kill 100 and capture 500 Confederates.
APR221915German artillery near Gravenstafel, Belgium fires over 150 tons of chlorine gas on French forces, including French Colonial Moroccan and Algerian troops, in the first large-scale successful use of chemical weapons. Within moments, the toxic gas cloud inflicts about 6,000 casualties - including many of the German artillery troops.
APR221942The Coordinator of Information (predecessor to the CIA) activates Detachment 101 - a special operations unit in Burma. The group collected intelligence, destroyed bridges, derailed trains, captured, or destroyed enemy vehicles, located targets for the 10th Air Force, rescued downed Allied airmen, and most importantly, recruited and trained over 10,000 native troops for a highly effective guerrilla campaign against Japanese Forces. Detachment 101 and its OSS teams became the prototype for modern-day Special Forces (Army Green Berets).
APR221944American soldiers and Marines, supported by over 200 ships, land in New Guinea for Operations RECKLESS and PERSECUTION.
APR221945As Russian air force and artillery and bombard targets in central Berlin - with some explosions rocking the underground Führerbunker command post - Adolf Hitler confides to his aides that the war is lost and declares suicide is his only option.
APR221951Chinese and North Korean forces, totaling around 700,000 soldiers, launch their Spring Offensive.
APR222004Pat Tillman, who left a multi-million-dollar career in professional football to join the Army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is killed while on patrol in eastern Afghanistan.
APR222010The U.S. Air Force's Boeing X-37B unmanned spacecraft, sitting on top of an Atlas V rocket, lifts off from Cape Canaveral just before midnight on its maiden flight.
APR231778CPT John Paul Jones, commanding the Continental sloop-of-war Ranger, leads a daring ship-to-shore raid on the British fortress at Whitehaven, England. The raid is the first on British soil by an American force.
APR231918Near Saint-Gobain, France 1LT Paul Baer of the 103rd Aero Squadron shoots down his fifth enemy aircraft, becoming the U.S. Army Air Service's first ace.
APR231945A U.S. Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer of Patrol Bombing Squadron 109 (VPB-109) launches two Bat missiles against Japanese shipping at Balikpapan, Borneo.
APR231951When his company's outpost is overrun by enemy forces in a fierce nighttime attack, TSGT Harold E. Wilson ignores wounds in his head, shoulder, arm, and leg, resupplying his fellow Marines and coordinating his unit's defense with his company commander. Wounded again by a mortar blast, the platoon sergeant refuses medical assistance for himself and continues to support his men and treat the wounded. Despite being covered with serious wounds he stays in the fight until the last enemy assault has been defeated. He then walks a mile to the rear, but only after ensuring that all his Marines are accounted for. For his actions, Wilson is awarded the Medal of Honor.
APR241781A 2,500-man force of British and Hessian troops led by GEN William Phillips lands at City Point. They are joined by the "American Legion," a militia outfit consisting of Loyalist deserters from the Continental Army and commanded by the famous turncoat BG Benedict Arnold.
APR241862ADM David Farragut's squadron of 43 Union vessels fight past Confederate batteries at Forts Jackson and St. Philip in the Mississippi River at New Orleans and destroy most of the Confederate fleet upriver
APR241942With the Burma Road now cut off by the Japanese, the Allies have no choice but to airlift supplies and ammunition from India to China. The first of what will soon be many B-29 bombers fly "over the hump" - the treacherous Himalayan Mountains.
APR241951When a wave of Chinese soldiers charged his machine gun position, Army CPL Hiroshi Miyamura told his crew to cover him as he fixed his bayonet and advanced into the enemy force, killing ten in hand to hand combat and scattering the attackers. Upon returning to his position, Miyamura ordered his men to withdraw as he manned the machine gun and covered their retreat. He killed some 50 communist fighters before running out of ammunition and becoming severely wounded. Miyamura's position was overrun, and he would spend the next 28 months as a prisoner of war. Miyamura would become the first Medal of Honor recipient whose citation was classified "Top Secret," out of fears for his safety.
APR241980Following a string of glitches from missed deadlines to malfunctioning helicopters, a U.S. operation aimed at freeing American hostages in Iran is aborted at a remote staging area – code-named DESERT ONE – some 200 miles from Tehran. As the rescue force begins to withdraw, one of the helicopters operating in night black-out conditions accidentally hovers into a C-130 transport aircraft. A terrific explosion follows, killing five U.S. airmen and three Marines.
APR241990An Air Force C-130H "Hercules", flying 60 miles off the coast of Peru gathering intelligence on drug cartels is intercepted by two Peruvian Air Force Sukhoi Su-22 fighters. Despite being unarmed and flying above international waters, the planes open fire on the C-130, injuring six of the 14 crewmembers and killing MSG Joseph C. Beard, Jr.
APR251846When MG Zachary Taylor receives reports that Mexican forces - seeking to reclaim Texas - have crossed the Rio Grande, he dispatches two companies of dragoons (mounted infantry) to investigate. The American soldiers are ambushed by some 1,600 Mexican soldiers and those not killed are taken prisoner.
APR251914Navy LT Patrick N.L. Bellinger flies the first Naval combat mission when his AB-3 flying boat conducts reconnaissance of Veracruz and searches the Mexican harbor for mines. Bellinger also becomes the first American aviator to be fired upon by the enemy.
APR251915Australian and New Zealand soldiers land on Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula and face fierce resistance from LTC Mustafa Kamal's Turks. Kamal orders his defenders, horribly outnumbered and out of ammunition: "Men, I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. In the time that it takes us to die, other forces and commanders can come and take our place."
APR251944When an Army Air Forces plane carrying wounded British soldiers goes down 100 miles behind Japanese lines in Burma, LT Carter Harmon conducts the first known military helicopter rescue. His YR-4B helicopter can carry only one passenger, so Harmon must fly four trips to everyone back to safety.
APR251945A U.S. Army reconnaissance patrol crosses the Elbe River and contacts a forward element of the Russian Guards. The German Wehrmacht is effectively split in two. Meanwhile, the Nazi occupation army in Italy surrenders and the last German troops in Finland evacuate.
APR251951Two battalions of Australian and New Zealand forces (along with U.S. and Canadian troops) repulse an assault by an entire Chinese division in the Battle of Kapyong. UN casualties are in the dozens, while over a thousand Chinese lay dead.
APR251960The nuclear-powered submarine USS Triton (SSRN 586) arrives at the St. Peter and Paul docks in the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first vessel to cross the globe submerged. Triton traveled 26,723 nautical miles in only 60 days.
APR251967One of the two pilots to fly the U.S. military's first-ever combat mission passes away at Andrews Air Force Base. MG Benjamin D. Foulois began his service as an infantry officer, serving in both the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American wars.
APR26177716-year-old Sybil Ludington – "the female Paul Revere" – begins her 40-mile, all-night ride across an isolated circuit of New York–Connecticut backcountry, warning villagers of a British attack on nearby Danbury.
APR261865After three days of negotiations with Union MG William Sherman, GEN Joseph Johnson surrenders the Army of Tennessee, along with the remaining Confederates in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida - nearly 90,000 troops in the largest surrender of the war.
APR261865Union cavalry troopers track down John Wilkes Booth at a tobacco barn in Virginia. He is shot and killed.
APR261945Eighth Air Force fighter pilots raid over 40 Luftwaffe installations, destroying an astounding 747 enemy aircraft in just one day.
APR261948Test pilot George Welch puts his North American YP-86 Saber jet into a dive and breaks the sound barrier - marking the first supersonic flight of a fighter aircraft.
APR261952While performing night carrier operations off the coast of Newfoundland, the minesweeper USS Hobson (DD-464) collides with the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-18). The minesweeper breaks in half and within five minutes, 176 sailors perish in one of the Navy's largest non-combat losses of life at sea.
APR261966While escorting a flight of F-105 Thunderchiefs on a bombing mission near Hanoi, an F-4C Phantom flown by MAJ Paul J. Gilmore and 1LT William T. Smith shoots down an enemy MiG-21 with Sidewinder missiles.
APR261971A Cessna O-2 Skymaster forward air controller plane is shot down by an enemy surface-to-air missile over the heavily defended Ban Kari Pass, marking the first U.S. aircraft lost over Laos.
APR271805Following an extremely difficult march across a 500-700-mile stretch of North African desert, a force of eight U.S. Marines, two Navy midshipmen, and band of Arab and Greek mercenaries commanded by U.S. Army officer William Eaton have reached the fortress at Derna during the First Barbary War.
APR271813BG Zebulon Pike's 1,800-man American infantry force lands west of the Canadian town of York. Supported by a 14-ship naval flotilla, the Americans inflict heavy losses on the outnumbered British regulars, Canadian militia, and Ojibwe warriors. The fort's magazine explodes during the battle, killing 38 Americans (including Pike) and wounding over 200.
APR271865The overcrowded Mississippi River steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 Union soldiers just released from Confederate prison, explodes, and sinks just north of Memphis. At least 1,500 soldiers perish in the greatest maritime disaster in U.S. history.
APR271953As armistice negotiations begin, GEN Mark Clark - the commander of UN forces in Korea - informs Communist pilots through shortwave radio broadcasts in Russian, Chinese, and Korean that defecting MiG-15 pilots would receive political asylum and $50,000. The Russian MiG-15 was believed to be superior to any Allied fighter at the time and had inflicted heavy casualties on Allied airmen.
APR271972After an astounding 871 unsuccessful strike missions against North Vietnam's Thanh Hoa Bridge, F-4 Phantoms armed with Paveway I laser-guided bombs finally knock out the stubborn bridge, which had become a symbol of communist resistance against the United States.
APR281907A detachment of Marines from the gunboat USS Paducah (PG-18) land in Honduras to protect American nationals during a conflict with Nicaragua.
APR281944As allied ships rehearse for the upcoming Normandy Invasion on the English coast, they come under fire by nine torpedo-armed German E-Boats in Lyme Bay. Two tank landing ships are sunk, and one is damaged, killing 749 soldiers and sailors. Several ships went ahead with the landing, and unfortunately the British ships bombarding the beach continued to fire, not knowing the Americans were already hitting the beach, and some 300 additional soldiers are killed from friendly fire.
APR281965A battalion of U.S. Marines land at Haina in the Dominican Republic to protect American nationals following the outbreak of civil war.
APR281967Boxing legend Muhammad Ali refuses to take the oath of enlistment after being drafted for service in the Armed Forces and is immediately stripped of his championship. It is three years before he is able to box again.
APR281970President Richard Nixon authorizes U.S. military incursions into Cambodia. While the country was officially neutral, Communist forces used Cambodia as a haven and staging area for cross-border operations into South Vietnam.
APR301789The U.S. Navy Department – parent department of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps – is established.
APR301917MAJ William "Billy" Mitchell, sitting in the observer seat on a French aircraft, becomes the first U.S. military officer to fly over German lines.
APR301943The British submarine HMS Seraph drops a cadaver overboard off the coast of Spain, disguised as a British Royal Marine officer with documents suggesting an upcoming Allied invasion of Greece and Sardinia. German intelligence discovers the files and shift reinforcements.
APR301945With the Red Army almost at their doorstep, Germany orders the 9,000 Allied prisoners of war (including 7,000 Americans) at Germany's Stalag Luft I to evacuate. The men refuse. The senior officer negotiates with the German commander, who chooses to order his guards to evacuate, leaving the prisoners behind.
APR301945Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his underground Berlin bunker.
APR301962The CIA's A-12 reconnaissance aircraft - the predecessor of the SR-71 Blackbird, a two-seat variant of the A-12 - makes its first official flight at the highly classified Groom Lake.
APR301970President Richard M. Nixon announces that U.S. troops would conduct operations in North Vietnamese-controlled areas of Cambodia.