This Month in Military History

OCT11947George Welch climbs into the cockpit of his North American Aviation XF-86 for the maiden flight of the Sabre.
OCT11951The Air Force activates the 1st Pilotless Bomber Squadron at the Missile Test Center, which is now part of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The squadron was armed with primitive cruise missiles (surface-to-surface) such as the Republic-Ford JB-2 - a copy of Nazi Germany's V-1 buzzbomb - and the B-61 Matador missile, an improved design which could be armed with a 40-kiloton nuclear warhead.
OCT11955America's first "supercarrier," the USS Forrestal (CVA-59), is commissioned. Forrestal, with its angled flight deck and steam catapults, is the first flattop designed to operate jet aircraft.
OCT21942COL Laurence C. Craigie becomes the U.S. military's first official jet pilot when he takes off from Muroc Dry Lake in the Bell XP-59. The day before, a Bell test pilot accidentally lifted off during a high-speed taxi test.
OCT31794President George Washington calls on the governors of Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to mobilize troops to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Washington himself will lead the army - the only time a sitting president commands troops in the field
OCT31912Four Marine battalions - including one led by MAJ Smedley Butler - converge and assault the fortress atop the 500-ft. Coyotepe Hill. Nicaraguan rebel commander GEN Benjamin Zeledón is killed during the battle, and the rebellion effectively ends once the Marines capture the city of León in two days.
OCT31950Major League Baseball rules that Philadelphia Phillies' 17-game winner Curt Simmons, whose National Guard unit had just been activated during the Korean War, would not be eligible to pitch in the World Series, despite the fact that he was on furlough. The Phillies were swept by the New York Yankees.
OCT31962CMDR Walter M. "Wally" Schirra, Jr. becomes the fifth American in space when he orbits the earth six times in his Sigma 7 capsule. After a nine-hour flight, he splashes down just half a mile from the recovery ship USS Kearsarge (CVS-33), joking that his target was the carrier's "number three elevator."
OCT31993Special operations forces board several Army Black Hawk helicopters and set out to capture the Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The snatch-and-grab operation was supposed to take only one hour, but when a rocket-propelled-grenade takes out one of the helicopters, Operation GOTHIC SERPENT begins to spin out of control. As the vehicle convoy, originally intended to haul the captured leaders of the Habr Gidr clan, races through barricaded streets to establish a security perimeter around the first Black Hawk, another Black Hawk is shot down. With resources stretched to the maximum and the vehicle convoy unable to reach the crash sites, Delta Force snipers MSG Gary I. Gordon and SFC Randall D. Shughart volunteer to land and provide cover fire for the second downed helicopter. Both are overrun and killed while protecting the four wounded crew members in the face of overwhelming numbers and will be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. MG William F. Garrison assembles a quick reaction force of 100 UN and 10th Mountain Division vehicles as the task force battles through the night. 19 American service members will be killed and 73 wounded during the intense urban combat of the Battle of Mogadishu. CWO Michael J. Durant, one of the downed Black Hawk pilots, is captured and held as a prisoner for 11 days.
OCT3201092 years after the end of World War I, Germany makes its last reparation payment demanded by the Treaty of Versailles.
OCT41777GEN George Washington decides to surprise GEN Sir William Howe's force encamped at Germantown. 11,000 Continental troops and militia have marched 16 miles through the night and begin their assault at 0530. Although initially successful, heavy fog, insufficiently trained troops, and stiff British resistance unravel Washington's coordinated assault and the attack falls apart. Washington's army suffers over 1,000 casualties and will have to spend the winter at Valley Forge.
OCT41821LT Robert F. Stockton sets sail from Boston to interdict the African slave trade. Stockton will help establish the country of Liberia, where thousands of former American slaves and free blacks are resettled. He will capture several slave ships on this cruise, of which he writes, "I have great satisfaction in the reflection that I have procrastinated the slavery of some 800 Africans and have broken off this horrible traffic to the northward of Cape Palmas for at least this season.
OCT41822Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States, is born in Delaware, Ohio. Despite having no military background, Hayes will be appointed Major in the 23rd Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The talented officer will be wounded five times during the Civil War, ultimately reaching the rank of BVT MG.
OCT41906A Marine expeditionary force, under command of LTC Franklin J. Moses, sets sail for Cuba to restore law and order. The Marines are supplemented by a squadron of cavalry troopers of the 11th Cavalry Regiment (today's 11th Armored Cavalry "Blackhorse" Regiment).
OCT41918An explosion at the T. A. Gillespie Co. Shell Loading Plant in Sayreville, New Jersey ignites a fire, leading to several more explosions that will last for three days. 300 buildings are destroyed, 100 people are killed, and hundreds are wounded. The plant is said to have on hand enough ammunition to supply the Western Front for six months. 12 Coast Guardsmen will be awarded the Navy Cross for their actions during the incident, and two will perish.
OCT41918In Montrebeau Woods, France, a tank driven by CPL Harold W. Roberts of the Tank Corps' 344th Battalion slides into a shell hole while positioning his tank to provide cover for a disabled tank. The 10-foot shell hole is filled with water and only one of the tank's two occupants will be able to exit before the vehicle is flooded. Roberts tells his companion, "Well, only one of us can get out, and out you go." For saving his fellow soldier's life at the cost of his own, CPL Roberts is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT41943USS Ranger conducts the only American carrier operation in the northern Atlantic, when its Dauntless and Avenger crews attack a German convoy near Bod, Norway, sinking or damaging ten enemy vessels.
OCT41944After a heavy mortar barrage on Mt. Battaglia, Italy, SSG Manuel V. Mendoza spots 200 enemy soldiers charging up the slope towards his position. He grabs his Thompson submachine gun and empties his five magazines into the charging force. He then switches to a carbine, exhausting that weapon's ammunition as well. He draws his pistol and shoots a soldier armed with a flame-thrower, just before the German can reach Mendoza's position. He then switches to a machinegun, pouring withering fire into the enemy and scattering them. When his gun jams, he switches to grenades and causes the enemy to begin fleeing. He charges after them, grabbing discarded weapons and capturing an enemy soldier. For single-handedly defeating a German counterattack, SSG Mendoza is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which is upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2014.
OCT41985The terrorist group Hezbollah announces that they have executed former CIA Beirut station chief William F. Buckley. Buckley, who had been held captive for over 14 months.
OCT51813British troops and Native American warriors led by MG Henry Proctor and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh are defeated by American MG Henry Harrison’s men in the Battle of the Thames. The outnumbered British troops are routed and Tecumseh’s tribal confederation collapses when he and his war chief Roundhead are killed. Soon, control of contested tribal-held lands, in what was then-called Northwest Territory, would be ceded to the U.S. government.
OCT51918SGT Michael B. Ellis of the 28th Infantry Regiment single-handedly attacks a German machine gun nest near Exermount, France, killing two enemy soldiers and capturing 17. He then moves on to capture 27 more enemy troops and six machine guns. Two captured officers cough up the locations of four additional machine gun positions, and the “SGT York of St. Louis” takes them as well. In addition to numerous valor medals from foreign countries, Ellis is awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT51950Just a few short weeks after the U.S. military had its back to the sea in the Pusan Perimeter, the tables have completely turned. LTG Walton H. Walker's Eighth U.S. Army issues orders to cross the 38th Parallel into North Korea.
OCT51969LT Eduardo Jimenez of the Cuban Air Force manages to fly his MiG-17 fighter undetected through the U.S. military's air defense network, landing at Homestead Air Force Base. Fortunately, LT Jimenez was defecting - especially since he was able to park his jet right next to Air Force One.
OCT52013Special operations forces conduct two simultaneous counterterrorism missions in Africa. In Baraawe, Somalia, SEAL Team Six/DEVGRU commandos swim ashore, hoping to snatch the Al Shabaab terrorist suspected in the deadly attack on a Nairobi, Kenya shopping mall the previous month, but are forced to abort the mission after an intense 20-minute firefight. Meanwhile in Libya, Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta soldiers grab a high-value Al Qaeda target involved in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings.
OCT61777Near West Point, British troops simultaneously attack - and defeat - Continental forces at Forts Clinton and Montgomery, and also destroy the chain that had been placed across the Hudson River to prevent British ships from sailing upriver. The engagement is sometimes called the Battle of the Clintons since the British troops are led by GEN Sir Henry Clinton, and the garrisons are led by GENs (and brothers) James Clinton and George Clinton - who is also the governor or New York.
OCT61918500 men of the 77th "Metropolitan" Division under the command of MAJ Charles W. Whittlesey have been surrounded by German forces after the French and American units advancing on their flanks have been held up. With no communication other than carrier pigeons and no other means to send supplies, 1LT Harold E. "Dad" Goettler and 2LT Erwin R. Bleckley volunteer to fly through withering enemy fire to drop much-needed supplies to the "Lost Battalion" in a DH-4 "Liberty Plane." On their second trip, both airmen are killed, and will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor - America's highest award for combat valor.
OCT61918CPT Eddie Grant, one of the first baseball players to join the Armed Forces during World War I, is killed while trying to locate the Lost Battalion. All but 194 members of the Lost Battalion are killed, wounded, or captured, and five 77th Division soldiers will earn the Medal of Honor during the six-day engagement.
OCT61942Five battalions of Marines, supported a group of scout snipers, cross Guadalcanal's heavily defended Matanikau River and engage the Japanese. COL Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller's battalion traps a Japanese battalion in a ravine, creating what he called a "machine for extermination," when heavy artillery, mortar fire, and small arms annihilates the enemy. The operation plays a major role in the American victory on Guadalcanal, when Japanese planners opt for an exhausting overland march for their major offensive against Lunga Point later in the month, instead of crossing the Matanikau.
OCT61993Three days after leading an assault at the Bakaara Market in the bloody Battle of Mogadishu, Delta Force's SFC Matt Rierson is killed by enemy mortar fire at the Mogadishu airport. 12 other soldiers were wounded in the attack. Another two soldiers are wounded during a mission to reach one of the downed Black Hawks.
OCT71777Continental forces under the command of GEN Horatio Gates decisively defeat British forces under GEN John "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne in the Second Battle of Saratoga (also known as the Battle of Bemis Heights). According to the National Parks Service, “This crucial American victory renewed patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face of the world.”
OCT71780Patriot militia forces armed with rifles, knives, and tomahawks decisively defeat musket-armed Loyalist militia under the command of British Army MAJ Patrick Ferguson in the bloody Battle of King’s Mountain on the border of the Carolinas.
OCT71918Nearly two weeks into the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I, the U.S. Army’s 82nd Division battles its way toward -- and successfully relieves -- the now famous “Lost Battalion.”
OCT71941Although the United States has not yet entered the war, a German U-boat torpedoes USS Kearny (DD-432), killing 11 sailors - the first Naval casualties of World War II.
OCT72001Post 9/11 America goes on the offensive against terrorists when U.S. and allied forces launch a massive retaliatory air and naval strike against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan.
OCT81918PFC Alvin C. York captures “the whole damned German Army.” In the action for which he will receive both the Medal of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre, York leads a seven-man team of doughboys against a strong enemy position. The team kills at least 25 Germans and captures four officers, 128 soldiers, and over 30 machineguns. French Marshall Ferdinand Foch will tell York, “What you did was the greatest thing accomplished by any private soldier of all the armies of Europe.”
OCT918611,000 Confederate soldiers land on Florida's Santa Rosa Island and assault Union-held Fort Pickens. The attackers withdrew after the federal guns inflicted 90 casualties. Fort Pickens sits across the bay from Naval Air Station Pensacola - the birthplace of Naval aviation - and coastal defense guns were installed at the old fort during World War II.
OCT91940After USS Nautilus (SS-168) conducts a successful test, Secretary of the Navy William F. Knox approves a plan for 24 submarines to each carry 20,000 gallons of aviation gasoline for refueling seaplanes at sea.
OCT91950As the U.S. military crosses into North Korea, PFC Robert H. Young and his fellow troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division are spearheading an assault. Young is wounded once by an enemy barrage, but he refuses medical treatment and remains on the line. He is wounded a second time and is awaiting treatment when the enemy threatens to surround the Americans. Young rejoins the action and, from an exposed position, kills five enemy soldiers. He is hit a third time but remains on the field - directing friendly tanks to destroy enemy gun positions. Young is hit by an enemy mortar blast while he is treating his fellow wounded soldiers, but despite his multiple grievous wounds, he instructs the medics to help the others first. Young will perish from his wounds one month later and is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT91951When a dug-in enemy position hammers his fellow soldiers during the battle for Heartbreak Ridge, SFC Tony K. Burris charges and destroys the position with grenades - killing 15. The next day, Burris is wounded by enemy machinegun fire while assaulting enemy positions on the next ridge. He continues his assault and is wounded a second time. He reaches the top of the ridge, then remains in an exposed position to draw enemy fire and pinpoint their location for a recoilless rifle team. When that position is destroyed, Burris continues to the next ridge, killing the heavy machinegun crew's six members. He charges one more position and is fatally cut down as he hurls his last grenade into the position, which destroys the enemy emplacement. Burris was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT91967Che Guevara, co-founder of Fidel Castro's Communist regime, is executed by firing squad while leading a revolution in Bolivia. While the cold-blooded murderer and terrorist remains an icon to many Americans, many of his fans wouldn't exist had the Soviets left their ballistic missiles on Cuba: "If the nuclear missiles had remained," Che said, "we would have used them against the very heart of America, including New York City […] We will march the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims […] We must keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm."
OCT101845Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft founds the Naval School in Annapolis. The nation's second-oldest service academy is built on the grounds of Fort Severn.
OCT101944Although assigned as a gunnery instructor and advised not to actively seek out combat, MAJ Richard I. Bong, America's all-time leading ace, volunteers for several missions between 10 OCT – 11 NOV, shooting down eight Japanese warplanes from his P-38 Lightning fighter. For his actions during this period, Bong was awarded the Medal of Honor. After scoring his 40th victory, Bong is sent back to the states where he becomes a test pilot. He will perish just before the Japanese surrender, when his Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star jet fighter malfunctions and crashes in California.
OCT101950As the 1st Cavalry Division crosses the 38th Parallel near Kaesong, helicopter crews with the 3rd Air Rescue Squadron apply plasma to a rescued pilot for the first time as they return to base.
OCT101985After Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) terrorists - part of KGB-trained terrorist Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization - take over the Italian-flagged cruise liner MS Achille Lauro, U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats intercept their Boeing 737 getaway jet carrying the terrorists to Tunisia, forcing the jet to land at a NATO airbase on Sigonella, Sicily. Once on the ground, the terrorists are brought to custody following a five-hour jurisdictional standoff between an 80-man group of Delta Force and SEAL Team SIX commandos and hundreds of Italian military police. The terrorists killed one of their hostages and threw his body overboard: wheelchair-bound American citizen Leon Klinghoffer. After leaving Sigonella, PLF founder and the attack's ringleader Abu Abbas flies to Italy and ultimately makes it to Iraq, where Saddam Hussein protects him from extradition to Italy. He is captured in 2003 by American forces and dies of natural causes in U.S. custody.
OCT101994In response to two Iraqi divisions massing on the Kuwaiti border, the Air Force deploys warplanes and begins ferrying thousands of soldiers and Marines to the Persian Gulf. Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR winds down by the end of the month when Saddam Hussein withdraws his forces.
OCT111910Wright Brothers pilot Archibald Hoxsey crosses paths with President Theodore Roosevelt while at St. Louis during a cross-country flying exhibition and invites him for a ride. Roosevelt initially refuses, but his adventuresome spirit gets the best of him, and he changes his mind. Roosevelt straps in and becomes the first president to fly.
OCT111939A letter written by Hungarian-born physicist Leo Szilard, and signed by Albert Einstein, reaches President Franklin D. Roosevelt, warning that the Germans could develop an atomic weapon and that the United States should begin their own nuclear research. Roosevelt quickly authorizes a committee on uranium, setting in motion what will eventually become the Manhattan Project.
OCT111942U.S. Naval forces under the command of RADM Norman Scott intercept a Japanese fleet, commanded by RADM Aritomo Gotō, attempting to reinforce troops on Guadalcanal in the Battle of Cape Esperance. Fighting begins shortly before midnight off the northwest coast of the island when the Japanese are caught by surprise. The heavy cruiser Furutaka and destroyer Fubuki are sunk during the gun battle, and ADM Gotō is mortally wounded. Planes from Henderson Field strike the retreating Japanese fleet the next morning and sink two additional Japanese destroyers the following day. Japanese sailors who jumped overboard refuse to be rescued by American ships, instead consigning themselves to a horrifying death in the shark-infested waters.
OCT111945Marines of the III Amphibious Corps land in China to assist in repatriating hundreds of thousands of Japanese and Koreans and to protect American lives and property. By the time the Marines depart China the following year, 35 have been killed and 43 wounded in clashes with Mao Zedong's Communist forces.
OCT111961President John F. Kennedy authorizes deployment of the Air Force's 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron to South Vietnam to support the counterinsurgency effort against the Viet Cong. The airmen are equipped with World War II-era warplanes and conduct strikes against the communist supply lines and fly close air support missions in support of U.S. Special Forces and the South Vietnamese military.
OCT111968Astronauts Walter M. Schirra (CPT, USN), Donn F. Eisele (COL, USAF), and Walter Cunningham (COL USMCR) blast off aboard Apollo 7.
OCT111971Marine legend LTG Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, the highest decorated Marine in history, passes away. Among his numerous decorations, Puller earned the nation's second-highest award for valor six times (five Navy Crosses and a Distinguished Service Cross) - second only to CPT Eddie Rickenbacker
OCT121862Confederate cavalry commander GEN James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart completes his “second ride” around Union GEN George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.
OCT121870GEN Robert E. Lee passes away after suffering a stroke.
OCT121944U.S. Army Air Force 1LT Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager and his 357th Fighter Group surprise a flight of 22 Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters near Hanover, Germany. Yeager's P-51D "Mustang", named Glamorous Glenn II, Yeager will score five of the group's eight victories - two without firing a shot - becoming an "ace in a day."
OCT121944Aircraft from seven U.S. aircraft carriers of Carrier Task Force 38 attack targets on Japanese-held Formosa.
OCT121945President Harry S. Truman awards the Medal of Honor to CPL Desmond Doss for saving the lives of 75 wounded soldiers on Okinawa's Hacksaw Ridge. Since Doss was a conscientious objector, the Army made him a combat medic. Prior to his service on Okinawa, where Doss was wounded four times, he also saw action on Guam and the Philippines, where he earned two Bronze Stars with "V" for valor device.
OCT121954George S. Welch dies when his F-100 "Super Sabre" disintegrates during testing. An Army Air Force pilot with 16 victories during World War II, Welch was one of two pilots able to get airborne and engage Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions on December 7th, but having taken off without orders, he only receives the Distinguished Flying Cross.
OCT122000While the destroyer USS Cole stops to refuel in Yemen, two suicide bombers ram an explosive-laden fiberglass boat into the warship, blowing a massive hole in the side of Cole, claiming the lives of 17 U.S. sailors and injures another 39.
OCT131775...[M]eeting in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress voted to fit out two sailing vessels, armed with ten carriage guns, as well as swivel guns, and manned by crews of eighty, and to send them out on a cruise of three months to intercept transports carrying munitions and stores to the British army in America." The birth of the U.S. Navy.
OCT141777After having been decisively defeated by Continental Army GEN Horatio Gates at Second Saratoga, British GEN John "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne surrenders his entire army, between 5,000 and 7,000 men.
OCT141943In what will become known as "Black Thursday," U.S. Army Air Force B-17 Flying Fortresses – elements of the famed 8th Air Force – attack the ball-bearing plants at the heavily defended Bavarian city of Schweinfurt. Though the raid is successful, scores of bombers – and more than 600 airmen – are lost.
OCT14194745,000 feet over California's Mojave Desert, USAF test pilot Charles "Chuck" Yeager becomes the first human to break the sound barrier, piloting his Bell X-1 to Mach 1.07.
OCT151917When a German submarine launches a torpedo at USS Cassin (DD-43) during an escort patrol, Gunner's Mate First Class Osmond Kelly Ingram realizes the torpedo will impact the destroyer's store of depth charges. Instead of remaining in a position of safety, he charges across the deck to the depth charges to jettison the stockpiled explosives that could sink his ship. Ingram is killed while trying to save Cassin, becoming the first U.S. sailor killed during World War I and is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT151918Near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, LTC William “Wild Bill” Donovan earns the Medal of Honor while leading his soldiers during an assault on strong German positions. Wounded in the leg by a burst of machine gun fire, Donovan refuses evacuation and remains in command until his unit is withdrawn. Donovan is named Coordinator of Information by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 and he will form the Office of Strategic Services the following year – the predecessor to today’s Central Intelligence Agency.
OCT151952President Harry S. Truman authorizes a B-47 Stratojet reconnaissance overflight of the Soviet Union’s Chukostky Peninsula. The photos reveal Soviet staging areas for bombers that can now target much of the Continental United States.
OCT151952The U.S. Navy conducts a massive amphibious mock landing at Kojo, North Korea, featuring 100 ships and support from carrier aircraft. The Navy hopes to draw the Communist fighters out into the open, allowing Task Force 77 aviators to wipe out the exposed right flank, but the enemy doesn’t bite.
OCT161821The schooner USS Enterprise intercepts a flotilla of four ships led by the infamous CPT Charles Gibbs as the pirates attack American and British-flagged ships in Cuban waters. Although outnumbered, LCDR John Kearney and his crew quickly defeat the pirate force, and Gibbs escapes into the jungles of Cuba as three of his ships are burned. Gibbs will eventually be caught and is one of the last people executed for piracy in the United States.
OCT161859A small party of abolitionists, led by John Brown, occupies the military arsenal at Harper's Ferry, hoping to inspire a slave rebellion. However, Brown's hoped-for uprising does not take place and local militia forces the rebels into a firehouse. A company of Marines under the command of BVT COL Robert E. Lee is dispatched to the scene and after an unsuccessful attempt by LT J.E.B. Stuart to get Brown to surrender, the Marines assault the barricaded fire station and bring an end to the crisis.
OCT161918When all other members of his machine gun detachment are killed or wounded, PVT Thomas C. Neibaur foils an entire German counterattack by himself. Four enemy soldiers attempt to kill him at close quarters, but the wounded Neibaur manages to kill them, and captures another 11 with his pistol. For his actions, PVT Neibaur was awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT161942As Japanese planes attack a ship unloading badly needed supplies for Guadalcanal's "Cactus Air Force", LTC. Harold W. "Indian Joe" Bauer - dangerously low on fuel following a 600-mile ferry flight from Espirito Santo - single-handedly engages the enemy warplanes, shooting down one bomber, four fighters, and damaging another before running out of fuel. The commander of Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212) is awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
OCT161946Ten Nazi war criminals are executed by hanging, including top Wehrmacht officers Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel, and SS officer Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Also sentenced is former Luftwaffe boss Hermann Göring, who committed suicide the night before his execution.
OCT161956The Pan American airliner Clipper Sovereign Of The Skies (a Boeing 377 "Stratocruiser") experiences failures in two of its four engines while in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on an around-the-world flight and has to ditch in the water. The Coast Guard cutter USCGC Pontchartrain is only a half mile away from the crash site and rescues all passengers and crew before the plane slips under the waves after 20 minutes.
OCT162002Congress grants President George W. Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq, however the U.S.-led coalition will not invade Iraq until March of 2003.
OCT171918BG William "Billy" Mitchell meets with American Expeditionary Force Commander GEN John J. Pershing and floats the idea of dropping soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division behind enemy lines. Pershing approves of the concept, but the war ends before paratroopers become a reality.
OCT171922LCDR Virgil C. Griffin, piloting a Vought VE-7SF bi-winged fighter, makes the first-ever "official" takeoff from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Langley - a coaling ship which had been converted into America’s first aircraft carrier - in York River. Though Griffin is indeed the first man to takeoff from a “carrier”, he is not the first to takeoff from a warship.
OCT171941When a "wolfpack" of German U-boats attacks an allied convoy, overwhelming its Canadian escort ships, USS Kearny and three other American destroyers depart their base at Iceland and begin dropping depth charges. A German torpedo strikes Kearny, killing 11 sailors and injuring 22 - the first American casualties of World War II. Adolf Hitler will use the engagement as a reason for declaring war on the United States in December.
OCT171944The 6th Ranger Battalion lands on Dinagat, Homonhon, and Suluan and sweep the islands guarding the entrance of Leyte Gulf in preparation for Sixth Army's upcoming landing; Operation KING II.
OCT171962Light Photographic Squadron 62 (VFP-62) begins Operation BLUE MOON - low-level reconnaissance of suspected Soviet military installations on Cuba. Soon, pairs of RF-8A Crusader jets will streak through Cuban airspace, avoiding enemy anti-aircraft fire while snapping photos of Soviet ballistic and tactical nuclear missile sites.
OCT171986LCDR Barry D. Gabler of VFP-206, the Navy’s last photoreconnaissance squadron, makes the final catapult takeoff and carrier landing of an F-8 Crusader, aboard USS America (CV-66).
OCT181775A small British fleet commanded by CPT Henry Mowat bombards the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, setting most of the coastal settlement on fire with incendiary cannonballs. Mowat then sends a landing party ashore to destroy any buildings that were still standing, and the "Burning of Falmouth" will provide the inspiration for the Continental Congress to establish the Continental Navy.
OCT181917A convoy bearing the newly created 42d "Rainbow" Infantry Division sails from Hoboken, N.J. for France. The unit consists of federalized National Guard soldiers from 26 states and the District of Colombia, and its chief-of-staff is COL Douglas MacArthur.
OCT181942Adolf Hitler issues his "Commando Order", stipulating that any captured Allied commandos - even if they are wearing uniforms - will be executed without trial. Numerous Office of Strategic Services (OSS) agents and Army Air Force pilots and crewmembers are killed because of the order, and German officers carrying out illegal executions under the Commando Order will be tried for war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials.
OCT181943After 11 months of intense training, the 29th Ranger Battalion (Provisional) is disbanded before the American commandos can participate in combat action. The Rangers return to their original units, bringing with them advanced skills they can share with the regular troops, like penetrating deep behind enemy lines, staging raids, and intelligence gathering.
OCT181944Following an hour-long enemy artillery barrage, SGT Max Thompson was working on evacuating casualties when he noticed that German troops had overrun a position held by his fellow soldiers. Thompson charges toward an unoccupied machinegun and works to stem the assault. He fires away until his weapon is destroyed by an enemy tank round. Alone and dazed from the blast, he grabs an automatic rifle and manages to halt and disperse some of the assaulting force. When his gun jams, Thompson picks up a rocket launcher and sets an enemy tank on fire. Later that evening, his squad was given the task of dislodging the few Germans that Thompson didn't run off with his one-man attack. He crawls to within 20 yards of a pillbox and attacks the occupants with grenades. Once they were aware of his position, the enemy poured heavy fire on Thompson. Although wounded by the bursts, he held his ground and continued raining grenades into the position until the Germans abandoned it. For his incredible heroism, SGT Thompson was awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT181977USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) is commissioned, becoming the United States' third nuclear-powered submarine.
OCT181983The Rockwell B-1B Lancer supersonic bomber makes its first flight. Originally envisioned in the 1960s to combine the speed of the B-58 Hustler and the payload of the B-52 Stratofortress, the B-1 had been cancelled in 1977 after just four swept-wing prototypes were built. Lancers, originally intended to carry nuclear payloads, would later be fitted for conventional weapons, and will not see combat until the 1998 bombing of Iraq (Operation DESERT FOX). During the War on Terror, 40 percent of the munitions dropped during the Afghanistan campaign have been delivered by B-1Bs.
OCT191781British GEN Charles Cornwallis formally surrenders 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships to an American and French force at Yorktown, effectively ending the American Revolution.
OCT191944Two Interstate TDR assault drones are launched against Japanese gun emplacements on Ballale Island - one drone missing its target and another delivering two of its four 100-lb. bombs on the target. The TDR was a two-engine, unmanned airplane remotely controlled by a Grumman TBF "Avenger" via a television camera feed.
OCT191950Troopers with the 5th Cavalry Regiment enter Pyongyang, capturing the North Korean capital. The following day, the 187th Regimental Combat Team will conduct two parachute drops north of the capitol to cut off retreating North Korean forces.
OCT191965Two regiments of North Vietnamese soldiers begin a week-long siege on the Special Forces camp at Plei Me in South Vietnam's central highlands. The outnumbered defenders repel repeated attacks and eventually drive off the NVA forces. Following the battle, GEN William Westmoreland orders the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) to find and defeat the forces that attacked Plei Me, which will result in the bloody Battle of Ia Drang.
OCT191987Following an Iranian missile attack on a merchant vessel, U.S. warships attack and destroy two Iranian oil platforms being used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to attack shipping in the Persian Gulf.
OCT192001200 Army Rangers parachute into - and quickly secure - an airfield southwest of Kandahar, Afghanistan, while special operation forces conduct other air-assault operations on several targets near Kandahar. These raids are the first known combat operations of the war in Afghanistan.
OCT192001SPC Jonn J. Edmunds and PFC Kristofor T. Stonesifer become the first combat-related casualties in the War on Terror when the helicopter carrying them crashes in Pakistan.
OCT201922LT Harold R. Harris (Army Air Service) performs the world's first emergency parachute jump when the wings of his Loening PW-2A come apart during a simulated dogfight 2,500 feet over McCook Field. Harris bails out of his cockpit and after free-falling 2,000 feet, he lands safely in a garden in Dayton, Ohio.
OCT201926After a brutal murder of a post office truck driver, President Calvin Coolidge orders the Marine Corps to protect the mail delivery. 2,500 Marines of the 4th Marine Regiment, commanded by two-time Medal of Honor recipient BG Smedley D. Butler, serve as the "Western Mail Guards" until they return to their regular posts in 1927.
OCT201944GEN Douglas MacArthur and some 130,000 soldiers of the Sixth Army land at Leyte Island. The Japanese Army's 16th Division, which conducted the brutal Bataan Death March and held Leyte Island, is completely wiped out during the fighting.
OCT2019502,860 soldiers of the 187th Regimental Combat Team jump from Air Force C-119 and C-47 transports on the first airborne operation of the Korean War. The paratroopers' mission is to drop north of the North Vietnamese capital of Pyongyang, trapping units attempting to escape the now UN-held capital, but by the time the 187th hits the ground, Communist forces have already slipped through.
OCT201951A day after having 83 pieces of shrapnel removed from his body, and still badly injured from bullet wounds received during six days of constant fighting, MSG Woodrow W. Keeble (USA) refuses to let medics keep him out of the fight. When his company is pinned down by enemy fire while assaulting Hill 765 near Sangsan-ni, Korea, the badly wounded veteran of the Guadalcanal campaign and now platoon sergeant courageously crawls forward alone and silences three machine gun positions with grenades and automatic rifle fire. Originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross - paperwork recommending him for the Medal of Honor kept getting lost - Keeble will eventually be awarded the Medal of Honor in 2008, 26 years after his passing.
OCT211917U.S. soldiers get their first taste of combat on the front lines in France.
OCT221951Operation BUSTER-JANGLE, a series of low-yield atomic weapons tests in the Nevada desert, begins with the "Able" shot. Some 6,500 troops are stationed just six miles away, witnessing the blast and then moving towards the detonation site to determine the effectiveness of fortifications and provide data to scientists on the psychology of soldiers in the aftermath of atomic attacks.
OCT221957The U.S. military suffers its first casualties in Vietnam when a wave of terrorist attacks hits Military Assistance Advisory Group and U.S. Information Service installations in Saigon, injuring 13 advisors.
OCT221962After consulting with former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy announces that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear weapons in Cuba and the United States will establish a naval blockade around the island to prevent further offensive weapons from entering Cuba.
OCT221968The Apollo 7 capsule splashes down in the North Atlantic Ocean after completing the first manned mission of the Apollo program. The crew have spent 10 days in space testing the command/service module that would carry astronauts to the moon and back on future missions.
OCT231864In Westport, Missouri, MG Samuel R. Curtis' 22,000-man Army of the Border defeats a heavily outnumbered Confederate force commanded by MG Sterling Price in the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi River. The Union brings an end to Price's Missouri Expedition with his defeat in the "Gettysburg of the West," and Price retreats into Kansas. After the Battle of Westport, the border state of Missouri will remain under Union control for the rest of the Civil War.
OCT231918When a battalion commander needs to send a message to an endangered company on the front lines, he realizes sending a runner would be too hazardous due to heavy incoming fire. However, PFC Parker F. Dunn volunteers for the job and races through the fire-swept terrain toward the unit. He is hit once and gets up. He is hit again and continues. Undaunted, Dunn carries on towards his objective, but is finished off by an enemy machinegun burst. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT231942On Guadalcanal, Imperial Japanese soldiers and tanks attempt to cross the Matanikau River, and are quickly defeated - signaling the beginning of the Battle for Henderson Field. For the next three days, the 1st Marine Division and the 164th Infantry Regiment, supported by the "Cactus Air Force", will shatter wave after wave of Japanese assaults on the ground and in the air. The battle marks the final major Japanese ground operation before they abandon the island.
OCT231944The Battle of Leyte Gulf - the largest naval engagement during World War II - begins. On the first day, the submarines USS Darter and USS Dace attacked VADM Takeo Kurita's Center Fleet, sinking two heavy cruisers and damaging another. During the three-day battle, nearly 400 ships will square off, with Japan suffering crippling losses: four aircraft carriers, four battleships, and 21 cruisers and destroyers are sunk, along with the loss of 12,000 sailors and 300 planes. An increasingly desperate Japanese military uses kamikaze tactics for the first time during the battle.
OCT231944In the Taiwan Strait, the submarine USS Tang - the most successful U.S. submarine ever - engages a convoy of Japanese transports, freighters, tankers, and their escorts. Tang sinks five ships and then escapes. The sub's skipper, CMDR Richard H. O'Kane, will be awarded the Medal of Honor for the engagement.
OCT231972As peace talks with the North resume, President Richard Nixon calls a halt to Operation LINEBACKER - the U.S bombing campaign in North Vietnam. In stark contrast to President Lyndon Johnson's tightly controlled Operation ROLLING THUNDER, Nixon had granted the military much more latitude to carry out their mission, which put a serious dent in the Communist supply chain.
OCT231983A 2000-pound truck bomb explodes at the Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers. The bombing would become known as "the bloodiest day in Marine Corps history since Iwo Jima." Moments later, another truck bomb hits the French barracks, killing 58. American troops will withdraw from Lebanon four months later.
OCT241742After disease and poor management leads to the deaths of all but 600 of the 3,500-man 61st Regiment of Foot, the American expeditionary force is disbanded and returns to the colonies. "Gooch's Regiment", named after regimental commander - also the Governor of Virginia – LTC William Gooch, had been part of the ill-fated British expedition to capture the Spanish colony of Cartagena.
OCT241944On day two of the Battle of Leyte Gulf U.S. aircraft attack the Japanese fleet, sinking the battleship Musashi and damaging four others. A single Japanese dive bomber attacks the light carrier USS Princeton (CVL-23), igniting an internal blaze that will sink the ship with just one bomb.
OCT241944CMDR David McCampbell and wingman ENS Roy Rushing spot a flight of 60 Japanese planes and engage despite the outrageous odds. McCampbell shoots down nine warplanes, setting a single sortie record, and his partner claims six. After becoming the only U.S. aviator to claim "ace in a day" status twice, McCampbell lands his F6F Hellcat as it runs out of fuel and with only two bullets left. For his daring actions, the top Naval ace of the war was awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT241944In the Taiwan Strait, the submarine USS Tang, fires a torpedo, which circles around and sinks Tang. The sub bottoms out in 180 feet of water, but nine crew members - including skipper Richard O'Kane - escape in the only known successful use of the Momsen rebreather.
OCT241951In the skies over Korea, 150 Russian MiG-15 fighters intercept a formation of B-29 bombers and 55 F-84 Thunderjet escorts. The Communists manage to shoot down four of the B-29s and one escort, but at least eight MiGs are lost in the largest air battle of the Korean War. The sortie will be the last daylight bombing raid for the B-29.
OCT241953Convair's chief test pilot Richard L. "Dick" Johnson takes off from Edwards Air Force Base in a YF-102 prototype, marking the first flight of the Delta Dagger. The interceptor carried the AIM-26 Nuclear Falcon missile, which was designed for use against Soviet bomber formations. President George W. Bush flew a "Duce" during his service as a pilot with the Texas Air National Guard.
OCT241954President Dwight Eisenhower sends a letter to Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem, pledging direct support to the South Vietnamese government. Although United States assets have been in French Indochina since World War II, this date is considered the beginning of the U.S. commitment to South Vietnam.
OCT251812The frigate USS United States under the command of CPT Stephen Decatur – hero of Tripoli and said to be the U.S. Navy’s own Lord Nelson – captures the Royal Navy frigate HMS Macedonian under the command of CPT John Carden in a brisk fight several hundred miles off the Azores.
OCT251925The court martial of COL William "Billy" Mitchell, America's chief aviation officer during World War I and considered to be the "Father of the U.S. Air Force", begins in Washington, D.C. The outspoken Mitchell is charged with multiple counts of insubordination due to his criticism of Navy leadership for investing in battleships instead of aircraft carriers and the handling of numerous fatal aviation incidents. MG Douglas MacArthur, one of Mitchell's 12 judges, refers to his assignment as "one of the most distasteful orders I ever received."
OCT251942On Guadalcanal, Japanese forces launch a series of full-frontal assaults to retake Henderson Field. The defending Marines - led by LTC B. Lewis "Chesty" Puller - and soldiers kill upwards of 3,000 Japanese troops at the cost of only 80 Americans. SGT John Basilone became a Marine legend during the battle, fighting off wave after wave of Japanese soldiers for two days despite being incredibly outnumbered.
OCT251944During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, torpedoes from the destroyer USS Melvin (DD-680) sink the Japanese battleship Fusō, considered to be the largest warship to go down with all hands during World War II. RADM Jesse Oldendorf's 7th Fleet Support Group, consisting of several battleships sunk or damaged during Pearl Harbor, engage and sink the battleship Yamashiro, marking the last battleship-versus-battleship engagement in history. The escort carrier USS St. Lo (CVE-63) becomes the first major warship to be sunk by Japanese kamikaze pilots. By war's end, kamikaze attacks would sink 34 U.S. ships.
OCT251944Three Japanese destroyers are sunk at the cost of one U.S. escort carrier, two destroyers, and a destroyer escort.
OCT251944Aircraft from the U.S. 3rd Fleet, commanded by ADM Bill Halsey, sink the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, the last surviving carrier that struck Pearl Harbor. Also headed for the bottom are two more light carriers and a destroyer. Two more ships - including another light carrier - are crippled. Later that day, naval gunfire and torpedoes will claim another Japanese light carrier, two destroyers, and a light cruiser. The Battle for Leyte Gulf is effectively over.
OCT251950Well over 200,000 Chinese Communist troops attack UN forces in their first assault of the Korean War. The Chinese force withdraws to the mountains and when they attack again one month later, they will drive the American-led force all the way back to the southern tip of the Korean peninsula.
OCT251983Nearly 2,000 U.S. troops land on the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada to secure American citizens and topple the Marxist regime. On the first day of fighting, members of the 75th Ranger Regiment parachuted into the Port Salines International Airport, allowing planes to deliver soldiers of the 82d Airborne Division. When a SEAL team determines that the beach is unsuitable for the planned amphibious invasion to capture Pearl Airport on the opposite side of the island, helicopters ferry Marines ashore and quickly secure their objective.
OCT261909U.S. Army LT Frederick Erastus Humphreys becomes the first Army aviator to solo in a heavier-than-air craft – the Wright Flyer – following three hours of instruction by Wilbur Wright.
OCT261922Off Cape Henry LCDR Godfrey Chevalier becomes the first aviator to land on a moving ship when his Aeromarine 39B biplane touches down on the deck of USS Langley.
OCT261942Japanese carrier-based aircraft sink the carrier USS Hornet, leaving only one operational American carrier in the Pacific. The Battle of Santa Cruz is a pyrrhic victory for the Japanese, however, as their carrier pilots were decimated in the attack and can no longer conduct attacks on U.S. forces at Guadalcanal.
OCT261942On Guadalcanal, Platoon Sergeant Mitchell Paige fights off wave after wave of Japanese soldiers single-handedly, as all the Marines in his machine gun section are dead or wounded. Once reinforcements arrive, Paige leads a bayonet charge that drives off the enemy. For his actions, Paige is awarded the Medal of Honor and becomes a Marine legend.
OCT261950The First Marine Division lands at Wonsan, Korea and moves north toward the Yalu River. In a month, they will be attacked by 10 Chinese divisions and must fight their way out of the Chosin Reservoir.
OCT261950Republic of Korean (South Korea) forces arrive at the Yalu River and learn that two entire Chinese Armies have already crossed into Korea.
OCT261966A magnesium parachute flare ignites aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CV-34) off the coast of Vietnam, igniting the worst ship-board fire since World War II. 44 sailors perished in the blaze.
OCT261968An estimated four battalions of North Vietnamese soldiers attempt to overrun Fire Support Base Julie near the Cambodian border. Supported by dozens of B-52 strikes, the defenders manage to repel the attack.
OCT271864In a daring nighttime commando raid, LT William B. Cushing, aboard a torpedo-armed steam launch, slips past a Confederate schooner guarding the ironclad CSS Albemarle. Cushing detonates the spar torpedo, blowing a massive hole in the warship, which had been dominating the Roanoke River. Although several of his crew are drowned and captured, Cushing and another sailor escape, leaving behind a destroyed ironclad.
OCT271942After several days of intense fighting, a shattered Japanese military abandons their offensive on Guadalcanal's Henderson Field.
OCT271954BG Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. becomes the first black general in the U.S. Air Force. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., who served in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, and both World Wars, had been the first black man ever promoted to the rank of general in the United States Armed Forces. After becoming the first black pilot to ever solo in a U.S. Army Air Corps aircraft, the younger Davis commanded the 99th Pursuit Squadron - the famous "Tuskegee Airmen" - during World War II. He again saw combat when he deployed to Korea as Commander of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing in 1953.
OCT271962MAJ Rudolph Anderson (USAF) becomes the only casualty from hostile fire during the Cuban Missile Crisis when a Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missile shoots down his U-2 spy plane during a reconnaissance overflight of Cuba. Anderson will be posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, the U.S. military's second-highest award for valor, after the Medal of Honor.
OCT281962Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev “blinks,” ordering the withdrawal of ballistic missiles from Cuba and putting an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
OCT291814The wooden floating battery Demologos, the first steam-powered warship, is launched at New York City.
OCT291942Decimated by combat losses, malnutrition, and tropical diseases, the first soldiers of the Japanese garrison begin departing Guadalcanal.
OCT291944Three 442d Regimental Combat Team soldiers earn the Medal of Honor near Biffontaine, France on this day. Technician 5th Grade James K. Okubo, PVT Barney F. Hajiro, and PVT George T. Sakato. The all-Nisei 442d RCT holds the distinction of being the most decorated unit in United States Armed Forces history.
OCT291998John Glenn blasts off aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest man in space at 77 years old. Glenn was the third member of Congress to fly in space. He was preceded by Senator Jake Garn and Congressman Bill Nelson.
OCT301918CPT Eddie Rickenbacker shoots down his 26th - and final - enemy aircraft over Rémonville, France.
OCT301940The Royal Air Force's First Eagle Squadron, consisting of volunteer pilots from the United States, becomes operational. Thousands of Americans would apply, but only 244 were chosen for service during the early days of World War II.
OCT301944PVT Wilburn K. Ross almost single-handedly fights off a German attack that devastated his company. PVT Ross killed or wounded dozens of enemy soldiers, forcing a retreat.
OCT301944In the Philippines, the new tactic of kamikaze attacks become an increasing threat, with Japanese planes striking the aircraft carriers USS Franklin and USS Belleau Wood. Over 100 sailors are killed, and the crippled flattops must sail back to the United States for repairs.
OCT301954The Defense Department announces that it has completed the process of eliminating racial segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces.
OCT301961On a remote island north of the Arctic Circle, a Soviet Air Force Tu-95 "Bear" bomber drops the Tsar Bomba, setting off the largest man-made explosion in human history. The 50-megaton device has ten times the explosive force of all conventional weapons dropped during World War II and was over 1,500 times stronger than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. The blast is so powerful that windows are broken well over 500 miles away and the aircrew is only given a 50 percent chance of survival. A U.S. Air Force JKC-135A intelligence gathering plane on a secret mission to collect data on the blast is scorched by the heat wave and is removed from service after landing.
OCT301963500 miles east of the Massachusetts coast, LT James H. Flately III makes his first of what will be 21 touch-and-go landings aboard USS Forrestal (CV-59) in a C-130 Hercules. The Navy is testing the massive C-130, which is not equipped with a tailhook, for supplying the flattop while at sea. Ultimately, Flately will make 29 full-stop landings, and his wingtips clear Forrestal's island by just 15 feet.
OCT311941Although the United States has not yet entered the war, U.S. Naval vessels are serving as convoy escorts. When a German U-boat "wolfpack" attacks an Allied convoy near Iceland, the American destroyer USS Reuben James places itself between an incoming torpedo and an ammunition ship. The torpedo detonates the destroyer's magazine, blowing the Reuben James in half. 115 sailors perish in the first sinking of a U.S. warship in World War II.
OCT311943LT Hugh D. O'Neill, flying at night in a specially modified F4U Corsair, shoots down a Japanese Betty bomber over Vella Lavella, scoring the first kill for the radar-equipped night fighters.
OCT311966While on a patrol mission of the Mekong Delta, two patrol boats of the "Brown Water Navy" are fired upon by Vietnamese sampans. When PO1 James E. Williams chases, he discovers a hornet's nest of enemy activity in the isolated section of the delta. During a three-hour battle with enemy boats and fortifications, Williams, and his crew, supported by helicopter gunships, destroy 65 vessels, and kill hundreds of the enemy force. For his role in the engagement, the Navy's most-decorated sailor (having already received two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars - all for valor - in addition to the Navy Cross) is awarded the Medal of Honor.
OCT311968President Lyndon B. Johnson ends Operation ROLLING THUNDER. Over three-and-a-half years, 864,000 tons of bombs fell on the Communist nation - more tonnage dropped than either the Korean War or the Pacific Theater of World War II. Nearly 1,000 U.S. planes are shot down during ROLLING THUNDER, with over 1,000 aircrew killed, wounded, or captured. But despite the damage inflicted by the Americans, the North Vietnamese show they can take what Washington can dish out.
OCT311971Saigon begins releasing the first of around 3,000 Viet Cong prisoners of war. American POWs won't be released until February 1973.
OCT311972Two Navy SEAL advisors and their South Vietnamese naval commando counterparts on a reconnaissance mission realize they were accidentally inserted smack dab in the middle of thousands of North Vietnamese soldiers. As the team maneuvers back to the sea, they are compromised. LT Thomas Norris receives a massive facial wound, and a Vietnamese frogman tells PO Michael E. Thornton that Norris is dead. Instead of leaving his supposedly fallen officer behind, Thornton fights his way through a murderous field of fire to rescue Norris, then swam out to sea for four hours before being rescued while holding two incapacitated teammates – even though Thornton himself had been wounded multiple times. Thornton will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his incredible lifesaving feat.
OCT311976The Air Force's E-3A Sentry airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) aircraft makes its first flight.