Military History for April

1945. Invasion of Okinawa begins.

1954. President Eisenhower signs bill into law creating the U.S. Air Force Academy.

1966. Navy establishes Naval Forces, Vietnam

1959. Air Force Captions L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, and Donald K. “Deke Slayton; Navy LCDRs Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Alan B. Shepard, Jr., LT M. Scott Carpenter; and Marine LTCOL John H. Glenn, Jr. became Project Mercury astronauts.

1939. President Roosevelt signs National Defense Act of 1940, authorizing a $300 million budget, 6,000 airplanes for the Army Air Corps and military personnel increase to 3,203 officers and 45,000 enlisted.

1854. Marines and sailors land in Shanghai to protect the American Consulate.

1933. Rigid airship Akron is lost in storm off New Jersey coast.

1943. The B-24 Lady Be Good, returning from a WWII bombing mission, overshoots its base at Soluch, Libya, and is not heard from again. An oil exploration party 440 miles into the Libyan Desert finds the wreckage 16 years later.

1949. NATO established.

1990. The Orbital Sciences/Hercules Aerospace Pegasus, the first all-new space booster in two decades, is successful in its first launch.

1909. Navy CDR Robert E. Peary reaches the North Pole.

1949. At the height of the Berlin Airlift, Tempelhof Airport sets a ground control approach record for sustained landings when an airplane lands at the field less than four minutes apart for six hours. One ground control approach crew directs the landing of 102 aircraft between 5:50 p.m. and midnight.

1991. Operation Provide Comfort begins humanitarian air operations to protect and supply Kurds in northern Iraq threatened by Saddam Hussein's forces.

1818. Troops under MGEN Andrew Jackson capture St. Marks FL from the Spanish, for use as a supply base against the Seminoles. Agents supplying the Indians are arrested and executed.

1995. Air Force 2nd LT Kelly Flinn becomes the first woman to join a bomber crew, begins student pilot training at Barksdale AFB.

1942. The first flight of supplies takes place over “The Hump - a 500-mile air route from Assam, India, over the Himalayas, to Kunming, China, where the Chinese continue to resist Japanese forces. The 10th Air Force will ferry 700 tons a month to these troops that are cut off by the Japanese control of the Burma Road.

1945. The last B-17 rolls off the line at Boeing's Seattle plant.

1963. U.S. Nuclear submarine Thresher sinks off Cape Cod.

1994. In NATO's first air attacks on ground positions since the Alliance was founded 45 years previously, two Air Force F-16C fighters destroy a Bosnian Serb Army command post with Mk 82 500-pound bombs.

1904. One officer and 21 enlisted men became the first Marines to garrison Midway Island.

1911. The Army's first permanent flying school is established at College Park, MD.

1918. A U.S. observation squadron makes the first air patrols over enemy lines during war time, WWI.

1861. After a 34-hour Confederate artillery bombardment at Charleston SC, Union Army MAJ Robert Anderson surrenders Ft. Sumter.

1961. The Soviet Union stuns the world with the first successful manned space flight.

1966. Strategic Air Command B-52 bombers strike targets in North Vietnam for the first time.

1981. The space shuttle Columbia, the world's first reusable manned space vehicle, makes its first flight. Astronauts John W. Young and Navy Capt. Robert L. Crippen are at the controls.

1847. Marines capture LaPaz, CA during the Mexican War.

1918. Army LTs. Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell, flying Nieuport 28s of the 94th Aero Squadron, down two German fighters in a 10-minute battle. Winslow is the first pilot in the American sector of the front to down an airplane; Campbell is the first US-trained pilot to score a victory.

1971. Marines deploy to Okinawa after six years of service in Vietnam.

1898. Marine Corps Commandant organizes a Marine battalion for duty in Cuba.

1942. Japanese military force American war prisoners to make what will become known as the Bataan Death March, Philippine Islands, WWII.

1973. Taking off from Guam, Air Force crews flying Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses make the last bombing missions over Laos, attacking targets south of the Plain of Jars after Communist cease-fire violations.

1906. Army troops assume control and direct relief operations in San Francisco after a massive earthquake devastates the city.

1942. Doolittle Raiders bomb Tokyo in surprise attack four months after Pearl Harbor.

1943. P-38 pilots from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, intercept and shoot down two Mitsubishi “Betty bombers over Bougainville. The aerial ambush kills Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the Pearl Harbor attack.

1967. Over North Vietnam, Maj. Leo K. Thorsness (along with his electronic warfare officer, Capt. Harold E. Johnson) destroys two enemy Surface-to-Air Missile sites, then shoots down a MiG-17 before escorting search-and-rescue helicopters to a downed aircrew. Although the North American F-105 is very low on fuel, Thorsness attacks four MiG-17s in an effort to draw the enemy aircraft away from area. He then lands at a forward air base. Awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions this day, Thorsness will not receive his medal until 1973, however. He is shot down 11 days later and spends the next six years as a POW.

1861. Marines help burn the Norfolk Navy Yard to keep it from falling to Confederates.

1918. Canadian Capt. A. Roy Brown shoots down Germany's Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron, in action over France. The German ace had 80 aerial victories.

1778. Marines with John Paul Jones on the USS Ranger land at Whitehaven, England.

1863. The Union Army establishes the Bureau of Colored Troops for recruiting and organization of black soldiers.

1790. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton requests Congress to provide 10 boats for “securing the collection of the revenue, the initial duty of what will one day become the U.S. Coast Guard.

1909. Wilbur Wright pilots a Wright biplane at Centocelle, Italy, from which the first aerial motion picture is taken.

1948. Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal assigns the primary responsibility for air defense of the United States to the Air Force.

1980. In the middle of an attempt to rescue US citizens held hostage in Iran, mechanical difficulties force several Navy RH-53 helicopter crews to turn back. Later, one of the RH-53s collides with an Air Force HC-130 in a sandstorm at the Desert One refueling site. Eight U.S. service personnel are killed.

1914. Navy LTJG P.N. Bellinger, piloting a Curtiss AB-3 flying boat from the battleship USS Mississippi , makes the first U.S. operational air sortie against another country while searching for sea mines during the Vera Cruz incident.

1948. The Air Force becomes first service to announce racial integration.

1805. Army Captain William Eaton, the American Envoy in Egypt, leads a small group of Arabs and U.S. Marines across the desert to the “Shores of Tripoli, to capture the city of Derna.

1972. Four Air Force fighter crews, releasing Paveway-1 “smart bombs, knock down the Thanh Hoa Bridge in North Vietnam. Previously, 871 conventional sorties resulted in only superficial damage to the bridge.

1995. The Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation is declared to have achieved full operational capability by Air Force Space Command.

1971. Rear Admiral Samuel Gravely, Jr., becomes first black Navy flag officer.

1980. First woman graduates from U.S. Naval Academy.

1975. Marine helicopters evacuate 6,958 people from Vietnam during Operation Frequent Wind.

1798. Congress creates the Navy Department.

1917. MAJ William “Billy Mitchell is the first American Army officer to fly over German lines in WWI.