A number of very significant things happened in early October.
Here are some of the more interesting events: Our military looked at using balloons, both the US Navy and the Naval Academy came into being. Alvin York killed over 20 German soldiers and captured 132 during WWI. Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev pounded on a table with his shoe at the UN. We began attacks on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. A motorized rubber dinghy blew a hole in the side of the destroyer USS Cole. And the Cuban Missile Crisis began. A busy month for our military.
On 4 Oct 1861, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln observed a balloon demonstration near Washington, DC. Both Confederate and Union armies experimented with using balloons to gather military intelligence in the early stages of the war, but the balloons proved to be dangerous and impractical for most situations.
On 4 Oct 1944, during WWII, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower distributed to his combat units a report by the US Surgeon General that revealed the hazards of prolonged exposure to combat; it was called shell-shock. “The danger of being killed or maimed imposes a strain so great that it causes men to break down. One look at the shrunken, apathetic faces of psychiatric patients…sobbing, trembling, referring shudderingly to ‘them shells’ and to buddies mutilated or dead, is enough to convince most observers of this fact.” This was the beginning of recognition of what we now know as Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
On 5 Oct 1969, in an embarrassing breach of our air-defense capability, a Cuban defector entered US air space undetected and landed his Soviet-made MiG-17 at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. Air Force One was at the base at the time, waiting to return President Richard Nixon to Washington. The base was subsequently put on continuous alert, and it opened a new radar tracking facility to prevent the repetition of a similar incident in the future. Yeah, the pilot defected; we were glad to have a new MIG to look at.
On 6 Oct 1973, the surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces on Israel threw the Mideast into turmoil and threatened to bring the US and the Soviet Union into direct conflict for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Though actual combat did not break out between the two nations, the events surrounding the Yom Kippur War seriously damaged US-Soviet relations and all but destroyed President Richard Nixon’s much publicized policy of detente.
On 7 Oct 2001, a US-led coalition began attacks on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan with an intense bombing campaign by American and British forces. Logistical support was provided by other nations including France, Germany, Australia and Canada and, later, troops were provided by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance rebels. The invasion of Afghanistan was the opening salvo in the US “war on terrorism” and a response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC.
On 8 Oct 1918, during WWI, Corporal Alvin York personally killed over 20 German soldiers and captured an additional 132 at the head of a small detachment in the Argonne Forest near the Meuse River in France. The exploits later earned York the Congressional Medal of Honor.
On 8 Oct 1968, Operation Sealords was launched in the Mekong Delta by US and South Vietnamese forces. This operation was ordered by newly appointed Commander Naval Forces Vietnam, Vice-Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., who established Task Force 194 to operate along the canals and less-traveled waterways of the Mekong Delta to interdict Viet Cong infiltration routes from Cambodia. Additionally, TF 194 was to harass Communist forces in the area and, with the assistance of ground and air forces, pacify the Delta region. Under Zumwalt’s direction, US and South Vietnamese naval forces worked together to secure the waterways of the Mekong Delta. When the Vietnamization program began in 1969, the US Navy instituted ACTOV (Accelerated Turnover to Vietnam), the Navy’s Vietnamization plan, and by April 1971, all Sealords operations had been turned over to the South Vietnamese Navy.
On 9 Oct 1864, Union cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley dealt a humiliating defeat to their Confederate counterparts at Tom’s Brook, Virginia. Confederate General Jubal Early’s force had been operating in and around the Shenandoah area for four months. Early’s summer campaign caught the attention of Union General-in-Chief Ulysses Grant, who was laying siege to Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia. Grant was determined to neutralize Early and secure the Shenandoah for the North. He dispatched one of his best generals, Philip Sheridan, to pursue the Rebels there.
On 9 Oct 1944, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin began a nine-day conference in Moscow, during which the war with Germany and the future of Europe were discussed.
On 10 Oct 1845, the United States Naval Academy opened in Annapolis, Maryland, with 50 midshipmen students and seven professors. Known as the Naval School until 1850, the curriculum included mathematics and navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy, and French. The Naval School officially became the US Naval Academy in 1850, and a new curriculum went into effect, requiring midshipmen to study at the academy for four years and to train aboard ships each summer–the basic format that remains at the academy to this day.
On 10 Oct 1965, during the Vietnam War, in the first major operation since arriving the previous month, the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) joined with South Vietnamese Marines to strike at 2,000 North Vietnamese troops 25 miles from An Khe in the Central Highlands. The 1st Cavalry Division was a new kind of division, which was built around the helicopter and the airmobile concept. The division contained 434 helicopters and had the capability to move one-third of its combat power at one time into terrain inaccessible to normal infantry vehicles. During its first major mission, faulty US-South Vietnamese coordination prevented their forces from entrapping the North Vietnamese Army 325th Infantry Division, but they managed to reopen Route 19, between Pleiku and An Khe, the main east-west supply route in the region. During the course of its employment in South Vietnam, the “First Team,” as the 1st Cavalry Division came to be known, would prove to be one of the most effective US combat units in the war.
On 10 Oct 1969, the US Navy transferred 80 river-patrol boats to the South Vietnamese Navy in the largest single transfer of naval equipment since the war began. This was part of the ongoing Vietnamization program, which had been announced by President Richard Nixon at Midway in June. Under this program, the US sought to turn over responsibility for the fighting to the South Vietnamese so that US troops could be withdrawn from Vietnam. The plan included a massive transfer of equipment and weapons to the South Vietnamese and a stepped-up training program by US advisers designed to prepare the South Vietnamese armed forces to stand alone against their Communist opponents. The transfer of vessels by the US Navy was only part of the effort that also included a modernization of the South Vietnamese Air Force and new tanks, artillery pieces, and other weapons and equipment for the Army of South Vietnam.
On 11 Oct 1942, during WWII, our Navy intercepted a Japanese fleet of ships on their way to reinforce troops at Guadalcanal. The Navy succeeded in its operation, sinking a majority of the ships in the Battle of Cape Esperance
On 10 Oct 1985, the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro reached a dramatic climax when US Navy F-14 fighters intercepted an Egyptian airliner attempting to fly the Palestinian hijackers to freedom and force the jet to land at a NATO base in Sigonella, Sicily. American and Italian troops surrounded the plane, and the terrorists were taken into Italian custody.
On 12 Oct 1945, during WWII, Private First Class Desmond Doss of Lynchburg, Virginia, was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor for outstanding bravery as a medical corpsman, the first conscientious objector in American history to receive the nation’s highest military award.
On 12 Oct 1960, in one of the most surreal moments in the history of the Cold War, Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev removed his shoe and pounded a table with it in protest against a speech critical of Soviet policy in Eastern Europe. During a debate over a Russian resolution decrying colonialism, a representative of the government of the Philippines charged the Soviets with employing a double standard, pointing to their domination of Eastern Europe as an example of the colonialism they were criticizing in their resolution. In response, Khrushchev took off one of his shoes and began to furiously pound the table. The chaotic scene finally ended when General Assembly President Frederick Boland (Ireland) broke his gavel calling the meeting to order, but not before the image of Khrushchev as a hotheaded buffoon was indelibly etched into America’s collective memory.
On 12 Oct 2000, at 12:15 p.m. local time, a motorized rubber dinghy loaded with explosives blew a 40-by-40-foot hole in the port side of the USS Cole, a Navy destroyer that was refueling at Aden, Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed and 38 wounded in the attack, which was carried out by two suicide terrorists alleged to be members of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network.
On 13 Oct 1775, the Continental Congress authorized construction and administration of the first American naval force—the precursor of the US Navy.
On 14 Oct 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis began, bringing the US and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear conflict. Photographs taken by a high-altitude U-2 spy plane offered incontrovertible evidence that Soviet-made, medium-range missiles were in Cuba—capable of carrying nuclear warheads—and, now stationed 90 miles off the American coastline.
On 15 Oct 1863, during the Civil War, the C.S.S. Hunley, the first successful submarine, sunk during a test run, killing its inventor and seven crewmembers.
A Polish man goes to the eye doctor.
The bottom line of the eye chart has the letters…CZYNQSTASZI
The optometrist says “Can you read this?”
“Read it?” The Pole replies….”I KNOW THE GUY!”
The Frontlines of Freedom Newsletter is published twice monthly; the dates of publication each month depend on the events and history of that month.