Monthly News & Updates
Keep up to date with host Denny Gillem
May, marked officially as Military Appreciation Month, is a special month for both those in and out of the military. Happy Mothers Day. Not only do we pause on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice and service of those who gave all, but the month also holds several other military anniversaries and events, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces day.
Each year the president makes a proclamation, reminding Americans of the important role our Armed Forces have played in the history and development of our country. May was chosen because it has many individual days marked to note our military’s achievements, including Loyalty Day, established in 1921, Victory in Europe (VE) Day commemorating the end of WWII in Europe in 1945, Children of Fallen Patriots Day and the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.
Welcome to May:
On 1 May, every year, we celebrate Loyalty Day. It is a day set aside “for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom”.
On May 3, 1942, during WWII, this was the first day of the first modern naval engagement in history, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, a Japanese invasion force succeeded in occupying Tulagi of the Solomon Islands in an expansion of Japan’s defensive perimeter.
The US, having broken Japan’s secret war code and forewarned of an impending invasion of Tulagi and Port Moresby, attempted to intercept the Japanese armada. Four days of battles between Japanese and American aircraft carriers resulted in 70 Japanese and 66 Americans warplanes destroyed. This confrontation marked the first air-naval battle in history, as none of the carriers fired at each other, allowing the planes taking off from their decks to do the battling. Among the casualties was the American carrier Lexington; “the Blue Ghost” (so-called because it was not camouflaged like other carriers) suffered such extensive aerial damage that it had to be sunk by its own crew. Two hundred sixteen Lexington crewmen died as a result of the Japanese aerial bombardment.
Although Japan would go on to occupy all of the Solomon Islands, its victory was a Pyrrhic one: The cost in experienced pilots and aircraft carriers was so great that Japan had to cancel its expedition to Port Moresby, Papua, as well as other South Pacific targets.
6 May 2022, is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. It is celebrated on the Friday in May before Mother’s Day. This special day was first recognized by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. The sitting president typically issues a proclamation in recognition of the holiday, while celebrations are held on and near US military bases around the world.
On 8 May 1792, Congress passed the second portion of the Militia Act, requiring that every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years be enrolled in the militia. The Militia Act was tested shortly after its passage, when farmers in western Pennsylvania, angered by a federal excise tax on whiskey, attacked the home of a tax collector and then, with their ranks swollen to 6,000 camped outside Pittsburgh, threatened to march on the town. In response, President Washington, under the auspices of the Militia Act, assembled 15,000 men from the surrounding states and eastern Pennsylvania as a federal militia commanded by Virginia’s Henry Lee to march upon the Pittsburgh encampment. Upon its arrival, the federal militia found none of the rebels willing to fight. The mere threat of federal force had quelled the rebellion and established the supremacy of the federal government.
On 8 May 1945 was the formal acceptance by the allies of Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces, marking the end of WWII in Europe. We call it VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day. Several countries observe public holidays on the day each year, also called Victory Over Fascism Day, Liberation Day or Victory Day.
May 8, 2022, is Mothers Day
On 10 May 1968, during the Vietnam War, the US 9th Marine Regiment and the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, along with South Vietnamese forces, commenced Operation Apache Snow in the A Shau Valley in western Thua Thien Province. The purpose of the operation was to cut off the North Vietnamese and prevent them from mounting an attack on the coastal provinces.
During the intense fighting, 597 North Vietnamese were reported killed and US casualties were 56 killed and 420 wounded. Due to the bitter fighting and the high loss of life, the battle for Ap Bia Mountain received widespread unfavorable publicity in the US and American media dubbed it “Hamburger Hill,” a name evidently derived from the fact that the battle turned into a “meat grinder.” Since the operation was not intended to hold territory but rather to keep the North Vietnamese Army off-balance, the mountain was abandoned soon after the battle and occupied by the North Vietnamese a month later.
On 11 May 1961, President Kennedy approved sending 400 Special Forces troops and 100 other US military advisers to South Vietnam. On the same day, he orders the start of clandestine warfare against North Vietnam to be conducted by South Vietnamese agents under the direction and training of the CIA and US Special Forces troops. Kennedy’s orders also called for South Vietnamese forces to infiltrate Laos to locate and disrupt communist bases and supply lines there.
On 13 May 1846, Congress overwhelmingly voted in favor of President Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. Under the threat of war, the US had refrained from annexing Texas after the latter won independence from Mexico in 1836. But in 1844, President John Tyler restarted negotiations with the Republic of Texas, culminating with a Treaty of Annexation. The treaty was defeated by a wide margin in the Senate because it would upset the slave state/free state balance between North & South and risked war with Mexico, which had broken off relations with the US. But shortly before leaving office and with the support of President-elect Polk, Tyler managed to get the joint resolution passed on March 1, 1845. Texas was admitted to the union on December 29. While Mexico didn’t declare war, relations remained tense over border disputes, and in July 1845, President Polk ordered troops into disputed lands that lay between the Neuces & Rio Grande rivers. In November, Polk sent the diplomat John Slidell to Mexico to seek boundary adjustments in return for the US government’s settlement of the claims of US citizens against Mexico and also to make an offer to purchase California & New Mexico. After the mission failed, the US army under Gen. Zachary Taylor advanced to the mouth of the Rio Grande, the river that the state of Texas claimed as its southern boundary.
Mexico, claiming that the boundary was the Nueces River to the northeast of the Rio Grande, considered the advance of Taylor’s army an act of aggression and in April 1846 sent troops across the Rio Grande. Polk, in turn, declared the Mexican advance to be an invasion of US soil, and on 11 May, asked Congress to declare war, which it did two days later. After nearly two years of fighting, peace was established by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on 2 February 1848. The Rio Grande was made the southern boundary of Texas, and California & New Mexico were ceded to the US. In return, the US paid Mexico the sum of $15 million and agreed to settle all claims of US citizens against Mexico.
13 May, every year, is Children of Fallen Patriots Day. Its purpose is to salute the sacrifice of military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. This shows appreciation for the young people whose lives were forever changed in support of their parents’ service to our country. Too often, this tremendous sacrifice is overlooked, which is why Children of Fallen Patriots Day was created to applaud their resilience and strength.
On 15 May 1942, a bill establishing a women’s corps in the US Army became law, creating the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs) and granting women official military status. In May 1941, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts, the first congresswoman ever from New England, introduced legislation that would enable women to serve in the Army in noncombat positions. Rogers was well suited for such a task; she was active as a volunteer for the Red Cross, the Women’s Overseas League, and military hospitals. Because of her work inspecting field and base hospitals, President Warren Harding, in 1922, appointed her as his personal representative for inspections and visits to veterans’ hospitals throughout the country. She was eventually appointed to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as chairwoman in the 80th and 83rd Congresses.
The bill to create a Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps would not be passed into law for a year after it was introduced (the bombing of Pearl Harbor was a great incentive). But finally, the WAACs gained official status and salary—but still not all the benefits accorded to men. Thousands of women enlisted in light of this new legislation, and in July 1942, the “auxiliary” was dropped from the name, and the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs, received full Army benefits in keeping with their male counterparts.
The WACs performed a wide variety of jobs, “releasing a man for combat,” as the Army, sensitive to public misgivings about women in the military, touted. But those jobs ranged from clerk to radio operator, electrician to air-traffic controller. Women served in virtually every theater of engagement, from North Africa to Asia.
It would take until 1978 before the Army would become sexually integrated, and women participating as merely an “auxiliary arm” in the military would be history. And it would not be
until 1980 that 16,000 women who had joined the earlier WAACs would receive veterans’ benefits.
1. The meaning of opaque is unclear.
2. I wasn’t going to get a brain transplant but then I changed my mind.
3. Have you ever tried to eat a clock? It’s very time consuming.
4. A man tried to assault me with milk, cream and butter. How dairy!
5. I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.
6. If there was someone selling marijuana in our neighborhood, weed know about it.
7. It’s a lengthy article about ancient Japanese sword fighters but I can Sumurais it for you.
The Frontlines of Freedom Newsletter is published twice monthly; the dates of publication each month depend on the events and history of that month.