Monthly News & Updates
Keep up to date with host Denny Gillem
I hope you all enjoyed celebrating the US Army’s 247th Birthday on 14 June—which was also Flag Day.
We should all be proud Americans; despite our current challenges, we live in the best and freest nation in the world. War seems to be a regular part of human history. June includes some major events for us to consider,
Here are some of the significant things that happened in the last half of June: The Battle at Bunker Hill, the arrival in the US of the Statue of Liberty, the creation of the GI Bill, the Berlin Blockade, the battle of the Little Big Horn, the beginning of the Civil War, the arrival of US troops in France for WWI, and the beginning of the Korean War.
On 17 June 1775, during the Revolutionary War, British General William Howe landed his troops on the Charlestown Peninsula overlooking Boston, Massachusetts, and led them against Breed’s Hill, a fortified American position just below Bunker Hill.
As the British advanced in columns, American General William Prescott reportedly told his men, “Don’t one of you fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the Redcoats were within 40 yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat. Howe attacked again, with much the same result. Prescott’s men were now low on ammunition, though, and when Howe led his men up the hill for a third time, they engaged the Americans in hand-to-hand combat. The outnumbered Americans were forced to retreat. However, the Patriots’ gunfire had cut down nearly 1,000 enemy troops, including 92 officers. Of the 370 Patriots who fell, most were struck while in retreat. The British had won the so-called Battle of Bunker Hill, and Breed’s Hill and the Charlestown Peninsula fell firmly under British control. Despite losing their strategic positions, the battle was a morale-builder for the Americans, convincing them that patriotic dedication could overcome superior British military might.
The British entered the Battle of Bunker Hill overconfident. Had they merely guarded Charlestown Neck, they could have isolated the Patriots with little loss of life. Instead, Howe had chosen to try to wipe out the Yankees by marching 2,400 men into a frontal assault on the Patriots’ well-defended position on top of the hill. The British would never make the same mistake again.
On 19 June 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor as a symbol of Franco-American friendship.
The 300-foot statue was a gift from the people of France, who had been the Patriots’ primary foreign ally in the War for Independence, to those of the US as a celebration of the Declaration of Independence’s centenary in 1876. Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi sculpted the statue, originally titled “Liberty Enlightening the World” from copper sheets upon a steel frame. After completion, the statue was disassembled into 350 sections and shipped in 214 crates. On October 28, 1886, the statue was reconstructed and dedicated in a public ceremony by President Grover Cleveland.
On 20 June 1898 – During the Spanish-American War on the way to the Philippines to fight the Spanish, the US Navy cruiser Charleston seized the island of Guam.
On 22 June 1807, British officers of the HMS Leopard boarded the USS Chesapeake after she had set sail for the Mediterranean and demanded the right to search the ship for deserters. Commodore James Barron refused and the British opened fire with broadsides on the unprepared Chesapeake and forced her to surrender. The British provocation led to the War of 1812.
On 22 June 1876 – General Alfred Terry sent Lieutenant Colonel George Custer to the Rosebud and Little Bighorn rivers to search of Indian villages.
On 22 June 1898 – ADM Sampson began an amphibious landing near Santiago, Cuba. Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt and Col. Leonard Wood led the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry regiment, onto the beach at Daiquiri in the Spanish American War.
On 22 June 1936 – Congress passed an act to define jurisdiction of Coast Guard. In one of of the most sweeping grants of police authority ever written into US law, Congress designated the Coast Guard as the federal agency for “enforcement of laws generally on the high seas and navigable waters of the United States.”
On 22 June 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill, an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services–known as GIs–for their efforts in WWII.
Roosevelt’s administration created the GI Bill–officially the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944–hoping to avoid a relapse into the Great Depression after the war ended. The American Legion successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and–most importantly–funding for education.
By giving veterans money for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and equipment, the G.I. Bill effectively transformed higher education in America. Before the war, college had been an option for only 10-15% of young Americans, and university campuses had become known as a haven for the most privileged classes. By 1947, in contrast, vets made up half of the nation’s college enrollment; three years later, nearly 500,000 Americans graduated from college, compared with 160,000 in 1939.
On 24 June 1948, one of the most dramatic standoffs in the history of the Cold War began as the Soviet Union blocked all road and rail traffic to and from West Berlin. The blockade turned out to be a terrible diplomatic move by the Soviets, while the US emerged from the confrontation with renewed purpose and confidence.
American officials were furious, and some in the administration of President Harry Truman argued that the time for diplomacy with the Soviets was over. For a few tense days, the world waited to see whether the US and Soviet Union would come to blows. In West Berlin, panic began to set in as its population worried about shortages of food, water, and medical aid. The US response came just two days after the Soviets began their blockade. A massive airlift of supplies
into West Berlin was undertaken in what was to become one of the greatest logistical efforts in history. For the Soviets, the escapade quickly became a diplomatic embarrassment. Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission. And the successful American airlift merely served to accentuate the technological superiority of the US over the Soviet Union. On May 12, 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade.
On 25 June 1876, Native American forces led by Chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeated the Army troops of Lieutenant Colonel George Custer in a bloody battle near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River.
On 25 June 1950, armed forces from communist North Korea smash into South Korea, setting off the Korean War. The US, acting under the auspices of the UN, sprang to the defense of South Korea. The forces of many nations fought a bloody and frustrating war for the next 3 years.
Korea, a former Japanese possession, had been divided into zones of occupation following WWII. US forces accepted the surrender of Japanese forces in southern Korea, while Soviet forces did the same in northern Korea. Like in Germany, however, the “temporary” division soon became permanent. The Soviets established a communist regime in North Korea, while the US became the main source of financial and military support for South Korea.
On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces surprised the South Korean army (& the small US force stationed there). We responded by pushing a resolution through the UN Security Council calling for military assistance to South Korea. (Russia was not present to veto the action as it was boycotting the Security Council at the time—which is why the UN actually did something useful.) With this resolution in hand, President Harry Truman rapidly dispatched land, air, & sea forces to Korea to engage in what he termed a “police action.” The American intervention turned the tide, and US and South Korean forces marched into North Korea. This action, however, prompted the massive intervention of communist Chinese forces in late 1950. The war in Korea subsequently bogged down into a bloody stalemate. In 1953, the US and North Korea signed a cease-fire that ended the conflict. The cease-fire agreement also resulted in the continued division of North and South Korea at just about the same geographical point as before the conflict. A “cease fire” doesn’t end a war, so the war technically continues. Then China became North Korea’s sponsor and now provides most of the resources that nation needs.
On 26 June 1917, during WWI, the first 14,000 US infantry troops landed in France at the port of Saint Nazaire. When the Americans lined up to take their first salute on French soil an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the “Doughboys,” as the British referred to the green American troops, were untrained, ill-equipped, and far from ready for the difficulties of fighting along the Western Front.
One of General John Pershing’s first duties as commander of the American Expeditionary Force was to set up training camps in France and establish communication and supply networks. Four months later, on October 21, the first Americans entered combat when units from the Army’s First Division were assigned to Allied trenches in the Luneville sector near Nancy, France. Each American unit was attached to a corresponding French unit.
*I didn’t think the chiropractor would improve my posture. But I stand corrected.
*I took my new girlfriend out on our first date to the ice rink, and entry was half price. She called me a cheap skate.
*Studies show cows produce more milk when the farmer talks to them. It’s a case of in one ear and out the udder.
*My cross-eyed wife and I just got a divorce. I found out she was seeing someone on the side.
*My wife claims I’m the cheapest person she’s ever met. I’m not buying it.
*Did you know that a raven has 17 rigid feathers called pinions, while a crow only has 16. The difference between a raven and a crow is just a matter of a pinion.
*I told my carpenter I didn’t want carpeted steps. He gave me a blank stair.
*What did the surgeon say to the patient who insisted on closing up his own incision? Suture self.
The Frontlines of Freedom Newsletter is published twice monthly; the dates of publication each month depend on the events and history of that month.