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Feb. 28: This Day in U.S. Military History in the 1900s


1916 – Haiti became the first U.S. protectorate.

1917 - AP reported that Mexico and Japan would ally with Germany if US enters WW I.

1924 – U.S. troops were sent to Honduras to protect American interests during an election conflict.

1928 – Marines participated in the Battle of Bromaderos, Nicaragua.

1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.

1936 – The Japanese Army restored order in Tokyo and arrested officers involved in a coup.

1940 – English divers recover three rotors from the Enigma enciphering machine on board the scuttled U-33.

1942 – There was a race riot at the Sojourner Truth Homes in Detroit.

1942 – Certain duties of former Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation transferred to Coast Guard temporarily by Executive Order 9083. The transfer was made permanent on July 16, 1946. Also, the U.S. Maritime Service was transferred to the Coast Guard from the War Shipping Administration on this date.

1942 – The heavy cruiser USS Houston is sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait with 693 crew members killed. After a fierce battle of several hours duration, Houston and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth were sunk. Five Japanese ships were sunk by friendly fire, of which two were refloated.

1942 – U S. Maritime Service transferred to Coast Guard from War Shipping Administration.

1942 – Japanese landed in Java, the last Allied bastion in Dutch East Indies.

1943 – The Norsk Hydro power station near Ryukan is badly damaged by a sabotage team of Norwegian soldiers who have been parachuted in from Britain. This plant is known to be in use by the Germans to produce “heavy water” for atomic research.

1944 – German forces launch a second offensive against the Anzio beachhead held by forces of the US 6th Corps (Truscott). Four German divisions attack on either side of the Cisterna-Anzio road, defended by the US 3rd Division. German forces fail to break through.

1945 – There are America landings at Puerto Princesa on Palawan by 8000 men of 41st Infantry Division (ORARNG). Admiral Fechteler leads a bombardment group of cruisers and destroyers and there is also support from land-based aircraft. There is little Japanese resistance to the landings.

1945 – U.S. tanks broke the natural defense line west of the Rhine and crossed the Erft River. 1946 – The U.S. Army declared that it would use the V-2 rocket to test radar as an atomic rocket defense system.

1951 – The last communist resistance south of the Han River collapsed.

1954 – The first color television sets using the NTSC standard are offered for sale to the general public.

1959 – Discoverer 1, an American spy satellite that is the first object intended to achieve a polar orbit, is launched. It failed to achieve orbit.

1962 – The 39th Signal battalion, a communications unit, is the first unit of US regular ground forces to arrive in Vietnam.

1968 – Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, returns from his recent round of talks with Gen. William Westmoreland in Saigon and immediately delivers a written report to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Wheeler stated that despite the heavy casualties incurred during the Tet Offensive, North Vietnam and Viet Cong forces had the initiative and were “operating with relative freedom in the countryside.” The communists had pushed South Vietnamese forces back into a “defensive posture around towns and cities,” seriously undermined the pacification program in many areas, and forced General Westmoreland to place half of his battalions in the still imperiled northernmost provinces, thus “stripping the rest of the country of adequate reserves” and depriving the U.S. command of “an offensive capability.” To meet the new enemy threat and regain the initiative, according to Wheeler, Westmoreland would need more men: “The add-on requested totals 206,756 spaces for a new proposed ceiling of 731,756.” It was a major turning point in the war. To deny the request was to concede that the United States could impose no military solution in the conflict, but to meet it would require a call-up of reserves and vastly increased expenditures. Rather than making an immediate decision, President Johnson asked Defense Secretary Clark Clifford to conduct a thorough, high-level review of U.S. policy in Vietnam. A disgruntled staff member in the Johnson White House leaked the Wheeler-Westmoreland proposal for additional troops. The story broke in the New York Times on March 10, 1968. With the images of the besieged U.S. Embassy in Saigon during the Tet Offensive still fresh in their minds, the press and the public immediately concluded that the extra troops must be needed because the U.S. and South Vietnamese had suffered a massive defeat. Secretary of State Dean Rusk was subjected to 11 hours of hearings before a hostile Congress on March 11 and 12. A week later, 139 members of the House voted for a resolution that called for a complete review of Johnson’s Vietnam policy. Discontent in Congress mirrored the general sentiment in the country. In March, a poll revealed that 78 percent of Americans expressed disapproval with Johnson’s handling of the war. On March 22, President Johnson scaled down Westmoreland’s request and authorized 13,500 reinforcements. Shortly after, Johnson announced that Westmoreland would be brought home to be Army Chief of Staff. He was to be replaced by Gen. Creighton Abrams.

1972 – The United States and People’s Republic of China sign the Shanghai Communiqué. The document pledged that it was in the interest of all nations for the United States and China to work towards the normalization of their relations, although this would not occur until the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations seven years later. The US and China also agreed that neither they nor any other power should “seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region”. This was of particular importance to China, who shared a militarized border with the Soviet Union. Regarding the political status of Taiwan, in the communiqué the United States acknowledged the One-China policy (but did not endorse the PRC’s version of the policy) and agreed to cut back military installations on Taiwan. This “constructive ambiguity” (in the phrase of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who oversaw the American side of the negotiations) would continue to hinder efforts for complete normalization. The communiqué included wishes to expand the economic and cultural contacts between the two nations, although no concrete steps were mentioned.

1974 – The United States and Egypt re-established diplomatic relations after a seven-year break.

1980 – Blue crew of USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657) launches 4 Trident I (C-4) missiles in first C-4 Operational Test.1982 – The FALN, a Puerto Rican Nationalist Group, bombed Wall Street.

1983 – M*A*S*H, the cynical situation comedy about doctors behind the front lines of the Korean War, airs its final episode on this day in 1983, after 11 seasons. The last episode drew 77 percent of the television viewing audience, the largest audience ever to watch a single TV show up to that time.

1990 – Space shuttle Atlantis blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. on a secret mission to place a spy satellite in orbit.

1991 – A cease-fire was announced in Kuwait. Allied and Iraqi forces suspended their attacks as Iraq pledged to accept all United Nations resolutions concerning Kuwait. Tariq Aziz announces Iraq’s acceptance of all relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions. Saddam Hussein calls on his troops to cease fire.

1993 – Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided the ranch of the Branch Davidian sect under David Koresh in Waco, Texas. A shootout followed when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to serve warrants on the Branch Davidians; four agents and six Davidians were killed as a 51-day standoff began.

1993 – Three U.S. planes carried out the first mission to drop relief supplies over Bosnia-Herzegovina. The US Operations Deny Flight, Provide Promise, Deliberate Force, Decisive Edge, Joint Endeavour and others began in Bosnia and Macedonia. They cost $9.7 billion to date in 1999 and left 4 US casualties with 5 wounded.

1994 – In the first military action in the 45-year history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), U.S. fighter planes shoot down four Serbian warplanes engaged in a bombing mission in violation of Bosnia’s no-fly zone. The United States, 10 European countries, and Canada founded NATO in 1949 as a safeguard against Soviet aggression. With the end of the Cold War, NATO members approved the use of its military forces for peacekeeping missions in countries outside the alliance and in 1994 agreed to enforce U.N. resolutions enacted to bring about an end to the bloody conflict in the former Yugoslavia. In 1994 and 1995, NATO planes enforced the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina and struck at Bosnian Serb military positions and airfields on a number of occasions. On December 20, 1995, NATO began the mass deployment of 60,000 troops to enforce the Dayton peace accords, signed in Paris by the leaders of the former Yugoslavia on December 14. The NATO troops took over from a U.N. peacekeeping force that had failed to end the fighting since its deployment in early 1992, although the U.N. troops had proved crucial in the distribution of humanitarian aid to the impoverished population of Bosnia. The NATO force, with its U.S. support and focused aim of enforcing the Dayton agreement, proved more successful in maintaining the peace in the war-torn region.

1995 – U.S. Marines swept ashore in Somalia to protect retreating U.N. peacekeepers.

1996 – President Clinton and the Congress agreed on a sanctions bill aimed at driving foreign investors from Cuba.

1997 – US Navy medium attack aircraft were retired by order of Pres. Clinton. Any deep-strike mission would be in the hands of the Air Force.

1998 – First flight of RQ-4 Global Hawk, the first unmanned aerial vehicle certified to file its own flight plans and fly regularly in U.S. civilian airspace.

1999 – In Colombia 3 US citizens, Terence Freitas, Ingrid Washinawatok and Lahe’ena’e Gay, were kidnapped by FARC rebels. The 3 belonged to a group that worked to defend the rights of the Uwa Indians in a dispute with Occidental Petroleum. 3 FARC rebels, wanted for the kidnapping, were captured Nov 28, 2002.


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