This week in American military history…
Jan. 7, 1973: An F-4 Phantom flown by U.S. Air Force Capt. Paul Howman and 1st Lt. Lawrence Kullman shoots down a MiG-21 fighter over North Vietnam, chalking up the final USAF air-to-air kill of the Vietnam War. Five days later, Lieutenants Vic Kovaleski and Jim Wise flying a Navy Phantom splash a MiG-17, making it the Navy’s final air-to-air kill and the last aerial-combat kill of the war.
Jan. 8, 1815: U.S. forces (including soldiers, sailors, Marines, pirates, a few freed slaves, Choctaw Indians, and militiamen from several states) under the command of Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson defeat a numerically superior British amphibious force under the overall command of Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane in the Battle of New Orleans (La.).
Though a decisive victory for the Americans, the battle takes place 15 days after the signing of the war-ending Treaty of Ghent. Communications being what they were in 1815, news of the treaty did not reach New Orleans until February.
Jan. 8, 1847: Thirty-two years to the day after Jackson’s victory at New Orleans, a combined U.S. Army-Navy-Marine force under the joint command of Commodore Robert F. Stockton and Gen. Stephen W. Kearny (uncle of the future famous Union Army Gen. Philip Kearny) decisively defeat Mexican forces under the command of Gen. José María Flores in the Battle of San Gabriel, California.
At one point during the fighting, attacking American infantrymen are reportedly heard shouting, “New Orleans! New Orleans!” as a battle-cry tribute to Jackson’s better-known victory. Within days, U.S. troops are in control of Los Angeles.
Jan. 9, 1861: Confederate coastal-artillery batteries — including a four-gun battery manned by cadets under the command of Maj. Peter F. Stevens of the Citadel (the Military College of South Carolina) — open fire on the U.S. commercial paddlesteamer “Star of the West” in Charleston harbor. The shots — the first of the American Civil War — repel the Star, forcing the ship to abort its mission of resupplying the besieged U.S. Army garrison at Fort Sumter.
The crew aboard the Star report seeing “a red Palmetto flag” flying above the cadet battery.
That flag — a red version of the blue South Carolina flag — flies today over the parade ground at the Citadel.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: “This Week in American Military History,” appears every Wednesday as a feature of HUMAN EVENTS.
Let’s increase awareness of American military tradition and honor America’s greatest heroes by supporting the Medal of Honor Society’s 2010 Convention to be held in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2010 (for more information, click here).