Today in History, August 16, 1927:
“The Dole Air Race” ends in tragedy and glory. Depending on who you were.
James Drummond Dole, heir to the Dole Pineapple industry that had been initiated in the 19th century, sponsored an air race to prove that air travel could be made between the mainland and Honolulu. He had been inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight. Whoever reached Honolulu first would win $25,000.
Several entrants would drop out before the flight even began, but of the eight that left the mainland, six would be lost without a trace.
Two Army Air Corps Lieutenant’s had already made the flight successfully…but since they landed at Wheeler Field rather than Honolulu, they were disqualified.
Two Travel Air 5000 monoplanes were sponsored by Oklahoma Oilman Frank Phillips…the “Oklahoma” and the “Woolaroc.” The Oklahoma had to turn back….but the Woolaroc, piloted by Arthur C. Goebel and William V. Davis, Jr. took the prize, being the first to arrive in Honolulu.
Once again, Oklahoma wins. You can visit the “Woolaroc”, at Woolaroc near Bartlesville.
Today in History, August 14, 1842:
After seven years of war on the Florida peninsula, the second Seminole War is declared to be at an end.
The war had begun when the US government attempted to enforce the Indian Removal Act and the Treaty of Ft. Gibson in which the Seminole Tribe was to move to the Creek Reservation west of the Mississippi River, in Indian Territory.
The tribe resisted with the leadership of Osceola beginning in 1835. Numerous battles ensued, but the government began to succeed with smaller raids and false truces with which they captured as many as 3-4,000 Seminoles, forcing their removal.
Osceola was captured in 1837 and imprisoned in Charleston, SC where he died.
Today in History, August 13, 1918:
Opha Mae Johnson was the first woman to enlist into the United States Marine Corps when she enlisted into the USMC Reserves. 304 more women followed suit the same day.
Today in History, August 10, 1927:
The Memorial at Mt. Rushmore is dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge. The memorial wouldn’t be declared complete until October 31, 1941, seven months after the man in charge of it’s carving, Gutzon Borglum, had died. His son Lincoln finished the project.
President Washington was chosen for obvious reasons, having led the battles that created our nation;
President Jefferson was chosen due to his instrumental work in creating our Declaration of Independence, which has inspired Democracy around the world;
President Lincoln was chosen for leading the nation through the Civil War, preserving the Union and abolishing slavery;
Theodore Roosevelt was chosen for leading the nation through the industrial revolution of the late 19th century, seeing to the construction of the Panama Canal.
An interesting aside…Mt. Rushmore is named for a young NYC attorney who visited the area in 1884 to check land ownership for some eastern investors. He was impressed with the mountain and asked prospectors what it was called…they replied that it had no name, but since he had asked, they would call it Rushmore Peak…and so it was.
Today in History, August 11, 1909:
The first American use of “SOS” to call for assistance at sea. Diamond Shoals extends many miles into the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and are considered to be the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, one of the most dangerous areas of the east coast.
On today’s date the SS Arapahoe was off the shoals when the ship lost it’s screw (propeller). Wireless operator T. D. Haubner sent the SOS
signal and help was dispatched from Hatteras.
A few months later the Arapahoe was the first to respond to the second use of SOS by the SS Iroquois…so that Haubner and the Arapahoe are the first to have sent and the first to have responded to the signal (ship-wise).
Many (including me until today) believe the signal stands for “Save our Ship” or “Save our Souls”. Neither is true. After using several other codes to signal distress, the international sailing community settled on SOS because the code for the letters in Morse code are easy to send under stress and easily understood, and some of the previous signals weren’t. …—… dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot.
Today in History, August 9: 1942 – Two days after the US Marines had made an amphibious landing on Guadalcanal seized what would become Henderson Field, the transports that brought them still stood off the coast, protected by 8 American and Australian Cruisers and 14 destroyers. In the early morning hours a force of Japanese Heavy and Light Cruisers moved silently into the waters between Guadalcanal and Savo Island and opened fire on the American and Australian warships, which they caught, quite literally, napping. The British commander of the Allied force, Admiral Crutchley had taken his flagship to a conference with the amphibious force commander, Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner and Marine Gen. Alexander Vandergrift, leaving a subordinate in command. The Japanese Navy had been practicing and perfecting night time combat tactics for years, a fact the USN was not aware of, so they weren’t really expecting an assault. The Japanese also had very effective torpedoes. Several of the Allied ships managed to get off some shots that caused minor damage to the IJN cruisers, but the experienced, practiced Japanese crews poured withering torpedo and gunfire into the American and Australian ships, whose crews were exhausted from 2 days of shelling the enemy ashore in humid high temperatures.
Within an hour the USS Astoria, USS Quincy and USS Vincennes were on their way to the sea floor, making the first of many deposits that would give this passage the name “Iron Bottom Sound” because of all of the Allied and Japanese ships that now rest there with their crews. The next day, Admiral Turner would order the HMAS Canberra scuttled due to her damage. The US aircraft carriers that had been providing air cover for the landings had been ordered out of the area by their commander, Adm. Frank “Black Jack” Fletcher. The transports and their covering surface ships could not remain with range of Japanese aircraft without air cover of their own, so they too left the area, leaving the Marines to their own devices for quite some time. Numerous battles would be fought in the waters of Guadalcanal, Savo and Tulagi Islands, and in “The Slot” leading from Guadalcanal to the enemy bases in the Solomons.
Today in History, August 4, 1752:
21-year-old George Washington becomes a Master Mason, the highest rank of Freemason in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Rather than an evil conspiracy, the Freemasons were (are) a fraternity based on the medieval guild system, thus “masons”.
Their requirements were (are) public service and high moral standards. 14 US Presidents were Freemasons.