Today in History, February 23, 1945:
After a hard fought battle, the US Marines reach the top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.
5 Marines and 1 US Navy Corpsman raised the US flag at the peak, and photographer Joe Rosenthal caught it on camera.
3 of the flag raisers would be dead before the Battle for Iwo Jima was won. After many deaths and the earning of 27 Medals of Honor (half posthumous), the tiny island was deemed “secure” on March 16. Then B29 Superfortress bombers and long range fighters could use the airstrip in the bombing of Japan.
The photo became famous, and inspired the US Marine Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
The first flag was considered too small, and a second larger flag, scrounged up from one of the landing ships, was raised to replace it.
Admiral Chester Nimitz described the battle as one “where uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
Today in History, February 22, 1632:
Galileo Galilei delivers his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems to his patron, Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The book was sold (bestseller) as a discussion of the Copernican System, which stated that the Earth and planets orbited around the sun, and the Ptolemaic System, which allowed that the entire universe orbited around the Earth.
The next year Galileo was convicted of suspicion of heresy and the book, which leaned heavily towards the Copernican system was banned, a status that was not lifted until 1835.
To the scientists of Galileo’s time, the Ptolemaic system was “settled science”. Perhaps in another 2 hundred years or so, the “settled science” of Global Warming will be truly settled.
Today in History, February 23, 1942:
A little over two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Imperial Navy submarine I-17 surfaces 1500 yards off the California coast, near Santa Barbara. Five crewmen scrambled out onto the deck and manned the boat’s deck gun.
Workers and residents on shore were confused and surprised when they figured out the booms and explosions they were hearing at an oil field in Ellwood were tied to the flashes they were seeing out at sea.
After 20 minutes the Captain ordered a hault to the assault, having missed the oil tanks and damaged a catwalk.
The relatively minor attack was the first time the Continental US had been bombarded since the War of 1812.
It dis have an effect on a populace already on edge. On the 25th, “enemy aircraft” would be sighted near LA, resulting in lengthy anti-aircraft fire which would be dubbed the “Battle of Los Angeles”.
It would also help speed the incarceration of Japanese-Americans, since many believed the assault had been assisted from shore by Japanese operatives.
It also would not be the last time the mainland was bombarded by the Japanese..more submarine attacks, an aircraft launched from a submarine and “balloon bombs” would be in the offing…all relatively unsuccessful.