Carl Spaatz, Pioneer of Air Power

Today in History, July 14, 1974:

General Carl Spaatz dies.

Spaatz was a fighter pilot in his youth during WW1. He remained in the Army Air Corps, and when WW2 began went to England.

As German bombs fell on London during the Blitz and everyone else ran for the shelters, Spaatz sat on rooftops to gain knowledge of German tactics by watching their bombers and fighters in action.

When America entered the war, he became the commander of the Eighth Air Force as it began daylight bombing raids over Germany.

After the war, the Army Air Corps was separated from the US Army and became its own military branch, the US Air Force in 1947. Spaatz was it’s first Chief of Staff.

“Steady, men….steady! ChaaaaAAAaaRRGE!!”

Today in History, July 1:

A day for important battles.

1863 – The Union and the Confederates first clash at The Battle of Gettysburg, and both send reinforcements. The first day went badly for the Union, but the largest battle in North America had three more days to go, and would become a major turning point in the Civil War.

1898 – The Battle of San Juan Hill becomes a major victory for the US in the Spanish-American War as the US Army’s Fifth Corps takes the heights over Santiago de Cuba. It also set the stage for Colonel Theodore Roosevelt to become President as he became famous for leading his Rough Riders up Kettle Hill (not San Juan).

1916 – The Battle of the Somme in France; after a week’s bombardment with over 250,000 shells, the British launch an attack into no-man’s land. The Germans had retained many machine guns despite the bombardment, and the British soldiers were slaughtered. With 20,000 dead and 40,000 wounded in one day, it was one of the worst defeats for the British military’s history.

1942 – The Battle of El Alamein; In North Africa Erwin Rommel’s army had routed the British and their allies, driving them back so quickly that they had to leave much of their equipment behind. But on today’s date the British Army, resupplied by Americans and reorganized, turned the tide back on Rommel at El Alamein.

“A Very Sacred Intercession”

Today in History, May 8, 1919:

“Five little minutes only. Five silent minutes of national remembrance. A very sacred intercession. Communion with the Glorious Dead who won us peace, and from the communion new strength, hope and faith in the morrow. Church services, too, if you will, but in the street, the home, the theatre, anywhere, indeed, where Englishmen and their women chance to be, surely in this five minutes of bitter-sweet silence there will be service enough.”

Australian WWI veteran Edward George Honey sends a letter to The London Evening News suggesting a moment of silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of each year…when the WWI Armistice was signed in 1918.

He had been angered at the rowdy partying when the Armistice occurred, and felt the event should be recognized with reverence.

The British government soon agreed, and Remembrance Day was established, about the same time that Veteran’s Day was established in America.

Hoover Saves the World…Again

Today in History, March 11, 1947:

Democrat President Truman writes a letter to former Republican President Herbert Hoover, thanking him for his efforts in helping to save Europe…for the second time.

It is so interesting looking at history absent the biased perspective we’ve grown accustomed to.

Most of us know Hoover…you know, “Hooverville’s” full of starving people, the man who was asleep at the switch and helped caused the great depression.

The story is never as simple as we are told.

Hoover made it to the Presidency because after WWI, he organized the assistance of a starving war-torn Europe, demonstrating his abilities.

As WWII ended, the same disastrous conditions, magnified, existed.

Truman, who had been a young artillery officer as Hoover was doing is good deeds in 1917, called upon his 71-year-old friend to repeat his actions.

Hoover worked tirelessly to create the conditions to feed a starving Europe and end their dependence upon America.

Truman then assigned the former chief executive to head the “Hoover Commission” to organize an objective Truman (D) and Hoover (R) shared…to limit the power of the Executive Branch and streamline the government.

Thus we find that a decent man, Truman, called upon another decent man, Hoover, to aid in helping the world and America.

And Hoover’s legacy should be different than what he has been given. I wonder what GW’s legacy will be in half a century, once the political expedience of demonizing him has passed.

Mexico Could’ve Declared War on US in Exchange for Western States…

Today in History, February 26, 1917:

President Woodrow Wilson is informed of the “Zimmermann Telegram”.

German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann had sent the telegram to the German Ambassador to Mexico, Count Johann von Bernstorff, authorizing him to offer Mexico a great deal of money if they would become allies with Germany should America enter the war.

To top it off, Germany offered to give Mexico Texas, New Mexico and Arizona should they agree.

Wilson ordered American shipping to be armed and authorized the release of the telegram to the media. News of the treachery enraged the American public, who were already angry over German submarine attacks on American ships. By April 6th Wilson had asked for and received a declaration of war.

Army Air Service Formed

Today in History, July 18, 1914:

“Be it enacted…, that there shall hereafter be, and there is hereby created, an aviation section, which shall be a part of the Signal Corps of the Army, and which shall be, and is hereby, charged with the duty of operating or supervising the operation of all military aircraft, including balloons and aeroplanes, all appliances pertaining to said craft, and signaling apparatus of any kind when installed on said craft; also with the duty of training officers and enlisted men in matters pertaining to military aviation.Public Law 63-143, July 18, 1914”

By an act of Congress, the Aviation Section of the US Army Signal Corps is created…Grandfather to the US Air Force, separated only by the US Army Air Corps? The members of this poorly paid, poorly funded, poorly equipped group fought in Mexico against Pancho Villa and then in WWI.

A Name Change

Today in History, July 17, 1917:

The British Royal family, previously know by their family name of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, linked with their cousins of the German and Russian monarchies, changed their name to Windsor, a specifically English surname.

The change was made because Britain was at war with Germany and were bombing England with a bomber named the Gotha.