On this day in 1945, Germany formally surrenders to the Allies. The surrender would end six years of brutal fighting where millions of people were killed and fighting took place on virtually every continent. Though it would be several months before Japan would surrender, many countries would finally breathe the air of peace.
On this day in 1955, West Germany is formally admitted into NATO. Nine days later, the Soviet Union would officially create the Warsaw Pact. For the next 35 years, East & West Germany would come to symbolize the meaning of the Cold War.
On this day in 1972, a Naval aviator from the USS Constellation will become the U.S. Navy’s only ace of the war. Lt. Randy Cunningham and Lt. Willie Driscoll, flying a Navy F-4J Phantom will claim three Migs in a single combat mission. Put together with their two previous confirmed kills, they would be honored with the coveted title of ace.
On this day in 1864, at Yellow Tavern in Virginia, Confederate cavalry General J.E.B. Stuart is mortally wounded. Fighting a holding action against Union General Phil Sheridan, he would be wounded and die the next. Along with the death of “Stonewall” Jackson, Stuart would leave General Lee without one of his most trusted leaders
On this day in 1949, an early crisis of the Cold War comes to an end when the Soviet Union lifts its 11-month blockade against West Berlin. The blockade had been broken by a massive U.S.-British airlift of vital supplies to West Berlin’s two million citizens.
On this day in 1863, General Grant moves to capture Jackson, Mississippi. Grant would send two army corps under Generals Sherman and McPherson to push the Confederates out of the Mississippi capital. On May 16th, Grant would defeat Confederate General John Pemberton on Champions Hill and push the bulk of the Confederate forces into Vicksburg.
On this day in 1804, two men and a group of support personnel left St. Louis, Missouri to explore and map out the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark would lead what was to be termed a “Corps Of Discovery.” They would pass through North Dakota and Montana and be the first Americans to see the Rocky Mountains. They would also lay claim to Oregon and small parts of Washington. They would return to Missouri on September 23rd, 1806. Though technically not a military operation, they were governed by President Thomas Jefferson and William Clark had been given a commission as Captain for the duration of the expedition.