Gruntworks History

This Week In Military History — February 11th – February 17th

This Week In Military History -- February 11th - February 17th

February 11th

On this day in 1942, the German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, as well as the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, escape from the French port of Brest and make a mad dash up the English Channel to safety in German waters.

February 12th

On this day in 1973, The release of U.S. POWs begins in Hanoi as part of the Paris peace settlement. The return of U.S. POWs began when North Vietnam released 142 of 591 U.S. prisoners at Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport. Part of what was called Operation Homecoming, the first 20 POWs arrived to a hero’s welcome at Travis Air Force Base in California on February 14. Operation Homecoming was completed on March 29, 1973, when the last of 591 U.S. prisoners were released and returned to the United States.

February 13th

On this day in 1965, President Johnson orders Operation Rolling Thunder. The strategic bombing of North Vietam. The goal was to interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in the southern part of North Vietnam and slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam.

February 14th

On this day in 1943, German General Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps launch an offensive against an Allied defensive line in Tunisia, North Africa. The Kasserine Pass was the site of the United States’ first major battle defeat of the war.

February 15th

On this day in 1898, A massive explosion of unknown origin sinks the battleship USS Maine in Cuba’s Havana harbor, killing 260 of the fewer than 400 American crew members aboard.


February 16th

On this day in 1804, Navy Lt. Stephen Decatur leads an expedition to burn the captured US frigate USS Philadelphia which had been captured by Tripolitan pirates back in October of 1803.


February 17th

On this day in 1865, the soldiers from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army ransack Columbia, South Carolina, and leave a charred city in their wake.

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Suggested Reading:

Our Country, Right or Wrong: The Life of Stephen Decatur, the U.S. Navy’s Most Illustrious Commander By Leonard Guttridge

Kasserine Pass By Martin Blumenson

Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman By Robert L. O’Connell


Jeremy Scott is a 36-year-old military history buff from Houston, Texas. He has been interested in military history since the age of 8 years old. His interests are the Napoleonic era, the American Civil War, and both World wars I and II. He has a deep respect for the “boots on the ground” the common military soldier, and hopes that his humble writings interest those soldiers. If you have a twitter account, you can follow him @UncleBubba80

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