On this day in 1965, the State Department sends secret cables to U.S. ambassadors in nine friendly nations advising of forthcoming bombing operations over North Vietnam, and instructs them to inform their host governments “in strictest confidence” and to report reactions. President Lyndon Johnson wanted these governments to be aware of what he was planning to do in the upcoming bombing campaign.
On this day in 1945, Operation Detachment — the invasion of Iwo Jima by the 3rd, 4th, & 5th Marine Divisions would produce some of the toughest fighting of the Pacific campaign. It would also be one of their proudest moments when several days later, men of the 28th Marines would raise the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi.
On this day in 1942, Lt. Edward O’Hare takes off from the aircraft carrier Lexington in a raid against the Japanese position at Rabaul and minutes later becomes America’s first flying ace.
At 7:12 a.m. on the morning of February 21, 1916, a shot from a German Krupp 38-centimeter long-barreled gun—one of over 1,200 such weapons set to bombard French forces along a 25 mile front stretching across the Meuse River—strikes a cathedral in Verdun, France, beginning the Battle of Verdun, which would stretch on for 10 months and become the longest conflict of World War I.
On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders Gen. Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines, as the American defense of the islands collapses.
On this day in 1945, during the bloody Battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division take the crest of Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest peak and most strategic position, and raise the U.S. flag. Marine photographer Louis Lowery was with them and recorded the event. American soldiers fighting for control of Suribachi’s slopes cheered the raising of the flag, and several hours later more Marines headed up to the crest with a larger flag. Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the Associated Press, met them along the way and recorded the raising of the second flag along with a Marine still photographer and a motion-picture cameraman.
On this day in 1836, in San Antonio, Texas, Colonel William Travis issues a call for help on behalf of the Texan troops defending the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress under attack by the Mexican army.