Gruntworks History Military

This Week In Military History May 13th – May 19th

May 13th

On May 13, 1846, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas.

May 14th

On this day in 1804, One year after the United States doubled its territory with the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition leaves St. Louis, Missouri, on a mission to explore the Northwest from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

May 15th

On this day in 1988, more than eight years after they intervened in Afghanistan to support the pro-communist government, Soviet troops begin their withdrawal. The event marked the beginning of the end to a long, bloody, and fruitless Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.


May 16th

Donald E. Ballard, Corpsman U.S. Navy, is awarded the Medal of Honor for action this date in Quang Tri Province. Ballard, from Kansas City, Missouri, was a corpsman with Company M, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. He had just finished evacuating two Marines with heatstroke when his unit was surprised by a Viet Cong ambush.

Immediately racing to the aid of a casualty, Ballard applied a field dressing and was directing four Marines in the removal of the wounded man when an enemy soldier tossed a grenade into the group. With a warning shout of, “Grenade!” Ballard vaulted over the stretcher and pulled the grenade under his body. The grenade did not go off. Nevertheless, he received the Medal of Honor for his selfless act of courage. Ballard was only the second man whose valor was rewarded despite the fact that the deadly missile did not actually explode.


May 17th

On this day in 1943, the crew of the Memphis Belle, one of a group of American bombers based in Britain, becomes the first B-17 crew to complete 25 missions over Europe.



May 18th

On this day in 1917, the U.S. Congress passes the Selective Service Act. This gives the President the right to commence a draft of American civilians.

May 19th

On this day in 1588, A massive Spanish fleet, known as the “Invincible Armada,” sets sail from Lisbon on a mission to secure control of the English Channel and transport a Spanish invasion army to Britain from the Netherlands.

Suggested Reading:

The Spanish Armada: A History By Richard Hutchinson

Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 By Rodric Braithwaite

A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico By Amy S. Greenberg



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

1 comment on “This Week In Military History May 13th – May 19th

  1. On the 17th May 1943 when the crew of the Memphis Belle completed their combat tour, the surviving crews of the famous ‘Dam Busters Raid’ were returning to their base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire England. In August later that year, Wing Commander Guy Gibson Victoria Cross
    Distinguished Service Order & Bar
    Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
    Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)
    was sent on a tour of the USA and Canada along with Winston Churchill and others. On 4 October he began the United States leg of his tour in Washington, D.C.. He attended a major Press Conference at the offices of the British Information Service in New York on 7 October. This was “at a time when the first American airmen were coming home ‘tour expired’ after 25 operations. During questions one young lady asked, ‘Wing Commander Gibson, how many operations have you been on over Germany?’ He replied, ‘One hundred and seventy-four.’ There was a stunned silence”.

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