On this day in 1797, The USS Constitution, a 44-gun U.S. Navy frigate built to fight Barbary pirates off the coast of Tripoli, is launched in Boston Harbor. The vessel performed commendably during the Barbary conflicts, and in 1805 a peace treaty with Tripoli was signed on the Constitution‘s deck.
On this day in 1962, In a televised speech of extraordinary gravity, President John F. Kennedy announces that U.S. spy planes have discovered Soviet missile bases in Cuba. These missile sites—under construction but nearing completion—housed medium-range missiles capable of striking a number of major cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C. Kennedy announced that he was ordering a naval “quarantine” of Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from transporting any more offensive weapons to the island and explained that the United States would not tolerate the existence of the missile sites currently in place. The president made it clear that America would not stop short of military action to end what he called a “clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace.”
On this day in 1983, A suicide bomber drives a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. military personnel.
On this day in 1862, On this day in 1862, Union General Don Carlos Buell is replaced because of his ineffective pursuit of the Confederates after the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, on October 8. He was replaced by William Rosecrans, who had distinguished himself in western Virginia in 1861 and provided effective leadership at the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, just prior to Perryville.
On this day in 1944, during the Battle of the Leyte Gulf, the Japanese deploy kamikaze (“divine wind”) suicide bombers against American warships for the first time. It will prove costly–to both sides.
On this day in 1966, A fire breaks out on board the 42,000-ton U.S. aircraft carrier Oriskany in the Gulf of Tonkin. The accident occurred when a locker filled with night illumination magnesium flares burst into flame. The fire spread quickly through most of the ship, resulting in 35 officers and eight enlisted men killed and a further 16 injured. The loss of life would have been much higher except for the valor of crewmen who pushed 300 500-pound, 1,000-pound, and 2,000-pound bombs that lay within reach of the flames on the hangar deck overboard. The fire destroyed four fighter-bombers and two helicopters, but it was brought under control after three hours. The fallen were returned to the United States for burial.
On this day in 1962, complicated and tension-filled negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union finally result in a plan to end the two-week-old Cuban Missile Crisis.