30 June: This Day in Military History

By: - June 30, 2020

1815: While operating in the Sunda Straight, the American sloop-of-war USS Peacock spots the British cruiser HMS Nautilus, and orders the ship to strike her colors. When the captain refuses and informs American skipper Capt. Lewis Warrington that the war ended months ago, Warrington orders his men to open fire, inflicting over a dozen casualties on the British — the last naval action of the War of 1812. When he sees documentation confirming the war is over, Warrington orders the ship to be released and his crew help repair Nautilus.

1862: On day six of the Seven Days Battles, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee orders a complex attack on Gen. George McClellan’s retreating Army of the Potomac at Glendale, Va. Subordinates are unable to execute Lee’s orders, and McClellan’s troops are able to reach and fortify positions on Malvern Hill, from which they will inflict heavy casualties on Confederate forces the following day.

1934: The “Night of the Long Knives” – Adolf Hitler orders a purge of political opponents and members of the Nazi Party’s own Sturmabteilung “Brownshirt” paramilitary organization. At least 85 are assassinated and over a thousand are arrested by Gestapo and Schutzstaffel (SS) troops, essentially giving Hitler absolute power.

1943: Gen. Douglas MacArthur begins Operation “Cartwheel,” the Allied campaign to seize the island of Rabaul from Japan. Soldiers and Marine Raiders land at numerous locations throughout the Solomon Islands. Ultimately, Allied planners decide to isolate and bypass Rabaul, beginning the “island hopping” policy.

1944: 6,000 German troops surrender at Cherbourg, ending resistance on France’s Cotentin Peninsula.

1945: After killing nearly 9,000 Japanese troops and capturing 2,900, mopping-up operations on Okinawa have ended.

US Marines in action on Okinawa
A Japanese bunker on Okinawa

1967: (featured image) U.S. Air Force pilot Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. becomes the first black astronaut. Lawrence is selected for the Air Force’s Manned Orbital Laboratory program, which will be cancelled when NASA realizes that unmanned satellites can perform the task. Lawrence will perish while giving flight instruction on an F-104 “Starfighter” in December and never makes it to space.

Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.