Compiled by Brent Hunt, Naval History and Heritage Command’s Communication and Outreach Division

Tomcat Into the Night

America Prepared Its Response to 9/11 Attacks—20 Years Ago

On Sept. 20, 2001, President George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress on the impending U.S. military response to the 9/11 attacks, singling out Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist network as those responsible for the attacks. The president demanded the Afghanistan Taliban immediately hand over al-Qaeda leaders to U.S. authorities or “share in their fate.” Meanwhile, the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group deployed from Naval Station Norfolk, VA, with its embarked air wing, bound for the Central Command area of responsibility. Theodore Roosevelt was escorted by destroyer Peterson, frigate Carr, and cruiser Leyte Gulf. She was also accompanied by attack submarines Hartford and Springfield, fast combat support ship Detroit, and combat stores ship Saturn. In addition, F-14 Tomcat strike aircraft from USS Enterprise flew reconnaissance missions over southern Afghanistan, capturing high-level images of airfields, surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft artillery sites, military barracks, and al-Qaeda training camps. For more on The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and the subsequent Operation Enduring Freedom, visit NHHC’s website.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944

Historic Ship’s Tour Preserves History

Over the Labor Day weekend, USS LST-325, the last remaining operational personnel and equipment transport still in its World War II configuration, made a stop at Brandenburg, KY, drawing hundreds to the riverfront where she was moored. According to the USS LST Ship Memorial president John Tallent, the LST, which stands for Landing Ship, Tank, was commissioned in February 1943. It was one of 1,051 of this type of vessel that was built during the war. It subsequently went to North Africa and helped train troops getting ready for the invasion of Sicily. The ship also was used to deliver troops and military equipment to beachheads in Sicily and, later, Salerno, Italy. In addition, it participated in the invasion of Normandy. “Our primary mission is to educate the American public, not only about what these ships did in World War II, but what the home front did to build all the stuff that was needed to win that war. It’s an amazing story,” he said. Vicki Myers, who toured LST-325, said she was “overwhelmed by the size” and that it is “very hard to fathom what the men endured.” For more, read the article

Preble Hall podcast

Preble Hall Podcast

In a recent naval history podcast from Preble Hall, a group of instructors ask the question, “Why (and how) do we teach naval history to midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy?” Joining the discussion are Lt. McKenzie Anderson, Air Force Major Joe Eanett, and Associate Professor Marcus O. Jones from the academy's wargaming lab. The Preble Hall podcast, conducted by personnel at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, MD, interviews historians, practitioners, military personnel, and other experts on a variety of naval history topics from ancient history to more current events. 

National Hispanic Heritage Month infographic

National Hispanic Heritage Month—Sept 15 Through Oct. 15

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Navy joins the nation in celebrating the contributions of Hispanic Americans. This year’s theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” National Hispanic Heritage Month pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans whose ancestors came to America from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, and who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. The observation was enacted into public law on Aug. 17, 1988, under President Ronald Reagan, and celebrated annually since then. Hispanic Americans have served in the Navy throughout our nation’s history—as seamen, four-star admirals, boatswain’s mates, corpsmen, fighter pilots, physicians, nuclear engineers, and policymakers. The community has had a profound impact on our Navy and our nation through hard work, strong commitment to family, and service to the nation. For more on Hispanic Americans in the U.S. Navy, visit NHHC’s website.

B-29 drops X-1 for launching

Happy Birthday, U.S. Air Force

On Sept. 18, 1947, the U.S. Air Force officially became a separate service with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947. Prior to the act, the service was a branch of the U.S. Army. The Army Air Forces (AAF) were formed in 1941 from the previously established Army Air Corps, in response to the growing mission Army aviators were playing and the need for a more independent command. At its height during World War II, the AAF had more than 2.4 million personnel, 80,000 aircraft in service, and flew more than 2.3 million missions. In 1947, many of the pilots and missions of the AAF moved to the newly formed branch of service. Since its inception, the U.S. Air Force has participated in every major combat operation and today is regarded as the most capable and most technologically advanced air force in the world. Its mission is to defend the country in the air, space, and cyberspace through the skill and bravery of American Airmen. Happy 74th birthday, U.S. Air Force! 

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

On Sept. 17, the U.S. Navy will join the nation in observing National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The day—observed annually on the third Friday in September with an official proclamation by the President of the United States—is set aside for Americans across the nation to honor those who were held captive and returned, as well as those who remain missing. According to the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 81,600 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, Middle East engagements, and other conflicts. For more, visit the POW/MIA: You Are Not Forgotten page at NHHC’s website

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

Each year on Sept. 17, Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is observed to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and to “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.” The commemoration dates back to 1940, when it was designated on the third Sunday in May, as “I Am an American Day.” It was changed in 1952 to Sept. 17 to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and to recognize all who have attained citizenship.

Battleship Maine

Battleship Maine Commissioned

On Sept. 17, 1895, the battleship Maine was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard. At the time, Maine and her sister ship Texas were considered advancements in American naval design. They were built in reaction to the acquisition of modern armored warships by several South American countries. In late 1897, Maine, along with ships of the North Atlantic Squadron, prepared for a voyage to Havana, Cuba, to “show the flag” and to protect American citizens in the event of violence in the Spanish struggle with the revolutionary forces in Cuba. On Jan. 25, 1898, Maine commanding officer Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee dropped anchor in the center of the Havana port and remained on vigilant watch for a couple of weeks. On the evening of Feb. 15, a tremendous explosion rocked the battleship, sinking it, and killing most of the crew. The incident was one catalyst for U.S. involvement in the Spanish-American War. For more on the sinking of Maine, go to NHHC’s website.

USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115)

Webpage of the Week

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this week’s Webpage of the Week is the Sergeant Rafael Peralta page located in NHHC’s namesakes. On the morning of Nov. 15, 2004, Peralta was heavily engaged in Operation al Fajr during Operation Iraqi Freedom—also known as the second Battle of Fallujah—successfully clearing six houses with his squad. At the seventh house, the point man in the stack opened the door to a back room and immediately came under close-range automatic weapons fire from multiple insurgents. While attempting to get out of the line of fire, Peralta was severely wounded. As the insurgents fled the building, they threw a grenade that came to rest near Peralta’s head. Without hesitation, Peralta pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving the lives of fellow Marines who were only a few feet away. Peralta succumbed to his wounds, heroically giving his life for his fellow Marines and the country that he loved. He was awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart posthumously. Arleigh Burke–class destroyer USS Rafael Peralta proudly bears his name.

USS Hue City

Today in Naval History

On Sept. 14, 1991, USS Hué City was commissioned at Pascagoula, MS. The 20th of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers, Hué City is the first ship named after a battle of the Vietnam War. The Battle of Hué began Jan. 31, 1968, during the Vietnamese holiday of Tet. The North Vietnamese army launched an all-out offensive against U.S. and Republic of Vietnam forces throughout South Vietnam, including the ancient Vietnamese imperial city of Hué. The 1st Marine Regiment launched a counteroffensive called Operation Hué City, resulting in a victory after more than three weeks of battle. The battle’s namesake ship flies the U.S. Marine Corps flag, and the National ensign. On Hué City’s maiden voyage in 1993, she deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as air warfare commander for the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group. Principally operating in the Adriatic Sea, Hué City developed the air picture and transmitted it to command centers afloat and ashore. Hué City also monitored the safety of United Nations relief flights to Bosnia, ensuring Serbian aircraft did not violate no-fly zones. In 2001, Hué City helped support humanitarian efforts off New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and participated in Operation Enduring Freedom the following year. She is homeported at Norfolk, VA. 

For more dates in naval history, including your selected span of dates, see Year at a Glance at NHHC’s website. Be sure to check this page regularly, as content is updated frequently.