Kentucky military history for the month of January

The following is a compilation of significant dates in our commonwealth’s military history.  For more on the legacy of our Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, visit the Kentucky National Guard eMuseum.

An RF-101 "Voodoo" over rice paddies in South Korea during the spring 1969.

January 1, 1953 – Units of the 123rd Fighter- Interception Wing, including Group Headquarters and the 165th Squadron were redesignated as fighter-bomber units.

January 1, 1968 – Assault on Fire Base Burt (Vietnam War)

January 4, 1912 – William Birch Haldeman is appointed Adjutant General of Kentucky by Gov. James B. McCreary.

January 7, 1815 – 2,500 Kentucky militia, under Maj. Gen. John Thomas, less than one-fourth of them armed (as their arms were on flat-boats, not yet arrived), reach New Orleans. (War of 1812)

Capt. Thomas Francis Mantell Jr.

January 7, 1948Capt. Thomas Francis Mantell Jr., was killed while on training flight with three other P-51Ds (Mustang). Mantell was directed by flight tower at Godman Field, Ft. Knox, to pursue an unidentified flying object.  While in pursuit of object, his aircraft crashed near Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky. Capt. Mantell was the first flight casualty of the Kentucky Air National Guard.

January 8, 1815 – American victory at the Battle of New Orleans. (War of 1812)

January 8, 1967 – Operation Cedar Falls (Vietnam War)

January 11, 1862 – Gunboat action at Columbus, Kentucky. (Civil War)

January 12, 1945 – 1st Lt. George A. Vanarsdale, Headquarters Company, 192nd Light Tank Battalion (Harrodsburg Tankers) died when the Japanese “Hell Ship” Enoura Maru was sunk (World War II)

January 13, 1917 – Lt. Nathaniel Gibson Hale of Murray’s L Company, Third Kentucky Infantry died of an accidental gunshot wound.  Hale was in his tent at the regimental camp, Camp Owen Bierne, some two miles from Fort Bliss, near El Paso, TX.  He was part of the Kentucky National Guard contingent called to federal duty to patrol a sixty mile stretch of the border between Fort Bliss and Fort Hancock during the Mexican Punitive Expedition. Hale belonged to the Murray unit, joining as a Pvt. on June 22, 1912. He was promoted to Sgt. and 1st Sgt. and elected 1st Lt. on July 10, 1914.

January 17, 1991 – Operation Desert Storm began

The Battle of Mill Springs (Civil War)

January 18, 1813 – Battle of Frenchtown, Michigan Territory (Monroe, MI) (War of 1812)

January 19, 1862– Battle of Mill Springs, Pulaski County (Civil War)

January 20, 1968 – Battle of Khe Sanh began (Vietnam War)

January —-1847 – Maj. John P. Gaines and Capt. Cassius M. Clay, with 30 Kentucky cavalry, along with 50 Arkansas cavalry, are surrounded at Encarnacion by an overwhelming force of Mexican cavalry, and compelled to surrender, taken to the city of Mexico, and imprisoned (Mexican-American War)

Capt. Cassius M. Clay

January 21, 1839 – The “Louisville Legion,” of dragoons, artillery, infantry and riflemen, authorized as part of the Kentucky Militia.

January 22-23, 1813 – Battle of the River Raisin, disastrous defeat and massacre of Kentucky troops. “Remember the Raisin” would become the battle cry of Kentucky troops during the remainder of the war in the northwest (War of 1812)

January 22, 1944 – Allies land at Anzio, Italy (World War II)

January 23, 1937 – Sgt. Thomas J. “Tommy” Brown of Madisonville, drowned while on state active duty in response to the flood of 1937. He was assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 149th Infantry from Madisonville. He is the only known Kentucky National Guardsman who perished on duty during the great flood of 1937.  According to newspaper accounts, Brown and 2ndLt. James L. Moore, Pvt. C. W. Anthony and a civilian, Emmett Ashby, were in a boat that lost its stern from vibrations from an outboard motor and quickly sank by the stern throwing all four into the nine-foot deep water. The other three were able to swim to shallow waters but did suffer from exposure and shock. Brown was last seen clinging to the boat bow debris before he sank from sight. The Guardsmen were on a survey mission to assess conditions in Ashbyburg and Jewel City area and Ashby was catching a ride to Ashbyburg in hopes of getting another ride closer to his home. Brown was a butcher in civilian life and was married and had one child. Brown’s battalion commander, Oren Coin, wrote a letter to a legislative committee on the widow’s behalf in December of 1937 seeking some sort of relief for his family. Sgt. Brown’s death most likely was the beginning of the push for the state’s death gratuity for Kentucky National Guardsmen who die on State Active Duty missions.

The Massacre at the River Raisin

January 24, 1955 – Col. Philip P. Ardery, senior commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard since its founding, was promoted to the rank of Brig. Gen., the first Kentucky Air Guard member to wear the star of a general officer.

January 25, 1944 – Gustavus Herbert May is appointed Adjutant General of Kentucky by Gov. Simeon Willis.

A Kentucky Air National Guard RF-101 "Voodoo" during the Pueblo Crisis.

January 25, 1951 – Operation Thunderbolt began (Korean War)

January 26, 1968 – All units of the Kentucky Air National Guard except state Headquarters were called to federal service. Kentucky is only one of two states to have both Air and Army Guard units called up in 1968 (the other being Kansas). Kentucky was the only state to have both Air and Army mobilized units deploy overseas. The 165th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was assigned, along with two other Air National Guard recon squadrons to a rotation scheme which had each squadron assigned for 60-90 days to the Panama Canal, Alaska and Itazuke Air Base in Japan. During these missions their RF-101 Voodoo jets would photograph areas of interest looking for Soviet, or in the case of Japan, North Korean, naval activity. While the 165th was stationed in Japan in the spring of 1969 one of its pilots, Captain William Seiber, was almost killed when his plane exploded upon take off. The unit returned home and was released from active duty on June 9, 1969. (Pueblo Call-up/Vietnam War)

January 27, 1943 – Sgt. Elzie E. Anness, Headquarters Company, 192nd Light Tank Battalion (Harrodsburg Tankers) died at Camp Tanagawa, Osaka, Japan of dysentery (World War II)

January 28, 1957 – 1st Lt. Owen W. Turner, of Pleasure Ridge (Jefferson County) died when his burning plane crashed near Piedmont, Alabama, some sixty miles west of Atlanta. Turner was flying a T-28 from the Naval Air Station at Atlanta for a navigational proficiency flight to Standiford Field.  Turner decided to return to Atlanta because of worsening weather conditions in his flight path. Turner joined the Kentucky Air National Guard in 1948 and was a member of the 165th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

January 27, 1973 – Signing of Vietnam Peace Accord (Vietnam War)

2nd Lt. Archibald B. “Arch” Rue

January 29, 1828 – Preston S. Loughborough is appointed Adjutant General of Kentucky by Gov. Joseph Desha.

January 30, 1968 – Tet Offensive began (Vietnam War)

January 31, 1945 – 2nd Lt. Archibald B. “Arch” Rue, Company D, 192nd Light Tank Battalion (Harrodsburg Tankers) died at Camp Fukupka #3 Yawata, Kyushu, Japan of acute colitis (World War II)

January 31, 1956 – Col. Lee J. Merkel, veteran commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s  base and vice commander of the 123rd Fighter-Interceptor Wing, was killed in an air crash of an F-51 Mustang 10 miles north of Bedford, In.

January 31, 1968 – Battle of Hue began (Vietnam War)

The Battle of New Orleans (War of 1812)

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