24 June 1943

24 June 1943

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24 June 1943



War at Sea

German submarines U-119 and U-449 sunk with all hands off Cape Ortegal

German submarines U-194 sunk with all hands south of Iceland

German submarines U-200 sunk with all hands south west of Iceland

Hopkinton/Westborough, MA – June 24, 1943

On the morning of June 24, 1943, a flight of four P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes took off from Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island, on what was to be a routine formation training flight.

The flight leader was 2 nd Lieutenant Thomas J. Beasley, flying in the number one position followed by 2 nd Lieutenant Douglas Edward Smith, 2 nd Lieutenant Donald L. Murrie, and 2 nd Lieutenant Max Itzkowitz, in the second, third, and fourth positions. To put it in layman’s terms, the flight formation would resemble a game of “follow the leader”.

The aircraft headed north towards central Massachusetts, and just before noontime, they’d reached the vicinity of Westborough, Massachusetts. At that time Lt. Beasley signaled a 45 degree turn to the left that would bring the formation in a line abreast of each other after the completion of the turn. It was during this maneuver that Lt. Smith and Lt. Murrie’s P-47s (#42-8186, and #42-8208) collided in mid-air causing severe damage to both aircraft.

P-47N Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

Almost immediately Smith’s P-47 burst into flame and fell away from formation. Smith managed to bail out, but his parachute only partially opened and he was killed when came down in the town of Hopkinton. The burning aircraft came down on railroad tracks the belonging to the Boston & Albany Railroad which ran along the Southborough and Westborough town lines.

Meanwhile, Lt. Murrie’s P-47 went into an uncontrolled spin, but he was able to bail out safely. His plane came down and exploded in a swamp in Westborough. Murrie landed in a nearby wooded area and was able to signal Lt. Itzkowitz circling overhead that he was alright.

The situation then got worse when Lieutenants Beasley and Itzkowitz realized that a passenger train was heading towards the wreckage of Lt. Smith’s airplane resting on the tracks. The train was roughly five miles away, so the two pilots attempted to stop it by flying low and trying to signal the engineer. Unfortunately, he failed to interpret their signals and continued on.

At the same time, others on the ground also tried to warn the approaching train. Among them were two small boys who went running along the tracks waving their arms.

Another was a woman whose house abutted the tracks close to where the P-47 had crashed. She phoned the railroad station in Westborough to have them stop the train, but was told the train had already passed by. She then ran out onto the tracks and tried to wave down the train.

By the time the engineer realized the danger it was too late, and the train slammed into the burning wreckage and derailed. The locomotive was pulling five passenger cars and one baggage car, which tore up a considerable portion of track before coming to rest. As the dust began to settle, two of the passenger cars caught fire, but fortunately no serious injuries were reported.

Numerous people descended on the area, and state and local police had their hands full keeping onlookers and souvenir hunters at bay until military officials could arrive and take charge.

Lt. Smith is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. (To see a photo of Lt. Smith go to, Memorial #40494983.) Although news sources place the accident in “Southville” and “Westboro”, Lt. Smith died in the town of Hopkinton. This fact was established through town of Hopkinton death records.

All of the pilots on this flight were members of the 58 th Fighter Group, 311 th Fighter Squadron.

This particular Massachusetts World War II aviation accident is unusual due to the fact it involved a train derailment.

U.S. Army Crash Investigation Report #43-6-24-10

Marlboro Daily Enterprise, “Pilot Dies After U.S. Planes Hit In Air Over Westboro”, June 25, 1943, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Plane Wrecks A Passenger Train Crashes In Path In Massachusetts”, June 25, 1943

24 June 1943 - History

Historical events in the month of June, by day:

June 1, 1533 - Anne Boyln is crowned Queen of England.

June 1, 1813 - The term "Don't give up the ship!' is coined by Captain James Lawrence, U.S. Chesapeake.

June 1, 1843 - Snow falls in Buffalo and Rochester, NY, Cleveland, Ohio and other places.

June 1, 1927 - Peace Bridge between the United States and Canada opens.

June 1, 1938 - Superman Comic is published.

June 1, 1971 - Ed Sullivan's final show.

June 2, 1692 - Salem Witch Trials begin.

June 2, 1835 - PT Barnum's circus begins first tour of U.S.

June 2, 1886 - Grover Cleveland is married while in serving as U.S. president.

June 2, 1924 - Congress grants U.S. citizenship to people of American Indian descent.

June 2, 2004 - Ken Jennings begins his 74 day winning streak on television game show Jeopardy.

June 3, 1539 - Hernando de Soto claims Florida for Spain.

June 3, 1946 - The first bikini bathing suit is displayed (in Paris, France).

June 3, 1964 - The Rolling Stones begin their first US tour.

June 3, 1969 - The last episode of the original Star Trek television series airs on NBC.

June 3, 1989 - Tiananmen Massacre, Chinese troops shoot pro-democracy protestors.

June 4, 780 B.C. - China becomes the first to record a solar eclipse.

June 4, 1070 - Roquefort cheese is first made in a cave in Roquefort, France.

June 4, 1942 - WWII Battle of Midway begins. It lasts from June 4-7.

June 4, 1973 - A patent for the ATM is granted to Don Wetzel, Tom Barnes and George Chastain.

June 4, 1987 - After winning 122 straight races, hurdler Edwin Moses' winning streak is broken.

June 5, 1861 - Harriet Beecher Stoewe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is published.

June 5, 1968 - Bobby Kennedy is assassinated.

June 6, 1844 - The YMCA is founded in London, England.

June 6, 1925 - Chrysler Corporation is founded.

June 6, 1933 - The first drive-in theater opened in Camden, New Jersey.

June 6, 1944 - WWII D-Day. Allied forces successfully landed in Normandy, France.

June 6, 1946 - Henry Morgan is the first to take his shirt off on television.

June 6, 1998 - "Sex and the City" television show premieres

June 7, 1775 - The United Colonies makes a name change and becomes The United States.

June 7, 1892 - George T. Sampson of Dayton Ohio patents the first clothes dryer, using a rack and heat from a stove.

June 7, 1893 - Mahatma Gandhi performs his first of many acts of civil disobedience.

June 7, 1192 - U.S. army tests the first use of a machine gun mounted on an airplane.

June 8, 452 - Italy is invaded by Attila the Hun.

June 8, 1872 - Congress approves the penny post card.

June 8, 1942 - Bing Crosby records "Silent Night".

June 8, 1948 - "The Milton Berle Show" premieres on NBC TV.

June 8, 1966 - NFL and AFL announce plan to become NFC and AFC in one league, beginning in 1970.

June 9, 1898 - China lease Hong Kong to the United Kingdom for 99 years.

June 9, 1898 - Brinks unveils the first armored security van.

June 9, 1 - Robert Goddard patents the first rocket powered airplane.

June 10, 1610 - Dutch colonists settle on Manhattan Island

June 10, 1692 - Bridget Bishop is the first woman to be convicted and hung at Salem witch trials.

June 10, 1752 - Benjamin Franklin flies a kite in a lightening storm and discovers electricity.

June 10, 1735 - Alcoholics Anonymous was founded.

June 10, 1933 - John Dillinger robs his first bank in New Carlisle, OH. He stole $10,600.

June 10, 2003 - NASA launches the Spirit Rover, beginning the Mars Exploration Rover program.

June 11, 1184 B.C. - Troy is sacked and burned. (Estimated date)

June 11, 1742 - Benjamin Franklin invents the Franklin stove.

June 11, 1982 - The movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was released.

June 12, 1880 - John Lee Richmond pitches baseball's first "Perfect Game".

June 12, 1931 - Al Capone is indicted on 5,000 counts of prohibition and perjury.

June 12, 1939 - Baseball Hall of Fame is dedicated in Cooperstown, NY.

June 12, 1942 - Anne Frank receives a diary as a birthday present.

June 12, 1965 - Sonny & Cher make their first television appearance on American Bandstand.

June 12, 1987 - U.S. President Ronald Reagan challenges Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

June 13, 1884 - The first roller coaster ride opens at Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY. It cost 5 cents a ride.

June 13, 1884 - The U.S. Department of Labor is created.

June 13, 1983 - Pioneer 10 becomes the first satellite to leave the solar system.

June 14, 1775 - The U. S. Army is formed.

June 14, 1834 - Isaac Fischer Jr. patents sandpaper.

June 14, 1924 - Thomas J. Watson renames the Computer Tabulating Recording Company (CTR) to International Business Machines Company (IBM)

June 14, 1775 - The original movies version of "Dracula", starring Bela Lugosi, is released.

June 14, 1938 - Benjamin Grushkin patents Chlorophyll

June 14, 1971 - President Richard M. Nixon installs a tape recording system in the White House.

June 14, 2017 - JP Morgan becomes the first bank to create its own crypto-currency.

June 15, 1215 - King John of England places the royal seal (signs) on the Magna Carta.

June 15, 1775 - George Washington is appointed the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army.

June 15, 1903 - The first Teddy Bear is introduced in America. It is made by Morris and Rose Michtom.

June 15, 1936 - Adolph Hitler announces the construction of the Volkswagen Beetle.

June 15, 1950 - Walt Disney's "Cinderella" is released.

June 15, 1976 - Leon Spinks defeats Muhammad Ali in 15 rounds for the World Heavyweight title.

June 15, 1996 - Cleveland Browns Head Coach Bill Belechick is fired. His record in Cleveland : 36-44.

June 16, 600 - Pope Gregory the Great issues a decree saying "God Bless You" is the proper response to a sneeze.

June 16, 1883 - The first issue of "Ladies Home Journal" is published.

June 16, 1959 - Fidel Castro overthrows Fulgencio Batista and becomes the 16th Prime Minister of Cuba.

June 16, 1989 - The premiere of Ghostbusters II.

June 17, 1775 - The Battle of Bunker hill took place, one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes."

June 17, 1837 -Charles Goodyear receives his first rubber patent.

June 17, 1885 - The Statute of Liberty arrive in New York City.

June 17, 1963 - U.S. Supreme Court rules against Bible reading and prayer in public schools.

June 17, 1994 - Accused of murdering his wife, police chase O.J. Simpson in his Ford Bronco for 1 1/2 hours as Americans watch live on national television.

June 18, 618 - The three century Tang Dynasty rule begins in China with the coronation of Li Yuan as Emperor of Gaozu.

June 18, 1682 - William Penn founds Philadelphia.

June 18, 1812 - The War of 1812 begins as the United States declares war with Britain.

June 18, 1861 - The first American fly-casting tournament was held in Utica, NY.

June 18, 1873 - Women's rights advocate Susan B. Anthony is arrested for voting in Rochester, N.Y. She is fined $100.

June 18, 1983 - Sally Ride becomes the first woman in space.

June 18, 1934 - The Federal Communications Commission is created.

June 19, 1964 - After an 83 day filibuster, the Civil Rights act of 1964 is approved.

June 20, 1782 - The U.S. Congress approves the Great Seal of the United States and the bald eagle as its symbol.

June 20, 1840 - Samuel Morse patents the telegraph.

June 20, 1867 - President Andrew Johnson announces the Alaska purchase from the Russian Empire. The price tag: $7.2m.

June 20, 1939 - The first rocket plane to use liquid propellants is tested

June 20, 1967 - Muhammad Ali is convicted refusing induction into armed services.

June 20, 1975 - The movie "Jaws" was released.

June 21, 1768 - The first medical diploma in America is issued to Dr. John Archer from the College of Philadelphia.

June 21, 1788 - The U.S. Constitution goes into effect as New Hampshire becomes the 9th state to ratify it.

June 21, 1834 - Cyrus McCormick patents the reaping machine.

June 21, 1893 - The first ferris wheel is introduced at the Chicago Columbian Exposition.

June 21, 1948 - 33 1/3RPM LP record format is introduced. It is planned to replace the 78RPM format.

June 21, 1969 - Cleveland's Cuyahoga river catches fire due to pollution.

July 21, 1990 - Florida passes a law that prohibits wearing thong bathing suits.

June 22, 1847 - Hanson Gregory creates the first Doughnut.

June 22, 1870 - The U.S. Congress creates the Department of Justice.

June 22, 1874 - The game of lawn tennis is created.

June 22, 1934 - John Dillinger is named America's first Public Enemy Number One.

July 22, 1990 - Florida passes a law that prohibits wearing thong bathing suits.

July 23, 1860 - US Secret Service is created.

July 23, 1888 - Frederick Douglas is the first African American to be nominated for U.S. Vice President. He received one vote at the Republican convention.

July 23, 1967 - Contraceptive pills are first sold.

June 23, 1981 - Longest game in Professional Baseball is completed. Pawtucket Red Sox beat Rochester Red Wings 3-2 in 33 innings (game began 18th April)

June 23, 2016 - Brexit: The United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union.

June 24, 1509 - Henry VII is crowned the King of England.

June 24, 1938 - A 450 ton meteor crashed in Chicora, PA. north of Pittsburgh. The only casualty was one cow. RIP.

June 24, 1968 - The deadline to convert silver certificate dollar bills into silver bullion.

June 24, 1992 - The Orlando Magic takes LSU Center Shaquille O'Neal with the first pick of the NBA draft.

June 25, 1630 - Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts introduced the fork to American dining. At first its use was considered sacrilegious

June 25, 1876 - Custer's Last Stand: Lt Colonel George Custer and the 7th Cavalry are wiped out by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

June 25, 1929 - President Herbert Hoover authorizes construction of the Boulder Dam. It was later renamed the Hoover Dam.

June 25, 1942 - Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower is appointed commander of U.S. forces in Europe during WWII.

June 25, 1984 - Prince releases his album "Purple Rain".

June 26, 1498 - The toothbrush is invented in China.

June 26, 1952 - Soap opera "The Guiding Light" moves from radio and premieres on television. It runs until 2009.

June 26, 1959 - The Saint Lawrence Seaway is opened.

June 26, 1976 - The U.S. returns Iwo Jima and onin Islands to Japan.

June 26, 1976 - The CN tower in Toronto, Canada opens.

June 27, 1859 - The song "Happy Birthday to You" was first sung. Also, see Famous Birthdays

June 27, 1934 - The Federal Savings and Loan Association is created.

June 27, 1950 - President Harry S. Truman orders U.S. Forces to South Korea to defend against invading North Korean forces.

June 27, 1972 - Atari Inc. is founded.

June 27, 2003 - The U.S. creates the "Do Not Call" registry to combat unwanted telemarketing calls.

June 28, 1776 - The final draft of the U.S. Constitution is submitted to the Continental Congress.

June 28, 1820 - Colonel Robert Gibbon eats a tomato on the step of the courthouse in Salem, MA. to prove that they are not poisonous.

June 28, 1894 - Labor Day is established as a holiday for federal employees.

June 28, 1914 - Austria's Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie are assassinated by a Bosnian Serb, leading to the start of WWI.

June 28, 1919 - Treaty of Versailles is signed, ending WW I.

June 28, 1977 - In the third round of a heavyweight boxing match, Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield's ear. Tyson was disqualified from the match and later suspended from boxing.

June 28, 2007 - The bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list.

June 28, 2009 - Professor Stephen Hawking hosts a 'party for time travellers' at the University of Cambridge. Invitations are not sent out until after the party.

June 29, 1613 - Shakespeare' Globe Theater burns down.

June 29, 1964 - The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed after an 83 day filibuster in the U.S. Senate.

June 29, 2009 - Financier Bernie Madoff is sentenced to 150 years in US maximum prison, for conducting a massive Ponzi scheme.

June 30, 1859 - French acrobat Blondin crosses over the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

June 30, 1908 - A giant fireball, most likely from an air burst of a large meteoroid or comet flattens 80 million trees near the Stony Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate, Russia.

Holiday Insights , where every day is a holiday, a bizarre or wacky day, an observance, or a special event. Join us in the daily calendar fun each and every day of the year.

Did You Know? There are literally thousands of daily holidays, special events and observances, more than one for every day of the year. Many of these holidays are new. More holidays are being created on a regular basis. At Holiday Insights, we take great efforts to thoroughly research and document the details of each one, as completely and accurately as possible.

Long Island Sound – June 24, 1943

On the morning of June 24, 1943, a U. S. Navy PV-1 Ventura, (Bu. No. 33146), with five men aboard, left Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a training flight.

Pilot: Lt. (Jg.) David William Gottlieb, age 22.

Co-pilot: Lt. (Jg.) Thomas F. DeVane, age 22 or 23.

Radio Operator: ARM2c Philip N. Brown

The men were assigned to VB-125, which at that time was stationed at Quonset Point.

The purpose of the flight was for the crew to engage in a training exercise with a U.S. Navy submarine in Long Island Sound. The aircraft was loaded with water filled practice bombs which it was to drop on the submarine while making mock attack runs.

While making a low level run on the submarine, the aircraft passed over the sub and began a shallow climb to the left. In doing so the aircraft suddenly rolled up-side-down and dove into the water of Long Island Sound in an area about mid-way between Plum Island, New York, and Niantic, Connecticut. The plane exploded on impact and sank immediately in 100 feet of water. None of the crew survived.

Baseball History on June 24

Baseball Births on June 24 / Baseball Deaths on June 24

Players Born on, Died on, Debut on, Finished on June 24

Baseball history on June 24 includes a total of 40 Major League baseball players born that day of the year, 23 Major League baseball players who died on that date, 71 baseball players who made their Major League debut on that date, and 82 Major League baseball players who appeared in their final game that date.

Bill James, on the same page of the same book we used at the top of this page, said, "But as I began to do research on the history of baseball (in order to discuss the players more intelligently) I began to feel that there was a history a baseball that had not been written at that time, a history of good and ordinary players, a history of being a fan, a history of games that meant something at the time but mean nothing now." To that end, I have created Baseball Almanac. A site to worship baseball. A site by a fan who is trying to tell the history of good and ordinary baseball players.

June 24 Birthdays

British astronomer, mathematician, a proponent of the "steady-state" theory, in which the universe has no definite beginning. In 1950 he coined the term "big bang" as a derogatory description of the alternate theory in which the universe was created 10 to 20 billion years ago when a single point expanded.

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Jack Dempsey (William Harrison Dempsey)

American boxer, "The Manassa Mauler," world heavyweight champion (1919-26).

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First Action to Earn a U.S. Medal of Honor

Bernard John Dowling Irwin

American military leader. He received the U.S. Medal of Honor (1894) for his actions against Apache Indians (1861). This was the first action for which a U.S. Medal of Honor was awarded.

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American computer hack, trivia buff, world champion powerlifter, professional natural bodybuilder.

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English actor. TV: Jake and the Fatman (1987-82, Jake).

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American actress. Film: Dressed to Kill (1980), Blow Out (1981), and Robocop (1987).

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British guitarist, with Dire Straits. Music: Sultans of Swing (1978) and Money For Nothing (1985, #1).

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British Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer, with Fleetwood Mac. Music: Rumours (1977) and Tusk (1979).

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American actor, Emmy-winning director. TV: The Rookies (officer Terry Webster), Cagney & Lacey (director), and Hill Street Blues (1981-86, director).

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Michele Lee (Michele Dusiak)

American actress, singer. TV: Knots Landing (Karen Fairgate MacKenzie).

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French film director. He is credited with starting the "nouvelle vague" (new wave) French film movement, which helped revitalize French Cinema in the 1960s. Film: Les Cousins (1959) and Les Bonnes Femmes (1960).

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American comedian. He hosted the first televised Tony Awards ceremony (1956). TV: The Jack Carter Show (1950-51).

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Al Molinaro (Umberto Francesco Molinaro)

American actor. TV: The Odd Couple (1970-75, Murray the cop) and Happy Days (1974-84, Al Delvecchio, owner of Arnold's).

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American publisher, political journalist, editor of Saturday Review (1942-71). Quote: "Nixon's motto was, if two wrongs don't make a right, try three."

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Argentine Hall of Fame auto racer, 5-time Formula One World Champion (1951, 54-57). He is considered one of the greatest racecar drivers of all time.

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American merchant, founder of Swift and Co. He developed refrigerated railroad cars.

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American preacher. Writings: Seven Lectures to Young Men (1844). He was one of the leading opponents to slavery in his time and brother of Uncle Tom's Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe.

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French-born American industrialist. He founded E.I. du Pont Company (1801) in Delaware to manufacture gunpowder.

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Saint John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz)

Spanish mystic and poet. Began writing poetry while in prison. His works outlined the steps of mystical ascent, known as the soul's journey to Christ. He became a saint in 1726.

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24 June 1943 - History

USS New Haven (CL 76) was reclassified CV 24 and renamed Belleau Wood February 16, 1942. She became CVL 24 on July 15, 1943. USS Belleau Wood was launched December 6, 1942 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N. J. sponsored by Mrs. Thomas Holcomb, wife of the Commandant of the Marine Corps and commissioned March 31, 1943, Captain A. M. Pride in command.

After a brief shakedown cruise Belleau Wood reported to the Pacific Fleet, arriving at Pearl Harbor July 26, 1943. After supporting the occupation of Baker Island (September 1) and taking part in the Tarawa (September 18) and Wake Island (October 5-6) raids, she joined TF 50 for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands (November 19-December 4, 1943).

USS Belleau Wood operated with TF 58 during the seizure of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, Marshall Islands (January 29-February 3, 1944), Truk raid (February 16-17) Saipan-Tinian-Rota-Guam raids (Feb. 21-22) Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai raid (March 30-April 1) Sawar and Wakde Island raids in support of the landings at Hollandia, New Guinea (April 22-24) Truk-Satawan-Ponape raid (April 29-May 1) occupation of Saipan (June 11-24), 1st Bonins raid (June 15-16), Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 19-20) and 2nd Bonins raid (June 24). During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Belleau Wood's planes sank the Japanese carrier Hiyo.

After an overhaul at Pearl Harbor (June 29-July 31, 1944) USS Belleau Wood (CVL 24) rejoined TF 58 for the last stages of the occupation of Guam (August 2-10). She joined TF 38 and took part in the strikes in support of the occupation of the southern Palaus (September 6-October 14) Philippine Islands raids (September 9-24) Morotai landings (September 15) Okinawa raid (October 10) northern Luzon and Formosa raids (Oct. 11-14) Luzon strikes (Oct. 15 and 17-19), and the Battle of Cape Engaño (Oct. 24-26).

On October 30, 1944, while Belleau Wood was patrolling with her task group east of Leyte, she shot down a Japanese suicide plane which fell on her flight deck aft causing fires which set off ammunition. Before the holocaust could be brought under control 92 men were killed or missing.

After temporary repairs at Ulithi (Nov. 2-11), USS Belleau Wood steamed to Hunter's Point, Calif., for permanent repairs and an overhaul, arriving November 29, 1944. She departed San Francisco Bay January 20, 1945 and joined TF 58 at Ulithi on February 7th. During Feb. 15-March 4 she took part in the raids on Honshu Island, Japan, and the Nansei Shoto, as well as supporting the landings on Iwo Jima. She also took part in the 5th Fleet strikes against Japan (March 17-May 26) and the 3rd Fleet strikes (May 27-June 11). After embarking a new air group at Leyte (June 13-July 1) she rejoined the 3rd Fleet for the final strikes against the Japanese home islands (July 10-August 15).

USS Belleau Wood (CVL 24) launched her planes September 2, 1945 for the mass flight over Tokyo, Japan, during the surrender ceremonies. She remained in Japanese waters until October 13th. Arriving at Pearl Harbor 28th, she departed three days later with 1,248 servicemen for San Diego. She remained on "Magic Carpet" duty, returning servicemen from Guam and Saipan to San Diego, until January 31, 1946.

During the next year Belleau Wood was moored at various docks in the San Francisco area undergoing inactivation. She was placed out of commission in reserve at Alameda Naval Air Station January 13, 1947. She remained in reserve until transferred to France September 5, 1953 under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.

Under the name Bois Belleau, the ship served with the French navy until 1960 when she was returned to the United States. She was stricken from the Navy list on October 1, 1960 and sold for scrapping.

This Day in Sports

  • 1894 - The decision was made to hold the Olympics every 4 years
  • 1922 - The American Professional Football Association is renamed to the National Football League
  • 1979 - Rickey Henderson plays for the Oakland A's for the first time and steals his first base
  • 1983 - Don Sutton becomes the 8th pitcher to strikeout 3,000 batters
  • 1997 - Mark McGwire hits a 538 foot home run
  • 2010 - At Wimbleton, in the longest match ever recorded in professional tennis history, John Isner of the US defeats Nicolas Mahut of Franch
  • 2012 - Saudi Arabia sends female athletes to the Olympics to compete for the first time

June 24, 1947: What Was the First UFO Sighting in the United States?

On June 24, 1947, veteran pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing what he described as a line of shiny UFO’s flying past Mount Rainier (Washington) at a rate of “at least 1200 miles per hour.” The incident, known later as the Kenneth Arnold UFO Sighting, was widely reported and became the first post-World War II UFO incident, becoming the first in what is considered the “modern era” of UFO sightings. Arnold’s description of the flat, metallic shiny objects led to the term “flying saucer” that became so familiar with UFO sightings. The incident and worldwide reporting spawned many other reports of UFO’s over the next couple weeks.

Digging Deeper

Ken Arnold was a person of considerable credibility, having been a seasoned pilot for many years and having flown 4500 hours of search and rescue missions among his 9000 hours of flight time. He had started a fire suppression business in 1940 and was a graduate of the University of Minnesota. (He was born in Minnesota, raised in Montana, and lived as an adult in Idaho where he founded his company.) While flying on a business trip in a CallAir A-2 light airplane (single engine 2 or 3 seat monoplane, propeller driven, similar to a Cessna 150) Arnold spotted 9 shiny objects whizzing by at high speed past Mount Rainier. (Arnold had diverted his course a bit to look for a lost USMC C-46 transport plane with a $5000 reward offered for anyone that located the plane.) He described the objects variously as similar to pie plates, or half pie plates, thinking at first the objects were a flock of geese, but quickly realized they were too high and fast to be geese. Arnold reported the objects, which he also surmised might be some new form of jet aircraft, were flipping around through the sky in frantic maneuvers, appearing very thin when viewed from the side. Arnold’s later descriptions included expanded details such as one object being crescent shaped and the UFO traveling similar to stones skipping on water. Arnold estimated their distance from his plane at about 23 miles. He lost sight of the objects when they flew behind a local mountain peak.

Kenneth Arnold’s report to Army Air Forces (AAF) intelligence, dated July 12, 1947, which includes annotated sketches of the typical craft in the chain of nine objects.

At first Arnold estimated the size of the UFO’s at about 60 feet, but later amended his analysis to claim a size closer to 100 feet across. Army Air Force analysts later used Arnold’s description and his use of range estimation as a basis for delivering an estimate of the size of the UFO’s at 140 to 280 feet across, accounting for human visual acuity. Arnold reported the objects to be flying in a diagonal formation over a distance of about 5 miles from front to back. He said the formation of UFO’s darted through valleys between mountains and at times banked on their edges. His later calculations estimated their speed at 1700 miles per hour. (No, we do not know how he could come up with such a deduction when no aircraft had ever flown that fast before.)

Arnold told people at the Yakima airport about his observation when he landed, and word quickly spread among airport workers. Arnold later wrote that Yakima airport manager Al Baxter did not believe the story, but apparently some people did, for at least one of them phoned ahead to Arnold’s next destination, an air show at Pendleton, Oregon. When Arnold arrived, people were ready to ask him about his experience, but he did not speak to reporters until the next day. Within 3 days of the incident Arnold was besieged by reporters and other people asking questions and he complained of having constant distractions. Arnold did not reportedly surmise an extraterrestrial origin of the UFO’s until articles appeared on July 7, 1947, including an Associated Press story. Public speculation about the odd sighting included foreign aircraft of some unknown technological advanced state, alien space craft, or even religious implications. By July 19, 1947, Arnold was convinced himself that the objects had been extraterrestrial in origin. Arnold fiercely defended his observations as real and true, and wrote about his experience himself. Arnold seemed desperate for some sort of corroboration of his story.

Eight Arnold-like objects photographed over Tulsa, Oklahoma, July 12, 1947 (from Tulsa Daily World).

After the widespread reporting of the Arnold UFO other reports of similar sightings started to reach the news. Reports of “flying saucers” came from locations around the United States and around the world (hundreds of them), and the term “flying saucer” became part of the American lexicon. In fact, Arnold himself had first used the term “flying disc,” and not “flying saucer,” although various news sources gave different details on quotes attributed to Arnold. The infamous “Roswell UFO Incident” allegedly occurred on July 8, 1947 only a couple weeks after the Arnold UFO. Army Air Force analysis of an interview with Arnold concluded that Arnold was an honest man and was telling the truth, though they publicly stated it was their belief Arnold had observed a mirage. Other explanations offered by skeptics include clouds of snow blown off mountain tops, regular clouds, meteors, or even small spots of water on the canopy of Arnold’s plane! Some skeptics were convinced Arnold had seen some sort of flock of birds, perhaps pelicans. (What. )

By 1950, Ken Arnold reported 3 more sightings of UFO’s, and of course many others had reported other UFO incidents. Arnold wrote a book about his experiences, The Coming of the Saucers, in 1952. The book was self-published. Ken Arnold died at the age of 68 in 1984 in Boise, Idaho, leaving an indelible legacy on the subject of UFO’s. His CallAir A-2 that he was flying on the fateful day in 1947 is on display at the North Cascade Vintage Aircraft Museum in Concrete, Washington reportedly still flyable.

Question for students (and subscribers): Do you believe Ken Arnold saw something not of the Earth in 1947? Feel free to offer your opinions or any further information about this intriguing incident in the comments section below this article.

On June 26, 1947, the Chicago Sun coverage of the story may have been the first use ever of the term “flying saucer”.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Arnold, Kenneth and Raymond Palmer. The Coming of the Saucers. CreateSpace, 2014.

World War II Today: May 24

The first British civilian bomb casualties are reported.

Hitler halts Panzer drive on Dunkirk. Infantry units of XIX.Panzerkorps storm the citadel of Boulogne and take 5,000 British and French prisoners. The French fortress of Maubeuge surrenders, while 6th Army captures Ghent and Tournai in Belgium and St Omer in North-eastern France.

Luftwaffe sink destroyer Wessex off Calais.

War Weapon Week ends in towns and cities, with £124m collected.

The German battleship Bismarck, supported by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, sinks the British battle cruiser Hood after firing only three salvoes. There are only 3 survivors out of a crew of 1,421. The Prince of Wales is also damaged and forced to break off the action.

Heavy German bombing of Crete. King of Greece leaves for Cairo.

King George VI makes South African Premier, General Smuts a Field Marshal, the first man born in an overseas dominion to attain that rank.

The Australian Prime Minister, R.G. Menzies arrives back in Australia after his trip to Britain.

General Stilwell arrives in Delhi after a 20-day jungle trek out of Burma.

The Germans decide they’ve had quite enough of the partisan harassment in Russia and launch operation ‘Hanover’, to clear the Bryansk-Vyazma railway. For six days, 45,000 German troops, including panzer and SS-police units, search for an estimated 20,000 partisans, catching or killing many of them. In the Barvenkovo salient, General Ewald von Kleist’s Panzer’s start to chop up the Russian 6th and 9th Armies. Moscow admits the loss of 5,000 dead, 70,000 missing, and 300 tanks destroyed, but the Germans claim 24,000 POW’s and 1,200 tanks.

‘Bomber Harris’ congratulates RAF Bomber Command for passing the 100,000 ton mark in raids against Germany.

The battle of the Atlantic is officially concluded as won by Allies, due to the withdrawal of virtually all U-boats from the Atlantic by Admiral Dönitz, C-in-C of the Kriegsmarine after the loss of 56 boats in April and May.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill takes to the floor of the House of Commons to announce that Spain will not be a target in the forthcoming Allied invasion of mainland Europe and Spain’s internal affairs are no business of the Allies. He expresses the hope that a post-war Francoist Spain will be “a strong influence for the peace of the Mediterranean after the war.”

U.S. troops take Terracina in Italy. The retreating Germans are subjected to heavy air-attacks.

It is estimated that 100,000 have been gassed at Auschwitz. Between May 16 and May 31, the SS report collecting 88 pounds of gold and white metal from the teeth of those gassed. By the end of June, 381,661 persons, which is half of the Jews in Hungary have arrived at Auschwitz.

The exchange of Russian POW’s for U.S. and British POW’s begins at pre-arranged points in Germany.

Japanese make a suicide paratroopers jump on Yontan airfield on Okinawa and destroy seven US aircraft.

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