This Week in U.S. Military History, May 10-16

Compiled by Charles O’Leary

May 10, 1972 [Vietnam War]: U.S. Navy Lt. Randy Cunningham becomes the first American ace of the Vietnam War.

May 11, 1942 [World War II]: A German U-boat slips into Canada’s Saint Lawrence River to torpedo a transport ship.

May 12, 1949 [Cold War]: The Soviet Union ends its blockade of West Berlin due to the success of the Berlin Airlift. [Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jim Hopkins, 1936 Hominy High School graduate and former mayor of Hominy, now deceased, flew C-53 cargo aircraft from bases in Europe to Berlin as part of the Berlin airlift.]

May 13, 1945 [World War II]: U.S. aircraft carriers begin a two-day raid on oil fields on Japan’s southernmost island, Kyushu.

May 14, 1943 [World War II]: Axis forces capitulate in North Africa.

May 15, 1947: Armed Forces Day is established to mark a day of celebration for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

May 15, 1942 [World War II]: Women’s Army Corps founded.

May 16, 1960 [Cold War]: A U.S.-Soviet summit meeting collapses after the Soviets use the May 1 capture of a U-2 spy plane to accuse America of deception.

[From “Forever a Soldier”, the Library of Congress Veterans History Project]

Newt Heisley, the designer of the POW/MIA flag adopted by Congress in 1990 as a symbol of the nation’s concern for those missing during military actions in Southeast Asia, died May 14, 2009 at his Colorado Springs, Colo. home. He was 88. Heisley’s image sketched in pencil in 1971 during the Vietnam War shows silhouette of a gaunt man, a strand of barbed wire and watch tower in the background with the words POW/MIA “You are not forgotten”. Inspiration for the design came from Heisley’s experience of flying C-46 transport planes over the Pacific Ocean during World War II. “He told me many a time that when he was flying missions out over the water at night, he’d look around and say, ‘Oh my God, if I put this thing in the drink or land on a deserted island, I hope to hell they don’t forget about me,” his son, Jim, said. Heisley designed the flag while working at a New Jersey add agency; the original plan was to add purple and white, but the stark black and white pencil drawing proved popular.

This article is brought to you by Blackwell-Frazier Post 142 of the American Legion in Hominy, who reminds all veterans that the Post is still shut down due the Governor’s order and the COVID-19 virus. Some Legion activities will continue such as flags on Main Street for Federal and Military Holidays but only with limited participation or family groups. We are working on a plan for the cemetery flags this month.