Category History

ARMY, CALIFORNIA GUARD STEPPED UP WHEN 1906 SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE, FIRE KNOCKED THE CITY DOWN

On the morning of April 18, 1906 – 115 years – the ground beneath San Francisco shook angrily and violently. Buildings fell. Fires broke out, fueled by severed gas lines, and allowed to spread by fractured water lines. The San Francisco earthquake, all 7.8 magnitude of it, sent a rude wakeup call to the mostly […]

APRIL 15: A TAXING DAY FOR MOST, A TAXIING DAY FOR FIRST B-52 PROTOTYPE IN 1952

On this day in 1952, Boeing’s first B-52 prototype made its first test flight. Three years later, the Air Force added the first B-52 to its fleet at Castle Air Force Base near Merced, and the plane is still considered the backbone of the American bomber fleet. The so-called Stratofortress was designed to be a […]

A TRUE AMERICAN PATRIOT, MARLENE DIETRICH’S FIRST USO SHOW HAPPENED 77 YEARS AGO TODAY

On April 11 in 1944, German-born actress Marlene Dietrich staged the first of her many performances for United States troops serving overseas in a campaign that ultimately led the USO to call her “… one of the Most Patriotic Women in World War II.” Dietrich, who once publicly called Adolf Hitler an “idiot,” refused to […]

OUR TWO CENTS (AN ACRE’S) WORTH: ‘SEWARD’S FOLLY’ TURNED OUT TO BE QUITE A BARGAIN, IN “DEED”

On April 9 in 1867, Congress ratified the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, or two cents per acre. The deal had been in the works since 1859, when Russian offered Alaska to the U.S. as a way of preventing the expansion of the British empire into the territory. However, the American Civil […]

HARRISON’S SUDDEN DEATH THIS DAY IN 1841 CREATED AN ISSUE IT TOOK CONGRESS 126 YEARS TO SOLVE

To say William Henry Harrison experienced a very distinct presidency would constitute something of an understatement. At 68 years, 23 days, he became America’s oldest president when sworn in on March 4, 1841. That record lasted until Donald Trump took office at 70, 220 days in in January 2017, followed by Joe Biden at 78 […]

OFF WE WENT INTO THE WILD BLUE YONDER OF HIGHER EDUCATION 67 YEARS AGO TODAY

With the stroke of his pen on this day in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the United States Air Force Academy into existence. Plans for the Academy in essence began the moment the Air Force officially became its own branch of the service as part of the National Security Act of 1947. The Army […]

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: TWO WHO MADE HUGE IMPACTS ON YOUNTVILLE VETERANS HOME AND BEYOND

CalVet closes Women’s History Month by remembering Mary Dunaway and Virginia Mae Days. These two women made tremendously positive impacts on the Veterans Home of California-Yountville, impacts that are felt throughout all of CalVet’s eight veterans homes today. In October 1945, Dunaway toured the Yountville Home campus and came away with two ideas: to build […]

VIETNAM VETERANS DAY: WHEN THE WALL IN DC WENT UP, OTHER WALLS BEGAN TO COME DOWN

When U.S. Army soldier Stan Leighton flew back from Vietnam in 1970, he landed in Seattle and then boarded the first available flight home to California. Like so many others who fought in that war, he returned to a nation embroiled in deep social and political turmoil over the war. “I was fortunate,” said Leighton, […]

RACISM KEPT CALIFORNIAN CARTER FROM RECEIVING MEDAL OF HONOR UNTIL 34 YEARS AFTER HIS PASSING

On March 23, 1945, Army Private Edward A. Carter Jr. and three others in his tank squad came under attack by German forces as they neared Speyer, Germany. Their tank ablaze, the four soldiers ran toward cover across the field. Two died, another was wounded. Carter knocked out two enemy machine gun nests and engaged […]

‘THE GREAT ESCAPE’ 77 YEARS AGO TODAY MORE THAN JUST A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES

On this day in 1944, 76 Allied prisoners of war escaped from the German camp Stalag Luft III. Their story would be told 19 years later in the American-made film, “The Great Escape,” which starred Steve McQueen and, by many accounts, embellished the role of the camp’s American POWs while still managing to stick to […]