Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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June 27th
“Not a gesture. An act of supreme valor.”
As night fell on June 27, 2005, four U.S. Navy Seals dropped from a helicopter onto mountainous, enemy-controlled terrain in Afghanistan to begin a high-risk mission. Lt. Michael Murphy and petty officers Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz, and Marcus Luttrell had orders to locate a terrorist leader. The team picked its way across rugged terrain and by morning had taken up position on a steep ridge, but three goat herders stumbled across their hiding place and alerted local Taliban forces. About an hour later, dozens of enemy fighters swarmed around the four Americans.

A firefight erupted as the Seals bounded down the mountainside, hoping to reach a place to make a stand. With one man dead and the other two wounded, and realizing that their only chance was to call for help, Murphy made the ultimate sacrifice. He moved into open ground where he could get a phone signal, exposing himself to fire.

“My guys are dying out here . . . we need help,” he told headquarters, just before being shot in the back. He pulled himself up, finished relaying their position, and signed off with, “Roger that, sir. Thank you.” Then he started firing again.

By the time the fight was over, Murphy, Axelson, and Deitz were dead. A rescue helicopter carrying 16 men was shot down by a Taliban rocket, killing all aboard. Some 35 Taliban fighters died.

In 2007, Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage and loyalty. Marcus Luttrell, the only team member to make it through the operation alive, summed up Murphy’s final act in his book Lone Survivor: “His objective was clear: to make one last valiant attempt to save his two teammates. . . . Not a gesture. An act of supreme valor.”

American History Parade
1652
New Amsterdam (now New York City) enacts an early traffic law: “No wagons, carts, or sleighs shall be run, rode or driven at a gallop within this city.”

1844
A mob kills Mormon leader Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in Carthage, Illinois.

1898
Joshua Slocum becomes the first person to circumnavigate the world alone when he lands his boat, the Spray, in Rhode Island.

1950
President Truman orders the Air Force and Navy into the Korean War.

1985
Route 66, stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles, ceases to be a U.S. highway, replaced largely by the Interstate Highway System.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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