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Author Topic: 3 FOR 21 APRIL  (Read 22 times)
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« on: April 21, 2017, 07:19:52 am »

753 B.C.:

The city of Rome is founded, purportedly by the brothers Romulus and Remus [Romulus will kill his brother in a fight over who will rule].

Rome will be governed by a series of Etruscan kings over the next three to four centuries, finally expelling the last, Tarquin the Proud and founding the Republic. Rome will grow from a City State to a regional, then peninsular power, the dominant power in the Western Mediterranean, and finally the hyper power of Europe by the 2d century A.D. Along the way, there will be at least three Civil Wars,  the Republic will be subsumed by an Emperor, and Rome will create the greatest and longest lasting land Empire in Europe, finally falling in the 5th century, A.D.

Rome has bequeathed us the framework for our laws, our military, architecture, engineering, and, surprisingly, wedding customs, including the veil [theirs was orange], the wedding cake [they broke it over the bride's head], and carrying the bride over the threshold [a remembrance of the Rape of the Sabine women]. Rome also gave us waterproof concrete, the basis of many European languages, and one of the foundations of English. Not bad for seven hills and a dirty river.


The Battle of San Jacinto is fought.

After retreating in the face of a blitzkrieg from Mexican President [dictator], and military Supremo, Antonio Lopez y Santa Ana [the self-styled 'Napoleon of the West', Texas General Sam Houston turns on Santa Ana at San Jacinto where the latter, having split his army, is encamped, resting on his 'laurels' after the battle of the Alamo and the massacre of Fanning's Goliad column.

Houston's attack catches the Mexicans totally by surprise, and the battle is over in less than half an hour. Houston's losses are negligible, Santa Ana's heavy. Houston's large haul of prisoners, gathered over the day of battle and those following it, includes Santa Ana himself, who had fled the battle. Santa Ana bargains his life for Texas independence. But the border between Texas and Mexico remains tense, due, in part, to conflicting understanding over WHERE, exactly the border is. A further aggravating factor is the fact that elements in Texas, and the United States want Texas to join the Union,  The issues between Texas, Mexico and the United States will never be settled to any party's full satisfaction, but Texas, along with New Mexico, Arizona, California, and much of the rest of the Southwest will become part of the United States after the latter's victory in the Mexican War.


Rittmeister [Cavalry Captain] Manfred Freiherr [Baron] Von Richtofen, is killed in combat over the Western Front. Richtofen, the so-called Red Baron [because of the color of his airplane], was World War I's leading fighter pilot, with 80 downed enemy aircraft.

Richtofen started the war as an Uhlan [lancer] officer in the Imperial German Army, but switched to flight training within a year or so. Initially, his piloting skills were not exceptional. what was exceptional was his shooting skill [Richtofen was a formidable hunter].

Richtofen came into his own under the tutelage of Oswald Boelke, a great fighter pilot, and the father of modern fighter tactics. Boelke established teamwork as the basis for his squadron, and drilled his pilots in tactics until they were proficient. And Richtofen was very proficient. When Boelke died, Richtofen assumed command of the squadron, and in no time at all, in part because of the garish paint schemes each of the pilots painted their planes [all had some red in honor of Richtofen], the squadron gained immortality as "Richtofen's Flying Circus" [Richtofen also espoused the doctrine of 'Shoot the pilot and the plane goes with him. And he was famous for doing just that with short bursts of fire].

Richtofen [and his men] rolled up impressive scores of 'kills' for the next three years. But technological superiority passed back and forth with the Allies, and they began to catch up tactically as well. Plus, the Germans had no relief. As in the second war, German pilots didn't rotate. They stayed at the front.

Richtofen's last sortie occurred shortly after his 80th victory. But the Richtofen of 1918 was a different man than the Richtofen of 1916, or even 1917. He had been shot down the previous year, suffering a head wound, and it may well have affected him. B ut on the day he died, he seemed in top form. He was on the tail of a Commonwealth pilot when Captain Roy Brown of the Royal Air Force [a Canadian] got behind him and opened fire. At the same time some Australian ground troops opened up on him, as he flew lower, with a machine gun. 

Richtofen's blood red Fokker Triplane crash landed. He was found slumped over with one bullet wound in the side. Conventional wisdom credited Brown with his death. But more recently, studies and experiments have seemed to give the credit to the ground troops.

The Allies buried Richtofen with full military honors, dropping reports on the funeral at the Flying Circus' aerodrome. Richtofen's brother Lothar [40 kills] survived the war, as did his cousin Wolfram [who would rise to General's rank as commander of Fliegerkorps VIII in the Luftwaffe]. The Flying Circus fought on until the end of the war. It's last commander was a 26 kill pilot named Hermann Wilhelm Goering.

You can get more with a smile, a handshake and a gun than you can with a smile and a handshake - Al Capone
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