Today in 1945 at Ft. Lauderdale Air Station, Florida, a squadron of 5 Navy Avengers left at 1410 hours on a training mission and disappeared, never to be seen again. Transmissions were received from the flight saying their compass and back-up compass failed in the lead plane and other planes, their position was unknown. At 1820 hours, a broken message was received that the squadron was out of fuel and preparing to ditch simultaneously.
At 1927 hours a Mariner aircraft left to search for the lost squadron. It was never heard from again. A tanker off the Florida coast reported seeing an explosion at 1950 hours.
One of the largest air and sea searches in history checked thousands of square miles of ocean and the Florida interior as well. No sign of wreckage was ever sighted. (A storm may have sunk all evidence.)
The loss of Flight 19′s 14 men and the 13-man crew of the Mariner became a legend of the “Lost Squadron” in the Bermuda Triangle.
Today in 1933 the 21st Amendment was ratified, which repealed the 18th Amendment that made the “manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes” illegal. Pennsylvania and Ohio ratified the 21st Amendment earlier in the day; Utah became the 36th state to do so.
The 18th Amendment was ratified January 29, 1919 and officially took effect exactly one year later in 1920, even though it began to be enforced before then. Congress passed the Volstead Act over President Wilson’s veto October 28, 1919, which created a Prohibition unit of the US Treasury Department.
Some states continued prohibition after the 21st Amendment was passed and ratified. Mississippi became the last dry state in 1966 when it ended its temperance laws.
Happy birthday George Armstrong Custer, youngest general in American history at age 23 during the Civil War, and later colorful and controversial commander of the 7th Cavalry during the Plains War with Lakota and Cheyenne Indians, born today in Harrison County, Ohio, 1839.
One member of Custer’s command during the Civil War wrote: “So brave a man I never saw and as competent as brave. Under him a man is ashamed to be cowardly. Under him our men can achieve wonders.” Custer led every Civil War charge he ordered.
Custer died in battle at the famous Battle of Little Bighorn, June 25, 1876.
Happy birthday Martin Van Buren, born today 1782 in Kinderhook, New York. Van Buren served as Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of State and was elected Vice President under Jackson in 1832. Van Buren became the 8th President in 1836. He retired to his home in Kinderhook in 1849 and died in 1862.