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Dec. 12 in US Military History

1753: 21-year-old Virginia adjutant George Washington delivers an ultimatum for French forces to abandon Fort Le Boeuf (present-day Waterford, Penn.) as they were trespassing on British territory.

Christopher Gist, Washington’s guide, would save the future president’s life twice during the trip.

1770: The British soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre are acquitted. Future president John Adams is their lawyer.

1937: The gunship USS Panay and three Standard Oil tankers are sunk by Japanese as they evacuate US citizens from Nanking following the Japanese invasion during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

1953: Maj. (future Maj. Gen.) Chuck Yeager pilots the Bell X-1A to Mach 2.44 (1648 mph), setting a speed record that still stands today (straight-wing aircraft on level flight). The flight almost costs Yeager his life.

1985: Arrow Air Flight 1285, returning soldiers of the 101st Airborne to Fort Campbell following a peacekeeping mission in Egypt, crashes after takeoff, killing 248 soldiers.

1992: Marine Corps Cobra helicopter gunships destroy a Somali armed vehicle, marking the first combat action of Operation Restore Hope.

Medal of Honor: 70 years ago during the defense of Wake Island, Marine Capt. Henry T. Elrod shot down enemy planes, sunk a ship, and commanded Marines on the ground as they defended against the Japanese invasion.

Picture of the Day: The Bell X-1A, the plane used by Chuck Yeager