1861: President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill authorizing the creation of an award for sailors and Marines who "distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war." The Medal of Honor is born.
1866: In the biggest defeat on the Great Plains until Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse leads 79 soldiers and two civilians into a deadly ambush at Fort Kearny in present-day Wyoming. The 81 Americans are wiped out by approximately 2,000 Indians.
1943: The submarine USS Grayback sinks its fourth Japanese ship in three days.
1944: German troops from the 5th Panzer Army surround the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, Belgium.
1945: Nearly one month after a vehicle accident that paralyzed him, Gen. George S. Patton dies of a pulmonary embolism in a military hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.
1950: Airmen from the Fifth Air Force conduct "Operation Kiddy Car," the evacuation of nearly 1,000 Korean War orphans to the island of Cheju-do to escape approaching communist forces.
1968: Frank Borman (Col. USAF, ret.), James Lovell (Capt. USN, ret.), and William Anders (Maj. Gen. USAF, ret.) blast off aboard Apollo 8, becoming the first humans to leave Earth's orbit and on Christmas Eve, would become the first to orbit the moon.
Medal of Honor: 67 years ago in Belgium, Private Francis S. "Frank" Currey kills one tank, disables three others, and forces a German unit to retreat after inflicting heavy casualties with a bazooka, automatic rifle, a halftrack, and anti-tank grenades.