18 APR 1942 – In the first operation to strike the Japanese home islands during WW2, a strike group of 16 B-25 medium bombers takes off from the deck of the USS Hornet to attack several Japanese cities. The Doolittle Raid, or Tokyo Raid, was led and planned by LTC James Doolittle of the US Army Air Force, a famous military test pilot among other notable career points. After considering multiple other bombers he picked the untested in combat B-25B, which would be stripped down to the bones in order to be able to lift off from the short carrier deck and make the long flight. After the hand picked crew completed concentrated training for taking off from a carrier the group would go underway aboard the carrier on April 2nd.
They would take off earlier than planned after being spotted by a Japanese picket boat off the coast of the Japanese home islands. This early take off extended the distance to be flown by 200 miles. All bombers would take off safely from the deck of the carrier, the first time any of the crew had done so and begin their flights to Japan. The 16 bombers would attack multiple towns and cities, each one only dropping 5 bombs due to the limited capacity from being stripped down for the extended flight. All but one bomber would drop its bombs on or around their targets and would only meet light resistance. After their attacks they headed for China, all were low on fuel and were unable to make it to the preplanned landing areas. One bomber would turn for the USSR, being so low on fuel that it was unable to make it to the Chinese coast. Those that landed in the USSR were interred and most of those that landed in China would be aided by locals and friendly military forces there. Of the 16 bombers, 15 would be lost and 69 out of the 80 crew members would survive.
The attack would kill around 50 Japanese and injure 400 more, with little actual material damage. The retaliation for the attack at Pearl Harbor months earlier was an important boost to the American public and showed that Japan was not safe from attack, even with American forces suffering repeated losses this early in the war. LTC Doolittle would at the time consider the attack a failure, as 15 aircraft were lost and expected a court martial as a result of the minimal success of the operation. However due to the bolstered American morale in the aftermath of the attack he would be promoted to Brigadier General, completely skipping the rank of Colonel. He would also be awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership and planning the operation, while all 80 members of the bombers were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Chinese government would also award each crew member.
20 APR 1775 – Immediately after the battle of Lexington and Concord, Colonial Militiamen would secure and hold all land access and routes to the city of Boston. This would lead to the start of the Siege of Boston, held by British troops, and the opening phases of the Revolutionary War. At this time the town was primarily just a peninsular city on Massachusetts Bay, with limited access to land routes. This would limit the British resupply to only what could come from the sea. Resupply issues were not limited to the British as Colonial Militia, turned Continental Army, had their own issues with personal and supplies. After initial actions, such as battles at Bunker and Breeds Hill, the opposing forces set in and military actions would be limited to the occasional raid, minor skirmishes and sniper fire. In November 1775 General Washington would send in Henry Knox with heavy artillery. Over the next several months Knox would turn the city indefensible by the British, leading to their withdraw on 17 March 1776.
20 APR 1861 – Colonel Robert E Lee resigns his commission from the United States Army. This happened three days after his home state of Virginia seceded from the Union and two days after he had been offered command of the Union Army. While he opposed the secession of southern states against the Union, he was a loyal son of Virginia. He would soon join the new Confederacy and take command of the Virginia State forces, being given the sword of George Washington as a symbol of his appointment