1 FEB 1800 – During the Quasi-War with France the USS Constellation engaged the French Navy’s La Vengeance. The La Vengeance was a slightly lighter ship but was more heavily armed on its broadsides. During a tense 5 hour battle the two ships would twice come close enough that boarding parties would be called forward, with each time the ships fighting each other off. During one such action when the ships closed in on each other, US Marines on the deck of the Constellation would fire so much that the deck fo the La Vengeance would be covered in dead and wounded. The USS Constellation would emerge victorious after the battle as the ships broke contact. Both ships were riddled in holes and damage, with the La Vengeance just managing to escape. The La Vengeance would ground itself near the closest port while the USS Constellations rigging was so damaged that it was not sailed upwind for fear of losing the ship. Upon return to port the Captain of the La Vengeance was so embarrassed of his loss that he claimed that the USS Constellation was a much larger Ship of the Line. Due to the speed and power displayed by the USS Constellation the French would give her the nickname the “Yankee Racehorse”.
1 FEB 1943 – The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, “Go for Broke”, is created. The unit was comprised almost entirely of Nisei, second generation Japanese Americans. At the time the Japanese Americans were under heavy scrutinization, with many along the west coast held in internment camps. The units members were a mix of initial volunteers and conscripted Soldiers, which made of the bulk of the unit. Upon entry and recruitment to the unit members had to undergo a loyalty questionnaire, which many protested due to resenting thought that they ever held allegiance to Japan in the first place. The unit would fight in Europe during the war and quickly create an impressive combat record. By the end of the war the regiment would become the most highly decorated unit for its size, around 4,000 Soldiers made up the units fighting force, in the entire US Military history. In two years of fighting its members would earn a over 18,000 awards including, more than 4,000 Purple Hearts and Bronze Star awards each. The unit would earn eight Presidential Unit Citations, five of those in the same months time, and 21 members were awarded the Medal of Honor. In 2012 all surviving members were made chevaliers of the French Légion d’Honneur for their actions in Frances liberation. The actions of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team along with several similar units would change Americas opinion of Americans of Japanese ancestry, leading to the easing of restrictions and release of those held in internment camps well before the ending of the war.
5 FEB 1918 – American aviator Stephen W. Thompson becomes the first member of the US Military to shoot down an enemy plane during WW1. While visiting a French air unit he was invited to ride along as gunner-bombardiers during a bombing mission. As the unit was returning from their mission they were attacked by German Albatros D.III fighters and Thompson would successfully shoot one down. For his actions the French would award him the Croix de guerre with Palm. He would go on to fly with the 12th Aero Squadron during the war, shooting down two more enemy planes and being wounded by the famous German ace Erich Löwenhardt.