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Origins of the Headless Horseman

US Military History Throughout The Years

Short bits of history you know and some you may not!

  • USS Tang: Wednesday, October 25, 1944 – The submarine USS Tang would sink during her fifth and final war patrol during WW2. The USS Tang was sunk by a malfunctioning torpedo that she had fired, when fired it quickly turned left back towards the USS Tang. The submarine attempted to evade but was still struck violently. Only nine Sailors survived to be rescued, being captured by the Japanese and held as POWs for the rest of the war. The captain Richard O’Kane would receive the Medal of Honor for actions during the USS Tang’s final patrol. The USS Tang was the most successful submarine during WW2 sinking 116,454 tons, an amount equated to the 33 enemy ships she sunk during her 5 patrols.
  • Paramarines: Saturday, October 26, 1940 – The USMC stands up the first unit of the Paramarines. These specially selected Marines were formed to be an elite force within the Marine Corps capable of airborne operations. The first unit would be formed and trained at NAS Lakehurst in New Jersey. With higher pay offered upon completion of training, there was no shortage of volunteers. One requirement of recruits was that they were unmarried, and a high standard of fitness. Even with the high amount of volunteers the washout rate was around 40%. The Paramarines would take part in many battles in the Pacific Theater with the USMC, but would never jump into combat during the island hopping campaigns, due to a lack of required transport aircraft. The Paramarines would still be utilized as elite troops, with former Paramarines assisting in the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi. The Paramarines would only jump into a enemy territory once during their short lived time as a unit. A small number of them would be dropped into southern France with the Office of Strategic Services, OSS, to support the French Resistance. By February 1944 all the Paramarine battalions were disbanded. Out of the 82 Marines awarded the Medal of Honor during WW2, 4 would be Paramarines.
  • Headless Horseman: Monday, October 28, 1776 – While retreating from the British during the New York and New Jersey campaign, General George Washington turns to establish a position near the village of White Plains, New York. The position Washington took was in reaction to the British attempting to cut off his escape and he placed his forces on a hill near the village. While the Colonial force was inspecting the terrain as to find the best places to hold fast, the British force led by General Howe advanced towards them. The British force pushed the Continental force back as they advanced, with the British being stopped as the Continental force consolidated their lines. General Howe would take some time to issue his orders, with finally a British and Hessian element being ordered to take the hill occupied by General Washingtons forces. The fighting turned fierce as the British advanced and both sides took significant casualties. Eventually the Continental force broke, but was able to make a disciplined retreat. General Washington would elude the British for several days as he drew his forces back, finally be forced into battle again at the Battle of Fort Washington, another loss for the Continental Army. According to some historians, the Headless Horseman from the short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” came about from events during the battle. During the battle a real life Hessian Solider would lose his head to cannon fire.

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