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Thread: Eight Completely Badass Veterans You’ve Never Heard Of

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    Eight Completely Badass Veterans You’ve Never Heard Of

    1. Colonel Lewis L. Millett, U.S. Army (World War II, Korea)

    How much did Millett hate America’s enemies? In 1941, while training in the Army Air Corps, he heard President Roosevelt declare that America wouldn’t go to war in Europe, so he deserted and joined the Canadian army to fight Nazis. While waiting in England to fight, the U.S. Army caught up, and he was allowed a transfer back to his native military, with which he fought in North Africa. While there, he was awarded the Silver Star for driving a burning ammunition-filled halftrack away from his fellow soldiers, then leaping away to safety just before it exploded.
    Millett then got promoted into the officer corps — despite the court-martial for desertion — and eventually served in Korea as a company commander, where he earned the Medal of Honor and the Distinguised Service Cross (the nation’s two highest medals for valor) for two leading two different bayonet charges. From his Washington Post obituary (he died one year ago):
    “We had acquired some Chinese documents stating that Americans were afraid of hand-to-hand fighting and cold steel,” he told Military History. “When I read that, I thought, ‘I’ll show you, you sons of bitches!’”
    Bonus Badass Points: Rocking a sweet mustache for half a century.

    2. Captain George Mallon, U.S. Army (World War I)

    World War I is a pretty depressing, stagnant war. I mean, all wars are depressing, but WWI really takes the cake for hopelessness and trench foot and deadly technological advancements (the tank, the machine gun) for which there were no tactical developments. And since the only real results from WWI were the League of Nations and World War II, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the badasses of the original Great War.
    Enter George Mallon. On a foggy day in which the limited visibility separated him from his company, he led nine soldiers on an epic assault in which they captured 100 prisoners, 11 machineguns, four 155-millimeter howitzers and one antiaircraft gun. From his Medal of Honor citation:
    Continuing on through the woods, he led his men in attacking a battery of four 155-millimeter howitzers, which were in action, rushing the position and capturing the battery and its crew. In this encounter Capt. Mallon personally attacked 1 of the enemy with his fists.
    Dude, I couldn’t even bring myself to punch the guy who was standing in a parking place to save it the other day, and that guy deserved a beating WAY worse than some German artilleryman. But it was no big deal for Mallon, who apparently got tired of using complex, impersonal weapons like “knives” and “bayonets” during combat. Nope, don’t mind George, he’s just going to assault this artillery battery with his fists.

    3. Major Brian Chontosh, U.S. Marine Corps (Iraq)

    I was in the same Basic Officers Course as Chontosh back in 2000, which is kind of like a retarded kid bragging about going to high school with Einstein. Chontosh is a folk hero in the Marine Corps today, but he was a star even as a young lieutenant during peacetime: even though his leadership and academic ranking guaranteed him his career choice as an infantry officer, he selflessly gave up his weekends to help struggling lieutenants improve their land navigation skills.
    So it came as no surprise to me a couple years later that he’d won the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest honor (the Navy/Marine Corps version of the Distinguished Service Cross). Serving as a platoon commander during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, his platoon became caught in the kill zone of an ambush. Without hesitation, he directed his Humvee directly at the enemy machine gun fire, then dismounted his vehicle and attacked the enemy trench, emptying his M16 and 9mm pistol of ammunition, then twice picking up discarded enemy AK-47s to continue his attack, then picking up an enemy rocket-propelled grenade launcher to finish his counter-assault. He singlehandedly killed 20 Iraqis and wounded several while clearing 200 meters of trench line. Oh, and he also has two Bronze Stars for heroism during other combat tours. NBD.
    Bonus Badass Points: Chontosh is one of the premiere CrossFit athletes in America. Watch him casually lift stacks of metal here.

    4. Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester, Army National Guard (Iraq)

    In 2005, Hester became the first woman to win the Silver Star since World War II when her MP squad came to the rescue of an ambushed convoy. Her team of ten soldiers attacked approximately 50 Iraqis near the town of Salman Pak, killing 27 and wounding six.
    Not that you care, but I spent a night in Salman Pak in 2003, a couple days before U.S. forces reached Baghdad. We were in a blocking position north of the town, and intel said that we should expect a heavy firefight with terrorists who had come from Syria and Jordan. Not much happened that night, except I barely got any sleep for the 17th day in a row and my nerves were shot to hell. As you can see, my contribution to the war helped keep Salman Pak safe for future… oh. Sorry, Leigh Ann.
    Bonus Badass Points: She did it without attracting any bears! (Read the Washington Post article about her heroism here.)
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    5. Petty Officer First Class John Harlan Willis, U.S. Navy (World War II)

    You’ve heard of Iwo Jima before: a remote and tiny Pacific island, it nonetheless was the source of some of the fiercest combat in WWII. Over the course of two months, 22 Marines earned Medals of Honor, and five sailors earned the award in support of the Marines’ assault. That total represents 30% of the Medals of Honor earned by Marines in all of World War II. Long story short: Iwo was a bad place to be in February and March of 1945.
    But that’s precisely where Willis was. Serving as a Corpsman (medic) for the 27th Marines, he was wounded while aiding an injured Marine and ordered back to the rear for treatment. He refused medical assistance and returned to the battlefield, and that’s when sh*t got REAL. From his Medal of Honor citation:
    Completely unmindful of his own danger as the Japanese intensified their attack, Willis calmly continued to administer blood plasma to his patient, promptly returning the first hostile grenade which landed in the shell-hole while he was working and hurling back 7 more in quick succession before the ninth exploded in his hand and instantly killed him.
    EIGHT GRENADES. He threw back eight grenades in a crazy mash-up of hot potato and Russian roulette before a Japanese soldier finally got the drop on him.
    Bonus Badass Points: None needed. Eight grenades, dude.

    6. Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, U.S. Army (Vietnam)

    Benavidez had such a difficult childhood that I can’t help but wonder if it made his brutal tours in Vietnam somehow easier. Born of Mexican and Yaqui Indian parents on the Texas border, he was an orphan by the age of seven after both of his parents died of tuberculosis (suck on that, Dave Eggers). After being raised by an aunt and uncle with eight of his cousins, he joined the Texas Army National Guard during the Korean War, then upgraded to the regular Army in 1955.
    During his first trip to Vietnam in 1965, he stepped on a land mine, and his injuries were so severe that doctors thought he’d never walk again. But he recovered, joined the Special Forces, and went back to Vietnam in 1968, where he won the Medal of Honor with one of the most impressive citations I’ve ever read. Voluntarily heading into a clusterf*ck of an extract, he was wounded once in his right leg, face, and head. Then he did some heroic stuff and got shot in the abdomen and took shrapnel in his back. Then he kept fighting, called some air strikes, and was administering first aid to someone else when he got shot in the leg again. Then he got clubbed in the head, but still killed two more Vietnamese who were rushing at his helicopter.
    You know those big-budget Hollywood movies in which the protagonist gets shot but acts like it’s no big deal, and everyone who watches is like, “Yeah, right“? That was Benavidez in real life.
    Bonus Badass Points: In 1983, he successfully lobbied Congress to prevent the Social Security Administration from cutting off services to aging veterans.

    7. Major Michael Weston, U.S. Marine Corps & Drug Enforcement Agency (Iraq, Afghanistan)

    By all accounts, Weston possessed a brilliant mind — he studied computer science at Stanford and earned a degree from Harvard Law — but he was contemptuous of privileged academia and lives of luxury. After sharing a flight with some Marines in the mid-’90s, he decided to go to boot camp — not the officer pipeline he warranted, but the way of an enlisted grunt.
    Eventually, his intelligence and proficiency moved him up to the officer ranks, and he served several tours in Iraq before moving to the DEA and running drug interdiction in Afghanistan. He was killed in a helicopter crash after a drug raid there, but he will always be loved and remembered for thinking that people at Harvard are full of sh*t. (For more on Weston, read this excellent Boston Globe article.)
    Bonus Badass Points: “Michael Weston” is also the name of the main character in “Burn Notice.”

    8. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cole, U.S. Army (WWII)

    Cole earned the badass-yet-depressing honor of surviving the battle in which he earned the Medal of Honor, but dying in a different battle before the war’s end (not unlike Marine Corps legend John Basilone), thus preventing him from enjoying the oceans of poon to which Medal of Honor winners are entitled. Cole’s moment of glory occurred after he parachuted into France with the 101st Airborne ahead of D-Day in 1944. Tasked with moving his battalion across a bridge to Carentan, Cole’s unit became pinned down on a narrow causeway later dubbed Purple Heart Lane. (A bit of advice: if you’re on a road named for an award given to people injured in combat, that’s generally a bad place to be.)
    With his troops trapped by machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire, Cole did the only sensible thing: he ordered his troops to fix bayonets, then he personally led a successful charge of the German lines in which 130 of his 265 men suffered casualties. Oh, and by “sensible” I mean “spitting in death’s face.” Unfortunately for Cole, America, and Cole’s penis, he was killed by a sniper later that year during Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands.
    Bonus Badass Points: Cole shares a last name with Marine Sergeant Darrell Cole, who was awarded the Medal of Honor on Iwo Jima posthumously and served as the namesake of the USS Cole, the destroyer that was attacked by Al-Qaeda in 2000.

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    BAD ASS - I've got one Not Verified Feedback Score 9 (100%) j2k4's Avatar
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    Heroism defined and personnified.

    Great post, Tony.
    Ranked No. #1 in initial quality

    Idiots, simply by being idiots, seem capable of achieving randomly bad things that are beyond the imaginings of sensible people.

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    Great to honor the mostly unknown. Thanks.

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    Most of these aren't Americans but all veterans deserve the thanks.
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    Wow. Badass is the word! Balls of steel seems a too soft expression to describe them.


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    Can't forget Billy Bishop. 72 kills in air-to-air combat in ww1, and when his plane crash landed he just walked over to the front line and joined the ground troops. He earned a Victoria Cross for deciding to take on a German airfield by himself. When he got to the first airfield, he didn't find any aircraft, so he went looking for the next one, where he emptied all his ammo raining down a one man hellfire on the base, despite being shot at by everyone there, 12 miles into enemy territory. The day he was forced into desk duty, he felt like taking a short trip, and took on and shot down 5 german planes, flying solo as usual, and still made it back for noon.

    The devil's brigade. Attrition rate of over 600%. 'Nuf said.

    Charles Upham. He won the victoria cross, twice. His first VC was earned during the german invasion of Crete. He decided to rush a german machine gun nest with a pistol and grenades, then, feeling that taking out one machine gun nest wasn't enough, decided to take out a house full of germans, then another enemy gun position, all by himself. Seeing as that was midly sufficient, he decided to take on moremundane tasks such as ferrying wounded out of heavy fire, and killing his way through germans to find a NZ company that had gotten themselves lost.

    After that breather, he decided to set up a defensive perimeter against the advancing german onslaught. He was hit by a mortar and shot in the foot, then shot again, coolly slipping his rifle between branches on a tree with his one useful arm, and taking out the two fools who thought they could actually kill him.

    Later, at El Alamein, he earned his second VC by taking on a truckload of german infantry, and winning. Oh and leading an assault on a ridge against four machine gun nests, tanks, and more germans, starting the charge with two bullet wounds and racking up another one in the arm, then after getting patched up, went on fighting the germans until he was blown up by an artillery shell.

    He was then captured by the germans as he was unable to move, seeing as he had been hit by an artillery shell. After spending some time as a POW, he was liberated by the allies. Unlike everyone else however, the first thing he decides to do after being sprung is to go steal a german submachine gun and wage a one man war on Hitler, until the allies finally restrained him.

    Ernest Smith. Partied hard. Kicked ass in his spare time. By kicking ass, I mean taking on 3 german tanks and co. by himself because they shot his buddy, then hauled his buddy to safety while under fire, then went back and kicked more ass. Did I mention he did all this with a PIAT? (Possibly the worst weapon ever devised).

    Romeo Dallaire. He was in charge of UNAMIR when the Rwandan genocide went down. He refused a direct order to leave and instead stayed with 260 lightly armoured UN peacekeepers trying to save as many people as he could. (Which ended up being 10,000+) . I've met him personally (he worked with my cousin), and while he didn't kick copious amounts of ass, he held firm in the middle of a mass killing, knowing that he had no backup, against a vastly larger and better armed force, saving lives.
    Last edited by AgentOblivious; 11-12-2010 at 01:11 AM.
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    Great thread!

    This dude looks like a BAMF!

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    | @/|/| +|2()|/| verified Feedback Score 6 (100%) terrets's Avatar
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    Thanks for the post. Them USMC guys are fucking crazy. If only I was good enough to join the USMC . I dont think I have the right attitude for any branch of service though. I would love to fly for the Air Force though. Or snipe I think Id be good at that
    Last edited by terrets; 11-12-2010 at 05:05 AM.


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