There’s no doubt about it that war is indeed hell. No matter the conflict, no matter the cause, what the great men and women who serve their country dutifully and without concern for themselves is nothing short of extraordinary. And while all of them are heroes in their own right, there are simply some whose stories are just truly, truly extraordinary and noteworthy. Here are 10 war heroes’ stories you probably never knew.
1. Roy Benavidez Roy Benavidez was a Vietnam War Green Beret who was the definition of giving zero fucks. He got the Medal of Honor during the war because, after his platoon was ambushed by North Vietnamese troops, he essentially fought them off for over six full hours by himself. Not only that, but after making the call for an extraction helicopter, Benavidez would drag every man to the chopper himself, providing himself with cover fire. At the end of it, he had sustained over 37 bullet, shrapnel and bayonet wounds, and he was even pronounced dead—until he spit in the doctor’s face while they were zipping up his body bag.
2. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt You know Teddy as America’s 26th President, but he was also the commander of a special band of men called The Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. The Rough Riders were a notorious group of fighters throughout the war, and Teddy gracefully and fearlessly lead his men into several battles—most notably Las Guasimas—and lived to tell the tale. He was a badass of the highest order.
3. Albert Jacka Just as all superheroes don’t wear capes, not all war heroes are Americans. Albert Jacka was a soldier in the Australia Imperial Force during WWI. One day, shortly after returning from a recon mission, two German soldiers tossed a grenade into Jacka’s bunker, instantly killing two of his men. Dazed, Jacka ran outside to see what the hell was going on, only to discover a regiment of German troops capturing a group of Australians. Saying, “Fuck that, mate” (he probably didn’t say that), Jacka ran inside, gathered a handful of his troops who weren’t dying, and stormed the Germans—killing at least a dozen of them himself, turning the tides, and eventually taking the rest captive.
4. Samuel Whittemore Samuel Whittemore was a 78-year-old colonial farmer during the American Revolutionary War. One day, a British brigade was passing through his land on their way to go help out at Lexington and Concord. Whittemore saw them and said, “Fuck that, mate” (he probably didn’t say that) and straight up ambushed them all by himself. He managed to kill one and seriously wound another, and when the brigade came back and beat his ass—stabbed him up, shot him a couple times, etc.—they just left him for dead. But when colonial forces did eventually find him, he was still trying to load his musket and continue on fighting. When doctors gave him zero chance to live, he again yelled, “Fuck that, mate” (he probably didn’t say that, either), and not only survived to see America’s independence, but wound up living until the ripe old age of 96.
5. General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker My name isn’t even Joe, but goddamn if I don’t want my nickname to be “Fighting Joe.” Hooker served in three American wars—The Seminole Wars, The Mexican-American War and the American Civil War—and was famously hand-picked by President Abraham Lincoln (pre-bullet to the head) to lead his men to battle. Hooker was famous for improving the living conditions of his men and providing them with the tools they needed to fight the best they could, but he was also a hard-partying sonofabitch. Like, if you look at his Wikipedia profile, it makes several notes of his hard-partying lifestyle—hookers, booze, etc. If they’d had cocaine back in those days, I’m sure Hooker would have walked around with an 8 ball in his pocket at all times.
6. Douglas MacArthur First of all, MacArthur was a career shit-kicker. He served in the U.S. armed forces for over 40 years. His most famous story came from WWII, where, after losing his foothold in the Philippines to Japan (and thus, being forced from the island), MacArthur re-grouped and then came back two years later to re-take everything he’d lost. The guy had the biggest, brass-est set of testicles and, after the war, he made sure he personally attended Japan’s signing of their surrender. Because, fuck you.
7. Dwight D. Eisenhower Eisenhower is a familiar name to you because he was a great American president. What you probably didn’t know is that he was also the Supreme Commander of the U.S. Military at one point. Not only did he get to boss General Patton around (who I’ll get to in a minute), or send MacArthur into Korea to go fuck their shit up, but he also was the man responsible for organizing D-Day, one of the bloodiest and most strategically important battles of all of WWII.
8. TJ “Stonewall” Jackson Was “Stonewall” Jackson a Confederate General? Yes. Were they the bad guys in the Civil War? Absolutely. But you gotta give credit where credit is due. “Stonewall” Jackson was the definition of bad mama jamma—seriously, look it up in the dictionary. Not only did he fight (and win) over 20 serious Civil War battles and kill Union soldiers like it was his goddamn job, but when he was eventually killed in battle, it was accidentally by the hands of his own men. Like, he hated Union soldiers so much he wouldn’t even let them kill him, for crying out loud.
9. General James Mattis You’re hearing a lot about General James Mattis (present U.S. Secretary of Defense, respectfully) these days, but “Mad Dog” Mattis established himself a war hero years before Trump called on him to serve. In fact, it was his accolades that got him the invite. What makes Mattis so incredible is that he didn’t just command his troops; he served with them. He served with them in Afghanistan, all the way down through the battle-torn streets of Fallujah (Iraq). He’s the guy who’s famous for encouraging his men to never, ever kill someone who might be a civilian, but also says things like, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” He is the living embodiment of war hero. Period.
10. General George Patton Ah, General George “Old Blood and Guts” Patton—the man on this list so eternally badass that even Hitler himself knew him as, “that crazy cowboy general.” I could tell you literally a million reasons why he was an absolute vicious fighter, but instead, I think I’ll just sum it up with this wholesome quote of his: “We’re not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun cock suckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it’s the blood and guts of what once was yours.”