John Clem was a drummer boy in the Union Army during the Civil War, who at the age of 11 shot a confederate colonel who had demanded his surrender. Promoted to sergeant, he became the youngest NCO in Army history. He retired in 1915 as a general and the last actively serving veteran of the Civil War.
2Joan Pujol Garcia
During World War 2, a Spaniard named Joan Pujol Garcia was a double agent that spied on Germany for the British. He was supposed to recruit spies in Britain for the Germans. Eventually, the Germans were funding a network of 27 fictional agents and decided they had enough “agents” spying for them in Britain and didn’t want anymore. He played an important role in the deceptive operation intended to mislead the Germans about the D-day invasions. He received the medal of service from both the Allies and Axis.
Harald Hardrada was a Viking who fled from his native Norway to Russia, then went on to become an elite guardsman in Eastern Roman Empire and fought in Iraq. He then went back to Russia to marry a princess, and arrived back in Norway as a king and finally invaded England with his army.
The real Grizzly Adams caught a 1-year-old brown bear. He then taught her to follow him around, carry a pack and then to pull a loaded sled. She even cuddled up near Adams to keep him warm in freezing condition. Eventually, the bear that he named Lady Washington allowed Adams to ride on her back.
5Vavilov Seed Bank
In 1941, the world’s largest seed bank (Created by botanist Nikolai Vavilov) was housed in Leningrad. As the Germans surrounded the city forcing mass starvation, scientists inside the vault refused to eat from the collection, slowly dying of hunger as they maintained 16 rooms of edible plants.
Adolphe Sax (inventor of the saxophone) survived a three-story fall, a gunpowder explosion, drinking a bowl of sulfuric water, a near-poisoning due to furniture varnish, and falling into a speeding river, all before the age of nine. His neighbors called him “little Sax, the ghost.” He also suffered at least one assassination attempt due to the dislike of his new invention (saxophone) among instrument makers.
In 1996, a Texas man named Valentin Grimaldo was bitten by a venomous coral snake. He proceeded to kill the reptile by biting off its head and then used its skin as a tourniquet, a move that saved his life.
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Matt Urban was nicknamed “The Ghost” by Germans during World War 2 for his habit of coming back from fights that would kill normal men. During one fight he blew up a German tank with a bazooka; took a 31mm tank-gun round to his leg, but continued fighting. The next day he suffered another wound and was evacuated. When he woke up in the hospital, he limped his way back with a cane and manned a machine gun under heavy fire. Days later he took shrapnel to the-chest and survived. After recovering, he took a shot to the neck, but survived again, only losing his voice. He survived the war and lived for another 51 years.
9John Weir Foote
During the first major raid against the Germans in 1941, Canadian chaplain John Weir Foote was told to sit it out. He dared his officer to arrest him to keep him out, so he was assigned as a stretcher-bearer. During the raid, he helped carry 30 wounded soldiers to safety under fire and provided them with morphine. While retreating from the beach, he disembarked and surrendered himself as he considered a POW camp needed religious guidance more than a hunch of soldiers returning to base. After three years’ imprisonment with one serious escape attempt, Foote was released. He was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Werner Forssmann was the first man to perform cardiac catheterization. He ignored his department chief and persuaded the operating room nurse to assist him. She agreed, but on the promise that he would do it on her rather than on himself. He pretended to locally anesthetize and cut her arm whilst he actually did the procedure on himself. He then walked downstairs to the radiology department to take the x-ray to prove he would not die. He was fired, became a Nazi and then won the Nobel Prize.