Despite being on hard times, one of USA's most decorated war veterans repeatedly turned down offers to appear in Alcohol and Tobacco commercials because he knew it would be a bad role model for young people. The soldier, Audie Murphy, had won every single US Army Award for combat during World War 2.
2. Mariya Oktyabrskaya on learning that her husband was killed fighting in WW2, sold all of her possessions to donate a tank for the Red Army, the only requirement being that she would be allowed to drive it. When her tank was hit by gunfire, she would often disregard the orders and would leap out of her tank to repair it, amidst the heavy fire. She ended up becoming the 1st female tanker to be awarded the “Hero of the Soviet Union.”
3. During WWII, the Gestapo's most wanted person was New Zealand born and Allied agent Nancy Wake who earned the Legion of Honour from France. She once led 7,000 men against the Nazis. Among her numerous exploits, she killed an SS soldier with her bare hands, to prevent him from raising the alarm during an undercover raid and she also saved hundreds of Allied parachuters within enemy territory. She was the Second World War's most decorated woman.
4. Noted astronomer Tycho Brahe once had most of his nose chopped off by a broadsword during a duel with a rival mathematician. He lived on his own private island in a massive castle complete with trap doors, an army of astronomer henchmen, and a dungeon where he could extrajudicially imprison anyone who pissed him off whenever he wanted. He had a pet moose that got drunk at parties (so much so that one night the moose was so drunk it fell down stairs to its death). He was best friends with a psychic dwarf who lived under his dining room table. Brahe accurately predicted the cosmic trajectories of over 700 stars despite the fact that he was performing his observations with his naked eye because he was working before the invention of the telescope.
5. Desmond Doss was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his numerous acts of valor as a medic in the Pacific theater of World War 2. He refused to carry a weapon into battle, not a rifle, not a knife, nothing. One time a grenade severely wounded his legs and Doss dressed the wounds himself en route to the hospital, gave up his stretcher and told his bearers to carry another wounded. He received the Medal of Honor without killing anyone.
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Larry Thorne was a Finnish Army Captain who led an infantry company in the Finnish winter and Continuation Wars. During WW2, he joined a German unit to fight against Russians near Schwerin, Germany and eventually surrendered to British troops. He then served in U.S. Army Special Forces during the Vietnam War. He received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, a 2nd class Iron Cross and a Mannerheim cross (1 out of 197).
7. During the Vietnam War, when Sergeant Bennie Adkins's camp came under heavy enemy fire, he manned a mortar position for two days without any sleep. He was wounded 18 times in various parts of his body, eluded the NVA for 48 hours through the dense jungles of Vietnam, survived a run-in with a man-eating tiger, dodged NVA patrols, and somehow made it back to a position where he could contact rescue and get out of there alive. He is personally credited with killing 145 enemy soldiers in his 86-hour battle.
8. In 2012, a 90-year-old Baltimore woman named Venus Green locked a police officer in her basement when he tried searching her home without a warrant. She sued and won a $95,000 settlement.
9. During Vietnam War American sniper Carlos Hathcock volunteered to crawl for 3 days across 2000m of the open field containing an enemy headquarters. He had bed sores from staying motionless for so long. He could only move when the wind blew the grass around him. Enemy patrols came so close that they actually stepped on his knuckles and stopped to smoke within feet of him. He took a single shot that killed an NVA General and he then had to backtrack the same way while enemy patrols were swarming looking for a sniper. He was only able to move inches at a time and made it back without being spotted.
10. On January 2014, Aitzaz Hasan, a 15year-old boy in Pakistan, died when he bravely confronted a suicide bomber walking towards his school, which resulted in the early detonation of the bomb. His action saved the lives of hundreds of students.
Liviu Librescu was a Romanian-born internationally renowned professor of aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech. He survived the Holocaust when he was young. At the age of 76, he held the door of his classroom shut while the gunman attempted to enter it. Most of his students managed to escape through the windows. He was shot 5 times through the door and managed to saved 22 out of the 23 students in his class. A shot to his head proved fatal.
12. There was a Jewish boxer named Salamo Arouch imprisoned at Auschwitz. He was forced to fight fellow prisoners. The losers were sent to the gas chambers or shot. He survived more than 2 years and 200 fights, eventually being released when the camp was liberated.
13. As an officer of the California highway patrol, Sgt. Kevin Briggs has stopped more than 200 people from committing suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge.
14. Edward Loder is the most decorated man in the Boston Fire Department's history. After his first decade of service, he was assigned to Rescue One because of his reputation for being tough. In 1990, he saved a mentally unstable woman from jumping from her 16th-floor hotel room by rappelling down from the roof of the hotel by a guideline and tackling her away from the ledge right when she was about to jump. In 1993, he caught a mental patient with one hand right after he jumped and had to hang on to the rescue ladder with the other hand. He had to hold on to the jumper until the ladder was lowered down.
15. Joseph D. Pistone a.k.a “Donnie Brasco” was an FBI agent who worked undercover infiltrating a mob family for 6 years to the point that he was going to be “made” (becoming a fully initiated member of the mafia family) but he was pulled out because his superiors decided that the operation was becoming too dangerous.
Samuel Whittemore was a true American patriot, and he gladly fought for his freedom against the British during the Revolutionary War at the age of 78. Prior to this, Whittemore served as a private in King George's War and aided in the capture of the Fort Louisburg in 1745. Some believe he also fought in the French and Indian War when he was 64. By the time most of us will be retired, he was fighting in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. He also single-handedly killed three British soldiers in his fields with a rifle and his dueling pistols. For his efforts he was shot in the face, bayonetted, and left for dead. He refused to die, and in fact, fully recovered and lived until the ripe age of 98.
17. In 1883, the body of a bear and Frank Devereaux were found dead beside each other with the ground around them thrashed for 20 square feet. It is that the man and bear fought to death.
18. When he was 9 years old John Fairfax settled a dispute with a pistol. He was kicked out of the Boy Scouts for firing on another group with a firearm. At 13 he ran away to live like Tarzan in the Amazon jungle. When he was 20 he decided to commit suicide - by Jaguar! He did bring a pistol with him in case he changed his mind, which he did, and he subsequently shot and skinned the animal. He spent three years as a pirate after trying to bike and hitchhike across South America. Then when it was all said and done he rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and later the Pacific in tandem with another.
19. Agustina of Aragon was en route to a fort to deliver apples to the Spanish soldiers during the Spanish War of Independence when she found them fleeing in the face of a French attack. She ran ahead and manned the cannons, shaming the soldiers so badly that they felt compelled to return to the fight. With her assistance, they drove off the French. She was eventually captured, but escaped and became a leader of a band of guerilla fighters. She even served as a battery commander in the Battle of Victoria. They called her the Spanish Joan of Arc.
20. When Chinese general Zhuge Liang had to defend a town against 150,000 troops with just 100 men, he told his men to hide, flung open the gates and sat on the walls playing the lute. The opposing general, certain it was a trap, ordered a retreat.
Saburo Sakai was a Japanese air ace who was shot in the face during a dogfight in World War 2. Blind in one eye and partially paralyzed, “he flew upside down to prevent blood from blinding his other eye.” He flew for five hours to get back to the base, made his report and then had surgery without anesthesia.
22. In 1907, a Mexican railroad brakeman named Jesus Garcia saved the entire town of Nacozari in Sonora by singlehandedly driving a damaged and burning train containing dynamite. He drove the train 6 kilometers away from the town before it finally exploded, killing him.
23. In 2008, British Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher flung himself back-first onto a grenade to save his comrades. Though the explosion threw him in the air, his rucksack absorbed the blast and he walked away with just a nosebleed and a headache.
24. Abraham Lincoln is enshrined in the wrestling hall of fame. Defeated only once in approximately 300 matches, Lincoln reportedly talked a little smack in the ring. According to Carl Sandburg's biography of Lincoln, Honest Abe once challenged an entire crowd of onlookers after dispatching an opponent: “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.” There were no takers.
25. There was a real team of Jewish assassins called “The Avengers” who tracked down and executed Nazi war criminals after WWII.