Bravest of the Brave: 35 Stories of Courage and Heroism

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1Salty and Roselle

Salty and Roselle

Two guide dogs, Salty and Roselle, were awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry after leading their blind owners out of the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. Roselle led a group of people including her blind owner down 78 flights of stairs before the North Tower collapsed. She only stopped to give kisses to a woman who was having a panic attack.

2. Ettore Boiardi, the Chef Boyardee of canned Ravioli fame was awarded both the Gold Star order of excellence from the US War Department and the Order of Lenin from Russia for supplying rations to allied troops during World War 2.

3. In 1965, Milton Olive III sacrificed his own life to save a group of soldiers by smothering a live grenade. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor award, becoming the first African American of the Vietnam War to do so.

4. Frederick Smith, the founder of FedEx served two tours of duty in Vietnam, observing procurement and delivery procedures, fine-tuning his dream for overnight delivery service. He was also awarded a Bronze Star, Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts.

5. World War 2 fighter pilot James Howard won the Medal of Honor for single-handedly taking on more than 30 German fighter planes all by himself to protect a group of American bomber planes.

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6Daniel Inouye

Daniel Inouye

Former Senator Daniel Inouye had his arm blown off in combat while throwing a grenade. He yelled to stay back, snatched the live grenade out of his blown off-hand, then used it and a Thompson sub-machinegun to mow down the remaining Germans. He wasn't awarded the Medal of Honor until the year 2000.

7. During World War 1, Dominic "Fats" McCarthy was awarded the Victoria Cross after he, virtually unaided, killed 22 Germans, captured 5 machine guns, 50 prisoners, and half a kilometer of the German front. When it was over even the prisoners he'd captured patted him on the back for what he'd done.

8. During the 2007 Glasgow Airport attack, an airport worker named John Smeaton kicked an attempted suicide bomber in the nuts. He was later awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

9. A pigeon named Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre for its service during World War 1. Cher Ami delivered the S.O.S. message of a lost, encircled battalion despite being shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, covered in blood, and with a leg hanging only by a tendon.

10. US Army dentist Ben L. Salomon was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for providing a rear-guard action during the Battle of Saipan. His body was found laying on his machine gun with 98 Japanese soldiers in front of him and 76 bullet wounds (and almost as many bayonet wounds) in him while he was still alive.

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11Orion Howe

Orion Howe

A 14-year old drummer boy named Orion P. Howe received the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War for volunteering to supply ammunition under heavy fire. After the war, he joined the Naval Academy because he was still too young for West Point. In his lifetime, he fought 14 battles.

12. Douglas Albert Munro was the only US Coast Guard to receive the Medal of Honor. Whilst providing cover for ground troops with his boat, Munro was fatally wounded. His last words he said were, “did they get off?” referring to the soldiers he'd saved. He was only 22 years old.

13. In 2007, a 9-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named George sacrificed himself to save five children from an attack by two Pit Bulls. All three dogs had to be euthanized, but George was posthumously awarded a PDSA Gold Medal and his heroism was commemorated with a bronze statue.

14. In 2009, the home of 19-year-old Indian Kashmiri woman Rukhsana Kausar was invaded by 3 terrorists. Rakhsana disarmed two of them with an ax, killed the commander with his own rifle, and forced the others to flee. She was subsequently awarded India’s National Bravery Award and offered a police job.

15. During salvage efforts in Pearl Harbor, two Navy Divers became trapped when a piece of wreckage collapsed. By tunneling through 20 feet of mud and steel, Francis P Hammerberg, saved both men but became trapped himself in the wreckage. He died 18 hours later and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

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16Lydia Angiyou

Lydia Angiyou

In 2006, a Canadian mother named Lydia Angiyou, defended her 7-year-old son and his friends from a Polar Bear attack by single-handedly fighting off the bear until a hunter could arrive, demonstrating a rare example of life or death “hysterical strength.” She survived and later received the Medal of Bravery.

17. Adolf Hitler's nephew William Patrick Hitler served in the US Navy in World War 2 and was awarded a Purple Heart. After attempting to benefit from his uncle's rise to power in Germany, he turned against him and eventually settled in the USA.

18. Despite being a pacifist, Desmond Doss served as a combat medic in World War 2 and saved 75 people during the Battle of Okinawa without even carrying a gun. He was the only conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in the war.

19. In 1941, a Great Dane named Juliana saved her master’s home from burning down during the Blitz by urinating on a German incendiary bomb which had fallen through the roof. For this she was awarded the Blue Cross, which is similar to the Dickin Medal.

20. A dog that was named Judy spent a good part of World War 2 in a Japanese prison camp protecting prisoners from being beaten by taking the beating herself. Judy received the Dickin medal for her effort.

21Karl Plagge

Karl Plagge

Karl Plagge was a Wehrmacht officer who used his position to try and save 1240 Jews in Lithuania from Nazi extermination. At his trial, he did not speak in his own defense because he blamed himself for not doing enough. In 2005 he was awarded "Righteous Among the Nations."

22. The first Victoria Cross was awarded to a 20-year-old Ships Mate named Charles Davis Lucas, for picking up a live shell that landed on the deck and throwing it overboard. He was promoted on the spot, rose to the rank of Rear Admiral, and married the Captain's daughter.

23. During World War 2, Audie Murphy earned every US Army combat award for valor, and several French and Belgian awards for heroism. He earned the Medal of Honor at 19 for holding off a company of German soldiers for an hour, then leading a successful counter-attack while out of ammo and wounded.

24. During World War 2, a dog named Gander fended off two Japanese ambushes. When they came back again, with a grenade this time, Gander picked it up and charged back at them, killing more Japanese, saving his wounded team, going out in a blaze of glory and earning a Dickin Medal.

25. An African-American soldier named Vernon Baker received his belated Medal of Honor in 1997 for crawling to a Nazi outpost in Italy and taking out the 5 Germans in the outpost and then throwing a grenade and killing 2 more Germans and then rescuing a wounded American soldier.

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