Military Trivia: 25 Little Known Veteran Facts

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1Six Flags Accident

At Six Flags Darien Lake in 2011, a double amputee war veteran died after being ejected from a rollercoaster. Investigators ruled it as the ride attendant’s fault for not adhering to the rules requiring riders to have both legs.


2. James Hard was a US Civil War veteran who died at 111 years old, living long enough to see both World War 1 and World War 2. He saw the world going from using rows of musket fire to nuclear arms within his lifetime.


3. The most decorated American World War 1 veteran from Texas was an undocumented Mexican immigrant named Marcelino Serna. He was also the first Hispanic to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.


4. John “Liver Eatin’” Johnson was a Mexican-American War veteran turned mountain man, who in 1847 started a personal vendetta against the Crow Nation after they killed his Flathead wife. He is said to have killed and scalped more than 300 Crows and then ate their livers as a sign of disrespect.


5. Kevin Briggs is a San Francisco Highway Patrol Officer and a veteran of US Army, who has talked approximately 200 people out of suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge since 1994.


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6GI Bill Denied

After returning from World War 2 over 1 million Black Americans were denied the benefits of the GI bill for free education and low rate home loans.


7. A Vietnam War veteran named Michael A. Smith waited in line at (American actress) Jane Fonda book signing just to spit tobacco juice in her face, calling her a traitor to the US for her actions in the 1970s.


8. A Canadian military veteran amputee named Paul Franklin had to submit annual paperwork to prove his legs were still missing in order to continue his disability benefits.


9. The tombstone of U.S. Air Force veteran and gay rights activist Leonard Matlovich states this: "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."


10. US veterans can have Mjölnir, Hammer of Thor, engraved in their headstones as a religious symbol.


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11Daniel F. Bakeman

Daniel F. Bakeman, the alleged last surviving veteran of the American Revolutionary War also had the longest recorded marriage at 91 years, 12 days: The only documented marriage to have broken the 90-year anniversary mark.


12. Harry Wilhelm was an unemployed World War 1 veteran who memorized the entire US Constitution during the Great Depression. Representative Sol Bloom bet he couldn’t recite it perfectly. When Wilhelm proved him wrong, Bloom immediately gave him a job.


13. A US Army veteran named Shawn Nelson became severely depressed after his wife filed divorce, both parents died of cancer, his plumbing equipment got stolen, income stopped, utilities cut off and his house went into foreclosure. He stole a tank from the armory, went on a rampage on the streets destroying cars and was finally shot and killed.


14. James Stewart is the highest-ranking actor in military history (Brigadier General). He was World War 2 and Vietnam War Veteran and Licensed Commercial Pilot. In 1996, he was due to have the battery in his pacemaker changed but opted not to, preferring to let things happen naturally.


15. Daniel Freeman was a U.S. Civil War veteran and the first person to claim land under the Homestead Act. Later in life, he brought up and won a landmark separation of church and state case against a teacher who was evangelizing to her students with permission from the school board.


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16USPS

The United States Postal Service is the single largest employer of veterans (22% of the postal workforce) and nearly a third of the veterans it employs are disabled.


17. When Dakota Meyer was contacted to arrange a time to inform him that his case for the Medal of Honor had been approved, the caller was told that Meyer was working at his construction job and they were asked to call again during his lunch break. Later when a White House staffer contacted Meyer again to arrange the ceremony, Meyer asked if he could have a beer with the President Obama. He received an invitation to the White House for the afternoon before the ceremony.


18. Filip Konowal, a Canadian World War 1 veteran, and Victoria Cross recipient, upon discovering that a bootlegger had viciously beaten a friend of his, disarmed the man and stabbed him to death. Konowal later told police: "I've killed fifty-two of them, that makes the fifty-third."


19. Adrian Carton de Wiart was a veteran of 4 wars. He was shot in the stomach, groin, head, hand, ankle, hip, and leg. He once chewed off a few of his own fingers, survived two plane crashes, and lost an eye all during the wars he fought.


20. The inventor of Coca-Cola, John Stith Pemberton was a Civil War veteran who became addicted to morphine due to pain from a saber wound to the chest. Seeking alternatives to his morphine use, he developed the original formula for Coca-Cola with the use of the coca plant for pain relief.


21Thomas Fitzpatrick

American pilot Thomas Fitzpatrick was a World War 2 and Korean War veteran who once stole a plane and landed it at 3 am in front of a bar in New York City while being intoxicated. About two years later, he did it again because a bar patron didn't believe him (again being intoxicated).


22. An Australian war veteran named Don Ritchie stopped over 160 people from killing themselves at a popular suicide spot by talking to them and offering them tea or breakfast at his home nearby.


23. In 1947, the Kiwanis Club of Ahoskie in North Carolina held a drawing for a New Cadillac. When a Black Navy Veteran won, they announced there had been a mistake, refunded the winner the $1 price of his ticket, and drew again for a white winner.


24. Dewey Beard was the last Native American veteran of the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn. In 1892, his family was killed by the US Army at the Wounded Knee Massacre, and he was shot. In 1942, the Department of War confiscated his land to form a firing range. He died in poverty in 1955.


25. Susan Travers, a World War 2 and Indochina War veteran, is the only woman to have been formally enrolled in the French Foreign Legion.

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