For Memorial Day we compiled this list of six soldiers who are cooler than you. Granted, there are thousands of soldiers cooler than you, (especially cooler than you, Chad) but these six are supremely awesome:
Churchill, pictured above carrying a Claymore sword into battle (full size picture here), was an English soldier who carried a sword, bagpipes, arrows, and a longbow into battles. He also volunteered for Commando duty not knowing what it was but liking that it sounded dangerous. In 1940, Churchill gave his men the signal to attack a German patrol by killing the patrol’s sergeant with an arrow, making him the only British soldier on record as killing the enemy with a longbow. When he was on the first landing craft during a raid on a German garrison in 1941, he leapt from the craft playing “The March of the Cameron Men” on his bagpipes, then hurled a grenade and charged toward the bay. At the end of the war, Churchill was reported to have complained, “If it wasn’t for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years!”
After the war, he taught at a land-air warfare school (which sounds totally hardc0re) in Australia. While in Australia, he also learned how to surf. Being Jack f–king Churchill, he couldn’t be any regular surfer. He designed his own board and became the first man to ride the five-foot tidal bore at the River Severn.
Also, here’s an awesome out-of-context quote from Wikipedia: “A mortar shell killed or wounded everyone but Churchill, who was playing ‘Will Ye No Come Back Again?’ on his pipes as the Germans advanced.” And here’s a slightly-less-awesome quote from that same wiki page: “He was of no known relation of the wartime British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill or of Churchill the dog, star of British TV insurance adverts, and he is not known to have visited the town of Churchill, Manitoba.” Seriously, Wikipedia?
“We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them.” — Chesty Puller
Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller is the most decorated U.S. Marine in history. He’s one of only two people who have received the Navy Cross five times (the other being Roy Milton Davenport). I’m not going to go into great detail on how he earned all those medals, because it would take a long time. Suffice it to say, the dude was badass. How badass? The first time he saw a flamethrower, he asked, “Where do you put the bayonet?”
I’m pretty sure all “Bill Brasky” quotes are based on Chesty Puller.
Audie Murphy was the most decorated American soldier of WWII, earning 33 U.S. and foreign medals, including the Medal of Honor. In 1942, at the age of 17, his sister altered the birth year on his papers so he could enlist. He was 5’5″ tall and 110 pounds at the time. In 1943, he was promoted to corporal in Italy for shooting two Italian officers as they tried to escape. He also contracted malaria while in Italy, and had it throughout the war, but he wasn’t going to let that slow him down. In 1944, a German soldier in a machine gun nest pretended to surrender, then shot Murphy’s best friend, Lattie “Brandon” Tipton. Murphy totally hulked out and killed the entire German machine gun crew by himself, then used their guns and grenades to take out nearby enemy positions as well.
Not learning the important lesson “Never piss off Audie Murphy” the Axis continued to fight, and in 1945, Murphy jumped into a burning tank destroyer (that could explode at any moment) and stayed in it for an entire hour while Germans shot at him from three sides. Sometimes they would get as close as ten yards before being wiped out by his flaming tank vengeance. He was shot in the leg at some point, but ignored it. When he ran out of ammo, he finally exited the burning tank destroyer. I’m assuming it blew up right behind him as he walked away in slow motion.
After the war, Murphy became addicted to a sleeping pill he was taking for shell shock. To kick the habit, he locked himself in a motel room for a week. He wrote a novel about his addiction, To Hell and Back (1945) and starred in the movie of the same name in 1955. He also appeared in 43 other films and composed some country music songs. He died in a plane crash in 1971. His grave at Arlington National Cemetery is the second-most visited site there (the first being JFK’s).
At the time of his death in 2005, Ernest “Smokey” Smith was the last living Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross. He may continue to be the last, if no other Canadians get one. Assume I made a joke about Canadian military prowess and something “aboot” moose here and we’ll move on. In 1944, Smith spearheaded the attack to establish a bridgehead over River Savio in northern Italy. When his comrade was wounded, Smith used a PIAT to destroy an enemy tank 30 feet away. He had to put himself in full view of the German infantry to do so. Ten German soldiers charged at him, four of whom were killed by his Tommy gun while the other six retreated. He then retrieved more Tommy gun magazines from a ditch and took out two self-propelled guns while driving even more German infantry back. He then helped his wounded comrade get medical assistance before returning to his position, probably yelling, “Come get some, hosers!”
Simo Häyhä, AKA “White Death“, was a Finnish sniper with the record for the most confirmed kills in any major war. During the Winter War he killed at least 505 Soviet soldiers (and possibly up to 542 more) in a period of fewer than 100 days with minimal daylight and temperatures as cold as -40 °C (which is also -40 °F, and I just thought the conversion calculator was broken). The only member of this list shorter than Audie Murphy, he chose an M28 Mosin–Nagant rifle that fit his 5’3″ frame. He used iron sights rather than telescopic sights for strategic reasons: snipers with telescopic sights have to raise their heads higher and the sun’s glare can reveal their position, and the glass fogs up easily. He also put snow in his mouth so his breath wouldn’t steam up and reveal his position. He was eventually shot in the face by the Soviets but survived, looking like this. He regained consciousness on the day peace was declared and lived to age 96.
VOYTEK (AKA WOJTEK):
Two things are certain: soldiers are awesome and bears are awesome. Combine the two? Awesomely awesome. And the Polish 22nd Company did just that when a boy found an abandoned Syrian brown bear cub in Iran and sold it to Polish soldiers for a couple cans of meat. The bear, Wojtek (Voytek in English), was officially enlisted and sometimes slept in the soldiers’ tents with them. His favorite drink was beer, and he enjoyed eating cigarettes. He also sh-t lightning (allegedly). During battles, Voytek would carry heavy ammunition boxes, leading the 22nd Company to change their official emblem to a bear carrying an artillery shell:
In 1947, Voytek was given to the Edinburgh Zoo, where he lived the rest of his life. He was often visited by former Polish soldiers, who would toss cigarettes to him. Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em, you awesome dude.