Extraordinary Men in History: Soldiers, Part 1

Alright so we all watch TV series and movies that have people who are superheros, superhuman or soldiers who seem un-kill-able, or are put into seemingly un-winnable scenarios.

But we seem forget about the real life people, heroes and individuals of outstanding skill and bravery.

Now let me be clear that this is not to glorify war, horror or violence but to pay homage to some of the greatest soldiers of our time and the extraordinary things they've been through and survived that normal people shouldn't have. And remember them for what they did and fought for.

Now I will be doing several soldiers from different countries and this will be in no specific order either, and if I didn't list your country or and soldier, don't worry I'm doing more then 1 part.

United States of America


1. Audie Murphy

When Audie Murphy applied to the Marines in 1942 at the tender age of 16, he was 5'5" and weighed 110 pounds. They laughed in his face. So he applied to the Air Force, and they also laughed in his face. Then he applied for the Army, and they figured they could always use another grunt, so they let him in. He wasn't particularly good at it, and they actually tried to get him transferred to be a cook after he passed out halfway through training. He insisted that he wanted to fight though, so they sent him into the maelstrom.

During the invasion of Italy he was promoted to corporal for his shooting skills, and at the same time contracted malaria, which he had for almost the entire war. Try to remember that.

He was sent into southern France in 1944. He encountered a German machine gun crew who pretended they were surrendering, then shot his best buddy. Murphy completely freaked out, killed everyone in the gun nest, then used their weaponry to kill every German soldier in a 100-yard radius, including two more machine gun nests and a bunch of snipers. They gave him a Distiguished Service Cross, and made him platoon commander while everyone apologized profusely for calling him "Shorty."

About half a year later, his company was given the job of defending the Colmar Pocket, a critical region in France, even though all they had left was 19 guys (out of the original 128) and a couple of M-10 Tank Destroyers.

2d Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by 6 tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, 1 of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry.

With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from 3 sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt.

Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he personally killed or wounded about 50.

2d Lt. Murphy’s indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy’s objective.

After the war, he came down with Shell-Shock, and was prescribed the antidepressant placidyl. When he became addicted to the drug, rather than enter a program, he went cold-turkey, locked himself in a motel room for a week and got over it.

2. Matt L. Urban

A U.S. Army officer who in 1989 was named the most decorated soldier in U.S. history close to or equal to the legendary Audie Murphy

Matt Urban was nicknamed "The Ghost" by his German enemies during WWII for his quirky habit of coming back from shit that would kill 10 normal men. I could end this article right here and let your imagination fill in the details, but you probably wouldn't even come close to the insane truth.

His campaign of carnage began in June 1944 in France, when his company came up against a German unit with machine guns and tanks. But where his men probably saw panzer death tractors with cannons mounted on them, Urban saw some odds he really liked. Snatching up a bazooka, he dodged roughly a million bullets and blew up two of the tanks. Later, while still in the fight, Urban unfortunately took a 37mm tank-gun round to the leg. However, shrugging that shit off, he continued leading his men through to the next day, when, in a different attack, he suffered a second wound and was evacuated ... but only briefly.

For you see, while recovering from his wounds in an English hospital, Urban learned that his unit had suffered severe casualties in Normandy. So he left the hospital and hitchhiked/limped back to rejoin his men. By the time he'd reached them, they were under heavy enemy fire with two of their tanks destroyed and a third left unmanned. Literally having to support himself with a cane due to his badly injured legs, Urban manned a machine gun (completely exposing himself to the enemy) and covered his men as they climbed into the tank and rained fire and death on the Germans.

Days later, possibly worrying that his reputation as an immortal was in danger, Urban strategically took a bunch of shrapnel to the chest and survived. Unfortunately, the unbreakable captain finally ran out of luck when he got shot in the fucking neck and- Wait, what? He actually survived that, and despite losing his voice, led his men to victory, survived the war, and lived for another 51 years?!

Well, that's all well and good for him, but what about all of those mentally scarred Germans who probably kept checking under their bed for The Ghost well into their nineties?

3. Daniel Inouye

Second longest serving Senators in US History (representing Hawaii since it gained statehood in 1959) and a WWII vet with this remarkable story to tell:

“On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near San Terenzo in Tuscany, Italy, called Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint along the strip of German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, which represented the last and most unyielding line of German defensive works in Italy.

As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions just 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach; ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and fire from his Thompson submachine gun.

After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.

As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside the bunker fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore.”

Inouye’s horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. While the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye tossed the grenade into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge.

When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them to return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, “nobody called off the war!”

4. Sergeant Thomas Baker, United States Army

With rare exceptions, the American warfighter is known for his bravery under fire. However, some tales are so outsized as to be almost unbelievable – but they are true. This is the first article in our “American Heroes” series highlighting these stories.

The Battle of Saipan. It’s no secret that Saipan was a nasty place, culminating in a terrifying banzai charge by an estimated 5,000 Japanese soldiers.

Baker’s had already cemented his legend before the charge by charging across open terrain under enemy machine gun fire to fire a bazooka into an enemy pillbox, killing 12 men in the fortified position. He then took a rear security position as his squad advanced across open terrain. He surprised a group of 6 enemy soldiers concealed and waiting to ambush the next group of Americans to pass. He shot all 6 dead.

Several days later, Baker surprised another group of Japanese soldiers. This time there were 12 soldiers manning a concealed machine gun, lying in wait behind American lines. Baker personally shot all 12 of the Japanese, preventing a devastating ambush.

As if those heroics weren’t legendary, the then-Private was on the front lines during that fateful bonzai charge.

Dug into a foxhole, Baker was wounded in the abdomen as he shot down scores of the enemy until he was out of ammunition. The then began using his rifle as a club against more than 10 more attackers.

Seeing Baker wounded, a fellow soldier tried to carry him back for medical aid but was shot and killed in the process. Baker decided no more Americans would die trying to save them and simply asked to be left propped up against a tree, facing the enemy.

His last known words were, “Give me your .45”. A fellow soldier complied and Baker was last seen alive propped against a tree, Colt 1911 (fully loaded with 8 rounds) in hand, calmly facing the enemy.

When the Americans repelled the banzai attack and retook the position, Baker was still there. His gun was empty and there were 8 dead Japanese in front of him.

Baker was posthumously promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Medal of Honor for all of his actions on Saipan.

Canada

1. Leo Major

For starters, he was part of the D-Day invasion. That very day, he killed a squad of German soldiers and captured a half-track that was loaded with intelligence information.

Quite a while later, he ran into 4 SS soldiers and killed all of them. However, one hit him with a phosphorous grenade, blinding him in one eye. He refused discharge, saying that as long as he could see through the scope, he had enough eyes.

During the Battle of the Scheldt, Major single-handedly captured 93 German soldiers and was offered a Distinguished Conduct Medal. He refused, saying that the man awarding it, General Bernard Montgomery, was an incompetent, so any award from him was worthless.

In the beginning of 1945, he was in a vehicle that struck a landmine. He broke both ankles, 4 ribs, and fractured 3 vertebrae. He still continued, refusing evacuation.

In April of that year, his unit came upon the Dutch city of Zwolle( with I think around 1,000 German soldiers stationed in it ). His commander asked for two volunteers for a reconnaissance mission. Major and his friend Willie volunteered. They were expected to go see how many German soldiers were in the town. Shortly into their mission, Willie was killed, and the plan changed. Major was out for blood. He went down the street guns blazing and throwing grenades while yelling in French to convince the Germans that the Canadians had sent their whole force into the town.

He captured nearly one hundred German troops who went fleeing from their cover. Later that night, he came upon the Gestapo HQ and burned it to the ground. He barged into the SS HQ later that same night, killed 4, and ran the other 4 out of town. At 4:30 a. m. He discovered that the city belonged to the Dutch again, and the Germans had been run out. He received a Distinguished Conduct Medal for single-handedly liberating the town of Zwolle.

But he still wasn’t done. In the Korean War, he was asked to lead a strike team of elite snipers to support an American division. He and his twenty men took the hill single-handedly and held it while nearly 20,000 Chinese soldiers attacked their position. He was ordered to retreat. Instead, he held the hill for three days until reinforcements arrived. For this action, he received a bar to his DCM.

2. Aubrey Cosens

Born in Latchford, Ontario on May 21, 1921, Aubrey served in the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada during the war.

While in Mooshof, Germany on February 25 and 26, 1945, Cosens proved certain Canadian stereotypes to be incorrect when he seized an enemy stronghold by himself.

After his platoon came under heavy counterattack during an attempt to seize three farmhouses held by the Germans, Cosens took command. He charged from cover, under heavy fire, to direct the last remaining Allied tank to fire on one the farmhouses.

After ordering the vehicle to ram one of the buildings, Cosens went in alone, killing several occupants and taking the rest prisoner.

He then proceeded to singlehandedly kill or capture all of the enemies in the second and third buildings, securing the enemy strong point. After he had captured the farmhouses in a blaze of glory, he was fatally shot in the head by an enemy sniper.

Scotland


1. Maj. Tommy Macpherson, aka the “Kilted Killer” aka the Interfering Major

Born in Scotland in 1920, Macpherson volunteered for the Scottish Commandos shortly after joining the army in 1939.

Captured by Italian troops in Egypt in 1941, Macpherson used his imprisonment to learn Italian before escaping via train and boat to England two years later. Never one to miss the fight, Macpherson next parachuted into enemy-held France to embark on his true calling as the “Kilted Killer,” and ordered by Winston Churchill himself to “set Europe ablaze.”

A large part of the major’s role was to galvanize scattered French resistance fighters to disrupt the Axis reaction to the D-Day Normandy invasion. And although the resistance unit he first met up with was small, unproven and poorly armed, through cunning, vicious tactics and bombastic style — he wore his full Highlander’s battledress, including the kilt — he was able to galvanize the Frenchmen.

His constant, daring and flamboyant attacks earned him a 300,000 Franc mark on his head from the Germans, but as the Allies began to win the day, the Scotsman further taunted his enemies by flying the British and Cross of Lorraine flags from the automobile he drove around the countryside.

One of his most extraordinary exploits was almost single handily stopping the battle hardened Das Reich Panzer Division which had 15,000 soldiers and 200 vehicles on their way from southern France to stop the allied invasion of Normandy.

One famous deed included rigging his machine guns to sound like heavy weapons, allowing he and three companions to scare 100 Germans into surrendering. But his most incredible exploit may be rushing a retreating German headquarters, under fire, in an ambulance and, in full Celtic regalia, convincing Gen. Botho Henning Elster to surrender 23,000 men and 1,000 vehicles to the Allied forces he pretended to have under his command.

“The clincher was when I told him that I was in contact with London by radio and could at any time call up the [Royal Air Force] to blow his people out of sight,” he writes in his autobiography, “Behind Enemy Lines. “In truth, the only thing I could whistle up was Dixie, but he had no way of knowing that.”

Following victory in France, Macpherson went to Italy where, along with fighting Nazis, he protected Catholic leaders from communist partisans and helped to prevent Yugoslavian communist leader Josep Tito from taking parts of Italy for himself. For his efforts, the communists called for the killing of “the interfering major” — giving Macpherson the distinction of both fascist and communist death sentences.

For his efforts to defeat the Axis and the communists, Macpherson is the United Kingdom’s most decorated soldier, and his awards include the Military Cross and two bars, the Legion d’Honneur, the Croix de Guerre and a papal knighthood.

After the war, he studied at Oxford and led a successful career in the timber business.

Australia

1. Albert Jacka aka Albert Hard Jacka

“On the morning of 7 August 1916, after a night of heavy shelling, the Germans began to overrun a portion of the line which included Jacka’s dug-out.

Jacka had just completed a reconnaissance, and had gone to his dug-out when two Germans appeared at its entrance and rolled a bomb down the doorway, killing two of his men. Emerging from the dug-out, Jacka came upon a large number of Germans rounding up some forty Australians as prisoners.

Only seven men from his platoon had recovered from the blast; rallying these few, he charged at the enemy. Heavy hand-to-hand fighting ensued, as the Australian prisoners turned on their captors. Every member of the platoon was wounded, including Jacka who was wounded seven times; including a bullet that passed through his body under his right shoulder, and two head wounds. Fifty Germans were captured and the line was retaken; Jacka was personally credited with killing between twelve and twenty Germans during the engagement.”

And that was the second time he had done something like that.

I suspect he was a terminator sent back to save some historically important grandfathers.

Germany


1. Fritz Christen

Fritz was a soldier in the Totenkopf division of the Waffen-SS during the war. They acted as the spearhead of the German invasion into the USSR and saw more than their fair share of combat.

It was in the morning of September 24, 1941 that Christen was manning an anti-tank battery.

During a skirmish, Soviet soldiers had managed to kill the rest of the men manning the battery.

Christen manned the 50mm cannon alone for the rest of the engagement, without food, supplies, or sleep. In the three days that his struggle lasted, Christen knocked out 13 Soviet tanks and killed nearly 100 soldiers by himself.

Alright so there are some of the greatest soldiers of our modern era hope you enjoyed reading about some of our or your nations hero's and I hope you learned something.

PS. As I said above I will be doing more then one part to this so if you do not see your country, don't sweat it, it'll probably be in one of the next parts.


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