Now that Chris Kyle's murder trial is over and the killer has received justice, it's a nice time to take a pause and reflect on the soldiers that protect and serve our country. That's why today we wanted to count down the Top Five Real Life American Badass Soldiers!
#5) Sgt. Alvin York (veteran of WWI)
"Born to a family of redneck farmers from Tennessee, Alvin York spent much of his youth getting piss drunk in bars and getting into crazy barfights. When his friend got killed in one of the aforementioned barfights, he swore off the liquor, and became a pacifist. When he received his draft notice in 1917, York filed as a "conscientious objector" but was denied. They shipped his ass out to basic training.
About a year later, he was one of 17 men designated to sneak around and take out a fortified machine-gun encampment guarding a German railroad. As they were approaching, the gunners spotted them and opened fire, tearing nine of the men to pieces.
The few survivors that didn't have enormous balls of steel ran away, leaving York standing there taking fire from 32 heavy machine gunners. As he said in his diary,
"I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush, I didn't even have time to kneel or lie down. I had no time no how to do nothing but watch them-there German machine gunners and give them the best I had. Every time I seed a German I just touched him off. At first I was shooting from a prone position; that is lying down; just like we often shoot at the targets in the shooting matches in the mountains of Tennessee; and it was just about the same distance. But the targets here were bigger. I just couldn't miss a German's head or body at that distance. And I didn't."
After he killed the first 20 men or so, a German lieutenant got five guys together to try to take this guy from the side. York pulled out his Colt .45 (which only had eight bullets) and killed all of them with it, a practice he likened to "shoot[ing] wild turkeys back home."
At this point lieutenant Paul Jurgen Vollmer yelled out over the noise asking if York was English. See, in WWI, no one really took the Americans very seriously, and everyone thought of them as the rookies. Vollmer figured this crazy/awesome/ballsy soldier must be some kind of English superman who was showing these sissy Americans how it was done. When York said he was American, Vollmer replied "Good Lord! If you won't shoot any more I will make them give up."
Ten minutes later, 133 men came walking towards the remains of York's battalion. Lieutenant Woods, York's superior at first thought it was a German counter-attack until he saw York, who saluted and said "Corporal York reports with prisoners, sir." When the stunned officer asked how many, York replied "Honest, Lieutenant, I don't know."
#4) PFC Dirk J Vlug (veteran of WWII)
"Dirk Vlug joined the Army from Grand Rapids, Michigan in April 1941 and served as a private first class in the 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division.
On December 15, 1944 near Limon in the Philippine province of Leyte, he single-handedly destroyed a group of five heavily armed Japanese tanks.
For his actions, Vlug was issued the Medal of Honor a year and a half later, on June 26, 1946.
He subsequently left the army and joined the Michigan National Guard in May 1949, and retired with the rank of Master Sergeant in January 1951
Dirk Vlug’s Official Medal of Honor Citation States
“Loading single-handedly, he destroyed the first tank, killing its occupants with a single round.As the crew of the second tank started to dismount and attack him, he killed 1 of the foe with his pistol, forcing the survivors to return to their vehicle, which he then destroyed with a second round. Three more hostile tanks moved up the road, so he flanked the first and eliminated it, and then, despite a hail of enemy fire, pressed forward again to destroy another. With his last round of ammunition he struck the remaining vehicle, causing it to crash down a steep embankment. Through his sustained heroism in the face of superior forces, Pfc. Vlug alone destroyed 5 enemy tanks and greatly facilitated successful accomplishment of his battalion's mission.”
#3) Master At Arms Second Class Michael Monsoor (veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom)
"A Navy SEAL sacrificed his life to save his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade Iraqi insurgents tossed into their sniper hideout, fellow members of the elite force said.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor had been near the only door to the rooftop structure Sept. 29 when the grenade hit him in the chest and bounced to the floor, said four SEALs who spoke to The Associated Press this week on condition of anonymity because their work requires their identities to remain secret.
"He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it," said a 28-year-old lieutenant who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. "He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him."
Monsoor, a 25-year-old gunner, was killed in the explosion in Ramadi, west ofBaghdad. He was only the second SEAL to die in Iraq since the war began.
Prior to his death, Monsoor had already demonstrated courage under fire. He has been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions May 9 in Ramadi, when he and another SEAL pulled a team member shot in the leg to safety while bullets pinged off the ground around them."
#2) Audie Murphy (Veteran of WWII)
"Audie Murphy was one of the United States' greatest war heroes and the most decorated soldier in American history. He distinguished himself countless times in the face of incredible adversity, overcame every obstacle he faced, braved peril of every sort, and did it all with humility, dignity, and a healthy amount of machinegun fire.
Audie was born in rural Texas in 1924, the sixth of twelve children. He dropped out of school at an early age to help support his family by performing odd jobs around town and hunting for food to feed his family. His father abandoned them in 1936, and in 1940 his mother died, leaving Audie to care for his brothers and sisters. When war broke out after Pearl Harbor in 1942, Audie saw the armed forces as a way to help support his family and serve his country. He tried to enlist, but was still to young for the service. As soon as he turned 18 he went to the Marine Corps recruiter begging to join up. The Marines took one look at little Audie - he was five feet five inches tall and one hundred ten pounds - and determined that he was too small for the service. The Navy guys told him the same thing. The Army had no qualms about throwing Murphy into the meat grinder however, and shipped him off to North Africa as part of the US 3rd Infantry Division.
Audie trolled around in the desert for a while but never saw any combat until his unit was sent to invade Sicily. There, he proved himself in several battles and was quickly promoted to Sergeant. He continued to distinguish himself during the Allied invasion of mainland Italy, serving bravely during an amphibious invasion and in several key battles of the Italian campaign.
After helping secure Italy, the 3rd Division was tasked with the amphibious invasion of Southern France. After landing on the beachhead, Audie and his best friend noticed a group of German soldiers heading towards them waving a white flag and holding their rifles in the air. The Americans advanced forward to accept their surrender when all of a sudden the Kraut bastards pulled their rifles down and shot the shit out of Audie's buddy.
This didn't sit well with Sergeant Murphy. He flipped out like a goddamn ninja and gunned down the treacherous Nazi bastards. As soon as they hit the deck, a hidden German machine gun nest opened up on Audie. This only served to make him more angry. Murphy charged up the hill towards the gun emplacement and smoked the gun crew. He then picked up their MG42 machine gun and turned it on another nearby machinegun nest. Using the captured gun Rambo-style, Sergeant Murphy took out two more gun emplacements as well as a couple of sniper positions. His actions in beating Kraut asses earned him the US Distinguished Service cross - the second-highest honor given out by the military.
As battle raged across Southern France Murphy continued to distinguish himself, earning Silver Stars for taking out machine gun nests and calling down artillery strikes on enemy armored troop positions. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant, but his adventure wasn't over yet.
Lt. Murphy was serving as company commander in the Holzwihr forest on 26 January 1945. His unit had been completely decimated - he had 19 men left in his company that was once 128 strong - and had been assigned to hold the critical Colmar Pocket region from a German counterattack. He had two M-10 tank destroyers attached to his unit, and was expecting and additional two companies of infantry to come cover his flank.
It was a cold, rainy morning when Lt. Murphy first noticed the battalion of German mechanized infantry heading towards his position. Three companies of Nazi soldiers and half a dozen heavy Tiger tanks were bearing down on him. Murphy radioed to HQ, only to find that the two companies of supporting infantry he was expecting to hold the flank were not going to arrive in time. Audie was alone and outnumbered, but it was his duty to hold this position and he knew what he had to do.
He send his men back to take defensive positions behind him, and called the M-10s forward to take out some of the German armor. Within minutes, both vehicles had been knocked out like chumps. Now it was just Audie against an impossibly large force of German troops. Instead of falling back to safety like a regular, sane person, Murphy instead jumped up and manned the .50 caliber machinegun mounted one of the burning, disabled M-10s. He got on the radio with Command HQ and started calling in artillery strikes to hit the German positions. Shells rained down, taking out Nazis all over the place, but it wasn't enough. Lt. Murphy opened up the machinegun from his completely exposed position and stared mowing down Krauts left and right. Artillery continued to pound the Germans while Murphy shot the shit out of them. Before long the German losses were so great that the Tiger tanks had to pull back because they had lost most of their infantry support. Audie continued to fire until he ran out of bullets, then dismounted the M-10 only seconds before the entire vehicle exploded. He rallied his men, and the small group of Americans charged forward and routed the German forces. The Colmar Pocket had held.
Murphy saw the war through to it's conclusion before returning home as a hero and receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor. He served some time in the Texas National Guard, retiring at the rank of Major. After his military service, Audie Murphy went on to be a badass movie action hero, starring in a number of Westerns and even playing himself in the autobiographical To Hell and Back. He was eventually given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I remember when I was young my Dad and I watched To Hell and Back, and he told me that it was the true story of this kid's life. I remember watching it and thinking to myself that his story was too incredible to be true. The guy was an unassuming, humble man, but the stuff he accomplished during the war like like shit straight out of a bad action movie. Add his success as an actor to that, and you have a truly incredible badass.
But don't take my word for it - just look at the list of medals he received for his service:
Congressional Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Two Silver Stars
Legion of Merit
Two Bronze Stars
Three Purple Hearts
U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
Good Conduct Medal
Two Presidential Unit Citations
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star,
Four Bronze Service Stars and one Bronze Arrowhead
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Combat Infantry Badge
Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar
Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar
French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre
French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier
French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
Medal of Liberated France
Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm"
#1) Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez (veteran of Vietnam War)
"During a battle in South Vietnam on May 2, 1968, this Master Sergeant in the Military Assistance Command was wounded by bayonets, bullets, and shrapnel 37 times. In fact, at Benavidez's Medal of Honor reception, President Ronald Reagan reportedly told members of the White House press corps, “If the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it.”
Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified doc*ments on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified doc*ments and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed with additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army."