14 Unbelievable Soldiers Most People Don’t Know About

Written By Wise Healthy n Wealthy

Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back. – Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

This article is about that 1%. More specifically, it’s about warriors with incredible stories whose names and actions have fallen into obscurity. Their legacies range from admirable to unbelievable. Some fall into both categories. Yet very few people will have ever heard of them. Without further ado, here are 14 soldiers who deserve more notoriety.

1. Jack Churchill (1906–1996)

Nicknamed Mad Jack, Jack (christened John) Churchill was a British soldier who fought during World War II. He was known for his unconventional tactics in battle, including using a bow and arrow. He also played the bagpipes and carried a Scottish broadsword into battle. When questioned on it, he replied that “Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.” Fun fact: Mad Jack Churchill is the only known person to have killed an enemy soldier with a longbow during the war.

2. Hugh Thompson Jr. (1943–2006)

An American helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, Thompson is known for his heroics during the My Lai Massacre in March, 1968. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Soldier’s Medal after intervening to save Vietnamese civilians from being killed by American troops.

3. Léo Major (1921–2008)

A Canadian soldier known for many wartime heroics, including his remarkable solo liberation of the Dutch town of Zwolle during World War II. According to Britannica, he did so by convincing the Germans they were being attacked by a much larger Canadian force. After WW2, he fought again in the Korean war. He won the Distinguished Conduct Medal in both, making him the only Canadian to earn it in two separate wars.

4. Witold Pilecki (1901–1948)

A Polish soldier and resistance fighter who volunteered to be imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II to gather intelligence and organize resistance from within. He later escaped and provided crucial information about the Holocaust to the Allies.

5. Alvin York (1887–1964)

An American soldier during World War I, Sergeant York became famous for his actions during the October 1918 Meuse-Argonne Offensive, in which he single-handedly killed over 24 Germans and captured 132 others. Interestingly, Sergeant York sought initially to be a conscientious objector, but was denied and drafted anyway. His actions at the at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.

6. Simo Häyhä (1905–2002)

Simo Häyhä was a Finnish sniper known as “White Death” for his marksmanship during the Winter War of 1939 to 1940 against the Soviet Union. Häyhä has been called the deadliest sniper in history, with an estimated 505 confirmed kills. That number has been contested, but even the biggest sceptics put his kill totally in the hundreds.

7. Audie Murphy (1925–1971)

Meet one of the most decorated American soldiers of WW2. Aged just 17 when he joined the army, Murphy received every American military combat award for valor available during his day, including the infamous Medal of Honor. He earned 28 medals in total. Despite his modest background and diminutive stature, Murphy demonstrated extraordinary bravery and leadership in numerous battles.

8. Hiroo Onoda (1922–2014)

A Japanese soldier who, as crazy as it sounds, continued to fight World War II for 29 years after the Japanese surrender. He remained in the jungles of the Philippines until 1974, unaware that the war had ended. He finally surrendered when his former commanding officer traveled to the Philippines to formally relieve him of duty.

9. Desmond Doss (1919–2006)

If you’ve ever watched Hacksaw Ridge, you’ll be familiar with this American hero. A combat medic who served during World War II, Doss became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on the battlefield. Despite refusing to carry a weapon due to his religious beliefs, Doss saved the lives of 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa.

10. Henry Johnson (1892–1929)

William Henry Johnson (commonly called Henry) was an American soldier in World War I. He served with the 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters. Johnson became famous for his heroic actions during a night raid in the Argonne Forest in 1918, where he fought off a German raiding party single-handedly despite being severely wounded. He died of myocarditis in 1929. In 2015, Barack Obama posthumously awarded Johnson the Medal of Honor.

11. Ben L. Salomon (1914–1944)

A Jewish-American dentist who served as a combat surgeon during World War II. During the Battle of Saipan in July 1944, the aid station in which he was treating wounded soldiers was overrun by a Japanese assault. Picking up a nearby rifle, Salomon ordered the wounded to be evacuated while he stayed behind to defend the position.

Days later, a returning army unit found his body. He had 76 gunshot wounds and been stabbed dozens of times with a bayonet. In front of him, though, lay the bodies of the 98 enemies he’d killed. Salomon was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2002.

12. Lyudmila Pavlichenko (1916–1974)

A Soviet sniper who is credited with being one of the most prolific female snipers in history, Pavlichenko recorded 309 confirmed kills during her service in World War II. Her success as a sniper earned her the nickname, Lady Death, as well as the Soviet military’s highest honor, the Hero of the Soviet Union Award.

13. Richard “Dick” Winters (1918–2011)

Richard Winters was an American officer during WW2. He served as the commander of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division. Winters’ leadership was instrumental in the success of Easy Company, and his experiences were depicted in the book and miniseries “Band of Brothers.”

14. Jean Thurel (1698–1807)

Thurel likely holds the record for the longest military career in history. A fusilier in the French army, he served for 75 years, refusing promotions throughout it. Supremely tough and fit, he was severely wounded on two separate occasions. He survived a musket shot to the chest and multiple sword slashes to his body. A centenarian who lived in three different centuries, he was born while Louis XIV still reigned and died when Napoleon I was in power.

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