History is littered with incredible people. Some of them are, of course, overrated. Others are bafflingly underrated. People who performed forgotten heroic feats during war, ordinary people who overcome extraordinary events, and people who lived exciting Forrest-Gump-like lives—there are tons of thrilling stories about astounding people you may not know.
“Who would you consider as the most badass person in history?”
And the stories people shared are absolutely amazing. Here are some of history’s most impressive badasses.
1. “God’s Rambo”
Helge Meyer, also known as “God’s Rambo”. A danish special forces officer who bought a 1972 Camaro and turned it into an uparmored beast so he could deliver humanitarian aid in war torn Yugoslavia during the civil war and ethnic cleansing.
2. Volunteer as tribute
Witold Pilecki volounteered to Auschwitz death camp and escaped it to report what was happening there to allies of Poland. No one gave a f-ck at that time.
3. Knives for hands?
Galvarino. He was a fierce Mapuche warrior that had both of his hands chopped off as punishment when captured by the Spanish during the Arauco war. Rather than slaughter Galvarino, the Spanish sent him back to the Mapuche to send a message, but instead of causing the Mapuche to surrender, it had the opposite effect. Galvarino decided to have two knives lashed to the stumps where his hands used to be. He learned to fight without hands while using the knives as weapons. Less than a month later, Galvarino fought with the Mapuche against the Spanish again. Around 3,000 Mapuche warriors engaged 1,500 of the Spanish on Nov. 30, 1557. at the Battle of Millarapue. Although they didn’t win, Galvarino killed several of the Spanish before the army of 3000 were all killed.
Napoleon. F-cker got half of Europe to declare war on HIM. Not France, him himself.
5. Desmond Doss, badass without a gun
Desmond Doss. An army medic in WWII who was constantly belittled and abused by his battalion and superiors for refusing to use a weapon as it went against his beliefs.
Then, when he landed in Okinawa and more than half of his battalion were shredded by Japanese machine gun fire, Desmond Doss crawled through the dirt over the course of several days to as many of his injured allies as he could and dragged them all the way back to the 40ft cliff they had scaled up from, then lowered them to safety. Some of these injured men were lying 15ft from the enemy machine gun itself, and all the while Doss wore his medic helmet, which stood out like a giant bullseye on a battlefield where the Japanese soldiers were ordered to kill doctors first to crush morale.
In the end he had saved the lives of 75 men, and survived with an arm fracture from a sniper round and several pieces of shrapnel embedded in his body from when he tried to kick a grenade away from him and his men. He is the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
6. A true Rennaissance Man
Peter Freuchen. He was a Danish explorer, journalist, author and anthropologist. He is widely known for his exploration of the arctic circle and discovery of vast areas of Greenland. He was an indigenous rights activist, having married an Inuit woman. He escaped a death warrant issued by the Third Reich for punching nazis. Received an academy award for the best motion picture in 1933. Won the $64,000 question as a contestant on the game show. He wrestled a polar bear and won. And as if this all wasn’t enough, he escaped a near death encounter in a blizzard by fashioning a spade out of his own frozen feces.
7. A real femme fatale
Nancy Wake. So skilled as she was, she was nicknamed “The White Mouse” by the Gestapo due to her elusiveness in avoiding capture. Highly talented in espionage, she worked as a spy for the French Resistance and the Special Operations Executive to take down the Nazis. One of the more highly decorated women from WW2, yet not well known.
8. “Canadian Rambo”
Canadian Rambo AKA Leo Major. Dude liberated an entire town in the Netherlands by himself while injured in WW2.
9. Juliane Koepcke
That teenage girl that was the sole survivor of a plane crash and made her way through the Amazon…. She’s definitely up there!
While injured, bleeding and functionally blind nonetheless. She had a strong prescription and lost her glasses in the crash. I remember reading that she waded through a river, using a shoe to tap in front of her and scare off possible snakes. She was then found by a native tribe boating in the river.
10. Who’s really surrounded?
Dipprasad Pun the Gurkha who took out 15-30 Taliban singlehandedly when surrounded.
11. Tanks for the memories
Mariya Oktyabrskaya. Her husband was killed in WWII, so she sold all her possessions, bought a T-34 tank, and went into the army.
12. We salute you
Definitely Major Hugh Thompson. I’m sure there are people who have done similarly brave things, but not that I know about. In 1968, Thompson managed to stop the My Lai massacre almost single handedly. He arrived after many civilians had already been killed, and couldn’t understand how they had died.
After realising his fellow American soldiers were firing on unarmed civilians, he landed his helicopter between the Vietnamese and the soldiers. He then told the troops that if they continued to do what they were doing, he and his crew would open fire on them. After getting back to base, he filed a complaint about what he had witnessed. His complaint was covered up, and he was shunned as a traitor. It wasn’t until 1998 that the army acknowledged he did the right thing.
It’s common to be brave in war when you know that you’ll be lauded as a hero – it’s another thing entirely to do it knowing you’ll be seen as a traitor. He turned against his troops and country to protect innocent lives, despite what it would cost him, and I think that’s about as brave as you can get.
13. Anonymous axeman
Battle of Stamford Bridge – the lone Norse axeman single-handedly held up the entire English army
14. She woke up and chose life
The woman who killed the hit man her husband hired to kill her.
The woman who killed the hit man her husband hired to kill her:
“I immediately began to think about his family. Everybody has somebody who loves them. Children, a wife, a mother, a dad … the worst of this is not that somebody tried to kill me, but that I had to kill someone else to survive. But I have no shame because I did not choose this death for him. I chose my life. I chose life.”
Bad ass and incredibly mature.
15. The Russian Night Witches
The Russian Night Witches flew in slow, outdated planes, without parachutes, and dropped bombs by sight alone. At night.
16. The Great Escape
Robert Smalls. He escaped slavery, stole a Confederate boat, sailed away to freedom, and later served in Congress.
17. You gotta hand it to her
Mary Vincent! She was attacked with an axe in an attempted murder, losing both hands and then dumped off a cliff. She survived and walked almost three miles to go find help. All when she was FIFTEEN.
18. Sir William the Marshal, First Earl of Pembroke
The baddest man alive at a time where only hard men lived long enough to see their hair turn grey. Widely considered the greatest knight to ever walk the face the earth. Defeated over 500 knights in tourney combat. Is the man the code of chivalry is based on. Defeated the greatest knight in France, handily, in a one on one duel at the battle of Lincoln in 1217…. in his motherfucking 70s. Effectively ruled England off and on through his regencies for decades. Signatory of the Magna Carta.
19. Daniel Inouye
Senator from Hawaii. WWII vet. Japanese American who had to prove himself every step of the way through the European Theater of Operations. And to me an honest to goodness hero.
In 1943, when the US Army dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese Americans, Inouye curtailed his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the Army. He volunteered to be part of the segregated all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This army formation was mostly made up of second-generation Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.
Inouye was promoted to sergeant within his first year, and he was assigned as a platoon sergeant. He served in Italy in 1944 during the Rome-Arno Campaign before his regiment was transferred to the Vosges Mountains region of France, where he spent two weeks in the battle to relieve the Lost Battalion, a battalion of the 141st Infantry Regiment that was surrounded by German forces. He received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant for his actions there, becoming the youngest officer in his regiment. At one point while he was leading an attack, a shot struck him in the chest directly above his heart, but the bullet was stopped by the two silver dollars he happened to have stacked in his shirt pocket. He continued to carry the coins throughout the war in his shirt pocket as good luck charms, until he lost them shortly before the battle in which he lost his arm.
On April 21, 1945, Lt. Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily defended ridge near San Terenzo in Liguria, Italy, called the Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint of the German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, 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 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 his Thompson submachine gun. When informed of the severity of his wound, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.
As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, coming within 10 yards. As he raised himself on his left elbow and cocked his right arm to throw his last hand grenade, a German soldier saw Inouye and fired a 30 mm Schiessbecher antipersonnel rifle grenade from inside the bunker, which struck Inouye directly on his right elbow. The high explosive grenade failed to detonate, saving Inouye from instant death but amputating most of his right arm at the elbow (except for a few tendons and a flap of skin) via blunt force trauma. Despite this gruesome injury, Inouye was again saved from likely death due to the blunt, low-velocity grenade tearing the nerves in his arm unevenly and incompletely, which involuntarily squeezed the grenade tightly via a reflex arc instead of going limp and dropping it at Inouye’s feet. However, this still left him crippled, in terrible pain, under fire with minimal cover and staring at a live grenade “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. As the German inside the bunker began hastily reloading his rifle with regular full metal jacket ammunition (replacing the wood-tipped rounds used to propel rifle grenades), Inouye quickly pried the live hand grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. The German soldier had just finished reloading and was aiming his rifle to finish him off when Inouye threw his grenade through the narrow firing slit, killing the German. Stumbling to his feet with the remnants of his right arm hanging grotesquely at his side and his Thompson in his off-hand, braced against his hip, Inouye continued forward, killing at least one more German before suffering his fifth and final wound of the day (in his left leg), which finally halted his one-man assault for good and sent him tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. He awoke to see the worried men of his platoon hovering over him. His only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them back to their positions, saying “Nobody called off the war!”
TLDR: blew up several German machine gun bunkers with mad grenades as he got shot in the stomach, lost an arm. And had to throw left handed. Then told the rest of the platoon to keep going because sh-t wasn’t done with.
Blocked a bullet with silver dollars. Went home to Hawaii became a senator. And if he’d run for president I’d have voted for him. Absolute badass.