The Top 10 Most Badass Soldiers of All Time
5. Audie Murphy
Source: Horace Abrahams/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
If you want proof that being a short guy isn't going to stop somebody from being a powerful soldier, look no further than the most decorated soldier in World War II, Audie Murphy, who got every medal the Army could give him (literally) and a few from foreign countries as well.
Murphy, 5'5” and skinny to boot, first went into battle in 1943, where he gunned down two Italian officers. He then proceeded to pretty much tear the Axis powers new and spacious orifices wherever he went, consistently getting promoted after creatively handing some Germans or Italians what was left of their heads. But his greatest moment probably came at Holtzwihr.
Murphy's unit was down to 19 men out of 128. They couldn't fight, they needed to rearm, and they needed somebody to hold the line. So Murphy stayed behind, shooting Germans until he ran out of ammo. Then, deciding he wasn't done killing Germans, he jumped onto a burning tank and starting using its .50 caliber machine gun. He even killed an entire squad of Germans trying to sneak up on him. Oh, and he did this for almost an hour, while wounded in the leg. And then his men showed up, and Murphy led them on a forward action. Translation: after spending an hour in the freezing cold on a burning tank spraying Germans with machine gun fire, he decided that wasn't enough and decided to get close and personal.
That was enough to land him the Medal of Honor, and a movie career. By the way, the movie of his life, starring the man himself, might make him seem like a bit less of a badass than he was. This is because it was toned down at the request of one Audie Murphy: he thought nobody would believe he'd actually done all that.
4. Peter Francisco
Peter Francisco grew up an orphan under the care of the uncle of Patrick Henry, so it was logical he'd join the American militia in the Revolutionary War. What made it especially logical was his being six-foot-six and 260 pounds of sheer muscle. He was so big, in fact, that he got the nickname “The Virginia Hercules” and needed a broadsword specially forged to suit his height. The guy was so strong he could, and often did, pull around half-ton cannons to get just the right aim.
Francisco is widely considered one of the greatest American soldiers ever, seeing action all up and down the Colonies, including Monmouth, Stony Point, Brandywine, and Guildford Courthouse, where he pretty much killed eleven enemy soldiers with his bare hands and a broadsword. At Guildford, he was severely wounded and sent home...which didn't stop him from coming across a British raiding party of eleven men.
Francisco was severely wounded by highly trained elite soldiers, but needless to say, they didn't stand a chance: Francisco killed one, wounded eight, and just to rub it in, stole all their horses and delivered them to the American army. Reports differ on whether he also gave them wedgies before he left, but we think it's pretty likely.
Before Cortez showed up and started slapping them around, there was nobody scarier on the North or South American continents than the Aztecs. This was mostly because the Aztecs' idea of Super Bowl Sunday were mass sacrifices to the gods, and they weren't shy about going out, beating other tribes senseless, and then wiping them out.
So to impress these guys, you have to kick an awful lot of ass. Which is what Tlahuicole proceeded to do, so much so that when he was captured, the Aztecs decided they couldn't sacrifice him. So instead they gave him honors and freed him.
Tlahuicole had other ideas. He was going to be sacrificed, but it was going to be by a guy who could take him in single combat, no doubt a cunning plan to kill every single Aztec warrior with his bare hands. The Aztecs looked nervously at each other, shoved one guy in front of him, and it was on. It took twenty-eight fights, eight of which were fatal to the other guy, before he was killed, and we're pretty sure they had to cheat to make that happen. Otherwise, Cortez would have shown up and there'd just be Tlahuicole, hanging out, asking “'Sup?”
2. Saito Musashibo Benkei
In feudal Japan, if you were tall, ugly, and strong as an ox, there weren't a lot of decent jobs available. One of them, fortunately, was Buddhist monk, which Saito Musashibo Benkei took up with great skill. Another thing he took up with great skill was the naginata, a spear as tall as he was with what amounted to a katana on the end. You see, monks were expected to have military skill, which is pretty weird for men of peace until you realize that feudal Japan was basically a hellhole, so it was either know how to kick ass or get your ass kicked repeatedly. Still, give a guy like Benkei that and it's like arming the Hulk. It's just not going to end well for whoever makes him angry.
Benkei posted himself at a bridge and started collecting swords, forcibly, possibly out of boredom. On the thousandth sword, he met the one guy who could beat him up, Minamoto Yoshitsune, who he followed for the rest of his life.
Which ended with Benkei, on a bridge, holding off soldiers while his boss committed seppuku. Benkei killed so many people, and withstood so much damage, that after he died standing up, it still took the soldiers hours to get up the testicular fortitude to get close enough to realize he was dead. That's respect, right there.
1. Baba Deep Singh
"Baba," despite the Western connotations of baby talk, is actually an honorific among the Sikhs, roughly “Respected Elder,” and from this you might assume Baba Deep Singh was a religious man, which he was, and a man of peace, which he was. But you don't get to be a martyr by being a wuss, and Baba Deep Singh was going to earn the title.
He'd earned the right to retire, having served with distinction as a soldier. Unfortunately, he'd managed to offend Ahmad Shah Durrani, mostly by going in and inconsiderately freeing all those people he'd enslaved and raiding his treasury. In retaliation, Durrani, not really one for half measures, found the sacred shrine Harimandir Sahib, descrated it, and blew it up.
Singh, no believer in half measures himself, swore to rebuild the shrine and prayed that his head would fall at the Sahib (this is important to remember). So he went with a few guys, and on his way managed to raise an army of five thousand, setting the stage for the Battle of Amritsar, a truly epic fight, in the course of which, Singh was nearly decapitated.
Not that this actually killed him right there, mind you. No, Baba Deep Singh actually supported his head to keep the wound closed until he could kick enough ass to reach the shrine and die there. The dude actually put his head back on because he wasn't done beating up the guys who destroyed his shrine. And that's how you get number one, kids....deciding instant death can just wait a minute because you're not finished.