By: Eric Yosomono June 19, 2011 844,762 views
It should come as no surprise that battlefields see their share of brave men. Every once in a while, however, they see a man with a special kind of bravery, the kind that borders on suicidal. The spirits of such men can't be cut down, even if their bodies are. In fact, disabling them often just makes them all the more fearsome ...
Stephen "Turbo" Toboz
When someone who is not a cartoon character is called "Turbo," it is usually safe to start screaming bullshit. Not so with Stephen Toboz, who happens to back his nickname up by being a Navy SEAL. In fact, he got it during the inhumanly hard SEAL training, where some of the fittest soldiers in the world drop like flies from exhaustion. Toboz, however, was hyper throughout the training period, ran incredibly fast and actually thought the whole thing was great fun.
"Push-ups in the sand? Fuck yeah I wanna do some push-ups in the sand!"
He made it through the training, naturally, and became a fully fledged SEAL who eventually wound up fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. In March of 2002, Turbo was part of Operation Anaconda (we dare you not to think about G.I. Joe while reading that sentence), one of the first large-scale battles of the war in Afghanistan. He was part of a six-man team that had flown back into an enemy stronghold atop a mountain to rescue a captured teammate. Their helicopter was shot down but managed to land safely -- only to be immediately caught up in an ambush.
"Also, Steve spilled his Slurpee all over the dash."
As the team leader ordered them to withdraw, Turbo was hit by automatic weapon fire that somehow spiraled around his left leg, shattering bones and punching a hole the size of a fist in his calf.
Turbo crawled along with the team on all fours, barely visible in three feet of snow, fighting pain, blood loss and the -20 degree weather. Oh, and he fought the enemy, too. He actually provided cover for the rest of the unit all along, refusing to take any morphine for his near-incapacitating pain to be able to do so.
Winners don't do drugs! Not even when the medical professionals tell them to.
This went on for 18 fucking hours. All under a constant barrage of bullets and mortar fire.
In the end, they made it out alive. At that point Turbo had lost over three liters of blood and was only able to survive because the cold weather froze his wound shut. In the hospital, Toboz lived up to his nickname by getting annoyed at the slow pace at which his leg was healing. So he told the doctors to saw it the hell off and give him a bionic leg instead. They obliged, and Turbo rejoined his unit only nine months later. He still took part on active SEAL combat missions but soon started feeling bad that his new leg only gave him 95 percent ability (instead of his usual 800 percent).
"Is it just me, or is Turbo eating slightly fewer tanks lately?"
And thus ended Turbo's career as a badass SEAL warrior. He is now a badass SEAL trainer, bringing a new element of embarrassment for the recruits by running circles around them with just one good leg.
Henry William Paget
Henry William Paget -- later in life titled 1st Marquess of Anglesey but understandably preferring to be called Lord Uxbridge -- commanded 13,000 cavalrymen and 44 guns of horse artillery while fighting Napoleon during the Battle of Waterloo. While leading his men in battle, Paget was struck, not by a musket, but by a goddamned cannonball.
National Portrait Gallery, London
Thankfully, he kept a spare one in his hat.
Upon noticing that his leg was pretty much ripped off, he decided to inform his nearby superior, the Duke of Wellington, that he was a tad wounded. The exhange was nowhere near as "AarghaarghaarghmylegMYLEG" as you'd imagine, but instead went like this:
Paget: By God, Sir, I have lost my leg.
Wellington: By God, Sir, so you have.
No kidding. They then presumably proceeded to have some tea and crumpets.
Cannonballs. How terribly, terribly droll.
Retaining his supernatural calmness, Paget then retired to the field hospital to have the useless limb amputated. While the doctor was hacking away with all the comfort and convenience 19th-century battlefield surgery could offer, the stoic lord's only reaction was probably a nonchalant, "My god, old boy, these knives seem to be frightfully dull." Immediately afterward, Paget, 47 at the time, joked to his men that it was about time he was cut instead of some youngster.
Those aren't cannonballs. They're scale models of Paget's left testicle.
After he recovered and mastered his new peg leg, Paget was right back in the field of battle, becoming a full-fledged general before retiring in 1852 with the rank of field marshal. If anyone ever asked him whether he missed his leg, he would just give them a puzzled look and ask them, "Who would not lose a leg for such a victory?" The man completely refused to see the point of a mere limb in the grand scheme of things.
Paget was a hardass commander, but that amputated limb of his gained quite a following, too. After the amputation, a shrine was set up where the leg was buried. Over time, it became quite a tourist attraction, and eventually the bones were actually dug up and put on display, to the chagrin of Paget's descendants. We think Paget himself would probably just have had someone cut his other leg off with a rusty spoon and give that to his family so that they would've stopped making that ungentlemanly racket.
National Portrait Gallery, London
"Why are you bickering about legs when there are millions of Frenchmen to fight?"
Claus von Stauffenberg
Claus Philipp Maria Justinian Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg was a German aristocrat, an army officer and a multiple-time-winner in the Ridiculous Name Olympics. Stationed in North Africa during World War II, von Stauffenberg was targeted by an Allied plane while driving around in his jeep commanding his troops. Badly wounded, he was hurried to a field hospital where, seeing the condition he was in, they could do little more than hastily amputate a bunch of appendages and patch him up the best they could.
"Just make sure to pose this way for every picture you take and nobody will notice."
Now lacking a right hand, two fingers on his left hand and his left eye, as well as being seriously wounded in the legs, he still had to be evacuated on horrible bumpy roads to the better hospital conditions of Italy, an experience von Stauffenberg himself described as "exceedingly uncomfortable."
German Federal Archive
He described Hitler's handshake the same way. Also, "moist."
Von Stauffenberg spent the following months in Nazi rehab, and also in excruciating pain. The latter was partially because of the seriousness of his wounds, but mostly because von Stauffenberg was a firm believer in "mind over matter." This meant that, just as a matter of principle, the man refused any and all pain medication. Think about that the next time you stub your toe and reach for Vicodin.
Yes, of course he has his own action figure.
While von Stauffenberg was able to successfully tell pain to go fuck itself, the fact remained that he was now severely disabled. So did he just do the logical thing and sit out the rest of the war? Ha, of course not! Instead, having had plenty of non-medicated time to think through the whole Nazi Germany issue, he returned to service as a celebrated war hero and gained the trust of the leaders of the Reich, up to and including Hitler. He then promptly used this trust to become a key figure in a nearly successful conspiracy to kill Hitler.
Yeah. You might have seen the movie they made about him.
Horatio Nelson, aka 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronte and the guy in the funny hat on top of that column in London, was an English naval officer who rose all the way to the rank of admiral. Some of you may remember him as the guy who kicked Napoleon's ass in 1805, stopping his victory streak once and for all and therefore being pretty much the reason that everyone in Europe doesn't speak French.
He was a huge fan of dandelions, apparently.
Eight years before that, newly promoted to rear admiral, Nelson was sent to the Canary Islands to take a small port town from the Spanish. He had already lost the use of an eye at that point, but hadn't let it bother him much -- he'd actually learned to use it to his advantage, disobeying orders to retreat by holding his telescope to his blind eye and innocently claiming he never saw no damned retreat signal.
After subordinates failed in their initial invasion attempt, Nelson called his commanders together and informed them he would personally lead the next invading force up the beach. As his ships were slowly rowed to shore, Nelson -- wearing his full uniform with all the bling because fuck you, inconspicuousness -- was unsurprisingly targeted and hit by Spanish snipers. A musket ball shattered a bone in his arm. He needed immediate medical attention. However, he didn't want to demoralize his men or alarm his new wife (who was watching the battle nearby) by signaling that he was injured.
"Guys, can you see if she's watching? Does she look impressed yet?"
So he ordered his boat to nonchalantly row back to his flagship, all the while making loud small talk about the weather like the battle around him wasn't happening at all. He even made his rowboat crew stop to pick up some drowning men from a British ship that happened to be sinking nearby, what with the bloody, raging battle that was all around them.
When Nelson's anxious crew finally got to the flagship, the wounded rear admiral of course refused help getting aboard the ship because, hey, he still had his legs and one good arm. Finally on board, he calmly told the surgeon to hurry up and cut off his arm already because there was a battle he needed to fight, goddamnit. The man never gave, you know, saving the arm a second thought.
"Can't we replace it with a cannon? What this battle needs is another cannon."
In the end, the British were unable to take the town, probably because their troops were too overwhelmed by their leader's testicular elephantiasis. Nelson himself was bitterly disappointed by the defeat and from that day saw his missing arm as little more than a daily reminder never to lose another battle.
He went on to rack up a great number of naval victories, always in the thick of the battle despite the whole "just one arm and eye " thing -- and a tendency to wear full parade uniform to the battle despite the whole "enemy snipers " thing.
Predictably, it didn't end well.
Adrian Carton de Wiart
The son of a Belgian who worked for the British Imperial office, Adrian Carton de Wiart had already seen much of the world at a very young age. He had also decided he wanted to fight as much of it as possible. He ended up joining the British Army during the Boer War, where he soon developed a reputation as a fierce and reckless warrior -- and was promptly shot through the lung.
Eye patches are the HOV lane to Badass.
Not letting a mere life-threatening wound stop him, de Wiart recuperated just in time to sign up again when World War I broke out. Deployed to Africa, he was part of Allied action in Somalia, where during one particularly heated battle he received wounds in the ear and elbow and a blinding blow to his left eye in what to everyone else was a bloody encounter but that he described as "exhilarating fun."
"A rip-roaring good time!"
Still not one for a desk job, de Wiart, now donning a badass eye patch, felt it was time for a bigger challenge. So he headed for the front lines in France where he was -- everybody together now -- wounded multiple times, each time bouncing right back into action like it was nothing. Once, while leading his men over a trench, de Wiart was hit in the hand. Wanting to get back into action faster than the doctors would have allowed, he is said to have bitten off his own goddamn fingers to help them with the decision on whether to amputate or not. True or not, de Wiart certainly thought nothing of the loss of his hand, comparing it to having a tooth pulled.
And that was just the beginning. The rest of de Wiart's life reads out like the man was written by Quentin Tarantino. He rose up the ranks, became Winston Churchill's main man and went on to become the UK liaison officer in Poland during their struggle against the Soviet Union.
The man rolled with the big boys.
His pirate-like visage and larger-than-life warrior antics fit the Polish fighting mentality like a glove, and he happily remained there until the Nazis invaded and England called again. After several James Bond movies' worth of adventures, de Wiart was finally captured by Italian troops in 1941 during a mission in Libya. While this may sound anticlimactic, it must be said that he was in his sixties and presumably pretty tired from having just swam a mile to the shore because his plane had dropped into the ocean.
The sharks didn't bother him. Not after he turned the first one into a tasteful handbag.
A high-profile prisoner, de Wiart was treated well from the beginning. This, of course, didn't stop him from trying to escape through a tunnel with another high-ranking officer as soon as the guards looked the other way. Keep in mind, he was one-eyed, one-handed and in his sixties.
Perhaps the ultimate testament to de Wiart's unique brand of badassness is his autobiography, where he merrily reminisces about his wounds and generally treats the whole "losing body parts while fighting for your life " thing as jolly good fun. Its title? Happy Odyssey.