Category Archives: Fighters

To those that served our country with valor, dedication, and a whole lot of badassery.

Frederick Russell Burnham: America’s Scout

“I’m not saying I can smell fear, but that’s just because I’m very modest.”

~Frederick Russell Burnham

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The Boy Scouts of America have been around since 1910, and in that time they have made quite an impression on the nation.  Some of you might associate Boy Scouts with your childhood, earning merit badges and going camping and learning how to like, tie knots?  That’s a thing you did right?  Others of you, like our staff, might also associate Boy Scouts with their childhood, only the focus is more on that one kid in your High School that really stuck with it, and while it was cool that he got to use a pocket knife and shit, he always wore knee-high socks with shorts and you know definitively that he did not get laid until he was well into his 20s.  And still others of you might think of the Boy Scouts as an organization that is not particularly good at being nice to gay people.

But, something that almost no America thinks about in relation to the Boy Scouts are the men responsible for for the very idea of scouting itself.  Scouting was first established in the United Kingdom by Robert Baden-Powell in 1907 as a way to support youth physical, mental and spiritual development.  As you likely know, this goal was achieved through the focus on outdoor and survival skills, with the notion that a self-reliant child with a diverse skill set would be able to use what they learned through scouting and apply it to take constructive roles in society.

Now, “going outside” isn’t something that we really like doing much ourselves, and since we live in the age of the internet we don’t have to.  But in the pre-internet age of the early 1900s when this all started, we imagine that going out and learning how to make fires and whittle sticks into shivs (we’re assuming that’s a thing Boy Scouts did) was probably both constructive and about as exciting of an activity as you could get.  Either way, it’s an influential movement, and though it was started by a Brit, it was in fact inspired by an American man who basically taught Baden-Powell everything he knew.  A tiny man with a powerful nose who you probably haven’t heard of, which is a right we’re going to wrong.  Because there were few Americans as badass as…

Frederick Russell Burnham:  America’s Scout

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The American Life of Smedley D. Butler

“No.  Seriously.  I won’t lose.”

~Smedley Butler Playing a Game of Bullshit

smedley butler

We recently wrote an article that focused on the Medal of Honor—mainly, how the military’s highest honor, now given only to acts of almost impossible levels of valor, was sort of tossed around pretty willy-nilly in the years after the Civil War and before World War I.  In that discussion, we briefly mentioned a U.S. Marine named Smedley Butler, who straight up tried to turn down his first Medal of Honor (yes, he was later awarded a second one) because he didn’t think he deserved it.  We then came to realize that Smedley Butler, a badass with a kind of funny first name, isn’t really well known to the casual American—hell, we had only sort of stumbled across his career by accident.

And that’s some bullshit, because Smedley Butler died as the most highly decorated Marine in U.S. history, and served 34 years where he managed to collect medals, tropical diseases, and tactics for tricking the enemy like it was his job.  Well, it sort of was his job, he was a marine, but you get the picture.

So allow us to spend three thousand words or so gushing about Smedley Butler, The Fighting Quaker.

butler and his dogs

Ha ha, holy shit, this picture.

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The Medal of Honor from 1871-1917: The Military Honor America Couldn’t Seem To Give Away Fast Enough

“No, seriously, you have to stop printing these like Thin Mints.  What’s it gonna take, an actual major war to make you chill?”

~Smedley Butler, trying to turn down a Medal of Honor in the early 20th century

medal of honor

We’re going to start this one off with a disclaimer—any claims we make regarding the Medal of Honor is a reflection of how politicians and military leaders handed out the honor before we really had any intense modern wars under our belt.  Our servicemen that fought in the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, or the many other excursions where they have put their lives on the line for their brothers and for their country have paid dearly for our benefit, and every single recipient of the Medal of Honor can, at worst, be called a hero (at best they can be called “basically Batman, if Batman could get free beer and deserved gratitude sex whenever they want”).

Even when we make fun of the skirmishes that resulted in Medals of honor being handed out during the time period of 1869 (when we had kind of forgotten what the Civil War was like) to 1917 (when we started World War I and realized, holy shit, this shit is super intense), we’re acknowledging that the soldiers who were awarded did show valor and a love of this country.  They just happened to get an award that was handed out to pretty much anyone who asked for it up until recently.  Let’s put it this way—Congress gave out 1522 Medal of Honors in the Civil War, of which 32 were posthumous.  Now, the American Civil War was a bloody and bitterly fought war, but when you consider the fact that we awarded only 464 during the entirety of World War II (266 posthumously by the way), or that we’ve only given out 16 (7 of which were to fallen soldiers) of these awards in the Afghanistan and Iraqi War combined, you can see how we’ve increasingly made the honor harder and harder to get.  The Congressional Medal of Honor, as we know it know, is the most prestigious and rare award for those who have gone above and beyond their duty to keep freedom within these borders—for those of you with a loose idea of what military action generally means, this is the award a soldier gets when doing something so brave and so intense that, if you saw it in a movie, you’d respond, “Oh, come on, the director’s really taking some liberties with this battle to make it seem more exciting.”

So currently, yes, the Medal of Honor is given out only in the most extraordinary and harrowing cases , but during the time period between the end of the Civil War and start of World War I?  Well, at that point it was more…

The Medal of Honor from 1871-1917: The Military Honor America Couldn’t Seem To Give Away Fast Enough

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Gary Kness: The Ultimate Badass Bystander

“Wait, you mean life ISN’T supposed to be like a Michael Bay film?”

~Gary Kness

gary kness medal

On April 5th, 1970, two career criminals named Bobby Davis and Jack Twinning were planning on using explosives to rob an armored car in California, since action movies had yet to catch up to real life at this point.  On the way to steal these explosives, Davis decided to performed an ill-advised U-turn, cutting off a military serviceman who he then threatened by brandishing a gun before fleeing when the serviceman told him that officers from the California Highway Patrol were in the area.  They weren’t, but they would be, since the serviceman immediately went to a payphone (before cell phones we used to call people by, you know what, no time to explain, just roll with it) to actually get the police there to track down the crazy dude brandishing a gun on the highway.  This little bit of road rage eventually lead to the Newhall massacre, a tragic event that took the lives of four young CHP officers, which at the time was the deadliest day in the history of California law enforcement, and lead to drastic overhauls in the way police officers are kept safe in this country.

We could talk about the Newhall massacre specifically, because it’s a very intense story, but it’s also a bummer to focus in on that, so instead we’re going to take a moment to tell you about the Newhall massacre through the eyes of Gary Kness, the 31-year-old former Marine who happened to drive past the shootout and think, “You know what, this is something I should probably stick my nose in.”  While it was a day that was filled with tremendous sacrifice (God, we’re going to have a hard time tossing in jokes about this without feeling like dicks) Gary Kness proves the American spirit of just, straight up not giving a fuck when it comes to putting punks in their damn place.

So with a lot of hemming and hawing, we present to you…

Gary Kness:  The Ultimate Badass Bystander

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Samuel Whittemore: The Most Badass Grumpy Old Person in American History

“Do not fuck with me.”

~Samuel Whittemore

samuel whittemore

So long as they don’t accidentally go vegetarian or something, all Americans turn into badass zero-fuck-giving machines once they reach a certain age.  The whispers of mortality apparently change the American temperament as they get louder, turning our nation’s elderly into stubborn, fighting-off-bears, beating-up-a-robber-after-getting-shot-in-the-head badasses.  This is not a recent quality only seen in the Greatest Generation, it’s engrained in our DNA.  Trust us on this, if you think you’re kind of soft and weak currently, you should really do something about your self-esteem.  But also, you should know that by the time you hit 80 you’re basically going to be a superhero.

That being said, no matter how badass you get in your old age, you still won’t have anything on Samuel Whittemore, the oldest known colonial combatant in the Revolutionary War.  Trust us on this.

Samuel Whittemore:  The Most Badass Grumpy Old Person in American History

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Boston Corbett: The (Insane) Killer Of John Wilkes Booth

“I mean, yeah.”

Boston Corbett, when asked “like, are you crazy, or?”

boston corbett

So, let’s talk about history, shall we?  American history, naturally, because that’s the best kind, and all you “our church was made in 1103, and our beer has been brewed for a thousand years” European ninnys can hand us the beer, sure, but otherwise shut your damn mouths.  American history is great, largely because, and we can’t believe how this gets glossed over in our Social Studies books in elementary school, but it is deeply weird a lot of the time.  Like, we once had a president die because he drank a bunch of milk and ate too many cherriesDied!  A real honest-to-God Commander-in-Chief died doing an impression of someone who plays Pac Man but keeps wanting to be able to eat the ghosts.

So the point is, American history is awesome, and entertaining, and deeply, deeply weird, and we at America Fun Fact of the Day embrace that, because it means that every day we can come across something we didn’t know that suddenly becomes our new favorite fact.

For example, Boston Corbett, the man who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, was a self-castrated soldier driven mad by mercury poison.  Let’s talk about that motherfucker, right?  Okay then!

Boston Corbett:  The (Insane) Killer Of John Wilkes Booth

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Alvin C. York: The Rambo of World War I

“Okay, you got me, I might not be 100% on the definition of ‘pacifist.’”

~Alvin York

If there’s one thing to learn from the respective budgets and box office grosses of Terminator compared to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it’s that sometimes the sequel is going to get more press than the original.  Such was the case with the World Wars.  While World War I was a massively horrific war, with over 15 million deaths, it tends to get overshadowed by World War II (which killed off 2.5% of the freaking world’s population).  So when we hear war stories, there tends to be a focus on the “Teddy Roosevelt’s son storming Normandy” and less on the “holy shit there were battles in World War I with nearly two million casualties” side of things.

But while World War II made for more daring tales of American badassery, we wouldn’t be doing our nation’s history justice without mentioning one of the arguably most famous American veterans of World War I.  That would be Alvin C. York, the former (boo) alcoholic (yay!) Sergeant who ended up being one of the most decorated American soldiers in the whole war.  Because while he considered himself a man of peace, as you can clearly tell, his moustache alone could clear an enemy machine gun nest.

That’s why we’re here to salute…

Alvin C. York:  The Rambo of World War

Boom.  Ladies, if you just stared into the eyes of this picture, you are now six months pregnant. 

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The Civil War’s Most Glorious Mustaches

“Prrrrfftt plabber prrrftt sorry my glorious mustache was in my mouth, you see.”

~Ambrose Burnside

Every great war leaves behind a cultural legacy.  The Vietnam War spurned on counter-culture and PTSD.  World War II developed and hardened the so-called “Greatest Generation.”  The Korean War led to M*A*S*H*.  The impact of these conflicts have been scorched into our memory, making irreplaceable connections in our minds.  So, while we were riffling through the Smithsonian website looking for blueprints (we heard they have the Fonzie’s jacket there, and we fucking want it) we stumbled across this little item regarding the Civil War.  Because, when you think of the Civil War, clearly the one thing you associate with it is slavery glorious facial hair.

We were going to do a fun fact on the importance of office safety, ever since we had to send [REDACTED] to the hospital when he started shouting, “GONZO JOURNALISM” and licking our supply of poison arrow frogs, but really, we figure this is more important.  So, let’s rate some facial hair, everyone.

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Mad Anthony Wayne: Actually Batman

“Too Italian.  What else you got?”

~Movie Executives at the suggestion of naming Marion Morrison “Anthony Wayne” instead of “John Wayne”

Being a General of the Revolutionary War is a pretty good point to have on a “Why I’m an Awesome American” resume.  Being the basis for the name “John Wayne” makes you worthy of an American Fun Fact of the Day.   Having your nickname insinuate that you’re balls-to-the-ceiling crazy?  Well, that’s just to be expected for the man who Batman was fucking named after.  All in a day’s work for Mad Anthony Wayne, the man who puts the “Do not fuck with me” into “America.”

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Chuck Yeager is Faster Than Sound

“Listen, if this plane probably won’t explode in the air, why the hell do you want me to fly it?” 

~Chuck Yeager

America is a land of advancement through the idiotic risks of others.  If someone hadn’t ignored “conventional wisdom” and eaten tomatoes when they thought it was poisonous, where would we get our pizza sauce from?  If Neil Armstrong had been worried about the very real threat of Carnivorous Moon People, we wouldn’t have the most famous example of someone fucking up a prepared speech in the history of the world (seriously, “one small step for A man,” get it right.)  If Sam Adams hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to make a bunch of people throw tea in a harbor, we wouldn’t know what to call his beer.  Dumb decisions always work out for you if you’re an American, but someone has to have the parachute-sized sack to go out and make those dumb decisions.  One of those men is renowned testicular giants was Chuck Yeager, test pilot.

That smile means he just shot down a German fighter

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