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Tag Archives: navy

Badasses in History: Audie Murphy

4 Dec

Audie, en route to fucking some shit up

Let’s start this week’s historical badass with a riddle. What’s black and blue and red all over? Answer: Chuck Norris after trying to fuck with Audie Murphy.

“That’s impossible!” you say.

Well, shut the fuck up and sit down and maybe you’ll see what I’m talking about.

You see our story begins in 1924 when Audie was born the sixth of twelve children to Emmett and Josie Murphy in Kingston, Texas. Things were hard for Audie, as he was and would remain very small, something looked poorly upon in Texas, “where everything is bigger.”

Riiiiiiight.

Anyway, Audie and his siblings worked on the family farm as children, at least until his father abandoned the family in 1936, presumably saying, “How the fuck did we end up with this many kids?” His mother died five years later, leaving the Murphy children to fend for themselves, with only the oldest sibling, Elizabeth, at age 31 to care for them.

Audie, rightfully realizing his life was going up shit-creek faster than a prairie dog in a wheelbarrow race, decided the best thing to do would be for him to join the army. So, Audie put his three youngest siblings in an orphanage (he would later reclaim them after coming back from the war), and attempted to enlist.

See, I say “attempted” for a reason.

Thing is, Audie tried to enlist right after Pearl Harbor, at age 17, but was turned away for being too young. Reputedly, Audie hulked the fuck out on the recruiter, but matters would stand this way for some time. Shortly after, Audie tried to enlist once again, but was declined by the Marines, the Air Force, and the Navy.

Why? Well, he was 5’5’’ and 110 pounds. Yeah, he kind of looked like one of those starving kids Sally Struthers is always bitching about. Luckily for Audie however, the United States Army was always on the lookout for meatshields…I mean corpses…I mean cannon fodder.

Damn it! I mean upstanding, brave specimens of American masculinity.

Yeah, that works.

So, long story short, Audie finally got to live out his dream of being a military man. At which point he promptly passed out during training and was ordered to be a cook instead. But, like short people everywhere, Audie wouldn’t shut the fuck up. He insisted on being a combat soldier for so long that finally his drill sergeant gave up and let him do it.

At this point Audie got sent overseas to North Africa, where he saw no action and presumably just fucked around playing stickball or something. After getting tossed over to Sicily however, Audie finally got to prove himself and was quickly promoted to sergeant.

So he was only like 18. He was Audie Motherfucking Murphy, so suck it.

That's more gold on his chest than Nelly has in his mouth

Now we get to the fun part, and by fun part, I mean we get to the part where Audie becomes the most decorated soldier in American history.

I didn’t mention that before? Really? I could have sworn…

Well no matter! Just listen up.

By the way, Audie contracted malaria during the Allied Invasion of Siciliy. So everything I’m about to explain? He did it with malaria. Yeah.

At one point, Audie mined a road where Axis tanks were known to be crossing. Asking his men to cover him, Audie stealthily snuck up on one such tank and tried to blow the thing up with a Molotov cocktail. When that didn’t work, Audie tried rifle grenades (all while getting shot at, and pulling Matrix style shit to avoid them). It worked. All by his lonesome, Audie managed to knock the tank off its treads, rendering it useless.

Yeah, Audie Murphy took out a tank, all by himself.

What the fuck? I can’t even do that shit in a videogame much less real life. And he was 5’5’’. There are NBA centers whose arms are longer than that. AND he was 110 lbs. That’s like what? How much my books weigh each quarter?

So we’ve established he was a badass, and that alone would be enough to ensure him a place of glory (it did win him a Bronze Star), but it’s not all.

The scene: It’s 1944, the Germans are being repelled and the Allies are pushing forward. BUT! The German forces are by no means down for the count. Enter a beachhead in Southern France.

Audie and his company were ordered to capture an enemy artillery position. In the course of the conflict, the Germans signaled their surrender, at which point Audie and his men went to take their position.

Of course, Nazi’s being total dickwads, they were faking and promptly shot and killed Audie’s BFFL.

This was really quite a poor decision on behalf of those Germans. I say “poor decision,” but what I really mean is “complete and utter catastrophe.” This is because Audie Murphy, on seeing his friend gunned down in front of his eyes, went Super Saiyan.

Legends say that he was doused with fire and emerged unscathed. That he shrugged off the strikes of lightning like they were so much trash. He endured a hail of bullets and his screams of rage flung them to the ground.

It may not be all true, but the reality is this: Within one hour, every single German was dead. Audie literally ran to the German position, amidst a storm of bullets, and took control of the nearest machine gun, slaughtering every Nazi within sight, and winning him the Distinguished Service Cross.

When another machine gun operator starting firing on Audie, he promptly picked up a mortar gun and gave that Kraut bastard what for. He then took out two more turrets and two sniper positions.

All by HIMSELF. This guy makes Rambo look like a pussy. Hell, he makes Seal Team 6 look like kindergarteners.

But even that doesn’t measure up to his actions in Holtzwihr Forest, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Before Holtzwihr Forest, however, Audie won the Purple Heart —for taking a mortar shell fragment to the hip, then immediately requesting to return to the front upon recovery — and two Silver Stars — the first for taking out two German positions using only a pair of hand grenades, saving the lives of numerous other soldiers; the second for reconnoitering near a German outpost and relaying its location to nearby artillery so it could be destroyed.

In case you aren’t keeping track at home, the tally is as follows: 1 Bronze Star, 1 Purple Heart, 1 Distinguished Service Cross, and 2 Silver Stars. Not bad for a 20-year-old right? He was also promoted to staff sergeant, then platoon sergeant, then platoon leader, AND THEN 2nd Lieutenant during this time.

Well it gets better.

On January 26th, 1945 (just one day after being named company commander, as well as suffering wounds from a mortar that exploded nearby that same fucking day), Audie and company became engaged in battle in the Holtzwihr Forest in France (I know, the name sounds German. Shut up).

During the course of the battle, Murphy’s 128-man company was reduced to 19 men, nearly all of them wounded. Realizing things might not turn out sunshine and daises, Audie decided to do something incredible: hold the Germans off by himself.

Yeah, he did that thing every movie hero does but that no one has the balls to pull of in real life. HE PULLED A FUCKING GANDALF AND SAID “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

Seriously though, he shot at the Germans until he ran out of ammunition, at which point he climbed aboard a flaming, abandoned M10 Tank Destroyer (yes, it fucking blows the shit up out of tanks). Remember, it was on fire while he did everything I’m about to tell you. And he still had malaria. And he was wounded from the mortar shell. Also, it was 14°F. Just so we’re clear.

Audie started using the .50 caliber machine gun on all Germans coming his way. He got shot in the leg, but kept going for nearly an hour, all single-handed. The only time he stopped fighting was to call in artillery fire using a nearby telephone line.

In the end, Murphy and his remaining men—who came back—staged a counterattack and drove the Germans back out of Holtzwihr Forest, winning the battle.

When asked why he had decided to seize a machine gun and attack an entire squad of German infantry, he uttered perhaps the most badass explanation ever given:

Nobody fucks with Audie's betches

“They were killing my friends.”

I stand in awe of this man. If he wanted to punch me in the face I would take it and be honored. For his actions in Holtzwihr, Audie was given the Legion of Merit and the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military award, as well as given a promotion to 1st Lieutenant.

Audie continued fighting in the war, amassing a staggering total of military awards. In fact, he won every single U.S. decoration for valor available to Army ground personnel at the time. Some of them more than once.

In total, Audie was credited with destroying 6 tanks, and personally killing 240 German soldiers. Audie would eventually be promoted to Major while serving in the Texas National Guard. After his retirement from the service, he became an action star in Hollywood, starring in a few Westerns and — get this — playing himself in a movie called To Hell and Back about his battle in Holtzwihr.

He was such a popular actor, in fact, that he got a star on the Walk of Fame.

How can you get more badass?

Oh, here’s a list of Audie’s medals. If you don’t feel like counting, the number is 33. He was, and is, the most decorated soldier in American history.

• Congressional Medal of Honor
• Distinguished Service Cross
• Two Silver Stars
• Legion of Merit
• Two Bronze Stars
• Three Purple Hearts
• U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
• Good Conduct Medal
• Two Presidential Unit Citations
• American Campaign Medal
• European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star,
Four Bronze Service Stars and one Bronze Arrowhead
• World War II Victory Medal
• Army of Occupation Medal
• Armed Forces Reserve Medal
• Combat Infantry Badge
• Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar
• Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar
• French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre
• French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier
• French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star
• French Croix de Guerre with Palm
• Medal of Liberated France
• Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm

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Badasses in History: Jean Lafitte

31 Oct

The Somalians know what's up

Pirates rock. And no, I’m not talking about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, only the first of which was really any good. Yeah, Johnny Depp is a great actor, and Jack Sparrow is awesome and even got a song written about him by The Lonely Island. But in general, the movies sucked. At least we can all agree, real life pirates were awesome.

Well actually, most of them fucking sucked.

Being a pirate in the 18th and 19th centuries was a lot like being a cook at some shitty “restaurant” like McDonald’s. People made fun of you and you had no job security. Also, you were dirty, smelled bad, and were more than likely illiterate. I’ll end the comparison here, but I could go on and on.

The point is, the life of a pirate was not glamorous. Pirates more often stole food and everyday goods than gold. And really, what kind of idiot would bury his treasure as opposed to simply fucking buying an island or something?

Also, scurvy.

Widely renowned as “the douche of the seven seas”, scurvy killed more pirates (and sailors in general) than any high seas adventure ever did. If Pirates of the Caribbean depicted the life of a pirate accurately, 90% of the crew would have been dead of scurvy, disease, and starvation at the end of the first hour, and Jack would have either been caught or just said “fuck it all, I’m going back to land” in the fifteen minutes after that, thus ending the film before most of us could finish our two-foot long hoagies.

As you can see, being a pirate left a lot to be desired.

Way too badass for a frechman

Unless of course, you were Jean Lafitte.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, he was French. But he was so badass it doesn’t matter.

He has more epithets than can conveniently fit on a business card: “The Corsair”, “The Buccaneer,” “The King of Barataria,” “The Terror of the Gulf,” “The Hero of New Orleans”; all of them names for the same man, the same baller. The same Pirate King.

For have no doubt, that is what he was. Jean Lafitte was an honest-to-goodness King of the Pirates. Operating out of Louisiana, Lafitte claimed as his kingdom much of the Gulf of Mexico and large parts of the Louisiana bayous, including the city of New Orleans.

A maze of swamps, bogs, river deltas and marshes, Lafitte’s realm was nigh-inaccessible to outsiders, and left hundreds of government bounty-hunters shitting their pants in frustration, while the crocodiles sat nearby playing poker, commenting that these newcomers were really rather mannerless. Imagine! Entering a swamp without offering some meat. The nerve!

Frivolity aside, Lafitte was something else. While a pirate, Lafitte was also something of a philanthropist, providing much needed supplies and foodstuffs to the poverty-stricken people of early-1800s New Orleans at low prices, without expectation of real compensation. In fact, Lafitte would often give the goods away for free. Here, for example, is a posting regarding one such event:

COME ONE! COME ALL!
TO JEAN LAFITTE’S
BAZAAR & SLAVE AUCTION
TOMORROW
AT THE TEMPLE
== FOR YOUR DELIGHT ==-
CLOTHING GEMS & KNICK-KNACKS
FROM THE SEVEN SEAS

And the people of New Orleans came. Men and women, parents and children, all loved Lafitte for the bounty he provided. What kind of a-hole wouldn’t like this sort of guy?

(Yes, slaves probably didn’t like him. Ignore that for the moment)

Funny you should ask. The answer is this fuck: William Charles Cole Claiborne (who you know is a douche because he has four names. Pretentious shit folks. Pretentious shit). Claiborne, naturally, was the Governor of New Orleans, a guy who really didn’t give a fuck about the welfare of his citizens.

Let’s be real here, if a Pirate King is more generous than you, you’re probably an asshole. Likely of some extremely smelly animal. Let’s say, for the sake of discussion, an elephant’s asshole. Yeah, that big of an asshole.

Claiborne was such a fuckwad that he issued a posting offering $300 for Lafitte’s head. And no, the reward did not count if Lafitte’s head was still attached to his neck. In any case, three-hundred dollars back then was a lot of money. But Lafitte, being such a generous soul, responded as any badass would.

He simply put out an advertisement of his own, offering $1000 dollars for the head of the Governor, a giant middle-finger to authority if ever there was one.

This, along with Lafitte’s so-called “piracy” (lolz), led Claiborne to try to create a militia with the sole purpose of popping a cap in Lafitte’s French ass. This unfortunately made Lafitte angry. And like the Hulk, you would not like Lafitte when he was angry.

Before I continue, I need to take a moment to explain something about Lafitte. He was, by all accounts almost always a perfect gentleman. Let me quote Joseph Geringer, author of an article entitled Jean Lafitte: Gentle Pirate of New Orleans.

Many stories exist, most of them founded on fact, attesting to his chivalry. When a family named Martin found itself in danger caught in a rowboat during a violent storm in the Gulf of Mexico, a vessel manned by Lafitte took them aboard. Mrs. Martin’s diary reads: “Lafitte the Pirate…treated us with all kindness possible (providing us with) a bountiful breakfast (and) even supplying a hat for my husband who had lost his own.

He gave the man a hat! How fucking cute is that!?

But seriously, Lafitte was a stand-up guy.

On another occasion—I shit you not; this sounds like it is straight out of a Disney movie:

A charming story relates the night that the pirates were playing cards in Lafitte’s den. An argument had broken out between Lafitte’s crew and Gambi’s, the latter blaming the others for cheating. “We shall have a third party cut the cards,” Lafitte announced and sent Thiac to summon one of the fishermen from the coast up to his house. When the fisherman arrived he looked nervous; he had brought with him his little daughter in hopes that these pirates wouldn’t harm him in front of his child.

Lafitte smiled when he saw the girl and asked her to cut the deck, explaining to her in a gentle voice what that meant. She did, and Lafitte went on to win the play. Gambi stormed out. Before they left, the island chief called the little girl to his lap, thanked her for her help and dropped a $20 gold piece into her palm. She grew up never forgetting the dashing pirate who had been so kind to her.

Hopefully voiced by Tom Hanks

Seriously, how has Disney not made a movie out of this? It has adorable children and the softening of the heart of a “cold” man.

It’s literally like Up if you replace the tiny old guy with a badass Frenchman (I’m still not used to having those words together like that) and the fat boy scout with a precious little creole girl.

Also, replace the dog with, let’s say, a crocodile with a monocle and top hat? Yeah, that works.

So clearly, Lafitte was not just a badass, he was a nice badass, which is arguably much much rarer.

Well, he was usually nice. Like I mentioned earlier, Lafitte had a bit of a temper. At one point during his reign as Pirate King of Barataria, a group of men assembled outside Lafitte’s home, threatening mutiny. Lafitte, badass that he was, came outside his home (presumably to the sound of thundering trumpets, as John Williams or Danny Elfman arranges the nearby orchestra) with a smile.

He was, in fact, still smiling when he strode up to the leader of the mutiny and casually shot the man in the face, then turned (continuing to smile I imagine) and returned to his evening dinner without a word.

Lafitte: 1, Mutiny: 0

Pure fucking ownage.

To add to his badassitude, Lafitte was also an accomplished duelist. And by “accomplished” I mean “Inigo Montoya, check what’s really up.” Reputedly, Lafitte never lost a duel, and was one of the most skilled rapier-duelists of the age.

In fact, legend has it that one night while eating dinner with his lady-companion at what would later become the Courtyard of Two Sisters Restaurant, Lafitte was challenged three separate times. Pausing momentarily to presumably offer the men the chance to leave with their lives and their dignity (or at least their lives), Lafitte apologized to the lady and drew his rapier.

Three dead douchebags later, Lafitte is said to have returned unharmed and unflustered to his filet mignon with cabernet sauce, which he proclaimed excellent.

But what really makes Lafitte so fascinating is this: he loved America, even though he was a French pirate.

Seriously, he ordered his men to never fire on or raid an American vessel. The one time someone did, Lafitte himself shot the troublemaker.

Despite this (as we’ve seen), American politicians (fuck you, Claiborne) and even Presidents continued calling for Lafitte’s capture and execution. They didn’t really care which one.

It wasn’t until the War of 1812 came along that Colonel Andrew Jackson—yes, that Andrew Jackson—decided it might be better to have Lafitte on their side. And because Lafitte loved America, he agreed to help.

He didn’t do very much useful though.

Oh wait, yes he fucking did. He was actually almost single-handedly responsible for the American victory at the Battle of New Orleans. You know, the one that later helped then-Colonel Andrew Jackson later win the White House and that helped the Americans repel the British. Yeah, that Battle of New Orleans.

A badass always recognizes a fellow badass

Jackson was thankful (duh) and requested that the U.S. government grant Lafitte and his men pardons for their earlier crimes. The request was granted and Lafitte in many ways became a national hero. Jackson in fact wrote Lafitte a personal letter of gratitude as well, one Lafitte would always taken great pride in:

“I do an act of justice, and at the same time one very agreeable to my feelings to state the services you have rendered during the late invasion of your country…Sir, to one of those to whom the country is most indebted, I feel great pleasure in giving this testimony of your worth, and to add the sincere promise of my private friendship and high esteem.”

Personal thanks for Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson himself and the title of “Hero of New Orleans”? NBD. Just a day in the life of Jean Lafitte.

But, since most people are fucking assholes, rumors began to circulate that Lafitte was once again committing crimes, this time adding a number of murders to the list. Things became so ugly that Lafitte and his men thought it wise to depart their much-loved New Orleans, choosing to settle anew on Galveston Island, off of Texas.

For a time, he became a freelance privateer, working for Mexico to sink and steal from Spanish ships. This obviously pissed Spain off.

Unfortunately, America was also trying to make an alliance with Spain at the time, so American politicians being what they are, they totally ignored how Lafitte had fucking saved their asses and instead sent soldiers to tell Lafitte to either abandon his new island or be destroyed.

Once again, it was unwise to make Lafitte angry, as he simply torched his entire island, probably mooning the navy as he did so.

Did he die?

No. When the flames died down, the navy went to inspect the island and found all of Lafitte’s ships missing. Where he went from there, no one knows. Lafitte never again appears in any known history.

Maybe he is still out there. King of the Pirates, Badass of the Seas.