3Chris Ryan: The One That Got Away
Chris Ryan was a member of patrol Bravo Two Zero, an eight-man British Special Air Service patrol sent to infiltrate Iraq in the opening days of the first Gulf War. Their mission was to cut a buried fiber-optic cable in the desert that ran alongside a busy road.
As soon as they landed, things started to go wrong. They found out they had been dropped right next to an Iraqi Army base, but were unable to tell anyone because their radios stopped working. Then their hiding place was discovered by a goat herder, who ran off and told the Iraqi Army. Never trust a goat herder. Never.
Tell us that goat isn't getting fucked by one right now.
They were then attacked by several truckloads of Iraqi soldiers and ended up ditching most of their packs and gear in order to get away.
With no radio contact, the men decided to walk to Syria, which was 200 miles away across the desert. Unfortunately, at that exact moment, the desert decided to stop being a desert. Temperatures dropped to freezing, and it actually started snowing. Chris Ryan and two other men -- Vince Phillips and Malcolm MacGown -- got separated from the rest. The other five were all killed or captured by the pursuing Iraqi Army.
Ryan, Phillips and MacGown pressed on. None of them had brought any cold-weather gear, because, hey, you don't expect it to snow, especially in the desert, especially when you're only going to be there for a little while to cut some goddamned cable. After three days of this, Phillips started to lose it after lying in snow all day and developed hypothermia. He kept falling out of line, and finally wandered off at night and got lost. MacGown and Ryan decided that if they didn't leave him and keep going, all three of them would die. So they pressed on.
"Hey, MacGown? Remember that part of the application that asked if you'd ever been cursed by the devil?"
The next day, MacGown and Ryan were found by another goat herder. Ryan decided he'd had enough of this goat herder crap and drew a knife to stab the guy, but MacGown stopped him and instead decided to ask the man for food. The herder told MacGown to follow him, and led him straight to the Iraqi Army, who captured him and tortured him. Vintage goat herder bullshit.
Ryan continued on, but soon ran out of water and began to suffer from hypothermia and dehydration. After a few more days, he found what he thought was water in a stream and filled his canteen. When he drank it, he found that it was actually toxic waste from an industrial plant, because why the fuck not, right? Life's terrible sometimes.
"Possible cancer in 20 years or certain death now? Boy, that's a hard one."
Well, there must have been some magic in that toxic waste, because it filled Ryan with the superpower of not dying for just a little bit longer. He was almost dead when he came to the border fence; every joint in his body hurt, his feet were covered in sores and most of his friends had been killed as a result of dick-faced goat herders. He still had enough strength to climb over the barbed wire fence with his bare hands, which we imagine had to add at least a little more pain into the mix, but he made it over the border and into Syria, where a local family that had absolutely nothing to do with goats gave him food and water.
A year later, he was still making regular hospital visits for kidney failure and malnutrition due to his journey. He wasn't declared fit for duty for two years, although we're guessing he was declared fit for loads of sympathy sex much sooner than that.
Here he is, secreting military equipment instead of sweat.
2David Sillito Walks 180 Miles Through the Sahara Desert
David "Jack" Sillito was a British Special Air Service trooper in North Africa during World War II. When his unit was ambushed during a mission to bomb a German train in 1942, Sillito found himself left behind. At that point, he had three seemingly unique choices that all had one unifying theme that tied them together: Every option was awful. He could either surrender to the Germans, which was a terrible option in 1942 and would probably even suck today, as anyone who's ever eaten German food can confirm. He also had the option to walk along the coast and back to the safety of Allied lines, a great choice if you don't consider the fact that it was a 500-mile walk. So, he went with door number three, a 140-mile walk south to a cache of SAS supplies hidden at a wadi (valley). Unfortunately, this walk would take him right through the Sahara Desert. He only had a map and compass. No food, no water, and a shitload of desert.
At this point you'd start considering fascism just for the sauerkraut.
He survived the first two days on a tiny bit of water he found in a dead man's canteen on an old battlefield, and on day three he found a blown-up tank that had a can of beef still inside. Just the phrase "can of beef" is enough to make most people retch, but when you're on the verge of death by starvation, "tin can of beef retrieved from a blown-up tank" sounds like a freakin' delicacy. Unfortunately, when you're also on the verge of death by dehydration, your mouth is so dry that chewing becomes impossible. So he tossed the beef and kept the can so he could use it to drink his own urine. It sounds horrible, but in all fairness ... nope. No fairness here. It sounds horrible, because it was horrible. No question about it.
On day six, he saw three jeeps off in the distance, but couldn't call out to them because his voice was gone, and they didn't see him when he waved or ran, or even when he took off his shirt and set it right the fuck on fire. They kept on driving.
"I said, 'Can I get some?' He said, 'You can't get none.' I had a chance to run -- he pulled out his shotgun."
At this point, Sillito gave up. He lay down and picked up a rock and tried to smash his own head in with it. Sounds about right to us! But, as he said later, "I found I hadn't even the strength to commit suicide. I couldn't even give myself a headache." He then tried to bury himself in sand and die, but collapsed and fell asleep instead.
When he woke up, still alive, much to his dismay, he started walking again and, lo and behold, he found that wadi he had been looking for. Unfortunately, the supplies he was expecting to find weren't there. His only hope at that point was rain, which was unlikely. This is the Sahara Desert we're talking about; it often goes five years at a time without rain, so there's not much chance of that happening.
But not much chance clearly doesn't mean "no chance," because amazingly, at the point where he had given up all hope, it totally started raining. Sillito drank until he couldn't drink anymore and then fell asleep, waking up to the sounds of British troops rescuing his unspeakably lucky ass. He had survived eight days in the Sahara with no food and hardly any water, which is not even supposed to be scientifically possible. For his efforts, he was granted an honorable discharge and allowed to return home to his family.
"OK, that's enough -- get off me."
Just joking, pussy. He recovered and was back in combat in less than a month.