We really don't get enough stories about incompetent soldiers. Think about it: It's a real disservice to war heroes if we never give people anything to compare them to. The very reason bravery and quick wits under fire are to be celebrated is because they're rare.
So let's take a moment to celebrate some of the hilariously stupid shit that goes on in the name of war.
5The Australian Army Loses to Emus
In 1932, Australian farmers had a problem: A gigantic flock of birds had migrated into their land and were obliterating their wheat crops. And this being Australia, these particular birds were unlikely to be intimidated by a dude made of straw and old clothes. They were emus: flightless, 6-foot-tall eating machines that had decided to take over the local farmlands. And there were 20,000 of them.
The situation quickly escalated to the point where you could barely see the fields from scores of Big Birds lounging around. And since the problem was downright cartoonish, the farmers opted to solve it in an appropriately Wile E. Coyotesque way: They asked for military assistance.
That is how Major G.P.W. Meredith of the Royal Australian Artillery found himself leading two regiments of battle-hardened soldiers, complete with some big-ass heavy machine guns, to unleash hell on a bunch of helpless birds.
And thus began Bird War One.
This did not go well.
The very first clash of the operation proved that the emus were gifted in the art of guerrilla tactics in a way that would make the Jurassic Park velociraptors break out into spontaneous applause. Herding them together for easy pickings proved near impossible, and they scattered in every direction the second the first bullets flew. Only a handful of birds succumbed to the worst hail of bullets the troops could offer -- the others vanished into the scenery without a trace. What's more, many of the birds that ran away with zero difficulty had clearly sustained hits. They just didn't give a shit about bullets.
"I've got more balls in my beak than your whole damn battalion!"
Meredith, in no doubt the proudest moment of his military career, decided to set up a proper military ambush at a local dam in order to surprise a group of 1,000 emus. Once again, the birds scattered and slipped away. This scenario repeated itself until Meredith's I've-Had-Enough-of-This-Shit-O-Meter reached critical levels. He mounted one of the machine guns on the back of a truck in order to hunt the emus down and just flat out drive-by the bastards, gangsta style.
The emus easily outran the truck and led it over such rough terrain that the gunner didn't even manage a single shot. The chase ended when the truck crashed through a fence, because at that point the universe was just throwing Looney Tunes tropes at them. Having had their share of humiliation, the weary soldiers had no option but to admit defeat after a week's combat. The score: 10,000 fired rounds and less than 1,000 dead emus. Here's what Meredith had to say about his avian enemy:
"If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds, it would face any army in the world. They could face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks."
"You think I'm afraid of you? I eat my own shit, boy!"
Are you imagining a war fought entirely with armed emus? Let's all take a few minutes to do that now.
4Pilots Dip Their Choppers in a Lake ... for Facebook
To even be allowed behind the stick of a military aircraft, you have to prove yourself to be a confident, level-headed type who won't steal a plane and go strafe your ex-girlfriend's house. So when two experienced Navy helicopter pilots had a close encounter with Lake Tahoe in 2010, causing half a million dollars' worth of damage, everybody wondered just what went wrong. It's all on video, and it looks like it could have been much worse than it was:
The helicopters are hovering over the water, and then one suddenly takes a dip, like a giant Oreo made of spinning blades. To be clear, the machines are in no way designed to do that -- what you're seeing is a helicopter pilot's near-death experience. So what could have caused two highly trained pilots to surface-hover with a chopper model that's not even designed for such activity? Were they attempting some kind of crazy rescue attempt?
It was a military training exer- wait, what?
Facebook. It was Facebook.
The pilots dunked their multimillion-dollar aircraft in the lake while attempting to take cool pictures to post on their Facebook wall.
In what may be the strangest case of a simultaneous brainfart in military history, both pilots decided to neglect this whole "flying" thing in favor of holding their camera phones with one hand and attempting to make a duckface. As a result, the two helicopters rapidly lost altitude and took a swim. Luckily, they were both able to regain altitude and get back to base, with enough damage to the aircraft to wipe out all of the federal taxes you'll ever pay.
It's OK though, that money probably would have been wasted on body armor or wounded veterans anyway.
After a no doubt interesting investigation, both pilots were stripped of their flight status. Presumably, they also had to stick with that boring old profile picture of them using a submarine periscope as a bong.