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As always, the point of these articles is not to glorify war, which is horrible, but to appreciate the men and women who, in the midst of the horror, became superhuman.

It's not just that the people on this list were brave, or even crazy. It's that they seemed to be fighting a real war with the same selfless abandon with which you'd fight in a video game. The difference being, if you saw any of these happen in a game you'd call bullshit:

(Humans aren't the world's only war heroes. Get The De-Textbook for inspiring tales of dogs saving platoons, fighting alligators, and running back and forth across no man's land.)

6
Michael J. Fitzmaurice Jumps on a Grenade, Keeps Fighting

Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

The Man:

A specialist fourth class (U.S. Army) who was tasked with guarding an airstrip at a Marine base in Khe Sanh, South Vietnam.

The Badass:

Michael Fitzmaurice had just returned from guard duty and was settling in to his bunker when the base came under heavy artillery and mortar fire. This was followed by the attack of charging North Vietnamese suicide bombers (or "sappers"), quickly turning the base into a pretty darn convincing imitation of Hell.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Fitzmaurice and his men had barely managed to fire off a few rounds at the enemy before the Vietnamese sappers threw three grenades into his bunker. Fitzmaurice grabbed two of the grenades and tossed them back outside, but knew he was running out of time on the third. So he jumped on it and covered it with his flak jacket. Yes, just like Captain America.

Nick Del Calzo via MSNBC
If he was played by Mr. Belvedere.

You have to realize that no one dives on a live grenade with any expectation of life afterward, and Fitzmaurice was no exception. Incredibly, though, he did survive, although not unscathed (See: fucking grenade). The flak vest kept him from becoming a Jackson Pollock painting, but he still suffered severe shrapnel wounds, partial blindness, and partial deafness due to ruptured eardrums.

His immediate reaction to becoming violently deaf and blind was to have a word with the people responsible, and that word was the sound of enraged gunfire. Fitzmaurice jumped out of his hole and began firing on the enemy, aiming with the help of a nearby soldier who shouted target locations to him. He fired until the enemy threw yet another grenade at him.

US Army via Home of Heroes
If you kill him, you'll just make him mad!

The grenade, apparently not being made of Kryptonite, managed only to destroy Fitzmaurice's rifle. That was OK, though, because he still had his bare hands. After he murdered one armed enemy soldier with only his fists, the other attackers finally retreated and presumably drank themselves to death trying to forget the time they barely survived a Punisher storyline.

5
Matt L. Urban Earns a Badass Nickname From the Enemy

AzmanJaka/iStock/Getty Images

The Man:

A U.S. Army officer who in 1989 was named the most decorated soldier in U.S. history.

US Army via Polish American Congress
Among his awards: Most Likely to Be Mistaken for Vincent Price.

The Badass:

Matt Urban was nicknamed "The Ghost" by his German enemies during WWII for his quirky habit of coming back from shit that would kill 10 normal men. We could end this article right here and let your imagination fill in the details, but you probably wouldn't even come close to the insane truth.

His campaign of carnage began in June 1944 in France, when his company came up against a German unit with machine guns and tanks. But where his men probably saw panzer death tractors with cannons mounted on them, Urban saw some odds he really liked. Snatching up a bazooka, he dodged roughly a million bullets and blew up two of the tanks. Later, while still in the fight, Urban unfortunately took a 37mm tank-gun round to the leg. However, shrugging that shit off, he continued leading his men through to the next day, when, in a different attack, he suffered a second wound and was evacuated ... but only briefly.

Imperial War Museum via Wikipedia
"Wait, this isn't the way to Berlin!"

For you see, while recovering from his wounds in an English hospital, Urban learned that his unit had suffered severe casualties in Normandy. So he left the hospital and hitchhiked/limped back to rejoin his men. By the time he'd reached them, they were under heavy enemy fire with two of their tanks destroyed and a third left unmanned. Literally having to support himself with a cane due to his badly injured legs, Urban manned a machine gun (completely exposing himself to the enemy) and covered his men as they climbed into the tank and rained fire and death on the Germans.

Days later, possibly worrying that his reputation as an immortal was in danger, Urban strategically took a bunch of shrapnel to the chest and survived. Unfortunately, the unbreakable captain finally ran out of luck when he got shot in the fucking neck and- Wait, what? He actually survived that, and despite losing his voice, led his men to victory, survived the war, and lived for another 51 years?!

White House via Toledo Blade
Urban explaining to President Carter that the hug is over when he says it's over.

Well, that's all well and good for him, but what about all of those mentally scarred Germans who probably kept checking under their bed for The Ghost well into their nineties?

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4
John P. Bobo Fights Through Losing a Leg

Oleg Zabielin/iStock/Getty Images

The Man:

A Marine second lieutenant who served as a weapons platoon commander during the Vietnam War.

The Badass:

While serving in the Quang Tri Province in Vietnam, John Bobo was ordered to get the jump on some enemies by setting up night ambush sites. Unfortunately, the North Vietnamese had the exact same idea, and ambushed the ambushing American troops. They blew off Bobo's right leg with a mortar round in the process.

US Marine Corps via Wikipedia
Severely pissing off Bobo, who had just shined his boots.

This would normally end a man's participation in a battle, or anything else. But instead of getting as far away from the slaughter as possible, John P. Bobo decided to get angry.

Refusing to evacuate, he ordered his men to drag his body to a tactical position and just roughly point him toward people to kill. Lacking a tourniquet, he wrapped a web belt around the remains of his leg, and after seeing this wasn't working to his satisfaction, Bobo utilized the lesser-known practice in field medicine known as "sticking your mangled body part into the dirt to stop the bleeding and die just a little bit slower."

Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty
This treatment has not been evaluated by the FDA, but holy shit it is badass.

He then drew up his rifle and started laying fiery devastation onto the enemy. Although mortally wounded, Bobo fucked the enemy up so badly that his last stand inspired his men to hold the NVA at bay until the command group could settle into a protective position and ultimately repel the attack. Bobo was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery and presumably forever cursed a patch of enemy terrain by rage-bleeding into it.

3
Dirk J. Vlug Really Hates Tanks

Australian Armed Forces via Wikipedia

The Man:

A private first class in the U.S. Army serving in the Philippines during WWII.

The Badass:

The year was 1944. Dirk Vlug and his men were manning a roadblock when shit got serious, with Vlug's unit encountering a group of Japanese armored death machines (known in layman's terms as tanks). Immediately, Vlug dashed into the open, scooped up a rocket launcher and went to work. Alone, and under the metal hellstorm of machine gun fire, he loaded and aimed the launcher, snapped off an awesome one-liner (hopefully), and blew up the first tank and everyone inside it with one shot.

US Army via Wikipedia
Tanks for smoking!

The crew of the second tank saw Vlug holding his newly emptied weapon and came to the hilariously inaccurate assumption that he was now helpless. Apparently forgetting that they were in a goddamn tank, they opened the hatch and started dismounting to attack him. Vlug drew his pistol and blasted the first guy away, sending the rest back into the supposed safety of their heavily armored vehicle. This also turned out to be a poor decision, which became deadly apparent once Vlug loaded his second rocket and destroyed the tank.

He then did it again, and again, and again, continuing to blast away enemy tanks as if they were ducks at a carnival shooting gallery. With his last rocket, Vlug even managed to blast the fifth tank down a steep embankment, just to give the crew inside it some extra seconds of sheer panic as they plummeted to their deaths in a gigantic steel coffin, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade-style.

White House via Find-a-Grave
And Vlug didn't even have a horse.

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2
Robert S. Scott Shows What One Man Can Do (With a Shitload of Grenades)

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Man:

A second lieutenant in the U.S. Army who in July 1943 found himself on the Solomon Islands as part of a co-op Army and Marine invasion. Their mission was simple: to capture a key airstrip that was under the control of the numerically inferior Imperial Japanese Army. What could possibly go wrong?

US Navy via Wikipedia
"I wouldn't even bring your weapons. They'll probably just surrender."

The Badass:

Not only did the island turn out to have some of the worst terrain in the entire Pacific theater, it was also littered with so many camouflaged concrete guard posts that it took Robert Scott's troops nearly a month to travel only seven miles. But once they finally got within spitting distance of the coveted airstrip, Scott's men suddenly discovered new reserves of energy within themselves. Then they immediately used that energy to retreat and abandon their leader as Japanese soldiers sprang forth from hidden dugouts and charged at the seemingly defenseless Scott. That was their first mistake.

Using a tree stump for cover, Scott opened fire on the enemy with his carbine. He kept jacking up enemies until his carbine was shot out of his hand, along with a significant portion of said hand. He then took some shrapnel to the head. The Japanese figured this was a perfect time to finish off the single American soldier, which turned out to be their second, and last, mistake.

US Army via Mishalov
He beat them to death with his chin.

Left without a carbine, Scott pulled out his impressive grenade reserve and started hurling one explodey-pineapple after another at the enemy, steadily ignoring the frenzied enemy fire directed at him, and destroying the dugouts with deadly accuracy. He kept this up for 30 minutes, which apparently was the amount of time needed for his men to absorb Scott's residual badassity and rejoin the fight.

Eventually, Scott and his men won the battle and later found 28 dead Japanese soldiers in the dugouts. Considering he was believed to have thrown 30 grenades total, this pretty much makes Robert Scott the first historically confirmed grenade sniper.

1
Milunka Savic Pretends to Be a Man, Out-Badasses Them All

JOHN GOMEZ/iStock/Getty Images

The Woman:

A Serbian farmer born in the late 19th century who was pretty much a European Mulan. After her brother was drafted at the onset of World War I, she disguised herself as a man and took his place in the Serbian army.

Serbian Army via Wien International
Her brother, meanwhile, sat at the kids table.

The Badass:

Milunka Savic's first act of total badassery came at the Battle of Kolubara, where she ran through no-man's land between the fronts throwing hand grenades, jumped into the Austrian trenches with a bayonet, and -- still alone -- captured 20 soldiers. The fact that they'd just been captured by a woman must have really hurt the Austrian soldiers' pride, but they got off easily because at least they weren't taken prisoner by Savic during her toilet break. That happened during the Battle of Crna Reka, when Savic went to the nearby forest to do her business, but then mistakenly returned to the wrong trench. She realized that she was among 23 Bulgarian soldiers including officers, and she decided to do the most rational thing in that situation: just capture them all. Which she did. Again, you can imagine their confusion.

It's important to point out that by then Savic's superiors already knew she had lady parts. But she had previously managed to fight through the whole First Balkan War and attain the rank of corporal without anyone discovering she was a woman (only after she was wounded in the chest and taken to a field hospital did her secret come out).

Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
"You need to go do some push-ups or something because your pecs are flabby as hell."

Now, at the time, this was as monocle-droppingly unorthodox as you could get, so it was quickly decided that Savic must leave the army and become a nurse. Deciding that that would really cut into her Enemy Stabbin' time, she refused the offer and stubbornly waited in front of her superiors' building until they let her fight. They caved in about an hour later, allowing Savic to eventually become the most-decorated female combatant in the entire history of warfare.

In her career Savic was wounded a total of nine times -- everything from bullet wounds to shrapnel to the head -- and earned top military decorations from France, Russia, the U.K., and Serbia. Oh, and after the war she also managed to raise a daughter and three war orphans.

Serbian Army via Wien International
And survived 10 months in a Nazi concentration camp.

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As 2013 draws to a close, be sure to check out Cracked's year in review because, well, we know you don't remember it half as well as you think.

Related Reading: For a look at the most badass things ever SAID by soldiers in war, click here. You won't believe what Napoleon said to the army pointing guns at him. If you're more interested in the greatest pranks in wartime, this is the article to read. Curious about which celebrities were badass war heroes? We've got that covered, too.

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