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#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.

#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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