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One bit of realism that corny '80s action movies brought to cinema is the one-liner: as we have mentioned before, soldiers have a surprising way with words when it comes to those badass boasts we all wish we could think of with when faced with a threatening situation. Not only do they have ample ability to come up with zingers, they often manage to chuck them out with deadly accuracy while staring death right in the eye until its bony balls shrivel and it skulks away grumbling.

With that, here's the latest installment in our series "Holy shit, people actually talk like action heroes in real life?"

5
"Well, buddy, just pull your tank in behind me. I'm the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going!"

US Army

The Situation:

The 325th Glider Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division had an insane job, even by WWII standards. Their task was to haul supplies to paratroopers, using gliders that were made out of freaking plywood. This is a material not known for its bullet-deflecting capabilities, and the gliders had a habit of suddenly plummeting to the Earth due to the heavy weight of the cargo. They were basically designed for crashing, with the pilot hanging on with little-to-no control and hoping like hell that the landing would be gentle enough to not break his spine.

US Army
"Oh, yeah, we need a 'pilot' for this thing, ummmmm ... you."

Despite this, the Glider Infantry Regiment saw a lot of action in WWII. They glided into Italy, they glided into the Normandy Invasion on D-Day, and they glided into battle at Nijmegen in the Netherlands. That's a lot of times to voluntarily crash an aircraft into a live battlefield.

In November 1944, the 325th embarked on a reprieve when they and the rest of the 82nd Airborne Division were sent to France for some well-deserved R&R. This lasted barely a month. In December, the Germans launched a surprise offensive, catching the Allies completely off guard in what would be known as the Battle of the Bulge. Despite lacking ammunition and being generally unprepared for the harsh winter, the 82nd were sent to the Ardennes Forest in Belgium to reinforce the line. It was here that tanks from the 3rd Armored Division were retreating from the overwhelming German advance. They came upon a private first class from the 325th, in the process of digging a foxhole. As the tank rolled by him, the PFC inquired: "Are you looking for a safe place?"

US Army
"These tanks are fragile!"

"Yeah," said the tank commander. The man answered:

"Well, buddy, just pull your tank in behind me. I'm the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going!"

The Aftermath:

This comment from a professional plywood-crash-flying dude burrowing into ground with a shovel to a man sitting in a goddamn tank was so badass, no one bothered to write down the tank commander's reply. As such, we're forced to assume that the tank commander gratefully parked his vehicle where the PFC told him to, and the tank itself spent the rest of the war following the guy around like a loyal dog.

What we do know is that the troops the 82nd joined managed to hold their position despite overwhelming odds and decimated two German divisions. They wound up an occupying force in Berlin, and are known today as America's Guard of Honor.

US Army
It was easier to fit on to a patch than "Archduke Emeritus of Ass-Upon-Kickington."

4
"Goddamn it! You'll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole. Follow me!"

US Army

The Situation:

On Jan. 10, 1942, the soldiers and marines fighting in Guadalcanal were given the straightforward mission to attack and destroy the Japanese forces remaining in the area.

Wargamer
"And if you wouldn't mind mopping up some of these other areas ..."

As most "simple" wartime orders tend to go, this was far easier said than done. The Japanese army was not exactly a group of boy scouts: they were dug in, giving ground slowly and only after much bloodshed. Members of the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines found this out the hard way, when they were halted by an extensive enemy emplacement, including no less than seven machine-gun nests. Things looked grim, until Captain Henry P. Crowe gathered half a dozen Marines who were taking cover from enemy fire and bellowed:

"Goddamn it! You'll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole. Follow me!"

US Marine Corps
"Yeah, but we also won't get a bullet."

The Purple Heart, as you probably know, is awarded only for the specific act of being wounded in battle -- it's not the sort of thing even a hero aspires to. Which means this wonderful rallying cry basically translated to "Come on guys, let's go get shot!"

The Aftermath:

Crowe knew his audience: these were motherfucking Marines he was giving a pep talk to. The men shrugged; said, "Good point"; and rushed right the hell forth with Crowe. They destroyed the enemy emplacement, paving the way for the rest of the Marines to continue their mission. Two guesses as to whether they ultimately succeeded.

US Marine Corps
He died in '91, his mustache in '99.

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3
"Casualties many; percentage of dead not known; combat efficiency: we are winning."

US Marine Corps

The Situation:

When we eventually figure out time travel and companies start offering pre-packaged time slots they think we'd enjoy visiting, the 1943 Battle of Tarawa of WWII's Pacific front is undoubtedly going to end up in the bargain bin. A notoriously shitty arena, Tarawa marked the first time the U.S. faced heavy resistance during an amphibious landing. Granted, the American troops outnumbered the Japanese troops nearly 10-to-1, but as we mentioned above, the well-equipped and fortified Japanese army didn't really have surrender in their playbook.

The well-prepared Japanese mowed through thousands of soldiers in the span of just 76 hours, and were clearly prepared to fight to the last man. It was the first such scenario the Americans had encountered on the Pacific front. The situation seemed catastrophic -- men were dropping like flies, and after days of battle, it looked like there would be no way to win.

Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
"The only thing you have to fear is ... me, if you fuck this up."

It was under such circumstances that Colonel David M. Shoup of the 2nd Marines had to deliver a progress report to his superiors. Most men would have sent this in the form of a concise, accurate "Aaaaaaaargh!" followed by the faint stench of pooped pants. However, Shoup was not most men. His report went as follows:

"Casualties many; percentage of dead not known; combat efficiency: we are winning."

US Marine Corps
"P.S.: fuck yeah, America!"

Just to be clear: that wasn't at all true (anywhere but in Shoup's mind, at least). He wasn't giving a status report: he was making a promise.

The Aftermath:

After four days of fighting and thousands of dead on both sides, the U.S. Marines finally took the island while everyone back at home shat a collective brick of surprise. Only 17 out of the nearly 4,000 Japanese defenders surrendered, and all the U.S. had to show for their losses was a tiny island in the middle of nowhere ... and, luckily, a newfound Badass Supreme in Colonel Shoup. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role at Tarawa and eventually promoted to the rank of four-star general.

US Marine Corps
"Five stars, would massacre-fight my way through again."

2
"Here I come!"

Airborne & Special Operations Museum via Army Times

The Situation:

During the Korean War, Corporal Rodolfo Hernandez and his 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team were given the unenviable mission of defending Hill 420 against an overwhelming enemy force. On top of being forced to defend a patch of land that sounds like a hangout for stoners, Hernandez's men immediately began to take a heavy artillery barrage intended to turn his platoon into a Jackson Pollock painting. Then the enemy ground troops advanced, and under absurd amounts of fire Hernandez's comrades started to withdraw due to a lack of ammunition. Of course, the man himself elected to stay in his foxhole and continue firing at the oncoming horde, despite being peppered nonstop with shrapnel.

And then his rifle stopped working.

US Marine Corps
"I regret this decision!"

Despite the clear signs that at this point the Universe was using its best Murphy's Law boots to kick his life right in the dick, Hernandez didn't want to go out like a quitter. So he leapt out of his foxhole and shouted:

"Here I come!"

Then he did just that.

People's Liberation Army
"Who the fuck is 'Leroy Jenkins'?"

The Aftermath:

Hernandez charged the advancing enemy troops, armed with nothing but his bayonet and, when it was eventually taken away from him, his fists and feet. He killed six men and managed to temporarily halt the enemy's advance with his one-man murder tornado, thus allowing his unit to regroup and eventually retake the hill.

Of course, such badass antics come with a price. During his one-man charge, Hernandez took a bayonet to the face, was shot, and was further shredded with shrapnel. The medics were totally sure the human hamburger Hernandez had become was a goner ... until they saw him move his finger. Since reports aren't clear, we can only presume it was his middle one, challenging the Universe to throw more his way.

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
"I can file this nail really sharp!"

It didn't. Hernandez survived the war, became a respected hero, and died peacefully at age 82.

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1
Every Goddamn Thing Norman D. Cota Said at Omaha Beach

US Army

The Situation:

When D-Day rolled around, Omaha Beach got the most action. Of course, being in the spot with the "most action" is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how nuts you are. This brings us to Brigadier General Norman D. Cota, who clearly thought it was awesome.

US Army
He had his middle initial changed in preparation for the invasion.

He arrived with the second wave of attack and came under intense enemy fire almost immediately. Upon seeing that a ton of Allied troops were shell-shocked and unable to advance, he took it upon himself to motivate them ... by walking up and down the battlefield and dealing out action-hero one-liners. First, he strolled up to a meeting with a nearby commander and inquired which outfit they were. They were the 5th Rangers, they said, to which Cota barked:

"Well, goddamn it then, Rangers, lead the way!"

US Army
"Wait, what? Nobody says that. That's not a thing."

They did, and "Rangers Lead the Way" remains the motto of the Rangers to this day. After single-handedly motivating an entire military branch for all of eternity, Cota strode across the beach to a group of men pinned down at a sand dune. To them, he said:

"Gentlemen, we are being killed on the beaches. Let us go inland and be killed."

US Army
"Last one to survive has to dig all the graves!"

And somehow that worked. Cota (who, incidentally, was one of the most high-ranking men on the beach and therefore a desired-as-shit target) led the men up an embankment to destroy a German gun nest, gleefully charging ahead like he'd swallowed an invincibility power-up. At one point, he even managed to race ahead of his younger men. When they finally caught up to him, he was standing there twirling his .45 on his finger. Yeah, he was that kind of guy.

The next day, the Allies were fanning out, but the Germans were still putting up a fierce defense. Many were hunkered down in farmhouses, firing from behind stonewalls and buildings. It was at one such farmhouse that Cota came upon a group of American infantrymen who were unable to proceed. Cota found the captain in charge and asked why they weren't attacking the house. The captain replied, "Sir, the Germans are in there, shooting at us."

Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty
All the swastikas had led a number of soldiers to believe they would be fighting Buddhists.

Cota, figuratively putting on his teaching hat, and literally pulling out his teaching grenades, said:

"Well, I'll tell you what, captain. You and your men start shooting at them. I'll take a squad of men and you and your men watch carefully. I'll show you how to take a house with Germans in it."

The Aftermath:

Cota and that goddamn squad of men goddamn took that goddamn house. As his men tossed grenades through the window, Cota himself kicked in the front door and threw his grenades inside, waited, and charged in. The surviving Germans were unable to handle the combined awesomeness of explosions and Cota looming in the doorway, and they wisely opted to run for their lives.

US Army
"I only managed to put 'strampeln mich' signs on three of them before they got away. No excuse, sir."

Having achieved a goal most younger (and saner) men would have thought impossible outside a Call of Duty game, Cota went to the captain and said: "You've seen how to take a house. Do you understand? Do you know how to do it now?"

"Yes, sir," said the captain, presumably still trying to write it all down in his spiral notebook.

"Well, I won't be around to do it for you again. I can't do it for everybody."

US Army
Which is how General Cota came to invent TED Talks.

Then, Cota dropped the mic and walked away in slow motion as Omaha Beach exploded behind him.


For more badass military quotes, check out Jacopo's earth-shaking debut novel THE GREAT ABRAHAM LINCOLN POCKET WATCH CONSPIRACY! When he isn't screaming sick one-liners in the faces of random strangers, Jorden Weir likes to promote his wife's new photography business, which you can Like on Facebook!

For more total badasses, check out The 5 Most Badass War Heroes Who Never Held a Weapon and The 5 Most Badass Medics in the History of War.

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