The 5 Ballsiest Ways Anyone Has Ever Switched Sides Mid-War

In every war, there are defectors. People who don't believe their side can win, who don't support the measures their side is taking, or who just don't like the color of their uniforms, and figure that if they're going to die, they're going to die in paisley, or nothing at all. You can brand them traitors, you can curse their names, you can execute them, but you can't say they didn't have balls...

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5
A Californian Bureaucrat Becomes President Of Somalia, Brings Peace To The Nation

Hussein Farrah Aidid immigrated to the United States from Somalia in 1979 at the age of 17 and, like many immigrants, became an American citizen. He decided to serve his new country by joining the U.S. Marine Corps, and Corporal Aidid served with honor in the Gulf War. He was then deployed to Somalia in 1993 as part of Operation Restore Hope -- because he was literally the only American Marine who spoke Somali.

PAS
Be honest -- you weren't sure till now that Somali is a language.

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During that time, Hussein's father, Mohamed Farrah Aidid, stayed in Somalia, became a general, went totally nuts, and took over a whole chunk of the country. Hussein originally served as a liaison between the U.S. military and his dad, but when the senior Aidid started ambushing UN Peacekeepers and became an official enemy of the United States, his son was sent back home to California, where he took up a job as a clerk in the West Covina Planning Department.

A few months later, U.S. Army Rangers swooped into Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, to capture General Aidid's top lieutenants during an a*****e convention at the Olympic Hotel. You know how well that turned out if you've seen the movie Black Hawk Down.

USASOC
It was like Zack Snyder and Michael Bay had a baby is what we're saying.

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When the battle was over, with catastrophic losses to the American side and one downed pilot captured, General Aidid promptly declared himself the President of Somalia. The next day, Hussein got one hell of an excuse to leave work early. Soldiers came to the West Covina planning department while Hussein was mapping bike paths and carted him off to a military base. A Marine commander then asked Hussein to write a letter asking his dad to, pretty please, release the captive pilot.

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Two years later, Hussein went home to visit his family, where his dad convinced him to stick around permanently and essentially become his Mini-Me. When General Aidid was betrayed and mortally wounded in a shootout, Hussein Farrah Aidid, the lowly West Covina office worker, was suddenly proclaimed interim president of Somalia. Considering the several challenges that he faced, such as civil war, famine, and his country not having anything remotely resembling a functioning government to be the president of, President Hussein Aidid did a really swell job. He quickly traded off some of his territory, forgave the group that killed his father, and even gave up title of "president," all in return for peace in the area. And, presumably, the best bike path network in Africa.

via alchetron.com
And Somalia never saw strife again.

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4
One Man Earns Military Honors In Three Separate Enemy Nations

Between 1939-1944, the Soviet Union's favorite pastime was repeatedly invading Finland, like that a*****e computer player in Civilization who just won't stop attacking you while you're trying to get a cultural victory. Commie-hating Finnish super soldier Lauri Torni became the commander of an elite ski-infantry unit that inexplicably existed, where he brought down such hellfire on the Soviets that he was awarded literally every medal the Finnish military had, and probably some extra ones they had to make up just for him.

Vuorenmaa Rönnqvist
He even nabbed the prestigious "Finnish him!" medal.

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Despite Torni's efforts, Finland lost the war. In 1944, the Finns surrendered to the U.S.S.R., and suddenly its military was forced to fight the same Nazis that they were previously allied with. Ordinarily, that would mean they were the good guys now, but war gets ... complicated.

Torni couldn't accept that, and defected to Nazi Germany so that he could keep fighting communists. Hitler was more than happy to make him a Hauptsturmfuhrer in the Waffen-SS, where he went right back to killing Soviets and winning medals. Maybe he just knew his strengths.

Leijonamieli Sarjanen
"Dislikes: Pinkos, Likes: Disliking Pinkos"

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After World War II ended, Torni again found himself a loose end, with his anti-commie blood-lust not yet sated, despite the tragic emergence of peace. He broke out of a British POW camp and headed home to Finland, where he was arrested for treason ... so he broke out of prison again and went to Sweden, then eventually moved to the United States, which granted him permanent residence through a special order of Congress -- once it was understood that he wasn't one of the bad, Jew-hating Nazis, but one of the good, Commie-hating Nazis.

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Complicated!

He soon enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private, because it turns out Waffen-SS promotions don't carry over like cell phone data plans. Of course, "Larry Thorne," as he now called himself, immediately began rising through the ranks and racking up U.S. Special Forces awards like Cub Scout merit badges. And of course, when America went in to Vietnam to kill communists, he stoically raised his hand and tried not to giggle.

Vesteri/Wiki Commons
"If you need me to stop by Cuba along the way, just sayin' ..."

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Real life doesn't always have a Hollywood ending, though. Major Thorne's helicopter anticlimactically crashed into a mountain on its way to Laos, and that was the end of him. But we like to imagine a post-credits stinger in which the first shots are fired against North Korea, and we pan to a military grave in Arlington Cemetery where a single hand suddenly bursts out of the dirt.

Jukkae/Wiki Commons
Somehow, he'll be wearing a British naval uniform.

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3
Two American Navy Seamen Hijack A Ship Full Of Napalm To Join The Khmer Rouge

Of all the archaic crimes still on the books, "mutiny" sounds the most exotic. Honestly, who mutinies anymore? That hasn't been done since what, 1790? Oh, sorry, our dyslexia's acting up. We meant 1970, when two American merchant seamen named Clyde McKay and Alvin Glatkowski committed the first act of mutiny on an American vessel in 150 years, causing NCIS to flip frantically through dusty law books trying to remember what to charge the bastards with.

U.S. Navy
All 557 NCIS episodes are based on this one incident.

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McKay and Glatkowski were strongly opposed to the Vietnam War, and they decided to do something about it, no matter how flailing and ineffectual their resistance might be. While working aboard the SS Columbia Eagle, which was laden with 4,500 tons of napalm and bound for Southeast Asia, the duo hijacked the ship with guns they had smuggled aboard and ordered it to change course for Cambodia.

Apparently, McKay and Glatkowski had it in their minds to join the Khmer Rouge regime. You know, the communist party so insane that even North Korea apologists won't stick up for it. Hey, if you're gonna commit treason anyway, might as well go all out. Despite what Arrested Development said, there's no such thing as "light" treason.

via libcom.org
Luckily for them, Lauri Torni was dead by this time.

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The turncoats dumped the rest of the crew in lifeboats to fend for themselves in the Gulf of Thailand, and then continued on toward the dystopian bloodworld that was Pol Pot's Cambodia. When the Navy came after them, they threatened to blow up the ship's immense napalm cargo if they were boarded. That uh ... worked. When they made it to Cambodian waters, the U.S. Navy withdrew, and the mutineers were taken into custody by whatever gaggle of maniacs the Cambodians still had for a government by that time. Glatkowski was eventually sent back to the U.S.A. to be charged, but the fate of McKay has never been known. And we don't mean to put an optimistic shine on that, we just mean that we don't know which of the million skeletons in the Cambodian Killing Fields is his.

DerFussi/Wiki Commons
Our money's on no-jaw in the back.

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2
Hitler's Second In Command Jumps Out Of A Plane To Bring Peace To The U.K.

Rudolf Hess was the Deputy Fuhrer of Nazi Germany as well as Hitler's best friend and right-hand man -- all things considered, the kind of person voted "least likely to flee Germany on an unsanctioned peacekeeping mission." And then a farmer captured Hess with a pitchfork, stumbling alone around a field in Scotland, quite some distance west of where Hess was supposed to be.

Imperial War Museum
"And you'll have to share a bed with my only daughter, a flagrant anti-Semite."

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Hess had an inexplicable change of heart in 1941, and stole a Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighter plane from the Luftwaffe. He flew to Scotland, bailed out of his perfectly good airplane (remember: flying's easy; landing's hard), and was soon captured. Hess asked to speak to British officials that he figured would be receptive to his message of peace. Of course, Hess's version of "peace" wasn't a live-and-let-live treaty, but more like "let us continue to march across Europe murdering all the Jews and black people, please. Oh wait, pretty please." It wasn't the most enticing offer, so the British government typed it up on their invisible typewriters and then sent Hess directly to a POW camp before going right back to shooting Nazis.

U.S. Army Signal Corps
Keep Calm, And Ignore The Aryan Madman.

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When Hitler heard the news, he had one of his rare human moments, expressing grief over his BFF's betrayal. Then he went right back to being Hitler, ordering that Hess be shot on sight if he ever returned to Germany. After the war, Hess was charged at the Nuremberg trials, along with all the other surviving Nazi leaders. That's not to say they didn't show him a little mercy for his efforts -- instead of executing him, they just sent him to prison for the rest of his life.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 146II-849 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Which ended once he got his hands on an extension cord. At 93.

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1
A U.S. Army Private Defects To North Korea, Becomes A Movie Star

In 1962, Private James Joseph "Joe" Dresnok, stationed on the south side of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, was depressed. His wife had just left him, and he was completely disillusioned by his life in the U.S. military, which consisted of watching an empty DMZ on the off chance that the wrong kind of Korean would come strolling across the goddamn minefield for some reason. Also, the food sucked ass. So, one night, he decided to do something we shall politely call "unwise." He defected to North Korea. North Korea.

U.S. Army
Where there's way less terrible food (or any food).

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To pull it off, he simply had to go strolling across that goddamn minefield we mentioned earlier. But hell, he was depressed enough that the very good chance of becoming an airborne rain of dog chow didn't deter him. He wandered off toward that certain death, and his silhouette on the horizon was the last anyone saw of him.

Until 2006, that is, when British filmmakers Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner, two of the very few foreigners who are allowed to film in North Korea, came face to face with the miraculously still-alive Joe Dresnok. According to the filmmakers, "It would have been less surprising to meet Elvis Presley."

BBC
Kim Jung-Il only lets Elvis out once a year.

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Surprising, perhaps, to the outside world, but not to North Koreans. It turns out that Joe Dresnok is one of the biggest movie stars in North Korea. See, the DPRK does have a film industry, though pretty much all of the movies they produce are anti-American state propaganda, and none of them are rated very highly on Netflix. Because they're not on Netflix. Or anywhere else outside of North Korea, for that matter. But being one of the very few white people in the country, Dresnok is a very valuable asset to the industry. He's the token bad guy. But, like the late Christopher Lee, that doesn't mean that he's any less beloved by fans.

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Dresnok has fathered two adult sons during his life in the DPRK, Ted and James, after marrying maybe the only white woman in the country -- a former Romanian, who may or may not have been abducted by North Korea for the express purpose of giving Dresnok a white wife. When they're not spouting propaganda on the state-controlled media, Ted and James are themselves filling the much-needed roles of white-people-who-get-killed-by-North-Korean-ninjas in Koreawood blockbusters. Happy ending?

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Zachary Frey is a Sophomore at Cornell University, and you can read his 10 most recent articles here.

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