Ground Zero Left Behind Depressed Rescue Dogs
After the collapse of the Twin Towers, thousands of emergency responders, search-and-rescue experts, military personnel, and charity workers descended on "The Pile" in the hopes of finding survivors. Over the next day, they found 20 people, and no more after that.
The mental and physical toll of working the site hit a lot of responders hard -- including dozens of search-and-rescue dogs who spent weeks climbing over (and through) innumerable piles of rubble. See, these dogs had been trained to associate finding survivors with being good boys and girls. When no survivors emerged, that meant they (in their own minds) were failures, which led to several being diagnosed with canine depression.
In order to spur the dogs onward, handlers would arrange for firefighters to hide inside rubble piles (out of view of the public), and thus give them something to find and feel good about. The dogs were also given as much love and attention as they could stand to receive -- which wasn't hard to come by, seeing as off-duty first responders would flock to off-duty dogs and convert their sadness, despair, and nihilism into hugs, kisses, and ruffles.
Andrea Booher/FEMA Hold up, we need to take a break for a minute. There's something in our eye. Specifically, tears.
The Pile wasn't just mentally taxing on the dogs; it was physically taxing too. Although the dogs (and their handlers) were working areas that'd been declared safe by a structural engineer, that couldn't protect them from a litany of minor injuries, like cuts, irritation to their eyes and paws, dehydration, back problems, and sickness. A team of veterinarians was on site to ensure the dogs were healthy and being looked after. It's a testament to their hardiness, though, that out of all the strain they suffered, only one ever required surgical attention (for a lacerated foot) and went on to have zero long-term health problems.
The U.S. Army Buried Iraqi Soldiers Alive During the Gulf War
On February 24, 1991, the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army marched across the Iraqi border with the intention of planting a regulation boot up Saddam Hussein's urethra. Although the invasion wound up being such an overwhelming success that a pity ceasefire was declared only four days later, it was still a pretty dangerous situation -- not because they were outgunned or outmanned, but because they were charging an enemy who'd had time to carve out defensive positions.
The 1st Infantry, faced with the prospect of systemically clearing miles of defensive trenches between them and their objective, attached plows to the front of their tanks, drove right up to the enemy trenches, and buried them under hundreds of tons of sand and dirt. By driving parallel to the trenches, the plows filled them in seconds, engulfing the soldiers within. In all, anywhere between 80 and 250 Iraqis were buried alive, while an armored vehicle accompanying the plowtank machine-gunned anyone who returned fire.