If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose? Personally, I’d pick someone super boring so I could easily impress them with all my stories of times I said hello to a famous actor in a bookstore.
Other people, however, seem to want someone interesting or “historically relevant” to listen to over a meal. To each their own.
History lovers on Reddit took to the r/AskReddit forum to answer a question: “Who is the most badass person in history?”
From the obscure to the world-renowned, answers rolled in. I, for one, am in the middle of a book about Winston Churchill who I thought was tough until I realized he took two baths and a nap each day while leading the country during the Blitz. The cigars are still cool, though.
Here are the best answers to the question: “Who would you consider as the toughest person in history?”
1. Witold Pilecki
“He was a polish resistance fighter who voluntarily went to auschwitz to get intel on what was happening and then proceeded to escape, survived the war and was later executed by the USSR.” –treatyofparis1
2. Helge Meyer
“He was also known as ‘God’s Rambo.’ A danish special forces officer who bought a 1972 Camaro and turned it into an uparmored beast so he could deliver humanitarian aid in war torn Yugoslavia during the civil war and ethnic cleansing.” –FloridianCaesar
3. Senator Daniel Inouye
“In 1943, when the US Army dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese Americans, Inouye curtailed his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the Army. He volunteered to be part of the segregated all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This army formation was mostly made up of second-generation Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.
Inouye was promoted to sergeant within his first year, and he was assigned as a platoon sergeant. He served in Italy in 1944 during the Rome-Arno Campaign before his regiment was transferred to the Vosges Mountains region of France, where he spent two weeks in the battle to relieve the Lost Battalion, a battalion of the 141st Infantry Regiment that was surrounded by German forces. He received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant for his actions there, becoming the youngest officer in his regiment.
At one point while he was leading an attack, a shot struck him in the chest directly above his heart, but the bullet was stopped by the two silver dollars he happened to have stacked in his shirt pocket. He continued to carry the coins throughout the war in his shirt pocket as good luck charms, until he lost them shortly before the battle in which he lost his arm.”
Did you think we were done with this guy? Think again…
“On April 21, 1945, Lt. Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily defended ridge near San Terenzo in Liguria, Italy, called the Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint of the German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, the last and most unyielding line of German defensive works in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach.
Ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and his Thompson submachine gun. When informed of the severity of his wound, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.”
Surely, that must be it. Nope. It goes on.
“As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, coming within 10 yards. As he raised himself on his left elbow and cocked his right arm to throw his last hand grenade, a German soldier saw Inouye and fired a 30 mm Schiessbecher antipersonnel rifle grenade from inside the bunker, which struck Inouye directly on his right elbow.
The high explosive grenade failed to detonate, saving Inouye from instant death but amputating most of his right arm at the elbow (except for a few tendons and a flap of skin) via blunt force trauma. Despite this gruesome injury, Inouye was again saved from likely death due to the blunt, low-velocity grenade tearing the nerves in his arm unevenly and incompletely, which involuntarily squeezed the grenade tightly via a reflex arc instead of going limp and dropping it at Inouye’s feet. However, this still left him crippled, in terrible pain, under fire with minimal cover and staring at a live grenade “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore.”
Everyone was scared except him.
Inouye’s horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker began hastily reloading his rifle with regular full metal jacket ammunition (replacing the wood-tipped rounds used to propel rifle grenades), Inouye quickly pried the live hand grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left.
The German soldier had just finished reloading and was aiming his rifle to finish him off when Inouye threw his grenade through the narrow firing slit, killing the German. Stumbling to his feet with the remnants of his right arm hanging grotesquely at his side and his Thompson in his off-hand, braced against his hip, Inouye continued forward, killing at least one more German before suffering his fifth and final wound of the day (in his left leg), which finally halted his one-man assault for good and sent him tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. He awoke to see the worried men of his platoon hovering over him.
His only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them back to their positions, saying ‘Nobody called off the war!'” –ultratunaman
4. Desmond Doss
“An army medic in WWII who was constantly belittled and abused by his battalion and superiors for refusing to use a weapon as it went against his beliefs. Then, when he landed in Okinawa and more than half of his battalion were shredded by Japanese machine gun fire, Desmond Doss crawled through the dirt over the course of several days to as many of his injured allies as he could and dragged them all the way back to the 40ft cliff they had scaled up from, then lowered them to safety.
Some of these injured men were lying 15ft from the enemy machine gun itself, and all the while Doss wore his medic helmet, which stood out like a giant bullseye on a battlefield where the Japanese soldiers were ordered to kill doctors first to crush morale. In the end he had saved the lives of 75 men, and survived with an arm fracture from a sniper round and several pieces of shrapnel embedded in his body from when he tried to kick a grenade away from him and his men. He was the first soldier without a gun to be awarded the Medal of Honor.” –-CorrectOpinion-
“Galvarino. He was a fierce Mapuche warrior that had both of his hands chopped off as punishment when captured by the Spanish during the Arauco war. Rather than slaughter Galvarino, the Spanish sent him back to the Mapuche to send a message, but instead of causing the Mapuche to surrender, it had the opposite effect.
Galvarino decided to have two knives lashed to the stumps where his hands used to be. He learned to fight without hands while using the knives as weapons. Less than a month later, Galvarino fought with the Mapuche against the Spanish again. Around 3,000 Mapuche warriors engaged 1,500 of the Spanish on Nov. 30, 1557. at the Battle of Millarapue. Although they didn’t win, Galvarino killed several of the Spanish before the army of 3000 were all killed.” –Icy_Layer
6. Peter Freuchen.
“He was a Danish explorer, journalist, author and anthropologist. He is widely known for his exploration of the arctic circle and discovery of vast areas of Greenland. He was an indigenous rights activist, having married an Inuit woman. He escaped a death warrant issued by the Third Reich for punching nazis.
Received an academy award for the best motion picture in 1933. Won the $64,000 question as a contestant on the game show. He wrestled a polar bear and won. And as if this all wasn’t enough, he escaped a near death encounter in a blizzard by fashioning a spade out of his own frozen feces.” –SpaceMonkeyXLII
7. Nancy Wake
“So skillled as she was, she was nicknamed “The White Mouse” by the Gestapo due to her elusiveness in avoiding capture. Highly talented in espionage, she worked as a spy for the French Resistance and the Special Operations Executive to take down the Nazis. One of the more highly decorated women from WW2, yet not well known.” –LittlestSlipper55
8. Léo Major
“Canadian Rambo AKA Leo Major. Dude liberated an entire town in the Netherlands by himself while injured in WW2.” –Matt_Thundercock
“Heck yeah. Leo was awesome. Took a German tank over, solo, went head to head with an ss patrol, killed 4 and lost an eye to a phosphorous grenade, went on to become a sniper…
And that’s just the first paragraph from his Wikipedia page about his life. Dude was a legend.
Despite all the crap he did that should have gotten him killed, he died in 2008 at 87, home in Canada.” –MystikIncarnate
9. Mariya Oktyabrskaya, who bought a tank after her husband was killed in battle.
“She took out several machine-gun nests and artillery guns in her first fight. Often her tank would get damaged, she would disregard orders, leap out and repair it under heavy fire, get back in and go back to blowing shit up. This woman’s anger toward Germans for killing her husband is legendary. She did this in every battle until she was killed for fixing a tank under heavy gun fire (she finished the job, but unfortunately, the tank was hit with a shell and the crew were killed).
She was Leeroy Jenkins if he actually was good in battle.” –randomguy987654321
10. Juliane Koepcke, who survived a plane crashed, then dragged herself out of the Amazon.
“While injured, bleeding and functionally blind nonetheless. She had a strong prescription and lost her glasses in the crash. I remember reading that she waded through a river, using a shoe to tap in front of her and scare off possible snakes. She was then found by a native tribe boating in the river.” –lordoftoastonearth