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  • December 8, 2012, Laghman Province, AfghanistanHostage Rescue Force Team Member and Navy SEAL,  

  • Edward C. Byers, Jr., is part of a mission to free  an American hostage, physician Dr. Dilip Joseph,  

  • who'd days earlier been captured by the Taliban. Through the night Byers and his team march for  

  • more than four hours through an unforgiving  wilderness. It's pitch-black. All the men are  

  • wearing night vision goggles. The  temperature drops below zero when  

  • the men get close to the compound where  it's believed the hostage is being kept

  • Almost there, 75 feet (23 m) to  the entrance of the compound,  

  • but then the men are spotted by the insurgentsPetty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque  

  • races forward and shoots a guard. He enters  the compound with Byers right behind him

  • Shots are fired, Checque falls. He's mortally  wounded. Byers doesn't stop. He kicks down the  

  • door where the hostage is, firing at a man  and killing him. Another insurgent tries  

  • to pick up a rifle. Byers lurches forwardgrabbing the man, and killing him up close

  • Bullets are flying. It's chaos, chaos without  light. Byers jumps on Dr. Joseph, shielding  

  • him from harm, but at the same time, he's got  another insurgent by the neck, pinning him to  

  • a wall. Another SEAL enters the room, killing the  insurgent who's trapped by the iron grip of Byers

  • Fast forward to 2016. President Obama is placing  the Medal of Honor around Byers' neck. He saved  

  • a hostage, he took out the enemy; he showed  undaunted courage and an intrepid fighting spirit

  • Mr. Byers was one of the last people to receive  the Medal of Honor, and while his story is  

  • straight out of a Hollywood movie, as you will  see, there are crazier stories out there. Today  

  • you'll meet the Badasses. Men who knew no fear. 10. Henry Johnson

  • You've all heard the expressionbeyond the  call of dutyand what Mr. Johnson did in the  

  • first world war was absolutely beyond what  is expected of a soldier. He would go down  

  • in history as the first African American  soldier to receive the Medal of Honor

  • On May 15, 1918, he was serving with Charlie  Company, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93d Infantry  

  • Division, of the American Expeditionary Forces on  the front lines of the Western Front in France.  

  • He would become a hero, but perhaps, an unsung  hero. You see, at the time, there was a lot of  

  • racism in the military, as well as at home. Some  white soldiers gave black soldiers a hard time,  

  • and worse, the American Expeditionary  Forces circulated a pamphlet in France  

  • titledSecret Information Concerning Black  American Troops.” That information related  

  • to African American soldiers allegedly being  immoral in society and inferior in battle

  • That pamphlet couldn't have  been further from the truth

  • Johnson's all-black regiment, nicknamed  theHarlem Hellfighters”, were told by  

  • the French Army to head to the Argonne Forest  in the region of Champagne. On the night of  

  • the heroics Johnson was at the observation  post when the regiment came under attack by  

  • German soldiers belonging to a raiding party. Johnson didn't have much time to think and he  

  • threw a grenade at the Germans. They still moved  in, so Johnson used the butt of his rifle to  

  • repel the men. He then threw that down and pulled  out his bolo knife, stabbing whoever came close.  

  • At times he had to use his other handsmacking the invaders with his fist

  • Then he noticed that one of his fellow soldiers  had been injured and two Germans were trying to  

  • pull the man away. Johnson ran at the men  with the knife and with his bare fists he  

  • wounded two Germans and managed to drag the  injured American soldier back to safety.  

  • During his ordeal he suffered 21 injuries. It was later said that Johnson faced almost  

  • certain death, but with a mighty heart and  a fearless attitude he not only saved the  

  • injured man but also the rest of the menHad he not been so brave the Germans would  

  • have surely captured that outpost. That's why he got the nicknameThe  

  • Black Deathand that's why he becamehero when he returned home to the U.S. 

  • There he was expected to talk about how blacks and  whites fought together in harmony, but Johnson was  

  • a brave man again. Instead he talked about racism  and the rough treatment he and other African  

  • Americans had experienced. He fell out of favor  then with the military and was even arrested for  

  • wearing his uniform when giving those talks. He died in 1929 from tuberculosis. It wasn't  

  • until 2003 that he was posthumously  awarded the purple heart, and then  

  • in 2015 he was awarded the Medal of Honor. So, how can we top that? Well, hang in there and  

  • you'll find out. There are a lot of stories  to choose from, given that the award has been  

  • bestowed on over 3,500 people. 9. Thomas Ward Custer

  • So, what's so special about this guy? The answer  is he became the first person ever to receive  

  • the award twice. You're probably more familiar  with his older brother, George Armstrong Custer,  

  • a man who had big ambitions before he was killed  fighting native Americans at the Battle of the  

  • Little Bighorn. You've likely heard ofCuster's  Last Stand”, in which the American soldiers were  

  • roundly defeated. Thomas died, too, as  did their other brother, Boston Custer

  • But let's stick with Thomas. On April 3,  1865, he was fighting the Confederates  

  • at the Battle of Namozine Church. During a charge  against a Confederate barricade, Custer was  

  • under heavy fire, but he carried on, leaping the  barricade. He then captured the confederate flag,  

  • and his men followed him. His horse, wellhis horse didn't do too well. It was shot  

  • and it died. That was Medal of Honor number one. It was only three days later during the Battle  

  • of Sailor's Creek that Custer displayed  similar heroics. Alongside his men he led a  

  • charge again, and again he jumped a barricadeHe saw the Confederate flag-bearer and charged  

  • at him, only to get shot in the face. Undeterredhe pulled out his weapon and shot the flag-bearer,  

  • killing him. After giving the flag to his older  brother he was told to go get treatment, but he  

  • refused, so he had to be man-handled to a doctor. 8. William D. Hawkins

  • November 20 and 21, 1943, William Hawkins, Scout  Sniper Platoon attached to the Second Marines,  

  • Second Marine Division, is fighting the Japanese  in the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific Ocean.  

  • This became known as the Battle of Tarawa. One of those islands is called Betio Island,  

  • and it was there that Hawkins with another 40  men were being fired at from machine gun towers.  

  • They were sitting ducks, and it seemed  that there wasn't much they could do

  • Hawkins said don't worry, and he sneaked offMoments later and he was climbing the first tower.  

  • When he got to the top, he took out the machine  gunner close up. Some shrapnel severely injured  

  • him, but Hawkins still had a job to do. He managed to do this in seven towers,  

  • although he was shot in the chest at  the last tower. Still, because of his  

  • brave actions the rest of the men could advance. Hawkins was told that his wound didn't look good,  

  • although he seemed to think it was only a scratchWhen he was told to get on a boat and receive more  

  • medical attention, he replied, “I'm not doing  it, sir! I came here to kill Japs, not go home!” 

  • He didn't go home and decided to try and take out  an eighth gunner in a tower. He was shot again,  

  • but this time it was a bit more than a scratchHis last words to his fellow soldiers were,  

  • Boys, I sure hate to leave you like this.” 7. Roy Benavidez

  • 6 hours in hell, how does that sound to  you? That's what Mr. Benavidez experienced  

  • when he was fighting in the Vietnam War. The date was May 2, 1968, and a 12-man Special  

  • Forces patrol along with Vietnamese tribesmen were  patrolling the South Vietnamese-Cambodian border  

  • when they came up against what you might callbit of a problem. That was a 1,000-man-plus NVA  

  • infantry battalion. Talk about being outnumbered. Benavidez wasn't actually in the 12-man unit  

  • at the time, but when he heard about what had  happened he got in a helicopter and told the pilot  

  • to drop him close to the mix. When he was dropped  off he started running towards the fight, but was  

  • injured on the way in his face, head and leg. When he did get to the men, many of them were  

  • lying on the ground injured. Benavidez went to  their rescue and managed to get them on a Medevac  

  • helicopter. But there was another important  mission, because one of the dead men was carrying  

  • classified documents. He couldn't allow those to  get in the hands of the NVA so he went back to  

  • get them, only as he did that the helicopter pilot  was shot and killed, causing the chopper to crash.  

  • He went back to the now overturned helicopter  and got the injured men out of there. He took  

  • them to a safer place and tried to hide, hoping  the airstrike he had called would come soon

  • It didn't. But another helicopter  

  • did arrive. The question was, how to get the  injured men on that thing while under fire.  

  • He did his best, ferrying some men on the  vehicle and killing one NVA in hand-to-hand  

  • combat. He killed another two with his gun. He suffered severe injuries while all this  

  • was going on. He might have got the injured  men on the helicopter, but after that he  

  • just collapsed in a bloody heap. A medic took  one look at him and thought it was game over,  

  • so he put Benavidez in a body bag and zipped  the thing up. As the zip got to the end of  

  • its journey Benavidez spat in the guy's face. Listen to this for a bunch of injuries. He had  

  • suffered a collapsed lung, had major gunshot  wounds in his body, shrapnel in his head,  

  • butt, feet, legs, scalp and shoulderIf that wasn't bad enough, he'd taken  

  • great big bayonet slashes to both arms. He was first awarded the Distinguished  

  • Service Cross and then in 1981 he was awarded the  Medal of Honor. Ronald Reagan was the president  

  • at the time, and when talking about that day in  hell he said, “If the story of his heroism were  

  • a movie script, you would not believe it.” Benavidez died in 1998, not because of his  

  • wartime injuries, but because  of complications of diabetes

  • Can we beat that story? We think we can. 6. Charles Berry

  • This is the arguably the saddest  story you'll hear in this show

  • On March 3, 1945, Barry was part of a machine-gun  Crew, serving with the First Battalion,  

  • Twenty-Sixth Marines, Fifth Marine Divisionon Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands. That night  

  • he was on the front line, nervously waiting  for a possible sneak attack by the Japanese

  • That's exactly what happened. Just after the clock  struck midnight Japanese soldiers came out of the  

  • dark and started throwing grenades at Berry and  his company who were all packed into a foxhole.  

  • Berry and the other men threw grenades back, but  to the horror of American soldiers one of those  

  • Japanese grenades landed right by them. Without  thinking, Berry jumped on it and by doing so  

  • saved his friends. We don't need to tell you that  he was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously

  • 5. Bryant Womack

  • On March 12, 1952, Womack was involved  in a huge firefight somewhere in Korea.  

  • What's different with this story is that he  wasn't one of the men shooting, rather he was  

  • a medic that was attending to the injured men. As the only medic for that battalion it was  

  • important that he didn't get hitbut unfortunately he did get hit,  

  • and hit pretty bad. Nonetheless, he carried  on treating the many injured men, knowing that  

  • he was their only hope. They were severely  outnumbered and were getting shot to pieces

  • Then the worst thing that could happenhappened. Womack was hit by a mortar and it  

  • blew his arm right off. He knew what would  happen if he didn't take care of himself,  

  • but instead of trying to save himself he  carried on attending to the injured soldiers.  

  • Before he died of blood loss he managed to  tell other men how to treat the injured

  • He died while being carried  on a stretcher to safety

  • 4. Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon

  • This was a double act and happened in  1993 at the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia

  • Both these guys were snipers and the job  that they were given was to take out a  

  • Somali warlord named Mohamed Farrah Aidid  and anyone that stood between him and them

  • During an operation to kill Aidid 's best  lieutenants, two Black Hawk helicopters  

  • were shot down. You may have heard the words,  “Black Hawk Downat some point in your life

  • As U.S. forces were trying to deal  with the first helicopter, the other,  

  • Super 64, came crashing down. Both Shughart  and Gordon volunteered to head to the crash  

  • site to search for survivors, despite being  outnumbered a thousand to one by local militias

  • When they got there, all the men aboard the  helicopter were dead except for the pilot,  

  • Michael Durant, who was wounded but would  survive. Then the worse thing happened.  

  • A mob of militants attacked the three menThey fought back as well as they could, but  

  • the mob came at them in swarms. Both Shughart and  Gordon were killed, and Durant was taken hostage

  • Durant was eventually released and he went  back home to the U.S where his wife and kids  

  • were waiting for him. Concerning what happened  that day he has said this, “Without a doubt,  

  • I owe my life to these two men and their  bravery...Those guys came in when they had to  

  • know it was a losing battle. There was nobody else  left to back them up. If they had not come in,  

  • I wouldn't have survived.” 3. Ryan Pitts

  • July 13, 2008, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, and  Ryan Pitts is serving as a Forward Observer in 2d  

  • Platoon, Chosen Company, 2d Battalion (Airborne),  503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade

  • What's unique about this story is that Pitts  was all alone at the start. He was positioned  

  • at a remote post, protecting the Wanat Vehicle  Patrol Base. Early in the morning all hell broke  

  • loose when the base came under fire from over 200  Anti-Afghan Forces. They hit the base with small  

  • arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Pitts tried his best to protect his fellow  

  • soldiers, but in doing that he was hit, suffering  severe injuries to his arms and legs. Still, he  

  • got up and opened fire. As the enemy got closerPitts understood that it was do or die. One at a  

  • time, he pulled a pin on a grenade, then waitedwaited, and threw it so it exploded at the right  

  • time. In doing this he managed to hold them back. But he was so injured that he collapsed.  

  • On the ground, bleeding out, he still managed to  fire at the attackers. Two men came to his aid,  

  • and Pitts gave up his gun. Near death, he  then crawled to a radio and asked for back up.  

  • He knew quite well that by making that  call he would be heard and killed

  • Because of what he did he saved the base and saved  the lives of many men. He's alive and well today,  

  • working at the tech company, Oracle. 2. Vernon Baker

  • Baker did something extremely brave, something  you might have seen in a Hollywood movie

  • On April 5, 1945, with the second world war  almost over, Baker was a 2nd Lieutenant in the  

  • army fighting in the mountains of Italy. There  his unit came under heavy machine gun fire and,  

  • well, there wasn't much they could do about  it. They were up against a formidable enemy

  • Baker, knowing his men couldn't move, crawled  to one of the machine gun nests and killed  

  • the men in it. He then crawled over to an  observation post and killed the guys there

  • He was by no means done. With some of his men, he attacked a structure  

  • where the enemy was shooting from, and then those  guys were dead. But there was still a big problem.  

  • Some enemy machine gunners were still firing  and some of Baker's guys were severely wounded  

  • and needed to get the hell out of there. What to do

  • He thought for a while and knew the answerAfter telling the other men about his plan  

  • he took a gun and purposely exposed himself  to the enemy. If they were firing at him,  

  • the other guys would be able to escape. He  actually survived and helped save a lot of people.  

  • Not only that, the next day he volunteered  to lead a battalion through a minefield

  • He didn't get the Medal of Honor until  1997, when he was 77 years old. It was  

  • agreed then that some African Americans  should have got the medal back in the day

  • 1. Richard Nott Antrim This one is different from all of the others.

  • During the second world war Lieutenant  Antrim served on the ship the USS Pope.  

  • He helped sink a number of Japanese ships  and for that his captain said that he should  

  • be commended for hismeritorious  performance of his several duties.” 

  • But that's not why he received the Medal of Honor. During the Battle of the Java Sea in 1942,  

  • the successful Pope met its end. It was  sunk and Antrim was injured. Nonetheless,  

  • he was a lodestone when it came to getting  the men on rafts and getting them supplies

  • This didn't mean he was out of troubleThe Japanese Navy picked him and other  

  • men up and took them as prisoners of war. As you might have heard, the Japanese could  

  • be brutal at times to their POWsand that happened under the watch  

  • of Antrim. One day he witnessed an American  POW being accused of not bowing to a guard  

  • and being told he was going to get 50 lashes. On the 15th lash the man was cut to pieces  

  • and was unconscious. He would  not survive many more lashes

  • Antrim stood up and said, “I'll take the  rest.” The Japanese were in shock. Antrim  

  • knew that 35 lashes might well end his lifeStill, he added, “I'll take the lashes.” 

  • The Japanese soldiers kind of respected  him for this, and he didn't get lashed.  

  • That's not where his story ends, thoughbecause having gained this new respect  

  • the Japanese listened to Antrim when he offered  them advice about building some trenches

  • They allowed him to build the trenches the  way he wanted, not knowing that when he and  

  • his men were done from the air you could see the  letters, US. He did that so allied planes wouldn't  

  • bomb the site, and by doing so he might have saved  hundreds of lives. If the Japanese had caught him,  

  • he would have lost his head for sure. Now you need to watch this, “The Battle of  

  • the Bulge.” Or have a look at this, “The Battle of  Leyte Gulf - Most INSANE Naval Battle in History.”

December 8, 2012, Laghman Province, AfghanistanHostage Rescue Force Team Member and Navy SEAL,  

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Most Badass Medal of Honor Recipients of All Time

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