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10 American War Heroes Everyone Must Know

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Serving your nation takes a lot of courage. The army is ready to sacrifice their lives for the nation and the citizens of the country – for people like us.

Without a doubt, there is no greater service than laying down your life for your brethren.

Even after centuries of human existence, unfortunately, we fight wars to date. Some wars are funny like emu war, pig war, but some wars are disastrous for the economy, nature, and lives.

In this wartime, it is the army that acts as a shield to protect the country. So, today, we are listing 10 American war heroes everyone must know!

#1. Major Richard Ira Bong

Richard Bong - american war heroes
Richard Bong, Link

Richard Ira Bong is decorated with nicknames like ‘Aces-of-aces’ and ‘Deadliest American Pilot of WWII.’ He was a Major in the Army Air Forces of the United States of America and is one of the famous American war heroes. He served from 1941-1945. He belonged to the 49th Fighter Group.

He shot down 40 Japanese aircraft with Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter single-handedly. He was awarded Medal of Honor, Air Medal, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Distinguished Service Cross.

He was testing P-80 jets in 1945. When the P-80 jet malfunctioned, he jumped off from the jet, but the elevation was not high enough for the parachute to be opened. He fell and died.

#2. Sergeant Henry Johnson

Henry Lincoln Johnson
Henry Johnson Public Domain, Link

Nicknamed the ‘Black Death,’ Sergeant Henry Johnson was an American army soldier. He was one of the soldiers of the first African American unit in the U.S. army. On 14 May 1918, he fought hand to hand with German soldiers and killed multiple of them. He even rescued a fellow soldier even after suffering from 21 wounds.

He died as a nobody in 1929. After much struggle, he was awarded Purple Heart in 1996, Distinguished Service Cross in 2002, and in 2015 he was awarded Medal of Honor. All the awards were awarded posthumously.

Apart from these awards, the French military awarded him Croix de Guerre with bronze palm and star. He was the first United States soldier to receive this award in the first world war.

#3. Cathay Williams

Cathay Williams - American War Heores
Cathay Williams By William Jennings – U.S. Army Website Link

She was the first African American woman to enlist in the United States of America army in the year 1866. She joined the army during the Civil War for a three-year engagement. She enlisted in the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment with a male name called William Cathay. She used a male name because women were not allowed in the military during that time.

Soon after joining the army, she contracted smallpox. She was hospitalized and then rejoined her unit. But tough work and New Mexico’s weather took a toll on her body, and she was frequently hospitalized. Lastly, the surgeon found out that she was a woman and was promptly sent home by Captain Charles E. Clarke in 1886. She served for two years.

She then took jobs like cook and seamstress. Her health started failing in the late 1889s/the early 1890s. She applied for a military pension, but due to some reasons, it was denied. She died in the year 1893.

#4. Albert Cashier

Albert Cashier
Albert Casheir Public Domain, Link

Albert Cashier, aka Jennie Irene Hodgers, was from Ireland. She came to America and served in the army duping as a man in the American Civil War. She joined the Union Army. Unlike Cathay Williams, who took on her real gender after the army stint, Cashier maintained male identity till her death. Hence, some scholars believe that Cashier was a transman.

Cashier enlisted in the war as an Infantryman in the 95th Regiment for a three-year engagement. Cashier joined the army in 1862. She fought almost 40 wars, including the Battle of Vicksburg, Battle of Guntown, etc.

After serving in the army for three years, she continued being a man and worked as a cemetery worker, lamplighter, and janitor. Later, she met with an accident which rendered her jobless. She then started having health issues and was admitted to the hospital. She breathed her last in 1915.

#5. Lieutenant colonel Matt Urban

Matt Urban - american war heroes
Matt Urban By United States Army – Public Domain, Link

Matt Louis Urban is one of the most decorated American soldiers of world war II. He served in the army from 1941 to 1946. He was enlisted in the army as a second lieutenant of infantry in 1941. He soon rose to the rank of Lieutenant colonel by 1945.

He was a fearless soldier and won many battles for the Americans. He played a crucial role in the victory of America in France, Belgium, and Germany. He sustained multiple injuries yet remained with other soldiers on the battlefield, which earned him the nickname, ‘Ghost.’

He won multiple awards like Medal of Honor, Silver Stars, 3 Bronze Stars, 7 Purple Hearts, Legion of Merit, and Star Belgian Fourragere/French Croix de Guerre. He succumbed to his war injuries in 1995 at the age of 75 years.

#6. Corporal Desmond Doss

Desmond Doss
Desmond Doss Public Domain, Link

Desmond Doss was a corporal in the United States Army and served as a combat medic with infantry in World War II. He joined the army in 1942 and served till 1946. Upon joining, he refused to use any weapon or kill any enemy soldier and hence became a medic.

He saved the lives of multiple soldiers, especially in the Battle of Okinawa. He saved the lives of 50-100 American soldiers in a single battle. He was wounded four times and had 17 pieces of shrapnel in his body. His left arm was also fractured.

He received a Medal of Honor and two Bronze Star Medals. After the military stint, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. From then on, he suffered from some or the other health issue. Finally, he passed away in 2006 because of asphyxiation.

#7. First Lieutenant Frank Luke

Frank Luke - american war heroes
Frank Luke By U.S. Army Air Corps Public Domain, Link

Frank Luke was a flying ace who served in the American Army during World War I. He is credited with 19 aerial victories in the first world war.

He went after well-defended German observation balloons. In nine days and in thirty hours of flight time, he shot 14 enemy balloons and four aircraft. Hence, he was given the nickname, ‘Arizona Balloon Buster.’

He received the Medal of Honor, War Merit Cross, and Distinguished Service Cross. On 19 September 1918, his plane went down in France’s Murvaux. His rank was promoted from the second lieutenant to the first lieutenant posthumously.

#8. First Lieutenant Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy - american war heroes
Audie Murphy By U.S. Army, Public Domain, Link

Audie Murphy was one of the most celebrated American war heroes of World War II. He held a company of German soldiers single-handedly for an hour at France’s Colmar Pocket! He then led a successful counterattack even when he was injured and out of ammunition.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945. In 1950, he joined the Texas Army National Guard. He served in the Texas Army National Guard till 1966. Later on, he served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1966 to 1969.

He received countless awards. Some of them are Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, French Legion of Honor, French Croix de Guerre with silver star, Purple Heart, Silver Star Medal, and American Campaign Medal.

He even ventured into acting, songwriting, and singing. His first movie was ‘To Hell and Back’, where he played himself. He finally breathed his last in 1971.

#9. Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone

John Basilone - American War Heroes
John Basilone By USMC photographer, Public Domain, Link

John Basilone served as a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. Earlier to the Marine Corps, he was in the United States Army in 1934. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940.

He showed extreme courage in World War II, especially in the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Iwo Jima. In the Battle of Guadalcanal, he, with his gun team, defended a narrow pass from the Japanese army.

During the Battle of Iwo Jima, he was offered a safer base, but he refused and went on to the battlefield. It was here where he sacrificed his life for his country. He died on 19 February 1945.

He received the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, and Purple Heart. He is the only enlisted Marine to be awarded both Medal of Honor and Navy Cross in World War II.

#10. Colonel Ruby Bradley

Ruby Bradley - American War Heroes
Ruby Bradley By United States Army, Public Domain, Link

She is one of the most decorated and celebrated women in the U.S. Army. She was enlisted in the United States Army Nurse Corps. She joined as a surgical nurse in 1934. She was captured as a POW by the Japanese army three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

It was here that she and other nurses tended to the wounds of several captives. She even fed hungry children by stealing food and starving herself. She even smuggled surgical equipment, helped in 230 operations, and helped deliver 13 children. Because of the nurses’ contributions, they were called ‘Angels in Fatigues.’

U.S. troops captured the camp where she was held, hostage. She returned to her duties in the U.S. Army. She served as Chief Nurse in the Korean War.

She received awards like Legion of Merit, Army Commendation Medal, Bronze Star, and Florence Nightingale Medal. She retired from the army in 1963 and died in 2002.

Did you like our article on American war heroes? If you want us to write more such topics or more about other American war heroes, then do comment us below.

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