T Nation

Best Opening Paragraph in Wikipedia


Adrian Carton de Wiart

Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart[1] VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 â?? 5 June 1963), was a British Army officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. He later said "frankly I had enjoyed the war."[2]



There are some points in your life when you look at someone else and make the assessment "Damn, I'm a pussy". This would be one of those times for me.


Holy shit. I need to go lift to feel better about myself.


I just got done working out and felt great, but now I feel like a little bitch...


Obviously he was INSECURE.


So is your avatar a picture of him? Seems like it would have to be. Damn.


The first paragraph does not do this guy justice and should be rewritten. He pitched 678⅔ innings in 1884 and won 59 games. He started 40 of his team's final 43 games of the season. He won the National League's pitching Triple Crown with a 1.38 earned run average, 59 wins and 441 K's.

Side note: This was also at a time when fielders did not use mits and had mangled fingers from fielding the ball with their bare hands.


It sounds like this guy was the Chuck Norris of his era.


"Chuck Norris? Never heard of her."


Not an opening paragraph, but a great description of Billy the Kid from someone who rode with him...

"I never enjoyed better company. He was humorous and told me many amusing stories. He always found a touch of humor in everything, being naturally full of fun and jollity. Though he was serious in emergencies, his humor was often apparent even in such situations. Billy stood with us to the end, brave and reliable, one of the best soldiers we had. He never pushed in his advice or opinions, but he had a wonderful presence of mind. The tighter the place the more he showed his cool nerve and quick brain. He never seemed to care for money, except to buy cartridges with. Cartridges were scarce, and he always used about ten times as many as everyone else. He would practice shooting at anything he saw, from every conceivable angle, on and off his horse."


That's amazing.


If there was anyone that stayed alive long enough to write about the exploits of one Genghis Khan, I'm sure it will trump that.


How'd you find that? What a chingon.


Guy was a stud


Audie L. Murphy

U.S. Army, World War II Medal of Honor

"Bad Mother Fucker"


Applied to enter the Marines in 1942 when he was 16. He was 5'5", 110 lbs. They laughed in his face. So he applied to the Air Force. They laughed in his face. He applied to the Army, they figured they can use another grunt to absorb gunfire, so they accepted him.

During the invasion of Italy, he was promoted to corporal for his outstanding shooting skills but then contracted malaria, WHICH HE HAD THE ENTIRE WAR. Remember this.

He was sent into southern France in 1944. He encountered a German machine gun crew who pretended they were surrendering, then shot his best buddy. Murphy completely hulked out, killed everyone in the gun nest, then used their weaponry to kill every baddie in a 100-yard radius, including two more machine gun nests and a bunch of snipers. They gave him a Distiguished Service Cross, and made him platoon commander while everyone apologized profusely for calling him "Shorty."

The action which resulted in Audie Murphy earning the medal occurred on January 26, 1945. On that day, German forces launched a determined counter-attack with the objective of taking back important wooded terrain known as the Bois de Riedwihr near the town of Holzwihr, France. This terrain had been previously seized by elements of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 15th Infantry regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

To retake it, the Germans advanced toward the woods with two companies of dismounted infantry and six heavy tanks. The wood line was defended by 2nd Lieutenant Audie Murphy, who had assumed command of B Company earlier that day when the only other officer was badly wounded by mortar fire.

At 2nd Lieutenant Murphy's disposal were eighteen enlisted soldiers - a little more than a squad sized unit. This was all that remained of B-Company.

Just before the battle began, two poorly armed M10 tank destroyers were attached to B-Company with the hope of countering vastly superior German armor. Each M10 had a small, short-barreled 3-inch M7 anti-armor gun tube and a single .50 caliber machine gun.

With the exception of indirect artillery, no other fire support was available to 2nd Lieutenant Murphy and his men on that cold icy day. Making defense harder was the fact that the frozen ground made it very difficult to dig foxholes.

When the Germans appeared, an 88 millimeter German gun scored a direct hit on one of the tank destroyers. The other tank destroyer was quickly taken out of action too. Germans tanks and dismounted infantry began to overrun B-Company's position. 2nd Lieutenant Murphy ordered his men to withdraw while he alone remained to direct artillery fire using a telephone. Several German tanks were knocked out action by accurately placed artillery rounds.

At some point, Lieutenant Murphy left his position, taking the portable wire-connected telephone with him, and climbed on the burning tank destroyer. Doing this made it tougher for him to be spotted because of flames and smoke. It also gave him access to its .50 caliber machine. From his new position, Murphy continued to adjust artillery fire while he fired the machine gun between transmissions.

Eventually the field telephone stopped working when its line was probably cut or destroyed. Although exhausted and nearing his physical limits, Lieutenant Murphy continued firing and reloading belted ammunition from the .50 caliber machine gun at the advancing dismounted Germany infantry. Eyewitness accounts estimated that Germans managed to get as close as 10 yards of Murphy's position. Fortunately, the Germans were having a difficult time locating the source of the murderous fire being poured on them.

While he stood on it, Lieutenant Murphy's tank destroyer took at least one and probably two direct hits from 88 millimeter German shells. Amazingly, he was never more than only briefly stunned by their explosions although the force of one reopened a shrapnel wound he received the previous day in a mortar barrage. Regardless, Murphy managed to continue engaging the advancing infantry killing scores.

After nearly an hour of fierce fighting with an estimate of 50 (50!!) Germans infantry dead and several German tanks destroyed, the remaining German tanks began to withdraw. They did so probably because of the heavy losses suffered by the supporting infantry which was crucial to the tank's protection.

As Germans forces retreated with heavy casualties, Lieutenant Murphy only then dismounted the still-burning tank destroyer and rejoined his men, refusing medical aid, and began organizing a counter-attack. Even though the tank destroyer was heavily loaded with unfired ammunition and gasoline, it miraculously never exploded until just after Murphy climbed down from it .

Was 19 when he won the award. Slept with a loaded gun until the day he died.



I got chills reading that.


And of course we can't forget about LTC Matt Urban.

U.S. Army, World War II, Medal of Honor

Nickname: "The Ghost"

Direct from his citation:

"Lieutenant Colonel (then Captain) Matt Urban, 112-22-2414, United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of bold, heroic actions, exemplified by singularly outstanding combat leadership, personal bravery, and tenacious devotion to duty, during the period 14 June to 3 September 1944 while assigned to the 2d Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. On 14 June, Captain Urban's company, attacking at Renouf, France, encountered heavy enemy small arms and tank fire. The enemy tanks were unmercifully raking his unit's positions and inflicting heavy casualties. Captain Urban, realizing that his company was in imminent danger of being decimated, armed himself with a BAZOOKA. He worked his way with an ammo carrier through hedgerows, under a continuing barrage of fire, to a point near the tanks. He brazenly exposed himself to the enemy fire and, firing the bazooka, destroyed both tanks. Responding to Captain Urban's action, his company moved forward and routed the enemy. Later that same day, still in the attack near Orglandes, Captain Urban was wounded in the leg by direct fire from a 37mm tank-gun. He refused evacuation and continued to lead his company until they moved into defensive positions for the night. At 0500 hours the next day, still in the attack near Orglandes, Captain Urban, though badly wounded, directed his company in another attack.

One hour later he was again wounded. Suffering from two wounds, one serious, he was evacuated to England. In mid-July, while recovering from his wounds, he learned of his unit's severe losses in the hedgerows of Normandy. Realizing his unit's need for battle-tested leaders, he voluntarily left the hospital and hitchhiked his way back to his unit hear St. Lo, France. Arriving at the 2d Battalion Command Post at 1130 hours, 25 July, he found that his unit had jumped-off at 1100 hours in the first attack of Operation Cobra." Still limping from his leg wound, Captain Urban made his way forward to retake command of his company. He found his company held up by strong enemy opposition. Two supporting tanks had been destroyed and another, intact but with no tank commander or gunner, was not moving. He located a lieutenant in charge of the support tanks and directed a plan of attack to eliminate the enemy strong-point. The lieutenant and a sergeant were immediately killed by the heavy enemy fire when they tried to mount the tank. Captain Urban, though physically hampered by his leg wound and knowing quick action had to be taken, dashed through the scathing fire and mounted the tank. With enemy bullets ricocheting from the tank, Captain Urban ordered the tank forward and, completely exposed to the enemy fire, manned the machine gun and placed devastating fire on the enemy. His action, in the face of enemy fire, galvanized the battalion into action and they attacked and destroyed the enemy position. On 2 August, Captain Urban was wounded in the chest by shell fragments and, disregarding the recommendation of the Battalion Surgeon, again refused evacuation.

On 6 August, Captain Urban became the commander of the 2d Battalion. On 15 August, he was again wounded but remained with his unit. On 3 September, the 2d Battalion was given the mission of establishing a crossing-point on the Meuse River near Heer, Belgium. The enemy planned to stop the advance of the allied Army by concentrating heavy forces at the Meuse. The 2d Battalion, attacking toward the crossing-point, encountered fierce enemy artillery, small arms and mortar fire which stopped the attack. Captain Urban quickly moved from his command post to the lead position of the battalion. Reorganizing the attacking elements, he personally led a charge toward the enemy's strong-point. As the charge moved across the open terrain, Captain Urban was seriously wounded in the neck. Although unable to talk above a whisper from the paralyzing neck wound, and in danger of losing his life, he refused to be evacuated until the enemy was routed and his battalion had secured the crossing-point on the Meuse River. Captain Urban's personal leadership, limitless bravery, and repeated extraordinary exposure to enemy fire served as an inspiration to his entire battalion. His valorous and intrepid actions reflect the utmost credit on him and uphold the noble traditions of the United States Army."

And he was a notorious cigar smoker on the battlefield.

Fucking bad-ass.


And I have to give credit to non-Americans:

Simo Hayha

World War II

Nickname: "White Death"

Simo Hayha had a fairly boring life in Finland. He served his one mandatory year in the military, and then became a farmer. But when the Soviet Union invaded his homeland in 1939, he decided he wanted to help his country.

Since the majority of fighting took place in the forest, he figured the best way to stop the invasion was to grab his trusty rifle, a couple of cans of food and hide in a tree all day shooting Russians. In six feet of snow. And 20-40 degrees below zero.

Of course when the Russians heard that dozens of their men were going down and that it was all one dude with a rifle, they got fucking scared. He became known as "The White Death" because of his white camouflage outfit, and they actually mounted whole missions just to kill that one guy.

They started by sending out a task force to find Hayha and take him out. He killed them all.

Then they tried getting together a team of counter-snipers (which are basically snipers that kill snipers) and sent them in to eliminate Hayha. He killed all of them, too.

Bounties were put on Hayha. There were reports that teams refused to hunt Hayha unless certain conditons were met. Fear was widespread.

Over the course of 100 days, Hayha killed 542 people with his rifle. He took out another 150 or so with his SMG, sending his credited kill-count up to 705.

read that again

Since everyone they had was either too dead or too scared to go anywhere near him, the Russians just carpet-bombed everywhere they thought he might be. Supposedly, they had the location right, and he actually got hit by a cloud of shrapnel that tore his coat up, but didn't actually hurt him, because he's the fucking White Death, damn it.

Finally on March 6th, 1940, some lucky bastard shot Hayha in the head with an exploding bullet. When some other soldiers found him and brought him back to base, he "had half his head missing." The White Death had finally been stopped...

...for about a week. In spite of having come down with a nasty case of shot-in-the-face syndrome, he was still very much alive, and regained consciousness on March 13, the very day the war ended.

Lived until a ripe old age of 96.


The Indian John McClain:

Yogendra Singh Yadav

Conflict with Pakistain in 1999

Yogendra Singh Yadav was a member of an Indian grenadier battalion during a conflict with Pakistan in 1999. Their mission was to climb "Tiger Hill" (actually a big-ass mountain), and neutralize the three enemy bunkers at the top. Unfortunately, this meant climbing up a sheer hundred-foot cliff-face of solid ice. Since they didn't want to all climb up one at a time with ice-axes, they decided they'd send one guy up, and he'd fasten the ropes to the cliff as he went, so everyone else could climb up the sissy way. Yadav, being awesome, volunteered.

Half way up the icy cliff-o'-doom, enemies stationed on an adjacent mountain opened fire, shooting them with an RPG, then spraying assault-rifle fire all over the cliff. Half his squad was killed, including the commander, and the rest were scattered and disorganized. Yadav, in spite of being shot three times, kept climbing.

When he reached the top, one of the target bunkers opened fire on him with machine guns. Yadav ran toward the hail of bullets, pitched a grenade in the window and killed everyone inside. By this point the second bunker had a clear shot and opened fire, so he ran at them, taking bullets while he did, and killed the four heavily-armed men inside with his bare hands.

Meanwhile, the remainder of his squad was standing at the top of the cliff staring at him saying, "dude, holy shit!" They then all went and took the third bunker with little trouble.

For his gallantry and sheer ballsiness, he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military award. Unlike the Medal of Honor, the Param Vir Chakra is only given for "rarest of the rare gallantry which is beyond the call of duty and which in normal life is considered impossible to do." That's right, you actually have to break the laws of reality just to be eligible!! Crazy.

It has only been awarded 21 times, and two thirds of the people who earned it died in the process. It was initially reported that Yadav had as well, but it turns out that they just mistook him for someone less badass. Or they just figured no real human being could survive a broken leg, shattered arm and 10-15 fresh bullet holes in one sitting!

Google him. amazing.


oh it get better.

"Fighting Jack Churchill" AKA "Mad Jack" or
Captain Jack Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill

World World II

British Army

He volunteered for commando duty, not actually knowing what it entailed, but knowing that it sounded dangerous, and therefore fun. He is best known for saying that "any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed" and, in following with this, for carrying a sword into battle. In WWII. And not one of those sissy ceremonial things the Marines have. No, Jack carried a fucking claymore (also described as a Scottish Broadsword). This was not the sword you see in the Marine commericals. This was a medieval sword! And he used it, too. He is credited with capturing a total of 42 Germans and a mortar squad in the middle of the night, using only his sword.

Churchill and his team were tasked with capturing a German fortification creatively called "Point 622." Churchill took the lead, charging ahead of the group into the dark through the barbed wire and mines, pitching grenades as he went. Although his unit did their best to catch up, all but six of them were lost to silly things like death. Of those six, half were wounded and all any of them had left were pistols. Then a mortar shell swung in and killed/mortally wounded everyone who wasn't Jack Churchill.

When the Germans found him, he was playing "Will Ye No Come Back Again?" on his bagpipes. Oh, we didn't mention that? He carried them right next to his big fucking sword.

After being sent to a concentration camp, he got bored and left. Just walked out. They caught him again, and sent him to a new camp. So he left again. After walking 150 miles with only a rusty can of onions for food, he was picked up by the Americans and sent back to Britain, where he demanded to be sent back into the field, only to find out (with great disappointment) the war had ended while he was on his way there. As he later said to his friends, "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years!"


Alvin York

World War I

Born to a family of redneck farmers from Tennessee, Alvin York spent much of his youth getting piss drunk in bars and getting into crazy barfights. When his friend got killed in one of the aforementioned barfights, he swore off the liquor, and became a pacifist. When he received his draft notice in 1917, York filed as a "conscientious objector" but was denied. They shipped his ass out to basic training.

About a year later, he was one of 17 men designated to sneak around and take out a fortified machine-gun encampment guarding a German railroad. As they were approaching, the gunners spotted them and opened fire, tearing nine of the men to pieces.

The few survivors that didn't have enormous balls of steel ran away, leaving York standing there taking fire from 32 heavy machine gunners. As he said in his diary,

"I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush, I didn't even have time to kneel or lie down. I had no time no how to do nothing but watch them-there German machine gunners and give them the best I had. Every time I seed a German I just touched him off. At first I was shooting from a prone position; that is lying down; just like we often shoot at the targets in the shooting matches in the mountains of Tennessee; and it was just about the same distance. But the targets here were bigger. I just couldn't miss a German's head or body at that distance. And I didn't."

After he killed the first 20 men or so, a German lieutenant got five guys together to try to take this guy from the side. York pulled out his Colt .45 (which only had eight bullets) and killed all of them with it, a practice he likened to "shoot[ing] wild turkeys back home."

At this point lieutenant Paul Jurgen Vollmer yelled out over the noise asking if York was English. See, in WWI, no one really took the Americans very seriously, and everyone thought of them as the rookies. Vollmer figured this crazy/awesome/ballsy soldier must be some kind of English superman who was showing these sissy Americans how it was done. When York said he was American, Vollmer replied "Good Lord! If you won't shoot any more I will make them give up."

Ten minutes later, 133 men came walking towards the remains of York's battalion. Lieutenant Woods, York's superior at first thought it was a German counter-attack until he saw York, who saluted and said "Corporal York reports with prisoners, sir." When the stunned officer asked how many, York replied "Honest, Lieutenant, I don't know."