Badass American mo-fos

Cold, Hard Football Facts for May 30, 2010



(Ed. Note: this piece originally ran Oct. 20, 2006. It's just as poignant, in our own inimitable CHFF way, here on Memorial Day 2010.)
 
By Frankie C.
Cold, Hard Football Facts pussy-in-chief
 
We've been counting the minutes until Clint Eastwood's new film, "Flags of Our Fathers," opens today. It got us around to thinking about what kind of testicular fortitude it takes to invade an island, overrun a pillbox or charge through a minefield, knowing that at any instant you and the men around you could die horrific, bloody deaths. 
 
Apart from some hard-fought personal battles with alcoholism and the gluttonous consumption of pork in all its forms, the wretched, criminally fat employees of the Cold, Hard Football Facts don't rely very heavily on toughness. In fact, you might call us pussies.
 
Most of us can't even walk on an incline without sweating and cursing uncontrollably. We're comfortable with it. We'd like to be the brave, heroic type, but you play the cards you're dealt.
 
The "Flags of Our Fathers" movie may not be great. We'll find out today during the half-price matinee showing. But the book was one of the most moving tributes to stoic heroism that we've ever read. Really, do yourself a favor and go read the book. If you don't cry, you're not a man ... or a troll.
 
So, in honor of the movie release today, the Frankie Five this week shows our admiration for those American battlefield heroes who stood face to face with death and mocked the Grim Reaper's feeble effort to overcome them. Today we offer a look at ...
 
Five bad-ass American mo-fos:
 
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at Little Round Top (Battle of Gettysburg, 1863)
Today, academia is the petri dish where they cultivate the disease of anti-American pussyism. Back in the 1800s, academia was filled with ass-kicking poetry teachers so tough that they shit lead (really, Chamberlain was wounded six times back when they cut off limbs to cure acne, and lived to tell about it, fully intact). Chamberlain was a professor from Bowdoin College who led a company of men to the top of a small hill, where they anchored the far end of the Union line in the biggest battle in the history of the Western Hemisphere, Gettysburg. If Chamberlain retreats or surrenders, the Union army collapses and the Confederacy wins the Civil War. His men repulsed one attack after another until they finally ran out of ammunition. Instead of calling it a day, Chamberlain ordered the bullet-less men of the 20th Maine to fix bayonets and charge down the hill. They wiped the Rebels off the field, saved the Northern line, saved the Union and, oh yeah, changed the course of western history. Chamberlain won the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. He was such an American hero that he was given the honor of accepting Gen. Lee's surrender at Appomatox. Then, in a rare display of chivalry, and an embodiment of Lincoln's pledge to show "charity toward all and malice toward none," he ordered his men to salute Gen. Lee and the defeated rebels. We would have raised our white flag and our brown undies back at Little Round Top.
 
Gen. Anthony McAuliffe at Bastogne, Belgium (Battle of the Bulge, 1944)
McAulliffe commanded the 101st Airborne Division when it was surrounded at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, Germany's last great offensive of World War II. The Americans were outmanned, outgunned, outflanked and short of ammo and clothing in the dead of winter. The Germans, figuring that McAuliffe was a reasonable bloke, sent out a party to demand that the Americans surrender or face "certain annihilation." McAulliffe laughed in their faces (really, he did) and, in his best Alfred E. Neuman impersonation, said, "Us, surrender?" His official reply, the one he sent back to the German command, was "Nuts!" That's 1940s lingo for "Go f**k yourself, Jerry." The Americans held out, soon broke the siege, and then the back of the German army. The Krauts surrendered five months later, which is like seven minutes of CHFF time without a beer.  
 
John Paul Jones in the North Sea (American Revolution, 1779) 
The Scottish-born "father of the U.S. Navy" commanded the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard as it stood burning under the firepower of the H.M.S. Serapis, one of the mightiest warships in the planet's mightiest navy. Facing certain defeat,  Jones  was ordered to say uncle by his British counterpart. But the Limeys didn't realize that Jones had a ball bag roughly the size of a hot air balloon. He famously declared that "I have not yet begun to fight!" Then, in one of the truly ballsy moves in the history of balls, Jones pulled his burning vessel up next to the larger gunship and his crew lashed the two boats together. Half the Americans had been killed or wounded, but they still overran the British crew and captured the mighty dreadnought. The Bonhomme Richard eventually sank, so Jones sailed the captured British ship to Holland for repairs, with hundreds of Limeys held prisoner on board their very own boat. Now, nobody teases the bassist from Led Zeppelin. Nobody.

The Minutemen at Lexington and Concord (American Revolution, 1775) 
Here's a scenario: You and the guys in your neighborhood are kicking around, maybe patching up the picket fence, milking the cows, and thinking about a romp in the barn with the reverend's buxom little daughter after chore time, when the world's most powerful army decides to take a walk through town. Most people in that part of the country today would do the popular dance known in nearby Cambridge as the "Noam Chomsky shuffle," in which you firmly embrace belligerent tyrants. The Americans back then grabbed their guns, stood their ground and stared down the imperial stormtroopers. Talk about iron balls. In the space of hours, in one of the most stunning turn of events in human history, our heroic little band of farmers forced the invaders to retreat and then slaughtered the most feared army in the world as it fled 20 miles back to Boston. In a true show of patience, stones and determination that would shock modern Americans who can't wait 45 seconds for their microwaved burger at the drive-thru, the farmers laid siege to the Brits holed up in Boston for an entire year, rendering the commercial hub of New England a ghost town. The Limeys finally fled Boston by ship the following March. It's the last time a foreign army, or enemy insurgents other than the Harvard faculty, stepped foot in Boston. 
 
The U.S. Marine Corps at Iwo Jima (World War II, 1945)
The history of the Marine Corps is fairly legendary: deposing bloodthirsty Third World tin-pot dictators like Saddam Hussein, quelling the Barbary pirates off the shores of Tripoli, conquering the Halls of Montezuma, and earning the nickname Teufel Hunden ("Devil Dogs") from those prickly Krauts after wiping out the battle-tested Germans in the Belleau Woods in WWI. None of it quite compared to overrunning the desolate, stinking, God-forsaken shithole of a volcanic island called Iwo Jima, the one defended by an intricate network of heavily armed trenches, tunnels and pillboxes buried deep in the lava rock. Some 25,000 Marines were killed or wounded in 36 days on Iwo Jima (including three NFL veterans). Nearly a quarter of all the Medals of Honor issued to the Corps in World War II (including that of former N.Y. Giants star Jack Lummus) were earned in the space of those five weeks. Yet the Marines rooted out, killed or captured every single last entrenched defender on the island. All 22,000 of the poor bastards. And, as if to leave a historic calling card, the Marines at Iwo Jima unwittingly gave us the single most powerful image in American culture – six boys from every corner of the country, on a lonely pimple of lava rock 6,000 miles from home, jamming the symbol of freedom into the edges of a soon-to-be-crushed military dictatorship. In the realm of bad-ass, it narrowly edges out Terrell Owens doing sit-ups in his driveway.
 
***
 
Hero of Iwo Jima: Jack Lummus – N.Y. Giants end and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor; killed on Iwo.

Hero of Iwo Jima: Jack Chevigny – Cardinals coach and Notre Dame legend who scored winning TD in "Win one for the Gipper" game; killed in Iwo.

Hero of Iwo Jima: Howard "Smiley" Johnson – Green Bay Packers end honored for heroism in two World War II battles; killed on Iwo.
 
The NFL's war dead – 26 members of the NFL have been killed in combat from World War II to Afghanistan.
 
Pro football's battlefield heroes – Football is intricately intertwined into American culture, a unique sport played by a historically unique country.

Pro Football Hall of Fame list of WWII veterans – 995 members of the NFL served in the military in World War II, including some of the biggest names in the history of the game.

Pro Football Hall of Fame list of Korean War veterans  – 200 members of the NFL served in the military in the Korean War, including Hall of Famers such as Ollie Matson and Night Train Lane.

Pro Football Hall of Fame list of Vietnam War veterans  – 28 members of the NFL served in the military. 
 
(See the most recent Frankie Five: dancing days are here again)

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