Masculine Heroes Every Man Should Know
What makes a hero heroic?
If you examine authentic masculine heroes from history, some will seem to have been “born heroes,” who spent their entire lives preparing for that moment in time, where their heroic masculinity shines through.
General George S. Patton believed that he was destined to lead an army, in a great conflict. He possessed great leadership ability and is arguably the finest field commander this country has ever produced. However, his ability was only matched by his ego. Not to diminish Patton’s accomplishments, the truth is he sought glory, for glory’s sake.
I much prefer those “ordinary men, placed in extraordinary circumstances,” those who weren’t seeking glory, but rather did what needed to be done, when it needed to be done and in doing so became masculine heroes, which every authentic man should know.
1. Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC
Throughout ancient history, we’ve heard the tales of the lone warrior standing at the bridge or the narrow pass, sacrificially and heroically defying the efforts of a much larger attacking force, saving their comrades from certain death.
While many of these stories are of questionable veracity, John Ripley’s actions at the Dong Ha bridge are both legendary, and true.
In April 1972, the Communist North Vietnamese launched a conventional invasion of South Vietnam, seeking to overwhelm the forces defending the Republic, in order to achieve final victory.
During what would later become known as the “Easter Offensive,” (then) Captain Ripley was assigned as a military adviser to a South Vietnamese Marine infantry battalion. Ordered to hold or destroy the bridge over the Cua Viet River, these lightly armed infantryman were the only thing standing between North Vietnamese armored forces, and the whole of Quang Tri province.
Ripley was there to “advise,” and to coordinate US air and naval fire support if needed. He understood the gravity of the situation, as well as the fact that this battalion of Vietnamese Marines couldn’t possibly repel the forces attempting to cross the bridge. The bridge needed to be destroyed.
Locating a supply of explosives, Ripley made multiple trips back and forth under the bridge, swinging “monkey bar style” to place and arm the demolition charges, and he did this while under constant, direct enemy tank and machine-gun fire.
Once the charges were emplaced, Ripley rigged improvised detonators, using hand grenade fuses, and successfully destroyed the bridge.
His actions essentially halted the invasion, buying South Vietnam three additional years of freedom, and saved countless lives.
This heroic feat is a shining example of not only physical courage, but moral courage as well.
2. Simo “Simuna” Häyhä
You may have heard of Navy SEAL Sniper Chris “the Legend” Kyle, credited with more than 150 enemy kills.
You may have heard of US Marine Sniper Carlos “White Feather” Hathcock, credited with 93 confirmed kills.
You may have heard of famed Soviet Red Army Sniper Vassily “Vasya” Zeytsev, credited with killing 225 Wehrmacht soldiers during the battle of Stalingrad.
But have you heard of Simo “the White Death” Häyhä?
When one thinks of the Soviet Union’s experience in World War II, it is quite common to consider it in terms of the heroic Red Army defending “Mother Russia” from Nazi aggression. What is often forgotten is the fact that the Soviet Union engaged in aggressive territorial expansion of their own, first in Poland (in concert with the Germans), and then against their northern neighbor, Finland.
The 1939-40 “Winter War” began when large Soviet forces invaded, after Finland had refused Josef Stalin’s territorial demands.
Simo was a lowly private, a member of his local militia, when the war began. He was also an accomplished hunter and woodsman, accustomed to roaming the forests of the Finnish/ Russian border.
He was a masculine, common man.
During a period of 100 days, “The White Death,” as he was known by Soviet soldiers due to his mastery of winter camouflage, was credited with and astounding 259 enemy kills.
Considering that Simo was armed with a standard-issue bolt-action infantry rifle, operating in -40 F temperatures and arctic conditions, only makes his actions that much more heroic.
It took an exploding enemy bullet, destroying the left side of his jaw, to end his reign of vengeance upon those who had invaded his country. Simo survived his wounds and went on to live a long life as a national hero in Finland.
When asked how he became such a deadly accurate shot, he replied, “practice.”
Häyhä is another example of what one man, using his masculine genius, can accomplish.
3. The Crew of the USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)
Unless you are a dedicated student of US Naval history, you may not have heard of this fine ship, or its crew of masculine heroes.
The Samuel B. Roberts was a Butler-class Destroyer Escort, named for another masculine hero, USN Coxswain Samuel Booker Roberts, awarded the Navy Cross (posthumously) for his brave actions during the battle for Guadalcanal.
If you aren’t an expert on WW II US Naval vessel nomenclature and characteristics, I’ll try to simplify this description: A Destroyer Escort is about as small as you can get, with regards to a surface-combatant, and still be considered a “warship.” Designed to detect and attack enemy submarines, its main armament was two 5-inch naval guns, with a range of about 18,000 yards (10 miles), and three Mark-15 torpedoes, with a range of 6,500 yards (3.7 miles).
This may sound impressive, but when you consider what this little ship and its heroic crew were called upon to do, you will understand how little they had with which to do it.
During what would later be called the “Battle Off Samar (Island),” part of the larger battle of Leyte Gulf, in October 1944, the Roberts was part of naval force “Taffy 3” assigned to screen ships supporting the amphibious landings on the Philippine island of Leyte.
The US heavy warships, including Battleships and Fleet Carriers, had been drawn away by a Japanese ruse, which was part of a complex plan to enable a large enemy surface force to pounce on the unsuspecting inferior US naval forces, supporting the landings.
This enemy force consisted of three battleships, including the most powerful battleship every built, the Yamato, five heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and eleven destroyers. “Taffy 3” consisted of several light “Jeep” escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer-escorts, like the Roberts, with the largest naval gun in this tiny force being 5-inch.
In contrast, the Yamato was armed with nine 18-inch guns, with a range of 25 miles. The combined weight of fire of the Japanese force dwarfed that of US forces.
Following in the wake of the equally heroic USS Johnston (DD-557), a Fletcher-class Destroyer whose Captain Ernest J. Evans would be awarded the Medal of Honor, the little Roberts closed within torpedo range to do everything that she could to meet the enemy. Preparing the ship for immediate action, the Roberts’ Captain, Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland addressed the crew:
This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.
The ensuing battle found the Roberts trading broadsides with ships many times larger. She fired her complete store of 5-inch shells, launched every torpedo in her holds, and did indeed inflict significant damage on the enemy.
The example set by her heroic crew inspired every ship in “Taffy 3” to fight with everything they had…and they forced the enemy to retire with several ships lost or damaged, saving the landing force.
The battle was costly for the Roberts as well.
The “destroyer escort that fought like a battleship” was lost to enemy fire, along with several of its heroic crew.
The First of Many…
History provides us with innumerable examples of authentically masculine heroes, and I hope to present many more to you, in future articles.
For now, be bold. Be authentic. Be a masculine hero.
You stand on the shoulders of giants, who were but common men, until the time came for them to be heroes.
Share this Post
If you enjoyed this, you may also like: