25 War Heroes You Probably Never Heard Of

Posted by , Updated on August 11, 2014

There’s a lot of factors and a lot of sacrifice that goes into the makes of a War Hero.  War heroes, like Paul Revere, are well known. However, there are also war heroes that a lot of people have never heard of. Unheralded as they maybe, they are worthy of commendation for very few people are willing to endure what these 25 war heroes you probably never heard of have endured.

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Second Lieutenant Rajeev Sandhu


A second lieutenant in the Indian Army, Sandhu’s group was ambushed while making their way to obtain rations while on deployment in Sri Lanka. A rocket coming from the assailants hit Sandhu’s truck and killed all of them but before the Second Lieutenant succumbed, he was able to kill the assailants with his assault rifle. Sandhu was posthumously given the Maha Vir Chakra, the equivalent of a Purple Heart.


Ivar B. Knudsen


Although not much is known of his life, we do know that Knudsen was one of the founders of the Millorg, which later developed into Norway’s major resistance movement during World War 2. Rumor has it that he was responsible for drawing maps for the Allied Powers. He received several awards after the war before dying of cancer in 1952. Unfortunately much of his story has been lost to time.


Vicente Lim


Lim was the very first Filipino graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Although he played a crucial role in the Pacific theatre during World War II, he was captured by the Japanese in January of 1945 and executed by firing squad. His likeness has been commemorated on the country’s one thousand peso bill.


Allan McLane


Allan Mclane was an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution under the command of then General George Washington. He is well known for having used most of his fortune he inherited after his father died to fund his own company as far as payment and equipment for the troops. They managed to earn themselves the nickname “Market Stoppers”. Mclane also famously warned General Washington of his suspicion of Benedict Arnold’s loyalty prematurely.


General Muhammadu Shuwa


Genereal Muhammadu Shuwa was a well known Nigerian war hero. In spite of all his military training however, Shuwa was known as a patriot and a pacifist.  According to president Goodluck Jonathan: “General Muhammadu Shuwa was a symbol of unity and humility who served his fatherland selflessly”.  Shuwa retired from the military in 1979 but was tragically assassinated by four assailants in 2012 in front of his home.


“Mad” Anne Bailey


Anne Bailey (or “Mad Anne” as she was also known) is known for  her heroic act during the Northwest Indian War in 1791 where  she made a legendary 100 mile ride to Fort Savannah at Lewisburg in order to retrieve  much needed ammunition for the Colonial soldiers trapped in Fort Lee.  Her path took her through dangerous wilderness but she rode both directions successfully and is credited with saving Fort Lee.


Private Austin Dabney


Another “unknown” hero during the American Revolution, Austin Dabney was a slave who fought against the British. When the Georgia Militia was called up for the war, Dabney’s master sent him in his place. In order to address objections concerning Dabney’s slave status, his master claimed Dabney had been born free. Dabney fought bravely and was seen as war hero by many. He was given his freedom after the war.


Eugene Bullard


Bullard was the first ever African American pilot and saw action during World War I. He then became a pilot in the Lafayette Flying Corps in the FrenchAeronautique Militaire and on August 17, 1917 was assigned to the 93rd Spad Squadron. He took part in about twenty combat missions and was credited with shooting down two German aircraft.  Because of his wounds during the Battle of Verdun he was awarded the Croix de Guerre from the French.


John “Jimmy” Thach


An aviator, air combat tactician and later US Navy admiral, Thach developed what’s known as the Thach Weave, which is a combat formation that can counter enemy fighters that have superior performance. He also developed the Big Blue Blanket, a type of aerial defense that can counter kamikaze attacks. His tactics have been responsible for numerous victories and have a left a mark on military tacticians everywhere.


Joe Foss


Joseph Jacob “Joe” Foss was one of the leading fighter aces of the US Marine Corps during World War II and was recognized for his performance during the Guadalcanal Campaign, thus getting awarded with a Medal of Honor.


Knud Christiansen


Christiansen was part of the Danish Freedom Fighters in WWII. He engaged in sabotage in order to slow down the Nazi war machine. He was also a member of the Danish Resistance, where he worked in a rescue network that saved numerous escaping Jews.


Muhammad Mahmood Alam


Air Commodore Mohammad Mahmood Alam was a Pakistani hero in the Pakistan-India War of 1965. Commander of the number 11 squadron,  Alam was a respected leader and a highly skilled pilot. In the war, he shot down five Indian war planes in under a minute, the first four in under 30 seconds.  In total he was able to shoot down nine war planes and thus set a combat record.


Sergeant Reckless


This war hero isn’t exactly human although she helped a great deal during the Korean War.  Sergeant Reckless was a Mongolian Mare who was beloved by the Marines for her incredible display of heroism and courage.  It was not uncommon for this mare to travel through highly active battle fields in order to bring ammunition and other supplies to the solders.  In one momentous day, Reckless made 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites, 95% of the time by herself.  She was able to move 386 rounds of ammunition (which is over 9,000 pounds!) over 35 miles of open rice paddies and up steep mountains.


Ira Hayes


Ira Hamilton Hayes, also known as Chief Falling Cloud to his Pima Native American tribe, was part of the small group who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima during WWII. He participated in the invasion of the island as well as the subsequent battle for it. His image has been immortalized in the now famous war picture.


Michael Patrick Murphy


Murphy was a lieutenant in the US Navy SEALs and was the first person to be awarded the highest military decoration, The Medal of Honor, for his service in the Afghan War. Additionally, he was the first member of the Navy to receive the award since Vietnam. His other awards include the Purple Heart and Silver Star. “Murph” as his friends called him was always known as a protector.  In 8th grade he stood up for a special needs child who was being bullied by his teenage peers.  Murph also protected a homeless man who was collecting cans from attackers. He chased away the attackers and helped the man pick up his cans. Sadly, Murph was killed on June 28, 2005, after his team was compromised and surrounded by Taliban forces near Asadabad, Afghanistan.


Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Ricthofen


You’ve probably never heard of Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen.  At least not by that name; However, Richtofen was a German fighter pilot with the Luftstreitkrafte, or Imperial German Army Air Service, during WWI. He is often considered the top ace of WWI having had 80 air combat victories but was eventually shot down and killed near Amiens in 1918. His name lives on, however, and you may recognize him as the Red Baron, arguably the most widely known fighter pilot of all time.


Talaiasi Labalaba


Talaiasi Labalaba was a Fijian Sergeant in B Squadron 22nd British Special Air Service or SAS, during the Battle of Mirbat, Oman in 1972. Labalaba heroically manned a 25-pound gun, which required three men, despite having suffered grievous wounds at the hands of rebels. Labalaba died performing this selfless heroic act which was crucial in helping to keep the insurgents pinned down until air force reinforcements arrived.


Chiune Sugihara


A Japanese diplomat who was stationed in Lithunia and acted as Vice-Consul for the Japanese Empire during WWII, Sugihara helped several thousand Jews in escaping the country. He issued transit visas to them in order for them to make their way to Japan.  Sugihara wrote visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family’s lives.  In 1985, Israel honored him as Righteous Among the Nations for his actions.


Tommy Prince


Thomas George “Tommy” Prince is known as the most decorated Aboriginal war veteran in Canada having served in both WWII as well as the Korean War. Prince was a superb marksman with exceptional tracking skills which he learned from countless days spent hunting in the wilderness around his Indian reserve. He attended Elkhorn Residential School from which he completed grade eight.  After Tommy left school,  he was employed at a variety of manual labor positions. He joined the army cadets while still a teenager.


Yang Genkui


Genkui is a hero from the Battle of Shanghai in 1937 and China’s last surviving soldier from that time. He was last reported by a local newspaper to be living with one of his sons near Chengdu City.


White Vision


Another animal war hero, White Vision was a WWII homing pigeon who served with the National Pigeon Service. She was responsible for delivering information regarding the location of a crashed British plane during WWII to rescuers, saving 11 lives.


Van Cliburn


Though not a war veteran, Van Cliburn was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at the age of 23 when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War.  This competition was meant to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority.  However, Van’s performance earned him high praise from the judges who gave Van the first prize and earned him credit for helping to ease tension between America and The Soviet Union. One could say he was something of a hero in the cultural war.


Daniel Inouye


Inouye enlisted in the US military in 1942 and soon after served in Europe as WWII ravaged the continent. He also served as Hawaii’s congressman from 1959-63 and then as it’s Democratic senator. Daniel was a Medal of Honor  recipient and a member of the President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 2010 until his death in 2012 making him the highest-ranking Asian American politician in U.S. history.


Billy Bishop


William Avery Bishop was Canada’s greatest air ace who served during WWI. He shot down a record 72 planes, second only to the Red Baron. Bishop was born in Owen Sound, Ontario on February 8th, 1894 and was the second of three children born to William A. and Margaret Bishop.  Bishop was instrumental in setting up and promoting the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.


Dmitry Donskoy


Saint Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy also known as Dmitry of the Don reigned as the Prince of Moscow from 1359 to his death in 1389. Donskoy was the first Moscow prince to openly challenge the authority of the Mongols in Russia. His nickname, Donskoy, alludes to his victory against the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo which took place on the Don River. He is revered as a Saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.

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