It seems like every week there is a new reboot, or remake, of a well-worn Hollywood story. So, we asked our readers what real life military story they think deserves to be shown on the big screen. There are too many deserving stories for one article, but here the top 5 most common answers from our poll.
5. Major Lee
The recipient of the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts, Major Kurt Chew-Een Lee was the first Asian-American officer commissioned in the Marine Corps, and was deployed go Korea. Lee spoke fluent Mandarin, and would use this to lure enemy positions into complacency, allowing him to approach Chinese forces. Lee would then reward the enemy bunker with hand grenades. The first time Lee was shot, he stole a jeep to get back to his unit, walking the last 10 miles when it ran out of gas. Later on, Lee was tasked with spearheading the legendary reinforcement of Fox Company in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. He successfully navigated the 5 mile march through the mountains, at night, in the middle of a blizzard, using only a compass.
4. Henry Johnson
A member of the famed Harlem Hellfighters, William Henry Johnson was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in the face of impossible odds. Johnson was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre avec Palme, France’s highest award for valor, and the Distinguished Service Cross (posthumously). His battle field prowess was so well known, he was nicknamed “Black Death.” Johnson took on over a dozen enemy soldiers in hand to hand combat, to rescue a comrade that was being taken prisoner. President Theodore Roosevelt called Johnson one of the “five bravest Americans” to serve in WWI.
Despite this, it took 77 years for Johnson to receive an official Purple Heart for the 21 combat injuries he sustained in rescue. Denied his benefits, Johnson would die destitute, 11 years after retiring home to a hero’s welcome. His son, Herman, would go on to serve in the renowned Tuskegee Airmen.
3. David Hackworth
From private to Colonel, David Hackworth had a legendary career. He was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses, seven Silver Stars and four Purple Hearts, in Vietnam alone. This doesn’t even cover his time in Korea (three Silver Stars, four Purple Hearts).
After his service, he ruffled many feathers by criticizing military leaders with his column as a contributing editor at Newsweek. He authored several books, and was the real life inspiration of the iconic movie line, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
2. Chesty Puller
Lieutenant General Lewis “Chesty” Burwell Puller was awarded the Navy Cross five times for heroism and gallantry in action. He fought in Haiti, Nicaragua, WW2, Korea, and commanded the “Horse Marines” in China. In his 37 years in the US Marine Corps, he spent 27 of those years, at sea or overseas. Furthermore, he was known for his ruthlessness towards the enemy, and relentless desire to train his Marines.
1. Roy Benavidez
Master Sergeant Raul Perez “Roy” Benavidez was awarded the Medal of Honor after a daring rescue while assigned to Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. By the end, Benavidez suffered 37 puncture wounds, exposed intestine, and a broken jaw. He was pronounced dead, until he spit in the doctor’s face while they were zipping him up in a body bag. He was credited with denying the enemy access to a trove of classified materials, and saving the lives of at least eight men.