“Robert Ripley spent considerable time, money and effort doing charitable fundraisers during WWII, and his most successful and memorable contest in 1945 was a testament to his patriotism and appreciation for the young men and women who so valiantly defended our beliefs and country – often making the ultimate supreme sacrifice for freedom,” said Edward Meyer, Ripley’s VP of Exhibits and Archives. “Today we still pay honor and respect to our military heroes and their families with military discounts available at all of our participating attractions.”
As Memorial Day approaches, Ripley’s shares some of the unbelievable military facts and stories from the company archives.
•Matthew Little, a seaman for 70 years, served in 4 wars. His ship was sunk by a German U-boat in WWI, sunk twice in WWII and he spent 5 days in a lifeboat; and was in charge of a ferry that rescued 1200 men at Dunkirk and was sunk for the 4th time. He survived them all – only to be hit by a truck in Baltimore.
•In 1943 MSgt John Hassebrock of Buffalo Center, Iowa, received a 3-day pass to marry a WAC Corporal before he went overseas. They lost track of each other until one night in France he made a convoy to the front lines and went to a farm house to spend the night. There he unexpectedly ran into his wife – on the exact day and hour of their wedding one year earlier.
•Gunner’s Mate Allen C. Heyn was saved 3 times in 3 minutes by his equipment. When his boat, the Juneau, was sunk by a Japanese submarine, his life was saved by his helmet, which was crushed and his skull fractured. 2 minutes later, he sank with the ship, but his life jacket brought him up where he was saved by a raft. He was the only survivor of the 12 men on the raft.
•Pvt. Leo Carrara was the indestructible man. He was with the 6th Armored Division. A German bomb destroyed his half track and killed 12 men and only Pvt. Carrara escaped, although he was badly wounded. His sergeant tried to save him and was killed, his lieutenant tried to save him and was killed and his litter bearer tried to save him and was killed.
•Lt. Commander Robert W. Goehring, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter U.S.S. Duane, was swept off his ship by a mountainous wave during a storm. The ship was turned around to rescue him when suddenly another giant wave tossed him back on board to safety!
•Joe Frank Jones of the 8th Army Air Force fell 13,000 feet and suffered no broken bones. Returning from his 22nd mission over Germany in a Fortress, he collided in mid-air and fell 13,000 feet in the severed tail section of his plane – without serious injury and no broken bones.
•Lt. Fred J. Fees, Jr. continued to direct air strikes after he had been shot through the head!
•Walter J. Alliman carried an 1855 penny that brought good fortune to fighting men in 5 wars.
•James Ward of La Grange, N.C. enlisted in the Army at 14, served two years, including five months in combat in Korea, was made a Sergeant – then when discovered, he was discharged for being underage.
•U.S. Infantryman Donald Morehouse was shot through the chest while fighting in the Korean War and walked 35 miles to safety – and later learned that the bullet had gone through his heart!
•Bob Weiland, who lost both legs in 1969 in Vietnam to a land mine while trying to save a fellow soldier, “walked”
•Pvt. William Parker, a soldier in the U.S. Army fighting in Vietnam, survived after a shot to his head was deflected by the bible he kept underneath his helmet!
•Pfc. Billy Campbell of the 101st Airborne Division serving in Vietnam, survived being shot in the chest when the bullet deflected off a spoon he was carrying in his breast pocket!
•During the Vietnam war, American soldiers tossed “Slinky” toys over tree branches to serve as radio antennas.
•Wayne Reymar of Alberta, Canada had two pieces of shrapnel removed from his chest 32 years after he was wounded during the Vietnam war.
Iraq & Afghanistan:
•U.S. Army Pvt. Channing Moss survived a body hit from an anti-vehicular rocket in Afghanistan when the explosive head broke off just before he was impaled by the rocket shaft.
•U.S. soldiers in Iraq use a child’s toy, Silly String, to detect tripwire-activated traps.
•Jim Dillinger, a 45-year-old retired soldier from Mount Orab, Ohio, spent a year-long tour of duty in Iraq as a combat engineer – due to a clerical error!
•For the help he provided to residents of Iraq, the locals have made U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Dale Horn an honorary Sheik.
For more “Believe It or Not!” military stories, please visit the Ripley's Newsroom.
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