Ralph Waldo Emerson defined a “hero” beautifully. He said, “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” This article talks about such heroes and brings stories of unusual but remarkable saviors who deserve a mention. These ten heroes have done something extraordinary that was not expected out of them in the circumstances in which they found themselves. They displayed courage and put the lives of others ahead of their own. Read on…
1. Italian doctors made up a fake disease named “Syndrome K” to save the Jews who had taken shelter in their hospital. The doctors told the German soldiers that they had to be quarantined as the illness was contagious. The doctors saved at least 20 lives this way.
In the fall of 1943, in Italy, thousands of Jews were in danger. On October 16, 1943, the German soldiers raided a ghetto near Rome’s Tiber River. The doctors at the Fatebenefratelli Hospital including the doctors Vittorio Sacerdoti and Giovanni Borromeo devised a plan to save some of the Jews.
They came up with a fake disease, called “Syndrome K,” and diagnosed dozens of Jews positive for it. They told the soldiers that the disease was dangerous and could spread, and it was extremely necessary for the Jews to be quarantined.
Dr. Adriano Ossicini came up with the name “Syndrome K” which was actually a codeword for the staff to understand that the patient on whose papers the words were written was a Jew. The “K” in the name was taken from the surnames of two German officers, Herbert Kappler and Albert Kesselring.
The soldiers, when told about the syndrome, did not inspect the patients worried that they might catch the disease. There were children too who had to be protected so the doctors at the hospital taught them how to fake coughing. In an unusual way, these doctors saved more than 20 lives. Their efforts were recognized 60 years later. (source)
2. A railways dispatcher, Vince Coleman, sacrificed his life to warn an incoming train of an explosion that was imminent. He sent telegraph messages in time instead of fleeing his post and saved 300 lives.
On December 6, 1917, two ships, the SS Imo and SS Mont-Blanc, collided in the Narrows, a strait in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Intercolonial railways dispatcher, Patrick Vincent Coleman (Vince), was working at the railyard about 750 feet away from the site of the explosion.
He knew that SS Mont-Blanc was laden with cargo that could explode as it was already burning. He began to flee. Then he remembered that passenger train No. 10 from Saint John, New Brunswick was heading in their direction and was in danger. He returned to his post.
Coleman sent several urgent telegraph messages asking the train to stop knowing that he was not going to make it. He sent the warning message asking to “hold up” and ended it with, “Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye, boys.” All the stations along the Intercolonial Railway heard his message which made all the trains heading to Halifax stop.
The passenger train that he had remembered about had 300 passengers on board. Their lives were saved, but Coleman’s was not. His name was included in the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame in 2004. (source)
3. Tilly Smith, a 10-year-old British girl saved the lives of at least a hundred beachgoers before the 2004 tsunami struck the Maikhao Beach in Thailand. She warned them after reading the signs of the tsunami that she had learned only two weeks ago in school.
Tilly Smith was 10 years old when she saved the lives of at least a hundred foreign tourists at the Maikhao Beach in Thailand by remembering what she had learned in school in Oxshott, Surrey as a part of her geography lesson two weeks ago.
In 2004, she was on the beach with her parents when she saw the water receding from the shore and frothing bubbles in the sea. She recognized these as the signs of a tsunami and told her parents. They alerted the beachgoers and the staff at the hotel where they were staying.
Because of Smith’s observation and presence of mind, the beach was evacuated before the tsunami actually hit the shore saving a lot of lives. The beach was one of the few beaches that reported no loss of lives in 2004. She was hailed a hero and was awarded. An asteroid 20002 Tilly smith is named after her. She also was at the United Nations in November 2005. (source)
4. Known as the “Snake Man,” Bill Haast injected himself with snake venom every day for over 60 years. He was bitten by venomous snakes more than 170 times. By donating his blood he saved countless lives with his anti-body rich blood.
When Bill Haast, a scientist, passed away in 2011, he was 100 years old and had handled three million poisonous snakes in his lifetime. For 60 years of his life, he injected himself every day with snake venom from 32 different species of snakes. Because of this habit, his blood became rich with antibodies. He donated it to 21 different snake-bite victims across the globe and saved their lives.
Once in Venezuela, he went deep into a jungle to donate blood for a boy who had been bitten by a snake. Although it wasn’t for all kinds of snake venom, his blood was an antidote for many. Haast was seven when he first caught a snake.
When he was a child and brought a snake home, his mother left the house for three days. His obsession with snakes also led to the divorce of his first wife. (source)
5. In 1907, Jesus Garcia, a Mexican railroad brakeman, saved the entire town of Nacozari. He single-handedly drove a burning train containing dynamite six kilometers away from the town. He lost his life in the process.
Like a hero in a movie, Jesus Garcia drove a burning train and sacrificed his life to save an entire town. A Mexican railroad brakeman for the line between Nacozari, Sonora, and Douglas, Arizona, Garcia is a national hero in Mexico, and a lot of places and things are named after him.
On November 7, 1907, Garcia was resting when he saw that the hay atop a dynamite-loaded car of a train had caught fire. The train’s firebox had failed and the sparks were coming out of the smokebox. The sparks were carried by the wind, igniting the hay.
Acting swiftly, he drove the train downhill in reverse for six kilometers at full speed before the train blew up. The entire population of the town was spared because of his quick thinking. (source)