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10 of the Most Rebellious People Who Made Their Mark in History

Rebellious People

Would you believe that there was a 50% chance that the world could have ended in 1983 with a nuclear war between the US and Soviet Union? Throughout history, many men and women did exemplary work to help make a difference in many lives. They may not have a big-budget film or PR campaign to bring them to fame, but they managed to make it to be the most bad-ass individuals to ever walk on the face of the Earth with their courage and bravery. Here is a list of 10 of the most rebellious people who made their mark in history.

1. Stanislav Petrov single-handedly prevented an erroneous retaliatory nuclear attack in 1983. He refused to obey the Soviet Military Protocol on the United States and judged some incoming reports to be a false alarm. Petrov prevented what could have been the largest nuclear war ever to take place on Earth. There were no awards or punishment for him as the incident was kept secret for years. 

Stanislav Petrov
Image credit: hindustantimes

Petrov was a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Force. He was on a permanent mission with Russian Federation to the UN. According to their procedure, for nuclear retaliation, several sources have to confirm the attack. Petrov worked on a newly built launch system. The Soviet Union was expecting an attack from the US. 

His launch system showed five missiles launched against the Soviet Union. Instead of reporting the attack like any other military-trained soldier on that shift would have done, he declared the indication by the system as a false alarm.

If he were to have reported it as an attack, the Soviet Union would have launched a nuclear missile in retaliation, and this whole event would have started what would have been the largest nuclear war on the face of the Earth. 

The team realized that the system warning was indeed false and the setup was malfunctioning. This happens when the sunlight on high-altitude clouds causes a rare alignment. The error was later corrected with the help of a geostationary satellite which introduced a method of cross-referencing.

Petrov later confirmed that he was neither rewarded nor punished for his actions, and the incident details did not come out until 1990. He said his civilian training helped him to take such a crucial decision and stick to it, unlike his military-trained fellow soldiers. (Source)

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2. A “Ghost Camaro” made headlines during the Bosnian war. The former Danish Special Forces soldier, Helge Meyer, felt like it was his calling to help deliver relief and humanitarian support to citizens of the country in a tricked-out Camaro. The US Army engineers helped him camouflage this top-security car for the purpose of delivering supplies. 

Ghost Camaro
Image credit: Soren juul via bilmagasinet

During the Bosnian War, Danish Special Forces soldier, Helge Meyer, felt the urge to extend humanitarian support to people suffering from the war and made history.

With the help of the US Army, he managed to get hold of a 2nd-generation Chevrolet Camaro which later came to be known as the “Ghost Car.” He drove through dangerous conditions to deliver supplies to the war-stricken citizens of the country. 

The windows were replaced with steel plates, and the car was painted matte black that absorbs infrared light. It had body-heat detectors, and a night vision camera was added.

Meyer was provided with bulletproof armor and a helmet. The car with all these modifications could still go 125 mph in 13 seconds while carrying 400 kg of food and other supplies. This type of mission was unheard of in history.

Meyer’s efforts were appreciated as a “one-of-a-kind,” and the battalion commander was genuinely surprised by the concern he had for the affected people. (Source)

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3. Helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson stopped the My Lai Massacre in the Vietnam War. He and his team found US soldiers killing civilians in March 1968. He put his helicopter between the civilians and soldiers and ordered them to shoot their fellow soldiers who were attacking civilians. The pilot’s extraordinary bravery to stand against injustice saved the day and etched his name in history. 

Hugh Thompson
Hugh Thompson (Image to the left), Hiller H-23B Raven. Image credits: US Army/ntcsitesntcsites via Wikimedia, redstone via Wikimedia

Hugh Thompson helped stop one of the most infamous massacres in history during the Vietnam War. Thompson and his crew found US soldiers attacking civilians of the village My Lai on 16 March 1968. 

He was on a regular survey mission when he came across this nightmare. Thompson saw a villager asking for help and a US soldier raising his rifle and murdering him. He landed, got out of the cockpit, and begged the soldiers to not do it. The soldiers responded that he was just putting them out of misery. 

He took off and touched down again, this time between the bloodthirsty soldiers and a bunker filled with women and children. The brave pilot ordered his crew to open fire on any US soldier who was trying to attack the civilians.

He and his crew, with the help of supporting gunships, managed to stop the violence by holding the soldiers at gunpoint. (Source)

4. Desmond Doss, a medic in WWII, was the only soldier who did not use a gun to be awarded the Medal of Honor. His strong religious beliefs made it impossible for him to take a weapon and use it. He saved 75 men from Japanese soldiers in Okinawa by crawling to render aid to the wounded even though his life was at risk. Doss was later evacuated to protect his own health. 

Desmond Doss
Promoted after Okinawa, then-Corporal Desmond Doss shakes hands with President Harry S. Truman after receiving the Medal of Honor. Image credit: US National Archives via nationalww2museum

Desmond Doss belonged to a religion that opposed the war and the use of any weapons. He joined the army with non-combat roles as a medic. He was drafted to Newport News Naval Shipyard in 1942. Doss believed the war was just and decided to help save lives. He described himself as a “conscientious cooperator” to the war.

He still had to go through basic training. Doss was bullied constantly for not using weapons. He was quick to gain everybody’s respect, however, for saving a life. Once he landed in Okinawa, everybody had hopes that they will be saved if he was around. The Japanese opened fire from the trenches they have been building for a long time.

Unarmed, Doss continued to put himself in danger to help the wounded soldiers under enemy fire. He was severely wounded but put others first and continued to help other fighting soldiers. They had to evacuate him from the location to treat his wounds. (Source)

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5. Witold Pilecki was an intelligence agent, co-founder of a secret Polish army, a cavalry officer, and a resistance leader. He allowed himself to be captured by the Germans to get intel on the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Pilecki was the first to let the world know about the extermination of Jews and concentration camps. The documents he brought out from the prison came to the surface only recently and gave him all the recognition to somebody who was labeled as a traitor all this time. 

Witold Pilecki
Witold and Maria Pilecki in 1944. Image credit: Pilecki family via theguardian

The French Resistance was the famous one, but most of the Intel came from the Polish Underground during WWII. His first mission was to get arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Pilecki was able to gather information from the outside to send out to his allies and organize a resistance cell on the inside.

It was a voluntary mission. He spent two and half years of misery trying to build resistance when they were constantly beaten up and people voluntarily walked towards the fence and electrocuted themselves. 

He had prisoners who were released with the help of their families paying huge bribes memorize reports about the Nazi’s horrifying conditions. The agent kept asking for help from nations that were not ready to lend humanitarian support.

He finally escaped and built his resistance outside. but PTSD grabbed a hold of him. His reports didn’t come out until the 1990s. He was showered with awards and honors after these documents were discovered about the history of the events. (Source)

Also read: 10 Lesser-known Facts About Famous People

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