While fighting the Nazis in the Hurtgen Forest, Pedro Cano’s company was cut down by two machine gun nests. Cano ran through the thick forest (also a minefield) with a bazooka. Dodging interlocking machine guns, he single handedly took out both those two guns and, later, two more. Then, the next day, he personally took out three more machine gun placements. Those actions earned Cano the Medal of Honor.
If the meme above now makes sense, you can pass your thanks for learning that bit of military history to the social media platform Reddit. That’s where one Reddit user, called a redditor, is out to teach people the feats of America’s greatest World War II heroes. And he’s doing it through the internet’s universal language: memes.
For those unfamiliar with Reddit, it’s a kind of merit-based social network that offers both anonymity and sub-groups (called subreddits) based on user interests. In the democratic world of Reddit, the cream rises to the top of these subgroups. Other members of a subreddit will upvote or downvote posts based on relevance, interest and actual truth.
In the subreddit r/historymemes, a place where redditors post historically accurate memes and jokes, user Beaudeabreau decided it would be a cool idea to create a meme for every Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. He’s not a veteran, just a World War II history enthusiast.
As of October 2020, he’s made more than 60 memes describing the citations of America’s World War II heroes and is set to make one for all 473 recipients from that war, in alphabetical order. Here are a few more.
Cecil H. Bolton
While fighting in the Netherlands, Bolton was knocked unconscious by a German artillery explosion. When he woke-up, he’d decided they’d had enough of the enemy gun and, with two volunteers, stealthily crossed a freezing canal in chest-deep water.
Bolton and his men fought through machine guns, snipers and open ground to hit the Nazi .88mm artillery crew with a rocket. Wounded in their escape, Bolton crawled back to friendly lines, where he collapsed.
Herbert H. Burr
Burr was a tank gunner in the U.S. Army’s 11th Armored Division. Fighting in Germany in March 1945, his tank was assigned to check out a nearby road when the vehicle was hit by an enemy rocket. The rest of the crew bailed out but Burr took the wheel.
He first completed the mission and as he drove back to Allied lines, he encountered an enemy .88mm anti-tank gun. As it prepared to kill him, he drove straight at it, smashing it and scattering the gun crew. He also smashed the tank into a nearby truck before returning to safety.
Robert G. Cole
In the days following the D-Day landings in Normandy, Lt. Col. Robert Cole was leading his soldiers to capture the last four bridges to Carentan when his unit was suddenly pinned down by intense, heavy enemy fire. For an hour, the Nazis shot and wounded his men, never letting up for an instant.
Cole ordered his men to fix bayonets and stood up in front of his battalion as if the enemy wasn’t even there. Moving across open ground, his soldiers poured into the Nazis’ position and completely overran it. His leadership secured the Allied bridgehead across the Douve River.
Garlin M. Conner
Conner wouldn’t see his Distinguished Service Cross upgraded until President Donald Trump took office, but his story is no less amazing. While fighting in France, Conner ran across 400 yards of artillery fire while unspooling telephone wire so he could direct friendly fire on a cluster of Nazi tanks, tank destroyers and 600 enemy troops.
While lying prone on the ground, he called artillery fire on those troops as well as soldiers who were actively coming at him personally. For three hours, he held off an entire German task force. When they finally decided to throw everything at him, he called artillery down on his own position, determined to die if he had to. He survived, saving his battalion and throwing back a huge German force.
Raymond H. Cooley
Cooley was a soldier with the U.S. Army’s force attempting to take the Philippines back from the Japanese in 1945. In assaulting a heavily fortified beach with just his platoon, the Army officer realized they were facing a series of machine guns, riflemen and mortar positions. After destroying one gun with a grenade, he went on a rampage, running through the melee and assaulting position after position.
Inspired by the assault, one squad of his men followed him. He dropped grenades into enemy foxholes as he ran. As he armed one more, six enemy troops charged him. Knowing he couldn’t let it explode without hurting his own men, he covered it with his body, severely wounding himself. The rest of his unit mopped up the remainder of the beach.
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