Men with Moxie: Peter Lemon

The Vietnam War wasn’t the best war. No, that honor definitely goes to WWII. Now that was a war. Larger-than-life villains, espionage, codes, submarine warfare? Yeah, fighting in a bug-ridden jungle was no WWII. But that doesn’t mean the Vietnam War wasn’t chock full of just as many heroes as every war before it.

One such hero is our Moxie Man of the Week, Medal of Honor recipient Peter Lemon. Before you read on, not that he was not born an American, rather, a Canadian. Born on June the 5th, he is the 3rd youngest medal of honor recipient.

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During a fierce battle near the Cambodian border in 1970, Lemon single-handedly fought off a group of enemy soldiers. He shot at them with  his rifle and machine gun until both broke, then moved on to grenades. When there was only one soldier left, Lemon chased him down and killed him with his bare hands.

During a lull in the action, though he was himself injured, Lemon took the time to carry a wounded comrade to an aid station. It was during this that Lemon picked up his second bullet. But was he done?

Our Men with Moxie never are.

Returning to his post through a hail of gunfire, continued to fight off the enemy with grenades until they began to retreat. Then he found another machine gun, ran up a nearby hill, and stood there like freaking King Kong firing down on the retreating enemy soldiers. Until he passed out right there from blood loss.

I mean really, with a fistful of shrapnel and a couple bullets in him, our moxie man decides he needs a new position to better represent the enormity of his manliness.

But that’s not even the best part. The best part is that Peter Lemon fought off two waves of Viet Cong while stoned off his gourd. Like many other American troops at the time, Lemon was regularly smoking locally-grown marijuana. And while the craziest thing most people have done high was eat an entire carton of ice cream, Lemon killed two platoons of soldiers single-handedly. 

And that takes some serious moxie.

Men with Moxie: Alexander Selkirk

By now, you’ve all heard of our Man of Moxie series. Does the name Alexander Selkirk sound familiar? No? How about Roberson Crusoe? Because Selkirk was the guy Daniel Defoe based his famous island survivor on. Often truth is stranger than fiction. Such is the case with Mr. Selkirk.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend.
The Man, The Myth, The Legend.

Fighting on orders of the Queen, Selkirk fought as a buccaneer, pilfering Spanish ships in the South Pacific Ocean. However, on one expedition, he expressed a lack of faith in the vessel he was sailing on. In an act of supreme foresight, Selkirk proclaimed that he would rather stay on an unoccupied island in the South Pacific than continue on in the rickety vessel. Such Moxie…

So the captain obliged, stranding him on Juan Fernández Islands with his gear and nothing else. (Turns out Selkirk was right, as the ship sunk off the coast of Columbia. The crew ended up in Spanish prisons.)

His first days on the island were spent miserably eating shellfish and regretting his decision. Then, to add insult to injury, a bunch of sea lions moved onto the beach and forced him from his recent home. This turned out to be a boon for Selkirk, however, as he soon discovered feral goats that past sailors had introduced to the island.

So, like Greg from Meet the Parents, our survivor man decided to milk these little goats.

Selkirk and Goat
Selkirk and Goat

Oh then he found some wild white turnips, cabbage, and peppers.

So he was eating like a king, but then another problem crept up–rats. Aggressive and hungry rodents began hassling Selkirk at night once he moved inland. So he did what any Moxie Man would do–he domesticated a grip of feral cats to defend him.

You read that right, our man who was living in the lap of luxury, eating goat cheese over a bed of cabbage and turnips, had his own personal “kitty Secret Service.:

At one point during his exile, a Spanish galleon came ashore. Preferring his island prison to a real one back on land, Selkirk managed to evade the Spanish until they gave up looking for him. How did they know he was there? Because he had built himself two huts. The man had a bloody guest hut. I guess it’s true about the British always being ready to entertain company.

Selkirk's Huts
Selkirk’s Huts

Selkirk was eventually rescued by another British privateering ship. Well, they were actually rescued by him. After the crew came ashore suffering from scurvy, Selkirk caught 2-3 goats a day, feeding them and restoring them to health. He probably would have built them all a hut if he’d had the time.

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Men with Moxie: John Harlan Willis

Both of my grandfathers were WWII veterans and they enjoyed regaling me with tales of their adventures. One grandfather was on a ship sunk in the Mediterranean, swam to shore, ended up in Egypt, and eventually bummed his way back up to England. There are countless of exceptional stories about WWII. I mean, that’s why the History Channel used to be WWII 24/7/365. One such story is the tale of Medal of Honor recipient John Harlan Willis–our Man of Moxie for this Week.

Mr. John Harlan Willis joined the Navy back in 1940 and was promoted multiple times throughout his service. His tour was relatively uneventful until the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. (Did you know Iwo Jima means “Sulfur Island”? That’s gross.)

baby-faced bravery

There he was injured and ordered to return to a battle aid station. But men with Moxie don’t easily retreat. Disobeying orders, he pushed to the front through artillery and sniper fire. At the extreme front of the line, he found an injured marine in a shell-hole. There, he calmly began administering blood plasma to the dying marine. But this is where Willis turned up the Moxie to 11.

Having just started the blood plasma, a Japanese grenade landed in the hole, which Willis looked at, shrugged, and tossed back. Then, seven more grenades came flying into the hole in quick succession. So, positively dripping with Moxie, Willis calmly threw back each one.

One handed. Because, he was busy administering a blood plasma the whole time 

Finally, the Japanese figured out that they were in fact battling Babe Ruth (Japanese Kamikaze pilots would sometimes yell “to hell with Babe Ruth!” before crashing their ships. They thought that was a pretty fine insult) and decided to throw a cooked grenade. This last grenade thrown would also be the final grenade, as it exploded in Willis’ hand killing him instantly.

But it doesn’t stop there. Motivated by his valor Moxie, his companions, though vastly outnumbered, rallied and pushed back the Japanese troops. So I’d say Willis’ actions alone justify a holiday. But there are millions more like him. Maybe we should just go ahead and make it Memorial Week.

Cheers to you John Harlan Willis.

(Have a great suggestion for our next Men with Moxie post? Let us know @mancrates )

Men with Moxie: Vance Flosenzier

We don’t all get a chance to face our own mortality (although we did talk about that last week). Most of us are probably going to die in a hospital bed peeing in a can. But some people reject that fate; like our Man of Moxie for the Week, Vance Flosenzier, the Shark Slayer.

In 2002, Flosenzier’s and his eight-year-old nephew Jessie Arbogast (what’s up with these last names, seriously) were playing at a Florida beach when Jessie was attacked by a 7 foot shark. He was only in three feet of water, but the shark was feeling hungry. He must not have seen the memo that Vance freakin’ Flosenzier was visiting the beach that day.

Because– Vance Flosenzier is crazy, and full of Moxie.

Note: Image Not to Scale
Note: Image Not to Scale

Not hesitating for a moment, Flosenzier waded into the ocean, grabbed the “apex predator” by the tail, and dragged it onto the beach. Because no one gives a crap about a fair fight when your opponent has an eight-year-old’s arm in their mouth.

So there they are on the beach, hot sun rolling off their shoulders, blood soaking the sand. Flosenzier holds the shark down with one foot, watching the resilient shark flop and defiantly struggle to give up its meal. He turns to the park ranger next to him and mutters, “do it.” The ranger pulls out his revolver and fills the shark with hot lead. Flosenzier’s only regret is that the ranger was there in the first place. Otherwise, he would have just punched the thing to death.

Because Flosenzier is a Man with Moxie.

His nephew later made a full recovery, but the shark…no that thing is dead. Flosenzier even went as far to make sure they retrieved the arm and re-attached it to his nephew in the following days. So the next time you see a shark attack, your reaction should be mindless. Grab that Shark tail, take him down, and drag that to the beach.

It’s what any man with moxie would do.

who wouldn’t fight this thing?

Men with Moxie: Peter Francisco

There are a lot of notable war heroes. Patton, Leonidas, any of the dudes in Black Hawk Down. But I’ve noticed that so very few of them were from the Revolutionary War. Sure there were some badass Patriots, but no one discusses their triumphs in the manly detail they deserve. I mean, really, how exciting is a bunch of dudes lining up in a row to shoot at another line of dudes?

Yawn.

That isn’t to say the War of Colonial Aggression was without its blood-splattered heroes. Take Peter Francisco–our Man of Moxie for the Week–he was found abandoned as a youth dressed like a nobleman, and was therefore raised as such. Truth be told, even if his parents were rich, they probably still weren’t able to feed him.

Ugly? Maybe. But don’t say it to his face.

Why? Because at age FOURTEEN, he was 6’6″ and 260. He was basically born to swing swords into peoples’ faces. Oh and don’t forget, back then the average height of a man was 5’6″. (Yeah that’s right, the average human height has been consistently rising over the last few thousand years. So if you’re a short dude who can’t find a girlfriend, sorry, but it’s been going on for millenia.)

Like so many youth of the day, Francisco was swept up in revolutionary fervor. He joined the army at 15 and was quickly stabbed and shot a few times. But that’s just a precursor to the triumphs that he would soon accomplish. His first major action was during the Battle of Stony Point where Francisco made a name for himself as a fearless monster. With a dachshund-sized gash in his side, he was the second man in the British base where me managed to manhandle three men to death and capture the ol’ Iron Jack.

Peter Francisco – making stamp collecting manly

Did the grip of injuries he’d incurred all before his 16th b-day stop our Moxie Man from digging his fingernails into the back of war? Not even a little  bit. Not even at all.

He reenlisted and during a retreat following a fierce battle, Francisco noticed a cannon the retreating Americans had abandoned. So, of course, he picked up the 1,100 pound cannon and lugged it to a Colonial-held position.

To put it in perspective: My biggest challenge at 16 was learning how to parallel park.

By this point, everyone knew that our boy Pete was not to be screwed with. But knowing about how unstoppable he was didn’t save anyone’s life at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. During that battle, someone pinned his leg to his horse with a spear. Instead of freaking out, Francisco grabbed the spear, pulled it toward him, and cut the soldier’s head off. What the hell. And he kept fighting, going on to kill like eleven dudes. That is until he was stabbed in the other leg. Lying in a field bleeding to death, he was rescued by a Quaker who was checking the battlefield for wounded.

It’s a pretty unfair fight when you’re taller than your opponent’s horse.

This is where most men without moxie would have stopped. But Francisco wasn’t done quite yet. In his final enlistment acting as a scout, he was ambushed in a pub by a British raiding expedition. As you’ve come to expect, he killed one of the nine men and injured the other eight, before stealing every single one of their horses and riding away with naught but a bullet wound in his side. But none the matter, at this point he was more musket ball than man. Oh and he was only 21.

The rest of his life was relatively uneventful and his death was so inglorious I won’t mention it here. Peter Francisco shall be remembered as a true Man of Moxie. Because while some men fight back by playing dress-up and throwing tea into the ocean, other men fight 9 dragoons in a pub and steal all their horses.

Have a suggestion for an inductee into our MEN WITH MOXIE hall of fame? Hit us up on twitter @mancrates

Men with Moxie: John Wesley Powell

This week’s Man with Moxie is a bit of a throwback. You may not have learned about John Wesley Powell in your American history course, but you damn well should have. Powell was born in 1834 to a poor family. However, this didn’t stop him from quickly obtaining a college degree (no small feat in the middle of the 19th century). Powell then fought in the Civil War for the Union where he lost most of an arm.

Meet Mr John Wesley Powell
Meet Mr John Wesley Powell

But none of this is the reason he is our Moxie man of the week. No, in fact, losing an arm in the Civil War is one of the more tame parts of Powell’s life.

In 1867, Powell set off to explore the West. Not content to simply walk around amid unknown dangers and potentially hostile natives, Powell’s favorite means of travel was by rickety canoe down deadly rivers. Instead of exploring around the Grand Canyon on foot, he chose to raft down the entirely unexplored  Colorado River and observe the country from there.

Choosing to travel by deadly rapids (with only one rowing arm) instead of walking–now that takes moxie.

Major Powell's famous armchair boat on the Colorado River In the Grand Canyon. August 22, 1872
Major Powell’s famous armchair boat on the Colorado River In the Grand Canyon. August 22, 1872

To add awesome to badass, he approached all of his explorations with an almost comical curiosity. Instead of being intimidated by natives, Powell would engage them to learn more of their culture. On one expedition, three of his men went missing and he suspected that Shivwit warriors were responsible. He later returned to investigate, and once he found the Shivwit tribe, instead of demanding retribution, he simply asked them why they had killed his men. Then they all sat back and smoked a whole bunch of pot. You know, for science.

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No really, while other explorers and expansionists were pushing into the West, slaughtering native tribes and raising general hell, John Wesley Powell was passing around a Peace Pipe with the same guys who had killed three of his men. Now that’s a lot of moxie for a dude with one arm.

Fishing: How to Remove a Fishhook from an Enemy’s Ear

Like most siblings, we fought. (a lot) But that didn’t mean we didn’t love each other. We weren’t enemies per se–  it just seemed like we were to the general public. Take, for example, our regular family camping trip. We would find a remote spot to set up camp in the high Uinta Mountains in northern Utah and spend a few days fly fishing and catching salamanders. However, just because we were a million miles from civilization didn’t mean we were unable to produce mischief.

During one trip, my brother and I spent hours poking pin-prick holes into my sister’s waders so when she stepped into a pond to hunt salamanders, she immediately found herself waterlogged and unable to move. Generally it was just fun and games and no one got hurt. That is, until the fishhook incident.

I was somewhere in the neighborhood of double digits, and my brother had just reached his teens. So he was a green Boy Scout, fresh off his first scout camp, and eager to show off his new skills. Unfortunately, I gave him his first chance.

This is not my brother.

Sure, I’d been fly fishing for quite some time, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t still difficult. The rod was like three times taller than me and I still needed my dad’s help every time to get a fish off the hook. And sometimes when the fish weren’t biting, I’d get bored and play Zorro. (The fact that Zorro’s whip was not attached to a long pole had no bearing on my fantasy. Ah the folly of youth.)

Eventually, my luck ran out and during a sunny afternoon of playing Zorro, I ended up with a fishhook embedded firmly in my ear. There were grasshoppers all over the river that year, so naturally I was using a grasshopper fly with, you guessed it, the biggest, meanest hook you could imagine.

After the few moments inherent to childhood pain of thinking, “I wonder if this hurts enough to justify crying,” I began wailing.

However, the only family member in earshot was my brother George. Things were about to get much worse.Lumbering down the riverbed in his waders, he eventually saw the grasshopper firmly implanted in my ear, and a huge grin spread across his face.

“Don’t worry,” he yelled, not breaking his stride. George calmly explained to me that he’d JUST learned how to remove fishhooks in his most recent scout camp. “Lennie had one just like this and the scoutmaster showed us how to get it out. It’s super easy,” he reassured me.

As any anglers out there are aware, removing a fishhook from skin is, in fact, relatively easy. It’s a matter of pushing it through the skin and breaking or squeezing the barb. Then, you simply pull the hook out the way it came in.

See? Super easy.

Easier said than done when you’re an overeager 13-year-old with a guinea pig for a little brother.

Twenty excruciating minutes later, I felt that if my ear was amputated, I’d count that as a win. When my father finally came back downstream, he found what looked like a scene out of Saw–my brother, hands covered in blood, holding me down with one knee as my ear dripped blood all over my face. There was no telling where the hook even was anymore.

Needless to say, I’m much more cautious when I fly fish now. And if I ever hook myself again, I’ll probably just leave it in there.

Fly Flishing, who knew it would lead to a pierced ear?
Fly Flishing, who knew it would lead to a pierced ear?

 

Zombie Survival – Test Your Zombie Survival Rating

Zombie survival isn’t all about preparedness. You can buy all the weapons and rations you want and read all the literature you can find but when the big day comes, it’s about how you perform, not how ready you are. Reacting properly to a zombie banging at your door is far more important to your survival than how many guns you have in your basement.

But we wouldn’t tell you all this if we didn’t have a plan to help. So take a minute to test your zombie survival skills with our quick Zombie Survival Quiz.

(Answers below)

  1. You hear reports on the news that your city has been overrun. With smoke rising in the distance, you still aren’t quite prepared to move out. What is your first course of action?
  2. You are woken up in the middle of the night to groaning and banging on the doors and windows. There wasn’t adequate warning and now the horde has surrounded your house. What’s the plan?
  3. You come across an abandoned apartment complex. You’re on foot and a vehicle sounds great. In front of you are a mountain bike, dirtbike, and a Jeep. Which do you take?
  4. Your travel companion has been bitten. You heard of a still-operating military base that has the cure. Do you go alone or take him?  

Answers Continue reading Zombie Survival – Test Your Zombie Survival Rating

Men with Moxie – Not Just a Crappy Soda Anymore

Pluck. Spunk. Grit. Cheek. Moxie.

Some men have it; some men don’t. Others–a rare few–have moxie by the truckload.  But most men just don’t know what it is.

mox·ie noun Slang.

1.vigor; verve; pep.
2.courage and aggressiveness; nerve.
3.skill; know-how.

Now you know what it means, but the best part is where it came from. Back in the late 1800s, when other soft drinks were experimenting with cocaine and rampant patent infringement, one drink stood alone. Moxie Nerve Food couldn’t worry itself with petty scrabbles over delicious sodas. Because they were proudly and unknowingly making the most repulsive soda known to man.

Adding soda water to his snake oil solution, “Doctor” Augistin Thompson proclaimed his beverage increased vigor and pep. The general populace responded with a common joke that one would need vigor and pep to drink the stuff. Oh, memes back in the day were so biting.

moxie

What did it taste like? Well considering I can actually use a computer, you can guess I’m not old enough to have tried it. But from what I’ve pieced together from the geezers I talked to, it tasted like sarsaparilla mixed with brake fluid. (For the truly curious, why not try a good taste of the past?)

And yet there were some chaps out there who thought Moxie was the bees knees. And it is to them we tip our hats today.

We tip our hats to the men who hoisted up their knickers, loaded their rifles, and brought us back-to-back wins in world wars. The men who ate their lunch on skyscraper beams because apparently the fear of heights hadn’t been invented yet.

We’ll be bringing you weekly stories about these men, the men who built our great cities and killed a whole bunch of buffalo. Because those men had moxie, and maybe some of it will rub off on you.