The United States has plenty of heroes — men and women who have sacrificed everything to make this country great. This feature is not about them. Instead, we’re going to share ten stories about people who went above and beyond in the spirit of rugged individualism that made this country great. Oh, and there were often drinks involved. Here are some real real American heroes.
When you need to get to your neighborhood bar for a spot of booze, any travel method will do. That’s why, in September 1956, a man named Thomas Fitzpatrick stole a small plane from New Jersey’s Teterboro School of Aeronautics and performed a daredevil flying feat by landing it on New York’s narrow St. Nicholas Avenue, right in front of a bar. The cherry in this Old Fashioned? When a bar patron a month later didn’t believe that he’d done it, he went back and did it again, this time landing on Amsterdam Avenue. Now that’s dedication.
John Paul Stapp
Sometimes if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. John Paul Stapp was a USAF colonel and doctor who, when told that the human body couldn’t survive speeds above 18 times the force of gravity, set out to test that hypothesis with his own body. Rigging up a 1,500-pound rocket sled and mounting it on a track at Edwards Air Force Base, Stapp tossed out the test dummy and insisted on experiencing massively supersonic speeds himself. He then started experimenting with rapid deceleration, at one point going from 632 miles per hour to a dead stop in 1.4 seconds. His eyeballs hit his skull with such force that he was blinded for 45 minutes and he had burns on his skin from atmospheric dust, but he still walked out of that sled under his own power.
Walter G. Kendall
Here’s a true American hero who we’d love to know more about. Walter G. Kendall was a doctor living in Quincy, Massachusetts, when he made the papers in 1935 for drinking … a glass of water. What’s the big deal about drinking a glass of water? It was the first one he’d let pass his lips in 25 years. Up until then, the only liquid that entered his body was in the form of cocktails. Kendall pulled the hilarious stunt on the Fourth of July, and then went on to celebrate by … drinking a bunch of booze. Truly a hero who epitomizes everything America stands for.
Explorer W.J.A. Grant would have been a cool dude even without the story we’re about to share, but read on to find out why he’s a real American hero. In January 1934, the 82-year-old Grant was told by doctors that he only had a week to live. Insisting on going out on his own terms, he threw a “farewell party” in which he hung out in his coffin surrounded by a bevy of dancing girls. Over 500 people came to his living funeral, and everybody drank and caroused until the wee hours of the morning. Even better? Grant went on to prove the doctors wrong, living another year after his party.
One of the best things about America is that we all have the freedom to tell our employers to, as Johnny Paycheck said, “take this job and shove it.” Steven Slater, a male flight attendant for JetBlue, performed one of the most epic quits of all time, earning a spot on this list. In 2010, he was working on a flight from Pittsburgh to New York City. After a passenger flipped him some lip about her bag, Slater got on the intercom and started cussing up a storm. He then opened a door, inflated the emergency slide and slid away, escaping in a nearby car. He briefly became a media celebrity after the act, even though it was revealed that his quitting wasn’t really justified. Still an inspiration to us all.
We aren’t giving 78-year-old Pennsylvania man Herbert Goss any credit for getting pulled over for a DUI — there’s no excuse for driving drunk, no matter what. But his behavior after the cops removed him from his car is worthy of note. Instead of giving the cops an excuse as to why he was intoxicated behind the wheel, Goss just delivered Humphrey Bogart’s iconic line from Casablanca, “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world.” He proceeded to quote Bogie movies and Frank Sinatra lyrics at the cops — and nothing else — until they took him away to sober up.
A lot of dudes sow their wild oats post-divorce, but pharmaceutical billionaire Stewart Rahr, nicknamed "The Number One King of All Fun," just made headlines for one of the most YOLO parties ever. Rahr, who just split with his wife of 43 years (at a cost of $250 million), celebrated the separation by getting dirty with three nubile young women in the back of a limousine. Sure, making out with hired hotties is nothing new, but it’s how the world learned about it that really elevates him to hero status. Rahr videotaped the whole thing (which was so explicit that some compared it to a porn movie) and sent it unsolicited to dozens of people. What does he care? He’s set for life.
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And from the sublime to the ridiculous — Luis Briones, a New Mexico man, got in a little trouble with the law earlier this year when he crashed his car into a parked vehicle. Needless to say, alcohol was involved, but that wasn’t the only distraction. While he was driving his Ford Explorer and swigging shots of vodka out of the bottle, Briones was also having sex with a woman named Natasha Carroll. Now that’s multitasking! When the accident happened, Carroll was ejected naked from the car and Briones, clad in just a pair of shorts and one shoe, tried to hide in a nearby cactus patch. He might not be the smartest guy, but to go that nutty behind the wheel is truly American.