The Eight Toughest Soldiers Texas Ever Produced (Featuring Heroism, Betrayal & Many Dead Bodies)

Our war heroes are presented to us in different varieties. There are those we create for ourselves, in the mold of what we think a hero should be: David Crockett (nobody but Walt Disney called him Davy), astride the ramparts at the Alamo going to a hero's death while clubbing those craven Mexican soldiers with the butt of his rifle. All crap, but cut from the finest Texas crap.

Then there are the Walmart brand-name of heroes, those created by our own government, purely for propaganda. Think of the crew of The Memphis Belle. No doubting their bravery, but the government cooked their accomplishments because they needed heroes at that stage of the WW II bombing campaign, which wasn't going well at all.

The same was done -- in an infinitely more cynical way -- to poor Jessica Lynch in Iraq. There she was turned into a hideous cartoon character to which she bore no resemblance, quite literally wrapped in a flag after being shot up with tranquilizers. Thankfully, and to the shame of all of us, little Jessica quickly set about calling the Bush administration the liars they were, and the rest of us the willing stooges we were.

Finally, there are the personal heroes each of us carry around. An athlete here, a rock star there, and the soldiers with whom we are concerned here. People trained to do one thing, which is to kill other people. Take George Washington. Spent more years of his life killing people -- mostly by proxy, since he was a field-grade officer and aristocrat -- than he did fathering our country.

Of course, the worshippers of war heroes overwhelmingly are men. Sadly, we males measure our manhood, futilely, against the heroic shvantzes of our idols. So I submit my list of men to whom I am inferior in every way, but especially when it comes to the ability to kill other human beings.

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Mel Sharkskin