The recent release of a two-disc Blu-ray edition of the u-boat epic Das Boot (check out clips on Action Unleashed) has us daydreaming about submarine battles and underwater adventure. While we don’t exactly like the idea of being crammed in a steel tube with other men for months at a time, underwater explosions are totally badass.
Which got us to thinking about other hard-core jobs in the armed services. Here are our top five.
The captain in Das Boot is bitter and negative about World War II, and the job itself is unquestionably tough as nails. These days, submarine captains command ballistic-missile-carrying vessels or a group of attack subs. So basically, they’re in charge of either explosives or a fleet of death machines. Throw in the fact that we are talking about guys who can live underwater for days at a time without needing to surface, and you can never question the manliness of a sub vet—German, American or otherwise.
The training to become a Navy SEAL is so difficult that 80 percent of people quit. They must endure a process called “surf torture,” in which they lie in cold water, then either do calisthenics or run more than a mile in wet clothes. Then they go back into the drink. They also undergo “drown proofing,” in which their arms and legs are tied before they’re dropped into deep water to perform various activities that include swimming to the bottom of the pool and picking up objects with their teeth. Just completing this training commands ultimate respect.
Anyone who has played Halo or Call of Duty probably hates these guys, but there’s a reason they make your virtual life so difficult. German strategy actually gave rise to many modern sniper tactics, so thank our Das Boot brethren for that. Snipers provide recon from their hiding spots and pick off enemy soldiers and other priority targets. They also mark targets for air strikes. They’re the ninjas of the military because they can take you out without you ever seeing them.
Let’s see, fighter pilots get to fly supersonic jets, blow up other planes with homing missiles, and if they earn approximately five or more aerial kills, people have to call them “Ace.” They also get to wear sweet Ray-Bans and even sweeter leather jackets. Need we say more?
Rangers typically act as shock troops that enter an enemy area and execute surprise strikes or carry out rescue missions. They often parachute in but can also approach by boat or using zip lines from helicopters. And they do all this with a small groups of elite troops. Probably best not to mess with that guy at the bar wearing a Ranger patch.