Famous 20th Century Soldiers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Soldiers

 1 Desmond Doss

Desmond Doss
Famous As: U. S. Army Corporal
Birthdate: February 7, 1919
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lynchburg
Died: March 23, 2006

Desmond Doss was a US Army corporal. Doss served as a combat medic in World War II. For his actions during the Battle of Okinawa, Desmond Doss became the only conscientious objector to be honored with the prestigious Medal of Honor as he saved 75 men. His life and work inspired several books and the biographical war film Hacksaw Ridge.

 2 Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: June 20, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kingston, Texas, United States
Died: May 28, 1971

Audie Murphy displayed such valor as an American soldier in World War II that he did not have problems establishing a successful acting career after the war, as he was already famous for his heroism which he demonstrated by single-handedly holding off many German soldiers for an hour before leading a successful counterattack despite being wounded and out of ammunition.

 3 Simo Häyhä

Simo Häyhä
Famous As: Sniper
Birthdate: December 17, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rautjärvi, Finland
Died: April 1, 2002
Simo Häyhä was a Finnish sniper who served in the Winter War against the Soviet Union, in 1939–1940. He had killed 500 men in the war and received many awards for his exploits. His face was disfigured by a Red Army bullet, and he later retired to a farm.
Recommended Lists:

 4 Bruce Kingsbury

Bruce Kingsbury
Famous As: Victoria Cross Winner
Birthdate: January 8, 1918
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Melbourne
Died: August 29, 1942

Bruce Kingsbury was an Australian soldier best remembered for his efforts during the Second World War. Kingsbury lost his life while counter-attacking the Japanese forces during the Battle of Isurava. Kingsbury's counter-attack proved beneficial for the Australians and his bravery during the battle was honored with the Victoria Cross. 

 5 Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh
Famous As: Aviator, Military Officer
Birthdate: February 4, 1902
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: August 26, 1974
Charles Lindbergh shot to fame after completing the first solo, and the longest, trans-Atlantic flight, in 1927. In his later years, his son’s highly publicized kidnapping and murder broke him completely. He also participated in World War II and worked on inventions that made flight navigation and heart surgeries easier.

 6 Jocko Willink

Jocko Willink
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 8, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Torrington, Connecticut, United States

Jocko Willink is an American podcaster, author, and retired US Navy officer. Willink, who served in the Navy SEALs, played an important role in the Iraq War. He served as the commanding officer for Task Unit Bruiser, which fought the Iraqi insurgents in Ramadi. He was honored with the Bronze Star and Silver Star Medal for his service.

 7 Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill
Famous As: Hunter, Soldier
Birthdate: February 26, 1846
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Scott County, Iowa, United States
Died: January 10, 1917
William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody was a legendary showman and bison hunter who had also been a Union soldier. He began working as a freight carrier at 11 and later performed in Wild West-themed shows. He later formed Buffalo Bill's Wild West and toured across the U.S. and Europe.
You May Like

 8 Tyrone Power

Tyrone Power
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 5, 1914
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died: November 15, 1958

 9 Claus von Stauffenberg

Claus von Stauffenberg
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: November 15, 1907
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jettingen-Scheppach, Germany
Died: July 21, 1944

German army officer Claus von Stauffenberg, a significant figure of the German Resistance Movement within the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany, attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944, but failed. He was executed by a firing squad soon after Operation Valkyrie. He had earlier actively participated in World War II.

 10 Carlos Hathcock

Carlos Hathcock
Famous As: Military Personnel
Birthdate: May 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Little Rock, Arkansas
Died: February 23, 1999
Carlos Hathcock was a U.S. Marine sniper who had killed at least 93 enemy personnel in the Vietnam War. He inspired the 1993 movie Sniper. His signature style of attaching a feather to his bush hat earned him the name “White Feather.” He later had a rifle named after him.

 11 Jason Robards

Jason Robards
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 26, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: December 26, 2000

 12 Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: March 28, 1986
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sun Valley, Idaho, United States

 13 Peter Townsend

Peter Townsend
Famous As: aviator, writer
Birthdate: November 22, 1914
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yangon
Died: June 19, 1995

 14 John Basilone

John Basilone
Famous As: Armed Force Officer
Birthdate: November 4, 1916
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, United States
Died: February 19, 1945

John Basilone was a US Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who played a crucial role in the Battle for Henderson Field, for which he was honored with the Medal of Honor. Basilone died during the Battle of Iwo Jima and was posthumously honored with the Navy Cross, becoming the only enlisted Marine to receive these two decorations in World War II.

 15 Randy Couture

Randy Couture
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 22, 1963
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Everett, Washington, United States

Randy Couture is a former U.S. Army sergeant and retired mixed martial artist. He currently works as an actor. He began his career as an army man and later turned to mixed martial arts. In this field, he was a three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. After quitting UFC, he became an actor and starred in the hit film The Hard Way. 

 16 Otto Skorzeny

Otto Skorzeny
Famous As: Nazi SS Officer
Birthdate: June 12, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: July 7, 1975
Austrian-born German SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny served in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He led the Gran Sasso raid that rescued Benito Mussolini. He also headed Operation Greif that had German soldiers attacking Allied forces by using uniforms of their enemies. He later spent time in Egypt and Argentina.

 17 Lyudmila Pavlichenko

Lyudmila Pavlichenko
Famous As: Sniper
Birthdate: July 12, 1916
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bila Tserkva, Ukraine
Died: October 27, 1974

Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko belonged to the Red Army during World War II and is believed to have killed over 300 people. Also known as Lady Death, she was awarded the Order of Lenin and was made a Hero of the Soviet Union. She later became a Soviet Navy researcher.

 18 Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein
Famous As: Science Fiction Writer
Birthdate: July 7, 1907
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Butler, Missouri, United States
Died: May 8, 1988

Robert A. Heinlein was an American author, naval officer, and aeronautical engineer. Heinlein is credited with pioneering a literary subgenre called hard science fiction as he was among the first to stress the importance of scientific accuracy in fiction. Robert A. Heinlein is one of the most influential science-fiction writers of all time.

 19 Alvin York

Alvin York
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: December 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Fentress County, Tennessee, United States
Died: September 2, 1964

One of the most decorated United States Army soldiers of World War I, Alvin York is best remembered for leading an attack on a German machine-gun nest. The son of a poor blacksmith, he started working as a child to contribute to his family income. After joining the army, he became known for his courage and valor.

 20 John Wooden

John Wooden
Famous As: Basketball coach
Birthdate: October 14, 1910
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hall, Indiana, United States
Died: June 4, 2010

 21 Tony Lip

Tony Lip
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: January 4, 2013

 22 Roy Benavidez

Roy Benavidez
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: August 5, 1935
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cuero
Died: November 29, 1998

 23 Hal Moore

Hal Moore
Famous As: Former lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965, during the American War in Vietnam
Birthdate: February 13, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bardstown, Kentucky, United States
Died: February 10, 2017

 24 Jeffrey R. MacDonald

Jeffrey R. MacDonald
Famous As: Military physician, Soldier
Birthdate: October 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States of America

 25 Jessica Lynch

Jessica Lynch
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: April 26, 1983
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Palestine, Wirt County, West Virginia

 26 Fess Parker

Fess Parker
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 16, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Died: March 18, 2010

 27 Alejandro Villanueva

Alejandro Villanueva
Famous As: American Football player
Birthdate: September 22, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Meridian, Mississippi, United States

 28 Bob Gunton

Bob Gunton
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 15, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, USA

 29 Sterling Hayden

Sterling Hayden
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 26, 1916
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montclair, New Jersey, United States
Died: May 23, 1986

Sterling Hayden mostly appeared in Westerns and film noir of the 1950s. He had also served in World War II. He gained fame with Stanley Kubrick's The Killing and Dr. Strangelove. He was also a sailor and once sailed to Tahiti to shoot a film that eventually remained unfinished.

 30 Nicholas Colasanto

Nicholas Colasanto
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 19, 1924
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Died: February 12, 1985

 31 Witold Pilecki

Witold Pilecki
Famous As: Nazi-era Polish Army Officer
Birthdate: May 13, 1901
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Olonets
Died: May 25, 1948

Known as prisoner number 4859 at the Auschwitz concentration camp, Witold Pilecki voluntarily got himself arrested to be sent to the camp, so that he could start an anti-Nazi resistance movement. He set up the underground campaign ZOW and was eventually able to escape. Nevertheless, he was executed by communists.

 32 Vikram Batra

Vikram Batra
Birthdate: September 9, 1974
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Palampur
Died: July 7, 1999

 33 Richard E. Byrd

Richard E. Byrd
Famous As: Naval officer
Birthdate: October 25, 1888
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Winchester, Virginia, United States
Died: March 11, 1957

American naval officer Richard E. Byrd is remembered for his pioneering expeditions to Antarctica, using airplanes. Though he was awarded a US Congressional Medal of Honor for completing the first flight over the North Pole, it was later revealed that he had returned when he was 150 miles away from the destination.

 34 Doris Miller

Doris Miller
Famous As: Navy Man
Birthdate: October 12, 1919
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Waco, Texas, United States
Died: November 24, 1943

Doris Miller was a US Navy cook third class. He became the first black American to be honored with the Navy Cross for saving the lives of many sailors aboard West Virginia by manning an anti-aircraft machine gun to shoot down Japanese planes during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was killed in action while serving in World War II.

 35 Eugene Sledge

Eugene Sledge
Famous As: Biologist, Soldier, Academic, University teacher, Writer
Birthdate: November 4, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mobile
Died: March 3, 2001

Eugene Sledge was a US Marine, author, and university professor. He is remembered for chronicling his Second World War combat experiences in a memoir titled With the Old Breed, which was used as source material for a television documentary miniseries titled The War. The memoir also inspired the 2010 HBO miniseries, The Pacific, where Sledge was played by Joseph Mazzello.

 36 Douglas Bader

Douglas Bader
Famous As: Aircraft pilot
Birthdate: February 21, 1910
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: St John's Wood, London, England
Died: September 5, 1982

Sir Douglas Bader was a RAF pilot during World War II. Although he lost both his legs in an aerobatics accident in 1931, he recovered and rejoined the RAF. Following the war, he joined the oil industry. The film and book Reach for the Sky details his life.

 37 John Conyers

John Conyers
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 16, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Highland Park, Michigan, United States
Died: October 27, 2019

 38 Lloyd Austin

Lloyd Austin
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: August 8, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mobile

 39 Erich Hartmann

Erich Hartmann
Famous As: Aviator, Officer
Birthdate: April 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Weissach
Died: September 20, 1993

Remembered as the most successful fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare, Erich Hartmann completed 1,400 missions in his Messerschmitt Bf 109 and shot down 352 Allied planes. Known for his dogfighting strategy, he inspired the popular biography The Blond Knight of Germany and became a flight instructor post-retirement.

 40 George Halas

George Halas
Famous As: American football player
Birthdate: February 2, 1895
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: October 31, 1983

 41 William Guarnere

William Guarnere
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: April 28, 1923
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 8, 2014

 42 Lauri Törni

Lauri Törni
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: May 28, 1919
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Viipuri, Finland
Died: October 18, 1965

Lauri Törni was a Finnish-born American soldier who served in the Vietnam War as part of the U.S. Army Special Forces. He died during the war due to a helicopter crash in 1965. In the 1990s, several books were written about Lauri Törni, making him a war hero. He was inducted into the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor in 2011.

 43 George Gaynes

George Gaynes
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 3, 1917
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Helsinki, Finland, Russia [now Finland]
Died: February 15, 2016

 44 Hans-Ulrich Rudel

Hans-Ulrich Rudel
Famous As: Pilot
Birthdate: July 2, 1916
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kondratów, Poland
Died: December 18, 1982

Nazi World War II pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel hated academics but loved skiing as a young man. He is believed to have destroyed 519 Soviet tanks and even got a leg amputated. Post-war, he went to Argentina briefly, wrote books, and also became an entrepreneur after returning to Germany.

 45 John Gavin

John Gavin
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 8, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: February 9, 2018

 46 Jack Hawkins

Jack Hawkins
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 14, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wood Green, London, England, UK
Died: July 18, 1973

Jack Hawkins was an English actor best remembered for playing military men during the 1950s. Hawkins achieved international stardom in the '50s when he entered Hollywood. In 1958, Jack Hawkins was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the art.

 47 Christine Jorgensen

Christine Jorgensen
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 30, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: May 3, 1989

 48 Ron Kovic

Ron Kovic
Famous As: Anti-War Activist
Birthdate: July 4, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ladysmith, Wisconsin, United States

 49 Lewis Nixon

Lewis Nixon
Famous As: Was a United States Army officer who, during World War II
Birthdate: September 30, 1918
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: January 11, 1995

 50 Gene Kranz

Gene Kranz
Famous As: Officer, Engineer
Birthdate: August 17, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Toledo