Major Amedeo Quillet- Badass of the Week

Italians have been the butt of many a joke.  “Why are Italian rifles so expensive?  Because they’ve never been fired and dropped only once.”  Not so Major Amedeo Quillet who may well be voted “Badass of the Century”.

Lieutenant and Major Quillet

Born into Italian aristocracy on February 7th, 1909, young Amedeo led a pampered life and became an excellent horseman.  He was to have been part of the Italian Equestrian Team for the 1936 Olympics, but Italy’s war with Ethiopia in 1935 quashed those plans.  Using family connections, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and raised a force of over 2000 African cavalry.  After several successful engagements with Ethiopian forces, he was asked to join the Black Flames.  This was a unit of volunteers sent to fight in support of France in the Spanish Civil War.

Quillet then accepted a posting to Italian East Africa and planned to have a quiet life.  This ended abruptly when Italy joined World War Two as part of the Axis.

Surrounded by British forces, the Italian Army fought a defensive campaign. Quillet was again commanded a force of African calvary “Gruppo Bande a Cavallo”. Using sabers, rifles and hand grenades , once again he led horseback attacks successfully against his enemies.  His exploits led him to be named The Italian Lawrence of Arabia, The Knight from Another Time and the Black Commander. 

The Black Commander

THE BATTLE OF CHERU (Keru)

His most legendary battle occurred January 1941 as Italian forces were in full retreat.  In a rear guard action to give the Italian Army time to escape the British and regroup, Quillet led a series of attacks on the British Army.  This cumulated in the last charge of Horse cavalry faced by the British Army and the last horse charge in history.

Quillet attacked with 1500 horsemen against infantry, machine guns and tanks.  Flanking the heavy weapons, the cavalry cut into the British camp tossing hand grenades and slashing down survivors.  The focus of the attack was the British Headquarters which was defended by a line of artillery.  The panicked gun crews zeroed their guns and fired point blank into the Africans.  Many shells missed the attackers and caused severe casualties among the British.  Suffering heavy losses, Quillet’s cavalry destroyed the gun crews, many hacked to death.

The attack left chaos and death in its wake and Quillet escaped with most of his men.  The action did in fact by the time for the Italian forces to regroup.  Their defensive positions held the British force in check preventing the loss of Italian East Africa and saved thousands of lives in the process. For this action, Quillet was promoted to Captain.

Despite this success, the Italian General surrendered to the British.  Thousands of Italian soldiers, including Quillet refused to surrender and took to the mountains. 

The “Gruppo Bande a Cavallo ” suffered 826 deaths and more than 600 injured from the beginning of WW2; it had no deserters and received the gold medal in the memory of the heroic Togni, and high praise from their enemies, written on the official reports of the British High Command.

NOW IT GETS GOOD

Dressed as natives, Quillet led his horsemen in eight months of attacks, ambushes and sabotage against the occupying British.  Supplies were plundered, trains derailed and bridges blow up.  The British placed a bounty of Gold on Quillet’s head, dead or alive.  He evaded every effort to destroy his force.  Reduced to be armed with only pistols and hand grenades, Quillet forced the British to divert significant forces from the main battles in North Africa.

With the defeat of Axis forces in North Africa, Quillet escaped to neutral Yemen and stowed away on a Red Cross ship to get back to Italy.  Promoted to Major and still not admitting defeat, he requested men and supplies from the Italian War Ministry to continue the fight in East Africa. Unfortunately, Italy surrendered shortly after his return and declared war on Germany.  With the blessing of the American Army, Quillet conducted guerilla warfare against the Germans.  This continued until the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Although wounded several times, Quillet survived the war having survived three wars and fighting on both sides of World War Two. Amedeo married Beatrice Gandolfo in 1944. The couple subsequently had two sons; Paolo and Alfredo. Beatrice died in 1990.

 Following the war Quillet entered the Italian diplomatic service where he represented Italy in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, and finally as ambassador to India until 1975. In 1971, he was in Morocco during an assassination attempt on the King.

On June 20, 2000, he was awarded honorary citizenship by the city of Capua, which he defined as “highly coveted”.

On 4 November 2000, the day of the Festivity of the Armed Forces, Quillet was presented with the Knight Grand Cross of the Military Order of Italy by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. This is the highest military decoration in Italy. Quillet is one of the most highly decorated (both civil and military) people in Italian history. In 2001, Quillet  visited Eritrea and was met by thousands of supporters. The group included men who previously served with him as horsemen in the Italian Cavalry known as Gruppo Bande a Cavallo. The Eritrean people remembered Quillet ‘s efforts to help Eritrea remain independent of Ethiopia.

2000

Since 1974 Quillet had been living in retirement in Kentstown, County Meath, Ireland although latterly he had spent his winters in Italy. For some years he was a member of and hunted with the Tara Harriers and the Meath Hounds.

In 2009, his 100th birthday was celebrated with a special concert at the Palazzo Barberini in Rome.

Amedeo Quillet died on June 16, 2010, in Rome.

Tell me Again How Bad a Day You’ve Had…

Master Sergeant Raul (Roy) Perez Benavidez

Roy P. Benavidez- Soldier, Patriot, Badass of the First Order.  The Medal of Honor he was awarded is just part of Roy’s story.  He spent his “retirement” touring the world as a motivational speaker inspiring all but especially children to stay in school, stay off of drugs and get an education.  Although hailed as a Hero, Benavidez said that the future leaders of America, the children who now stay in school and off of drugs are the real heroes.

In 2001, Hasbro Toys issued the first Hispanic G.I. Joe in the image of Benavidez.  Roy joined only three  others so honored.   William “The Refrigerator” Perry of the Chicago Bears, Space Shuttle Astronaut Robert Crippen and US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

USNS Benavidez (T-AKR-306)

Named in his honor, USNS Benavidez is one of Military Sealift Command’s nineteen Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off Ships and is part of the 17 ships in Military Sealift Command’s Sealift Program Office.

Now take 25 minutes out of your day to listen to the man himself.  Share it with anyone you know who’s struggling.  Share it with a child you Love.

[youtube_sc url=”http://youtu.be/_oUtJxE4sjs”]

Citation to Accompany the Award
of
The Medal of Honor
to
Ssgt Roy P. Benavidez


Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team’s position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team’s position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy’s fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader’s body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy’s fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from behind by an enemy soldier. In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, he sustained additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary.[3][note 1] He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez’ gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army. [4]

Fort Houston, Texa

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