Anyone want to know about a real American hero? Commander "Cherokee" Evans (so nick-named because he was a full blooded Cherokee) commanded the destroyer "Johnston" at the battle of Leyte Gulf, during the American liberation of the Philippines during World War II.
The battle of Leyte Gulf was actually a number of engagements around and about the Philippine islands. The major American striking force, Task Force 34 commanded by Admiral Halsey, was drawn out of position by a decoy Japanese force. This left the American beachhead largely uncovered for the main Japanese thrust, a heavy surface force of heavy battleships and cruisers. The Japanese force included the battleship Yamoto which, with its 18 inch guns, was the largest battleship ever built.
The only force between the American beachhead and the Japanese striking force was "Taffy III", a small collection of escort carriers protected by a few small destroyers and even smaller destroyer escorts. One of the destroyers was Cherokee Evans' Johnston.
Evans was one of the first to recognize the gravity of the situation. Acting on his own initiative, he immediately used his destroyer to lay smoke between the oncoming Japanese force and the carriers. He then, again on his own initiative, turned the Johnston toward the larger Japanese ships for a torpedo attack. The Johnston closed with the Japanese force and launched its torpedoes, sinking an enemy heavy cruiser. The Johnston was heavily damaged, taking several hits from Japanese 14 inch shells (the Johnston's heaviest guns were 5 inch). It survived only because of a fortuitous rain squall, which gave Evans and his crew a respite from the action to conduct emergency repairs.
Soon afterward, the other two destroyers of Taffy III's screening force launched their own torpedo attack. The Johnston, which had expended its torpedoes, joined the attack to provide gunfire support. Closing on the vastly superior Japanese fleet at almost 60 knots, the Johnston began again to take heavy fire. A shell hit its bridge killing several officers and badly wounding Evans, who waved off medical care and continued to fight his ship. The Johnston again closed with the enemy force, engaging in gun duels with ships many times its size. It was saved from immediate destruction only because the Japanese (believing that Evans' ship was a heavy cruiser) were using armor piercing ammunition. In fact, the Johnston's armor was so thin that the Japanese shells passed right through the ship, from one side to the other, without exploding. Still the Johnston was badly damaged, but Evans refused to withdraw from the fight.
Eventually the sheer weight of the Japanese forces took their toll and the Johnston was blown out of the water. Two days later 141 survivors of the ship were rescued, Commander Evans was not among them.
Evans' sacrifice was not in vain, as the admiral commanding the Japanese strike force was sufficiently confused by the aggressiveness of the American ships that he thought he had encountered heavy surface forces and attack (rather than escort) carriers. He called off the attack before reaching the American beachhead. For his courage and skill in battle, Commander Evans was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
It seems to me that if Commander Evans could do all this for his country (at a time when many people considered him a second class citizen), the least you could do is go to the polls and vote. There is still some time before the polls close, so get going.
Anyone who wants to read more of Commander Evans' exploits, there is a more detailed account here, an eyewitness account here, and a detailed, multi-chapter account "The Battle Off Samar - Taffy III at Leyte Gulf."