U.S. Marine Corps photo

Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, born in the 19th century, fought in the heaviest fighting of the 20th century, and is now a legend in this century. The most decorated Marine to ever wear the uniform, and also the most beloved, Puller left a mark on the Marine Corps that would define its culture for years to come.

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U.S. Army photo by Sam Shore.

On Nov. 1, 2010, a young Afghan approached Sgt. Felipe Pereira and his team on a shiny motorcycle near the end of a daily dismounted patrol. Pereira checked his pockets and bike for explosives, the soldier later told Stars and Stripes, and finding nothing, shook the rider's hand. The calm and collected Afghan smiled at Pereira, and as the squad turned away toward the base, the motorist detonated explosives hidden on his vehicle.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pablo Jara Meza

Military brats live in an ambiguous subculture that blends the lifestyle of a service member and a civilian. It includes repeated relocations, forced road trips, and strange habits, like calling everyone your age or older “ma’am” or “sir,” that are hard to understand unless you’ve lived it.

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On Aug. 22, 2007, Staff Sgt. Erich R. Phillips was asleep in a remote outpost in the mountains of Afghanistan when the Taliban launched an assault on his compound. Phillips quickly organized his men to repel the attackers, and protected his outpost from the attacking force much larger and better equipped than his own.

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Image via National Archive

On Sept. 9, 1776, the Continental Congress formally changed the name of their new nation to the “United States of America,” rather than the “United Colonies,” which was in regular use at the time, according to History.com.

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U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Love

During a battle in Afghanistan that would last more than 17 hours, Sgt. 1st Class Brendan O’Connor crawled through a ditch to reach two wounded men, as machine gun fire from Taliban fighters cut the grass all around him. Taking control after the team leader was killed, O’Connor coordinated the safe extraction of his team by the use of infrared light beams from friendly aircraft and night-vision goggles.

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