Who is a really cool historical figure that not many people know about?

Ernest E. Evans. Native American naval officer who fought through his unfortunate upbringing and all the racism and politics of the US Navy to become an officer, which on its own is an interesting story. But he's most known for his actions during the Battle Off Samar.

When the escort carrier task force the destroyer he commanded (USS Johnston) suddenly came under attack by one of the most powerful Japanese fleets ever assembled, Evans turned his ship around and, without waiting for orders, charged the formation of battleships and cruisers at full speed. Weaving in and out of shellfire until she could get in firing range, Johnston fired over 200 shells at the leading heavy cruiser and then blew her bow off with a torpedo. Despite being severely damaged from return fire (which caused Evans to lose several fingers on his hand when the bridge was hit), Johnston would turn around to cover the other destroyers as they made their runs, firing hundreds of shells at multiple battleships and cruisers and charging an entire squadron of destroyers by herself and forcing them to relocate over the next two hours or so. All this time Evans had merely wrapped his hand in his shirt and went down to the fantail to continue commanding.

Johnston was eventually sunk, and while Evans was seen evacuating after all the other crew had abandoned ship, he wasn't among those rescued several days later. He would be posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

/r/AskReddit Thread