ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

The silver screen is over-brimming with armies of brave fictional heroes, but the people who risk their own lives to save others in real life are often tragically overlooked.

The heroes below are all ordinary people (and animals) who have done extraordinary things to save other people from certain death, but I bet you have never heard of them before.

It's time to change all of that though. Check out my list of unsung real life heroes who deserve to be immortalised in their own movies.

Scuba Saviour

Who's the hero? Hideaki Akaiwa

Act of heroism: Hideaki Akaiwa was just a normal guy working a boring office job, until the 2011 Tohoku earthquake shook his world apart, and shook him into action as a scuba saviour.

Akaiwa's neighborhood was under 10 feet of water after the disaster, but instead of waiting for international aid to step in, Akaiwa found a wetsuit and scuba gear and got rescuing.

He swam through the filthy water filled with chunks of floating debris and downed powerlines until he somehow found his home and rescued his wife who was neck deep in water gasping for breath.

The next day Akaiwa battled through the submerged city to check on his mother who he rescued from the roof of her home where she was succumbing to hypothermia.

While any normal person would have hung up his wetsuit and let the rescue service take over, Akaiwa proved he was not just your average Joe by rescuing numerous total strangers from the icy flood waters.

Why it's so damned moving: Hideaki Akaiwa selflessly risked his life for people he had never met before as well as his own family. He was so dedicated that he cut a press interview about his heroism short so he could save more stranded people before night fell. What a guy.


Dogged Devotion

Who's the hero? Ace the Pit Bull

Act of heroism: Pit Bulls are often in the newspaper for negative acts, but not Ace. This heroic pooch saved his deaf 13-year-old owner from certain death in a raging house fire.

Nick Lamb was sleeping at home alone without his hearing aids and could not hear the fire alarms and cracking flames. Thankfully Ace had the foresight to save his master before bringing himself to safety. Lamb explained;

My dog licked my face and woke me up. I was like, `Stop it! What? You want to be fed?' I thought he wanted to be fed or go outside." ... "I couldn't hear anything because I had my cochlear implants off. ... My dog Ace smelled it. I just wanted to get out

Why it's so damned moving: Ace defied negative stereotypes about his breed while rescuing his helpless owner from certain death instead of saving his own skin.


Mountains of Compassion

Who's the hero? Daniel Mazur

Act of heroism: On M­ay 25, 2006, climber Lincoln Hall was left for dead by his guides on the side of Mount Everest when he became delirious and was not responding to stimuli. Hall was later pronounced dead to his friends and family because the prospect him surviving the night was unthinkable.

Miraculously, in the morning Hall was still alive.

The disorientated Australian climber was stumbled upon by Mazur and his team who were in their eighth hour of climbing the colossal mountain. Here Mazur describes discovering Hall.

Sitting to our left, about two feet from a 10,000 foot drop, was a man. Not dead, not sleeping, but sitting cross legged, in the process of changing his shirt. He had his down suit unzipped to the waist, his arms out of the sleeves, was wearing no hat, no gloves, no sunglasses, had no oxygen mask, regulator, ice axe, oxygen, no sleeping bag, no mattress, no food nor water bottle. 'I imagine you're surprised to see me here', he said. Now, this was a moment of total disbelief to us all. Here was a gentleman, apparently lucid, who had spent the night without oxygen at 8600m, without proper equipment and barely clothed.

The team immediately abandoned their almost completed, expensive and exhausting mission in order to save Hall.

Mazur arranged for a team of twelve Sherpa's to climb up from the base camp while he risked his life sitting with the delirious Hall on top of a perilous drop.

Why it's so damned moving: Mazur and his team had climbed for 8 hours and spent over $30,000 each climbing the mighty mountain, but they stopped two hours before their goal to save a stranger.

This seems like common sense but injured or unconscious climbers are often left to die on Everest because attempting to remove them could be deadly to the entire team.

Just days before, British climber David Sharp perished after over 40 people passed him by. He was unconscious yet alive but a rescue attempt was considered too dangerous.


The Power of Understanding

Who's the hero? Antoinette Tuff

Act of heroism: Antoinette Tuff certainly lived up to her last name when her calm understanding saved an entire school from a mass shooting.

When a man walked into Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in, Georgia, wielding an AK-47 and a sack of ammunition yelling "We are all going to die today", Tuff was working on the reception desk.

Instead of panicking and spooking the clearly disturbed individual, Tuff spoke to him to distract him from the murderous task he had in mind.

Tuff had recently been through some soul-destroying time herself, and she drew on her experience of trying to kill herself 9 months before to comfort the man who told her he was going to shoot as many people as possible before taking his own life.

She called 911 on a cellular phone hidden under the desk and used all of inner strength and faith to tell the gun toting man that;

It’s going to be all right, sweetie. I want you to know I love you, okay? I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing that you’re giving up and don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life…You’re going to be okay. It’s going to be all right.

When the police arrived, she personally escorted the gunman to the waiting vehicle because he was terrified he was going to get shot and refused to go alone.

Without Tuff's actions, emergency service say the man would almost certainly have gone ahead with his threats.

Why it's so damned moving: Tuff saved hundreds of students with nothing but her calming voice and immovable faith. After living a tough life of abuse, homelessness and caring for a severely disabled son, Tuff has now gone on to use her newly found confidence to create a fund to help underprivileged kids achieve their goals and go to college.


Bottomless Bravery in Bangladesh

Who's the hero? Didar Hossain

Act of heroism: Didar Hossain is a garment worker who earned just $68 dollars a month who became a hero of unbelievable proportions.

When the Rana Plaza building collapsed opposite his own factory, Hossain immediately sprang to action and flung himself into the biggest building disaster since the World Trade Centre Attacks.

Hossain repeatedly battled through unstable mounds of rubble scattered with corpses and live electricity cables in order to save a staggering 34 survivors single handedly.

When he discovered a girl with her hand trapped in the wreckage, doctors refused to go into the hazardous building to amputate her hand and save her. Instead of leaving her there, Hossein demanded they gave him anaesthetic and a knife and carried out the gruesome task himself. He later told the press that they screamed and cried together as he removed her crushed limb.

The first thing 28-year-old Hossain did when he visited the young girl is hospital was apologize for not being able to save her hand.

So selfless.

Why it's so damned moving: Didar Hossain had nothing to gain by helping the strangers in the factory collapse. He risked his life in situations that doctors and rescue workers refused to enter because he couldn't face knowing people were dying alone and in agony.


Whose act of heroism do you think deserves its own movie?

(Source: Cracked, How Stuff Works, Reuters, Badass of the Week, ABC News, The Daily Beast, Gawker)


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