Grizzlies in the trenches: a tribute to Voytek the soldier-bear

I've been saying for years that bears should have more of a presence in the military. Recently, it has been brought to my attention by a good friend of mine (thank you, Jeff) that a bear fought in World War II alongside Polish troops.

His name was Voytek and he was an Iranian brown bear adopted by Polish soldiers after his mother was killed by hunters when he was just a cub. Voytek went on to hold rank in the 22nd Transport Division of the Polish 2nd Army Corps. The brave young bear was present during the Battle of Monte Cassino, where he carried ammo, food and other supplies to the Polish troops.

There's a comprehensive writeup about Voytek on History on Podium, if you're at all interested. Personally, I find the story fascinating. And it only validates what some would call my "radical" idea of bear-mounted cavalry. As a tribute to our furry veteran, I will list some of the many positions bears could hold in the military. Here's to Voytek, the Iranian soldier-bear of Monte Cassino!

Jet-Pack Bears
You think bears are awesome on the ground? How about screaming through the air at Mach 5, landing to drop some serious hurt on the enemy with their shoulder-mounted machine guns?

Bear Cavalry
You might think it's crazy. All I know is this: If the enemy came galloping out of the trees astride grizzly bears, I would crap my uniform, drop my gun and surrender right then and there. Because there's just no winning against that.

Gatling Bears
Gatling guns are cool. Bears are cool. Are you making the connection here? Strap a rip-roaring Gatling gun to the broad shoulders of a bear and you've got yourself a recipe for unadulterated, badass mayhem.

Armored Bear Berserkers
Bears are awesome animals in their own right. They're truly powerful creatures with claws and jaws to match. But what if you reinforced their already-thick hides with armor plating? Yeah, I'm thinking victory on all fronts, general.

Grenade-Launcher Bears
Let's face it: Everything's better with a grenade launcher attached to it. Especially bears.

The ultimate in war bears. When a bear falls in combat, does it rest in peace? No. Using the advanced technology available to us in this new millennium, military scientists rebuild the bears. Bigger, stronger, faster. These undead robo-warriors wage war with cyber-optics, enhanced speed, strength and senses. They tote laser cannons atop their metallic frames. The cyber-bears are simply the greatest single innovation in military history. Ever. Forget the trebuchet, forget automatic weapons, forget the longbow. Forget sails and the wheel, for God's sake. Cyber-bears. They. Will. Mess. You. Up.


  1. What about those freaky bear fighters from the His Dark Materials series? They'd be totally kick-ass, provided you don't support atheism and killing God.

    Oh, wait, I don't. Poo.

  2. Don't forget: Teddy Bears

    Are you out of ammo? Is the rest of the platoon dead? Do you miss mommy? No worries. Your teddy bear companion will ensure the calmest of hearts in the most stressful situations.

  3. Chris is absolutely right. In my blood-fueled haze, I completely overlooked the value of troop morale. Well done!

    And Damian, I'm afraid I haven't read the His Dark Materials series. But I think I might have to now.


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