Wenseslao Moguel vs. Firing Squad
One day in March, Wenseslao Moguel was captured for taking part in the 1915 Mexican Revolution. As a result, Moguel was sentenced—without trial—to execution by firing squad. During the execution, Moguel was shot nine times with the final bullet going through his head at close range. Remarkably, he survived and managed to live on to a ripe age, even making an appearance on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
Anne Greene vs. Hanging
Anne Greene was born in Oxfordshire, England in 1628 and eventually began work as a servant in a manor house. At the age of 22, Greene allegedly became pregnant with the house master’s grandson. Unwed, Greene hid the pregnancy and gave birth to a premature and stillborn child. Medical evidence proved this, but Greene was still condemned to death for her child’s murder. Despite her death by hanging in 1650 (and being beaten afterwards to ensure she was really dead), Greene was still bleeding when her body was sent to the coroner for dissection. She soon regained her health and was granted a full pardon.
Uruguayan rugby players vs. Andes Mountains
Probably one of the better-known survival stories, this one occurred in October 1972 when a plane full of Uruguayan rugby players crashed into the Andes Mountains. Of the 45 passengers on board, 29 died from the impact, injuries or the avalanche that struck their eventual shelter. Those remaining survived -30°C temperatures with inadequate clothing, rations and even cannibalism. When the rescue search was called off, two of the passengers trekked across the Andes for 12 days in hope for a rescue. It eventually came on December 22, 75 days after the crash.
John McCain vs. Hanoi Hilton
In October 1967, US politician John McCain – then a member of the air force – became a prisoner of war in Vietnam after his plane was shot down over Hanoi. He was taken into custody and stayed in the Hoa Lo Prison, nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’, where his torture lasted five and a half years. Already suffering from injuries due to the plane crash, which were inadequately treated by Vietnamese officials, McCain was subject to beatings and interrogations. He spent two years in solitary confinement, lost 50 pounds within the space of six weeks, suffered rope bindings, hourly beatings, and dysentery and even attempted to take his own life. Remarkably, McCain survived the ordeal and was released on March 14, 1973.
Joan Murray vs. Sky Diving
In September 1999, Joan Murray took part in a 14,500 feat skydive near North Carolina. However, luck wasn’t on her side as her initial parachute failed to open upon taking the plunge. On top of that, her backup chute deflated a mere 700 feet above the ground. Murray soon fell atop a mound of fire ants that, amazingly, helped her survive. Doctors believe the bites from the ants kept her heart beating and despite spending two weeks in coma, she was released from the hospital six weeks later. Despite such a traumatic experience, Joan Murray took up the extreme hobby again.