Meet Fighting Fred Funston, a man whose path from journalist to war hero defied expectations and shaped history. Discover the audacious courage and enduring legacy that make his story a true testament to the indomitable spirit of a hero.

A Spirited Beginning

Frederick Funston’s journey to heroism began long before the Spanish-American War. Born on November 9, 1865, in New Carlisle, Ohio, Funston exhibited an adventurous spirit from a young age. His early years were marked by curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and an innate desire to challenge himself. This thirst for adventure led him to explore the untamed landscapes of the American West, where he developed survival skills that would serve him well in the years to come.

Despite his unassuming stature – standing at just 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing a mere 120 pounds – Funston defied expectations and embarked on a journey that would prove his mettle in ways unimaginable. Rejected from the United States Military Academy in 1886 due to his size, Funston’s determination remained unwavering. After graduating from Iola High School that same year, he forged ahead, enrolling at the University of Kansas. During his time there, he not only pursued academic excellence but also formed lasting bonds, joining the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and cultivating a friendship with none other than the future Pulitzer Prize-winning writer William Allen White. The twists of fate then led him from the tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad, where he worked as a trainman, to the bustling world of journalism in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1890. Through these seemingly disparate experiences, Funston honed his resilience, resourcefulness, and unwavering spirit – qualities that would shape his path to becoming a true American hero.

(Image source: Kansas Historical Society, Wikimedia Commons)

Exploration, Revolution, and Duty: Funston’s Transformative Path

Funston’s journey took a fascinating turn when he transitioned from the world of journalism to scientific exploration, particularly in the realm of botany. Venturing into the unknown, he embarked on a surveying expedition through the rugged landscapes of Death Valley, California, an experience that would undoubtedly shape his tenacity and thirst for discovery. Yet, his subsequent assignment with the United States Department of Agriculture in the vast wilderness of Alaska revealed his unyielding dedication to expanding his horizons. However, it was not long before his insatiable spirit led him down another path. Stirred by the impassioned words of Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, Funston felt a calling deep within his heart. He joined the Cuban Revolutionary Army in 1896, their noble fight for independence from Spain igniting a fire within him.