If you want an example of heroic action in the face of unfathomable odds, you needn’t look any farther than the famed Battle of Thermopylae.
In an attempt to buy time for the rest of Greece to prepare for the second Persian invasion, a force of 7,000 Greek soldiers, led by 300 Spartan warriors, held the narrow coastal passage of Thermopylae against approximately 150,000 Persian troops for seven entire days.
The influence of this battle is felt extensively in the Halo canon, both in-universe and in a meta sense. The warriors of Sparta are who the Spartan super-soldiers got their names from, and the Spartans of Halo (sometimes in groups of 300) bravely and selflessly perform unthinkable feats to delay the Covenant onslaught, even at the cost of their own lives — just as their real-world counterparts did so many years ago.
But there’s one event that stands out, to me, as the greatest example of this symbolism. A shining example of the Spartans’ skill and their courage, and an undeniable piece of iconography that people, both in-universe and the ones in the real world, will never forget.
The raid on the Unyielding Hierophant.
500 Covenant vessels. A repair-and-refit station over 30 kilometers long and 10 kilometers in circumference. Enough infantry forces to crush the defenders of Earth by trampling them.
The Covenant were prepared to invade our home and eradicate it (and us) from the galaxy in one devastating fell swoop.
In their path? Blue Team. Consisting of John-117, Fred-104, Linda-058, William-043, and Grace-093. Their only hope of victory was a slim one: they needed to slip aboard the Unyielding Hierophant and overload its reactors, causing a massive explosion that would wipe out the majority of the Covenant’s forces.
The odds were comically against them. The chances of sneaking aboard the station with their stolen Spirit dropship alone were very poor, and they would have to fight their way through countless Covenant troops to the reactors if they did make it aboard.
And yet, with the assistance of Cortana, Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb, and Lieutenant Elias Haverson, they were able to accomplish their goal and escape.
The mission was not without its losses, of course. Grace-093 was killed in combat, and both Vice Admiral Whitcomb and Lieutenant Haverson were killed by the blast of the overloading reactors. But so were 488 Covenant ships and millions of Covenant soldiers. Ships and soldiers that would have torn Earth to pieces if they had been allowed to reach their target.
Through extraordinary tactical skill, outstanding marksmanship, unbelievable combat prowess, and unremarkable teamwork, the Spartan-IIs of Blue Team and their allies were able to achieve the unthinkable on that fateful day on September 13, 2552. And, like Xerxes, the Covenant were forced to delay plans, which gave the UNSC a fighting chance in the battles to come.
So, next time you play a Halo game or read a Halo story that takes place after 2552, remember that were it not for the actions of Blue Team, we would have lost before many battles even began.
Remember the sacrifice of Grace-093, Admiral Whitcomb, and Lieutenant Haverson.
Remember the courage of the Spartans.
Remember the courage of Blue Team.
The Halo community decided to make this week #BlueTeamWeek out of nowhere, and I wanted to add something to the mix before it was over as the handful of Spartans that do, or used to, make up Blue Team are some of my favorite characters in the universe of Halo. I suck with coming up with ideas for articles on my blog on the spot, but I did have an idea to bring this event to light to some people, as I think plenty of fans don’t even know it happened.
Who’s your favorite Spartan from Blue Team? Aside from John himself, for me, it’s Kelly.
ᵏᶦⁿᵈᵃ ᵐʸ ˢᵖᵃʳᵗᵃⁿ ᶜʳᵘˢʰ ᵗᵒᵒ ᵗᵇʰ
Anyway, today is the birthday of Samuel-034. Who, if you didn’t know, was the very first Spartan-II to be killed-in-action, and was one of John’s closest friends.
This one’s for you, Sam.