During their first few days in the past, most of the town considers themselves at least a little smarter than the locals, thanks to their centuries of foreknowledge. Balthazar Abrabanel puts paid to that when he accidentally reveals that he speaks eight languages fluently and can get by in at least three more...and doesn't really consider this an accomplishment.
Gretchen Richter disposing of Diego. First she slits his throat, then sticks her knife into his ear and scrambles his brains for good measure.
Julie Sims gets one during her first battle. After Mike Stearns tries to steel her for the inevitable shock of killing, Julie proceeds to pick off enemy officers with almost sadistic glee. It gets better when you realize that she's an eighteen-year-old cheerleader.
The Battle of the Crapper. The 17th Century learns right off what shotguns can do to a cavalry charge.
Jeff Higgins' first encounter with Gretchen. It's a classic story of Boy Meets Girl, boy protects girl from army (with only a shotgun and his three best friends to back him up), boy helps girl murder her rapist, boy proposes to girl using a bilingual dictionary. She says yes.
The way Grantville repulsed the attack by the Croatian cavalry, especially the defense of the high school.
Ring of Fire
In the short story "In the Navy", the transition over the course of the series of ex-CEO John Simpson from Jerkass to Badass is presaged twice:
First, when he convinces the down-timers just how effective rate-of-fire can be by counting exactly how many bullets an army equipped with flintlocks can fire into charging pikemen before the pikemen get in mêlée range.
Second, when he singlehandedly stops a midnight assassination attempt dead.
Father Mazzare's sermon at the funeral for Irene Flannery in "Between the Armies".
James Nichols in 1633 shutting up Quentin Underwood's argument against giving out the town's antibiotics, then nauseating the whole council with a nightmarish description of just what Bubonic Plague does to the human body, before switching effortlessly to how much giving out their antibiotics can help the town both in the short and long term.
When the storm rolls in during the flight from Grantville to Wismar, obscuring all visibility of the ground and threatening to destroy the entire Air Force if they don't get to the ground in time, Jesse manages to hit the bearing and time the descent to Wismar perfectly through nothing but raw instinct and dead reckoning.
Hans Richter's kamikaze attack on the Danish fleet, in the defense of Wismar.
Immediately after Wismar, when the common citizenry of Magdeburg are rising to revolt against the princes of the CPE, Mike Stearns prevents the bloodbath by turning a riot into a political rally. What makes it doubly awesome is that he does it by notShaming the Mob — rather the opposite. The first line of his speech:
Stearns [yelling]: Welcome, people of Germany! Rejoice in this day of triumph! Victory is ours! Today — and tomorrow!
Eddie Cantrell gets captured by the enemy at Wismar, and promptly bullies the King of Denmark into agreeing to abide by Geneva Convention rules regarding treatment of prisoners. Keep in mind that this is 300 years before the Geneva Convention actually took place, and the king has no way to know he's not just making this up.
Not to mention that Mike Stearns gives Eddie the highest compliment possible, under the circumstances. Eddie insists on only giving the Danes his "name, rank, and serial number". However, he claims that he has 'forgotten' his serial number due to having had his left leg blown off. As Admiral Simpson has, in a rare case of missing an important detail while assembling his Navy, forgotten to put together a serial number system, Mike passes along the following "reprimand" by telegraph:
LT CANTRELL REPRIMANDED FORGETTING SERIAL NUMBER. INSIST REPRIMAND BE GIVEN HIM. WITH SERIAL NUMBER. THUS NO EXCUSE REPETITION OF INCIDENT.
Admiral Simpson nearly falls over laughing when he reads that text. Then he has the message sent.
1634: The Baltic War
John Simpson gets his own in 1634: The Baltic War when his ironclads go toe-to-toe with the Hamburg defenses.
This done, Mike Stearns walks in to conduct "negotiations" with the city, ultimately setting himself up as the sole overseer of the city's interim government.
And before that, there is the exchange concerning the political situation about Hamburg, which Gustovus Adolphus says depends on the good Admiral's answer to one question: Is he willing to take Florida?
Not so long afterwards, Gustavus Adolphus orders Stearns to lead an expedition to recover and repair a timberclad boat which had suffered an engineering casualty. He explains to his aide that this is in part as a test of Stearns' skills before appointing the man a general. Stearns accepts the challenge readily — and proceeds to demonstrate his unique approach to military matters by bringing along not only the requisite parts and requisite troops ... but a printing press (plus printers) and marching band. Which he then uses to blanket the town and environs with leaflets and to lead a parade, respectively, all the while spreading money around hiring locals to aid in the repairs of the ship and provisioning of the troops.
So, not long after Mike arrived in Ritsenbuttel, the Achates was ready to go again. And it would be reasonable to say that the whole area had become a hotbed of USE sympathizers and enthusiasts for the new emperor.
Another moment for Admiral Simpson: the killing of the Railleuse with two hits from a single broadside — and then immediate rescue of the Railleuse from the fire caused by those two hits using the fire-extinguishing system Simpson himself designed for his ironclads.
Simpson: We're about to teach the world a new kind of sea warfare, Captain, one with weapons that are going to be more destructive than anything anyone's ever seen before. So, when we teach that to everyone else, I intend to teach them something about the Navy of the United States of Europe, as well. Halberstat: What, sir? Simpson: Something Winston Churchill once said. I always did admire that old dinosaur. It went, "In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity." We may have to knock them down and stomp on them, from time to time, but when it's finished, it's finished, and it's time to remember that they're human beings, too.
On the other side, when the Danish Prince Ulrik and his Norwegian sidekick Baldur manage to mission-kill an ironclad using a small boat and a spar torpedo.
Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. Whether getting into sword fights at over fifty years old or romancing Sharon, Ruy is a walking CMoA.
Or breaking into a besieged castle by walking up and asking politely. He then proceeds to escape with the pope by blowing up the citadel of the castle, along with the barricade on their escape route.
Put it this way: at the opening of one fight, he proclaims, "My name is Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. Prepare to die." One uptimer (Sharon) thinks this is because he somehow found a copy of The Princess Bride and is quoting Inigo Montoya. The other knows that the truth is the opposite — Ruy Sanchez is the kind of Spaniard Inigo Montoya was based on.
Anders Jönsson, Gustavus Adolphus's personal bodyguard defending Gustavus from the Polish Hussars who try to kill him while he is incapacitated during battle at the end of 1635: The Eastern Front. He places his body over Gustavus's, and empties four magazines of his up-time pistol at charging Hussars. He continues doing this for a minute even after his femoral artery is severed by a lance. In the end, a hussar he didn't see drives his lance straight down through Anders trying to kill Gustavus, but even after piercing Anders' heart, killing him, there is still too much muscle mass in the way for the lance to even touch Gustavus. Even in death, he protected his King.
In 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Ernst Wettin's decision to oppose Oxenstierna's counterrevolution by denying Banér's attempt to capture Dresden and kill Gretchen, Tata, and the rest of the CoC folk public legitimacy.
The Battle of Dresden. Mike Stearns launches an attack on Banér's siege lines in the middle of a snowstorm, delivering an utterly devastating victory, and ending any hope for Oxenstierna's counterrevolution to succeed.
Buster Beasley's Dying Moment of Awesome during the Dreeson Incident, wading into an anti-Semitic mob and gunning down several, then switching to hand-to-hand and taking out several more before he was finally brought down. This ends up making his name slang for a Badass among USE citizens.
His daughter Denise is no slouch either, gunning down Bryant Holloway with the rifle Buster gave her for her birthday.