Audie Murphy: World War II Hero

Audie Murphy was most decorated soldier of World War II.

 

Audie Murphy was born in Kingston, Texas on June 20, 1925. He had a troubled childhood having to drop out of school when in the fifth grade due to his father abandoning the family.

He earned a dollar a day for picking cotton and plowing the fields. One of his hunting companions said Murphy didn’t miss when he shot while hunting. His friend mentioned this fact to Murphy and he replied that his family doesn’t eat if he doesn’t kill animals.

Things would get even worse for Murphy when his mom died when he was only 15 in 1941. When Pearl Harbor was attacked Murphy attempted to enlist in the military but was rejected because he was only 16 at the time.

In 1942 his sister adjusted his birthdate to make him appear to be 18 and he was admitted into the Army after being rejected by the Marines and Army paratroopers for only being 5 foot 5.

He passed out during a drill at Camp Wolters, Texas and his commanding officer tried to transfer him to cooks and bakers school. Murphy would have none of that since he wanted to be a combat soldier so was sent to advanced infantry training  at Fort Meade, Maryland.

His first combat was during the invasion of Sicily when he killed two Italian officers on horseback which won him a promotion to corporal.

Murphy had to fight his way out of an ambush at Salerno when his unit was attacked by German soldiers. He was rewarded with a promotion to sergeant after the battle.

When his best friend was killed by a German soldier who was faking surrendering Murphy opened fire on the German machine gun crew which had killed his friend and killed all of them and then used their machine guns and grenades to destroy other German positions winning him the Distinguished Service Cross.

He showed his shooting skills at the Battle of Holtzweir when he only had 19 of 128 soldiers available for combat. He ordered the other eighteen soldiers to fall back while he begin gunning down the Germans and used a burning tank’s guns to mow down even more Germans.

Only then did he call his eighteen soldiers in the rear to rout the Germans out of their position as the Germans exited the area. His valor in this battle earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Even more impressive was the fact that the temperature was minus 14 degree fahrenheit and 24 inches of snow was on the ground during this battle.

Murphy was then removed from the front lines and promoted to first lieutenant on February 22, 1945 about three months before the end of the war in the European theater. He received 33 U.S. medals and received every medal that was possible to win.

He was 5 foot 5 and 110 pounds when he enlisted but was 5 foot 7 and 140 pounds by the time he ended his three year enlistment.

Murphy alone was credited with knocking out six tanks and killing 240 soldiers. He was discharged from the Army on September 21, 1945.

Like most combat veterans Murphy experienced post traumatic stress from being in combat. He had to relive his wartime experiences as he acted in To Hell and Back which was highest grossing movie for Universal Studios till Jaws surpassed the $10 million box office total of the Murphy film.

Murphy appeared in 44 feature films during his 25 years in Hollywood. In addition to acting he was a country music songwriter writing the Jerry Wallace hit Shutters and Boards.

He developed a close friendship with Jimmy Hoffa and was working to have him released from prison. In fact he talked to Grady Partin who had testified against Hoffa to recant his testimony.

Murphy’s life would come to an end when the private plane he was in crashed into Brush Mountain close to Catawba, Virginia.

For more details and links about Audie Murphy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audie_Murphy



 

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Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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