Audie Murphy: Most Decorated World War II Hero

Audie Murphy 1924-1971
Audie Murphy who served in Europe for 27 months during World War II was awarded the Medal of Honor, plus 32 other awards by the United States and foreign countries.
Murphy was born June 20, 1924 in Kingston, Texas. He had to drop out of school in the fifth grade to support his family as a farm worker. He was a very good shot and said once, that if he didn’t shoot what he shot at that his family wouldn’t eat that day.
He tried to join the Marines, Army Air Corps and Navy, but they all said he was underweight at 110 pounds. The U.S. Army did accept him and after passing out during a basic training drill, the Army tried to send him to baker’s school, but he insisted on being assigned to an infantry unit.
It didn’t take long for Murphy to be promoted after shooting two Italian officers in Sicily, so he was promoted to corporal. Two months later he was promoted to sergeant after fighting his way out of a German ambush on the Italian mainland.
His most heroic action was when his unit only had 19 soldiers remaining out of 128 and he sent the 19 soldiers to the rear while he singlehandedly fought the Germans. Then when he ran out of ammunition, he jumped in a burning tank destroyer and starting firing on the German position. In addition, he also called in artillery strikes. Murphy then gathered the 19 remaining soldiers, as they drove the Germans from the battlefield. He had suffered a leg wound but continued fighting.  His actions in this battle won him the Medal of Honor. His Medal of Honor citation credits Murphy with killing or wounding 50 German soldiers in that one battle.
Murphy joined the Texas National Guard after the Korean War began, but his unit was never called into combat.
He was a private first class when he was part of the invasion force entering Sicily in July of 1943, but by the end of 1944 he had been promoted to corporal, sergeant, staff sergeant and second lieutenant.
Starred in Movies, Television
Murphy moved to Hollywood and after struggling at first to find movie roles, was seen in 44 movies and is on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He played a copy boy in his first movie Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven  in 1948 and was seen in 33 westerns. He did play himself in To Hell and Back which was based on his autobiography by the same name. He appeared as Jesse James in A Time For Dying which ironically was his last movie before his death.
The trailer from To Hell And Back the autobiographical movie about Audie Murphy.
The highlight of his television career was when he played the title character in Whispering Smith. Only 26 episodes were filmed of the series.
To see a complete list of his movie and television appearances:
Country Music Songwriting Career
Audie Murphy also was a country music songwriter. He was admitted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1981. His most famous composition would be Shutters and Boards which is heard being sung by Jerry Wallace:
Jerry Wallace singing Shutters and Boards written by Audie Murphy.
Dies in Virginia Plane Crash
Murphy was flying in a private plane on May 28, 1971 with zero visibility, when it crashed into Brush Mountain near Catawba, Virginia. The pilot had 8,000 hours of flying time but no instrument rating.
He had requested before his death to have a simple headstone at Arlington National Cemetery, not wanting  the customary gold leaf surrounding the headstone for previous Medal of Honor winners.
Murphy was a humble man who like most war veterans who experienced combat situations, suffered post traumatic stress upon returning from the war and worked to get special compensation for veterans experiencing it.
It was ironic that Murphy who risked his life many times on the battlefield would die on a plane, that probably shouldn’t have even been in the air.
Murphy was only 45 at the time of his death, but had more life experiences than most of us, who lived many years longer.
It is probably safe to say that Audie Murphy is the only person to have won the Medal of  Honor, enshrined on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Audie Murphy was not only the greatest American soldier who was on a battlefield, but also a humble man who never seeked to capitalize on his acts of heroism. In fact he wanted Tony Curtis to play his part in To Hell and Back.
We need to keep the memory of Audie Murphy alive for generations to come. He faced adversity as a child and as a soldier on the battlefield, but he overcame adversity to become America’s greatest war hero. America needs more men like Audie Murphy today.

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: