Audie Leon Murphy, 1LT (1924 - 1971) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Kingston, Texas, United States
Death: Died in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States
Cause of death: plane crash
Occupation: Actor, "Most Decorated War Veteran", QH Breeder, Country Music Composer
Managed by: Aramie Bloom
Last Updated:

About Audie Leon Murphy, 1LT

A legend in his own time, Audie Murphy was the most decorated American Army soldier of World War II who went on to become a celebrated movie star for over two decades in the post-war era, appearing in 44 films. He received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest award for valor, along with 32 additional U.S. and foreign medals and citations, including five from France and one from Belgium. Murphy's successful movie career included To Hell and Back (1955), based on his book of the same title (1949). He lived only 46 years, but he made a lasting imprint on American history.

Audie Leon Murphy was born on a sharecropper's farm in North Texas on June 20, 1924, the seventh of twelve children born to Emmett Berry Murphy and his wife, Josie Bell Killian. Three of Murphy's siblings died before his birth, and by 1934 Emmett Murphy had abandoned his wife and children during the first years of the Depression.

Murphy's life from his earliest years was one of hard work and extreme poverty: as soon as he was able to carry a pail he was responsible for helping to milk cows and seed fields. He chopped cotton for one dollar a day and was noted for his feats of derring-do and his accuracy with a gun. By the age of 10 Murphy was the oldest child at home and was caring for his five younger siblings. When Murphy's mother, Josie Killian Murphy died in 1941 at the age of 50, he became a surrogate father and sole support for the younger children at the age of 16. In agreement with his older sister, Corrinne, Murphy placed his three youngest siblings, Nadine, Billie, and Joe, in an orphanage to ensure their care (he reclaimed them after World War II).

After being refused enlistment during World War II in both the Marines and Paratroopers for being too small (5'5") and underweight (110 lbs), he enlisted in the U.S. Army a few days after his 18th birthday. After basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas, and advanced training at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, Audie was sent overseas. He was assigned to the famous 15th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division where he fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. He earned a battlefields commission for his courage and leadership ability as well as citations and decorations including every medal for valor that America gives. He was also awarded three French and one Belgian medal. Lieutenant Audie Murphy was the highest decorated soldier in American history.

Discharged from the Army on September 21, 1945, Audie went to Hollywood at the invitation of movie star James Cagney. He remained in California for the rest of his life and was closely associated with the movie industry, both as an actor and a producer. He acted in 44 films, starring in 39 of them. His best known film was "To Hell and Back," adopted from the best selling book of his war experiences by the same name. Most of his movies were westerns. In 1955, Audie Murphy was voted the Most Popular Western Actor in America by the Motion Picture Exhibitors.

Murphy wrote the lyrics to 16 country and western songs, the most popular of which was "Shutters and Boards," written with Scott Turner in 1962. The song was recorded by over 30 pop singers, including Jerry Wallace, Dean Martin, and Porter Waggoner. He was an accomplished poet; unfortunately, only a few of his poems have survived. In 1950 Audie joined the 36th Infantry Division ("T-Patchers") of the Texas National Guard and served with it until 1966. He was a Mason and a Shriner and belonged to several veterans organizations.

Audie Murphy was killed in a plane crash on a mountain top near Roanoke, Virginia on May 28, 1971. Fittingly, his body was recovered 2 days later on Memorial Day. Murphy could very well be the last American war hero. He was the greatest combat soldier in the 200 year plus history of the United States.

His accomplishments are still commemorated in a variety of ways that range from his native Hunt County's annual Audie Murphy Day celebration to his induction into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Country Music Association of Texas. His name also appears on a VA hospital, a library room, a stretch of U.S. Highway 69 in Texas, and a San Antonio division of the Army. The medals and awards of Audie Murphy are on display at the Dallas Scottish Rite Temple Museum (500 South Harwood Street, Dallas, TX 75201) and the China Room of the 15th Infantry Regiment (Kelley Hill, Fort Benning, Georgia). For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Audie Murphy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1601 Vine Street.

Medal of Honor citation


The official U.S. Army citation for Murphy's Medal of Honor reads:

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Holtzwihr France, January 26, 1945. Entered service at: Dallas, Texas. Birth: Hunt County, near Kingston, Texas, G.O. No. 65, August 9, 1944. Citation: Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad that was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack, which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective

Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB, Arlington National Cemetery

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Audie Murphy, 1LT's Timeline

1924
June 20, 1924
Kingston, Texas, United States
1949
1949
Age 24
1952
1952
Age 27
1954
1954
Age 29
1971
May 28, 1971
Age 46
Blacksburg, Virginia, United States
June 7, 1971
Age 46
Arlington, Virginia, USA
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