Today we’re looking at one of the most decorated American soldiers to see combat in the Second World War. His name was Audie Murphy.
In the year 1925, Audie Murphy was born into a large sharecropping family in Kingston, Texas. He was abandoned by his father, while his mother died when he was only a teenager. In fifth grade, Murphy quit school to pick cotton and work odd jobs to support his family. He was also a skilled hunter, which allowed him to put food on the table.
When the attack on Pearl Harbor took place, Murphy was only 16. He employed the help of his sister in order to falsify birth records to meet the minimum age to enlist in the military. After being turned down by the Navy and Marine Corps, he was accepted into the U.S army in 1942. A year later, he would experience combat for the first time during the allied Invasion of Sicily.
Murphy would later fight in Anzio, the Rhineland, Central Europe, Tunisia, Naples, Rome and many other locations in Europe during his military service. He would finish his service in Europe as a First Lieutenant.
Eventually, he was recommended for the Medal of Honor for actions during his time in Holtzwihr, and was awarded the commendation on May 24th, 1945. In 1948, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor, which is the highest order of civilian or military merit.
After the Second World War, Murphy was commissioned as a Captain in the Texas National Guard in 1950. He helped to train troops who would be going to fight in the Korean War.
In the time after his service, Murphy would struggle with post traumatic stress disorder, which most often manifested through dreams. He discusses this greatly in his book titled “To Hell and Back.” He often was outspoken about the effects of war on veterans.
In all, Murphy would receive 33 rewards, including three Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, a Distinguished Service cross and two presidential unit citations.
Audie Murphy died on May 28th, 1971 in a plane crash that took the lives of five other people. He was 45 years old.