Audie Leon Murphy, born June 20, 1925*, son of poor Texas sharecroppers, rose to national fame as the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II. Among his 33 awards and decorations was the Medal of Honor, the highest military award for bravery that can be given to any individual in the United States of America, for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." He also received every decoration for valor that his country had to offer, some of them more than once, including 5 decorations by France and Belgium. Credited with either killing over 240 of the enemy while wounding and capturing many others, he became a legend within the 3rd Infantry Division. Beginning his service as an Army Private, Audie quickly rose to the enlisted rank of Staff Sergeant, was given a "battle field" commission as 2nd Lieutenant, was wounded three times, fought in 9 major campaigns across the European Theater, and survived the war.
During Murphy's 3 years active service as a combat soldier in World War II, Audie became one of the best fighting combat soldiers of this or any other century. What Audie accomplished during this period is most significant and probably will never be repeated by another soldier, given today's high-tech type of warfare. The U.S. Army has always declared that there will never be another Audie Murphy... READ MORE
...Lt. Murphy was serving as company commander in the Holzwihr forest on 26 January 1945. His unit had been completely decimated - he had 19 men left in his company that was once 128 strong - and had been assigned to hold the critical Colmar Pocket region from a German counterattack. He had two M-10 tank destroyers attached to his unit, and was expecting an additional two companies of infantry to come cover his flank.
It was a cold, rainy morning when Lt. Murphy first noticed the battalion of German mechanized infantry heading towards his position. Three companies of Nazi soldiers and half a dozen heavy Tiger tanks were bearing down on him. Murphy radioed to HQ, only to find that the two companies of supporting infantry he was expecting to hold the flank were not going to arrive in time. Audie was alone and outnumbered, but it was his duty to hold this position and he knew what he had to do.
He sent his men back to take defensive positions behind him, and called the M-10s forward to take out some of the German armor. Within minutes, both vehicles had been knocked out like chumps. Now it was just Audie against an impossibly large force of German troops. Instead of falling back to safety like a regular, sane person, Murphy instead jumped up and manned the .50 caliber machinegun mounted one of the burning, disabled M-10s. He got on the radio with Command HQ and started calling in artillery strikes to hit the German positions. Shells rained down, taking out Nazis all over the place, but it wasn't enough. Lt. Murphy opened up the machinegun from his completely exposed position and started mowing down Krauts left and right. Artillery continued to pound the Germans while Murphy shot the shit out of them. Before long the German losses were so great that the Tiger tanks had to pull back because they had lost most of their infantry support. Audie continued to fire until he ran out of bullets, then dismounted the M-10 only seconds before the entire vehicle exploded. He rallied his men, and the small group of Americans charged forward and routed the German forces. The Colmar Pocket had held... READ MORE
What's My Line
Original Air Date: July 3, 1955
Washington, D.C., Thursday 30 May, 1996
|In Memory of Major Audie L. Murphy|
Read by the Honorable Ralph M. Hall
Proceedings and Debates of the 104th Congress, Second Session
House of Representatives
Mr. Hall of Texas: Mr. Speaker, today marks the 25th anniversary of the death of the most decorated soldier of World War II and a genuine national hero - the late Audie Leon Murphy - who was a native of the Fourth District of Texas as well as a personal friend of mine. It is a privelege for me today to pay tribute to this legendary American, and I would like to do so on behalf of the entire Texas Delegation as well as on behalf of his hometown friends and relatives in Farmersville, TX, and on behalf of the late Congressman Olin Teague of Texas who first paid tribute to Audie Murphy in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD on October 13, 1971 - on the occasion of the dedication of the Audie Leon Murphy Hospital for veterans in San Antonio.
Audie Murphy was indeed a legend in his own time - and a hero for all times. For his valor in combat and action above and beyond the call of duty, he received every medal the Army awards. He earned the Silver Star twice in 3 days, three Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Medal of Honor.
The Citation to the Medal of Honor recognized 2d. Lt. Audie Murphy, 15th Infantry, for his valor on January 26, 1945, near Holtzwihr, France. His Company B was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Second Lieutenant Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepare positions in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post to direct the artillery. One of his company's tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Lieutenant Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer and trained its machinegun on the enemy, killing dozens and causing their infantry attack to waver. He held his position for more than an hour, received a leg wound, but continued the fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the enemy to withdraw. The Citation reads, "Lieutenant 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."
Audie received the Distinguished Service Cross for his extraordinary heroism on August 15, 1944, near Ramatuelle, France. On this date, according to the award citation, "His extraordinary heroism resulted in the capture of a fiercely contested enemy-held hill and the annihilation or capture of the entire enemy garrison."
And yet Audie believed that his medals belonged to every man in his company and he always maintained that he was just "another man." His humility stemmed perhaps from a humble beginning near Kingston, TX and years of living in poverty. Audie had quit school in the eigth grade to help support his mother and eight siblings. He hunted small game to supply food for the family, and become an expert marksman. He took odd jobs wherever he could find them - on a farm, a filling station and grocery store, a radio repair shop. But Audie made up for his lack of education with a brilliant mind, great dignity, and a sense of composure that impressed all those who met him.
Following the war, James Cagney extended him an invitation to visit Hollywood, where he signed an acting contract. His best-selling autobiograhy, TO HELL AND BACK, was made into a successful movie in which Audie played the starring role. His specialty was small-budget westerns, but Audie never really liked acting, and he pursued several business ventures over the years. It was on one of these ventures that he was killed in a plane crash near Roanoke, VA, on May 30, 1971. He left behind his wife of 20 years, Pamela Archer, two sons, Terry and James Shannon, other family members and hundreds of friends and admirers.
Since that time the Audie L. Murphy National Memorial Tribute Committee, headed by Louis J. Parillo, has honored his memory by awarding the ALM Patriotism Portrait Awards. The awards are presented in groups of three to represent our Nation's Triad Defense System, and this 25th anniversary of Audie's death will mark the final presentation. Recipients in the order presented, include: The American Security Counil, Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub, USA Ret., Gen William C. Westmoreland, USA Ret.; Gen Louis H. Wilson, USMC Ret., The Marine Attack Squadron 131, 4th Marine Air Wing, Fourth Marine Division; Gen Omar Bradley, USA Ret., 28th Division PNG, First Army; Headquarters 3rd Infantry Division U.S. Army, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), U.S. Army Parachute Team (Golden Knights); North American Air Defense Command, 112th Fighter Group, Pennsylvania ANG, 910th Special Operations Group, USAFR; City of New Castle, PA, County of Lawrence, Pennsylvania, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Department of Defense; Robert Bleier (Trustee for Vietnam Veterans), Congressman Olin "Tiger" Teague (posthumously), President Ronald W. Reagan; The Honorable William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense, The American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, we are joined today by Audie Murphy's family, his friends, and his many fans in paying this final tribute to WWII's most decorated war hero. Perhaps the finest tribute would be to place in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD two odes composed by Audie Leon Murphy. These reflect his thoughts and feelings for his fallen comrades and reveal to us, more than any words of our own could possibly reveal, the full measure of this great American.