Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Audie Murphy was an abandoned kid in Texas, freckle-faced and short and underweight. He was 17 years old when World War II broke out, and he enlisted. The Navy and Marines turned him down. The Army took him.

Audie Murphy became the most decorated hero of the war. He received the Purple Heart, the Medal of Honor, the Bronze Star for valor, the Silver Star for bravery, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Legion of Merit. When he was 19 years old, Murphy single-handedly held off an entire company of Germans for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then led a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.

When asked why he did it, he replied simply, "They were killing my friends."

Audie Murphy suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder after the war. He abused alcohol and drugs, wrote poetry and songs, bred quarterhorses, and was a Hollywood actor for 15 years. After his acting career petered out in the early 1960s, he suffered from poverty.

Audie Murphy died at the age of 41 on May 28, 1971, when the private plane in which he was a passenger crashed into Brush Mountain, near Catawba, Virginia, in heavy rain.

His grave is on Memorial Drive across from the Memorial Amphitheater. Medal of Honor winners usually have the lettering of their headstones gilded with gold. Murphy requested that his be plain, like any other soldier's. It is the cemetery's second most-visited grave site, after that of President John F. Kennedy.

Audie Murphy grave - Arlington National Cemetery - 2011

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