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Audie Murphy – War Hero, Movie Star & A Tragic Death

Audie Leon Murphy was born on June 20, 1925, in Kingston. Murphy’s father abandoned the family when Murphy was still a child, compelling Murphy to quit school and find work. Murphy’s mother with whom he enjoyed a special bond passed away when he was just 16. Murphy took a few odd jobs to feed the family before finally joining the army in 1942. During World War II, Murphy killed hundreds of German soldiers and displayed exemplary courage on several occasions.

For his services, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945. A war hero, Murphy eventually became a screen hero with films like The Red Badge of Courage, To Hell and Back, and The Quiet American. Audie Murphy died in a plane crash in 1971. He is buried in the Arlington National Cemetry and his grave is the second-most visited gravesite in the cemetery. In this video, we tell you about Audie Murphy: War Hero, Movie Star, & his Tragic Death.

The Beginning of Audie Murphy’s Life

Audie Murphy is born to Emmett Berry and Josie Bell Murphy on June 20, 1925. It locates in Hunt County, a small village near Northeastern Texas. As a child, Murphy stayed away from other children and was mostly a loner. His father, Emmett Berry, moved in and out of his twelve children’s lives, eventually deserting them completely. After Murphy’s father leaves the family, Murphy compels to quit school and start working.

He chooses to pick cotton, for which he earns $1 a day. While working as a cotton picker, he learns to use a rifle — he hunts to feed his family. When Murphy is just 16, his mother dies of complications arising out of pneumonia and endocarditis. It’s an event that leaves a gaping hole in Murphy’s heart. After his mother’s death, Murphy took several different jobs — after working at a radio shop for a while, Murphy first found work at a general store and then at a garage and gas station.

Audie Murphy In The U.S. Army

However, he had since the beginning shown a strong inclination towards joining the U.S. army. When the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbour, Murphy had tried to join the army. However, he was only 16 at the time, and therefore, his application was rejected. In 1942, Murphy’s sister provided him with an affidavit with a falsified birth date, and it was with the help of this affidavit that Murphy finally got admission into the U.S. army. Murphy trained at Camp Wolters at first and was eventually sent to Fort Meade for advanced training. During his training period, Murphy earned two badges: the Marksman Badge and the Expert Badge.

After completing his training, Murphy joined the 3rd Infantry and was posted in Licata, Sicily as a division runner. During his first few days in Licata, Murphy killed two Italian soldiers while on his scouting patrol duties. In September 1943, Murphy’s battalion was posted at the mainland Salerno landing at Battipaglia. One day, while Murphy was scouting the area with two other soldiers, German soldiers ambushed the three. One of Murphy’s mate was killed in machine-gun firing from the German side. Murphy and the other soldier used their machine gun and hand grenades in counter-defense and killed five German soldiers. A few days later, in October 1943, Murphy and his unit killed three German soldiers and captured four of them as prisoners. After this incident, Murphy was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Promoted As Staff Sergeant

In January 1944, Murphy was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was supposed to be in Anzio Beachhead with his team. However, a malaria attack compelled him to stay back in Naples. After recuperating completely, Murphy joined the First Battle of Cisterna and owing to his bravery and courage, was promoted to the rank of Platoon Sergeant. After the battle, his unit returned to Anzio, where it remained posted for the next four months. During this time, Murphy captured several German soldiers, and therefore, he, along with 61 infant officers of Company B, 15th Infantry, was honored with the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Murphy’s unit landed on Yellow Beach in August 1944. One day when the unit was scouting a vineyard, it was attacked by German soldiers. Murphy found a machine gun that a German soldier had perhaps dropped by mistake and used it to fire back at the soldiers. He ended up killing two German soldiers and wounding one. After this, two German soldiers came out of the house to surrender. Murphy’s best friend moved towards them to capture them; the German soldiers retaliated by opening fire and killing Murphy’s friend. After this, Murphy marched towards the house while under direct attack — he killed six soldiers, wounded two of them, and took 11 German soldiers prisoners that day.

Audie Murphy was a legend in his own time. If you are enjoying listening to this story of extraordinary courage and grit, we bet you will also appreciate this man’s journey to the big screen. Stay tuned and we will give you more details. Meanwhile, if you are enjoying this video, do not forget to like and subscribe to our channel.

Audie Murphy’s Honors For His Services

During his military service, Murphy showed great courage and bravado on several occasions and received different honors for his services. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the Allied invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944. On September 15, 1944, he received his Purple Heart for a wound he had received during a mortar shell blast. On October 2, 1944, he killed German soldiers at L’Omet Quarry for which he was given a Silver Star. After killing three German soldiers, Murphy used a radio device to guide his men to the location while German soldiers fired directly at him. By the time, Murphy’s unit arrived, Murphy had already killed 15 German soldiers and wounded 35 of them. This incident not only won him a Bronze Oak Lead Cluster for his Silver Star but also a promotion to the rank of the platoon leader.

In January 1945, Murphy’s platoon was moved to the town of Holtzwihr. It was here that the unit came under a brutal attack from the German party. During the counterattack, Murphy sustained injuries in both his legs. He was awarded a second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster and made the commander of Company B.

M10 Tank Destroyer

A few days later, the Germans hit Murphy’s unit’s M10 tank destroyer. Though Murphy commanded his men to retreat and hide in the woods, he remained at his post, retaliating by firing the M1 carbine he had in his possession. Murphy eventually mounted the M10 tank destroyer that the Germans had attacked and fired at the advancing Germans with the .50 caliber machine gun of the tank. The fight continued for almost an hour and during this time, Murphy managed to kill and wound 50 German soldiers.

During the fight, Murphy sustained a leg injury but continued firing at the German soldiers until he ran out of ammunition, after which he went back to his unit and commanded his men to attack the Germans, staying with them and guiding them, even though he had injured his leg. For this act of bravery, Audie Murphy was given the Medal of Honor and his unit won the Presidential Unit Citation. In February 1945, Murphy was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and also honored with the Legion of Merit. A few days later, he was made a Liaison Officer and posted at the Regimental Headquarters.

Though Audie Murphy displayed exemplary courage and was one of the most decorated combat soldiers of the time, his time in the military affected his mental health. After coming back from war, Murphy began experiencing insomnia and nightmares — he began going to sleep with a pistol under his pillow. In 1947, he began taking sleeping pills to fight the bouts of depression he had been experiencing on a daily basis. Murphy struggled with depression and insomnia for years and by the 1960s, he had become dependent on sedatives for sleep.

Breaking His Addiction

Thus, during the late 60s, Murphy locked himself in a hotel room to break his addiction — he was successful too. However, his struggles made him realize that post-war stress trauma was a serious issue that needed more attention. Thus, he began talking about mental health and posttraumatic stress disorder, which soldiers often waved off as battle fatigue or shell shock. His discussions on the topic began gathering attention, eventually compelling the government to allocate sources to study the effect of combat experiences on war veterans. Murphy’s efforts resulted in the government passing legislation regarding the same. In 1971, the Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA hospital was established in San Antonio, South Texas.

Other than being one of the most decorated soldiers in the U.S. Army, Audie Murphy also enjoyed a successful film career. In July 1945, Life magazine did a feature on Murphy and how he was the most decorated soldier of the time. James Cagney, the famous actor, and producer, stumbled upon this article and approached Murphy. Though Murphy was skeptical, he signed a contract with Cagney and his brother William. The brother duo gave Murphy training in acting and dancing. However, they never cast Murphy in any of their films, and the association between the two parties ended in 1947. Murphy then ventured out on his own, learning acting from Estelle Harman, bagging his first film role in 1948 in Texas, Brooklyn & Heaven. Around the same time, Murphy began dating actress Wanda Hendrix and her agent got Murphy some decent parts in different films.

Contract With Universal Studios

In 1950, Murphy entered into a seven-year contract with Universal Studios — under the contract, Murphy earned $2,500 in salary each week. With Universal Studios, Murphy’s first film was The Kid from Texas. The same year, Murphy did two other films: Sierra and Kansas Raiders. In 1951, Universal entered into an agreement with MGM and as part of his agreement, loaned Murphy for the film The Red Badge of Courage. Murphy got a one-time payment of $25,000 for the film.

In 1952, Murphy took things easy and did only one film, The Duel at Silver Creek. In 1953, he delivered two hits, Column South and Tumbleweed. Murphy continued to deliver successful films during the mid-1950s. In 1958, he collaborated with Joseph L. Mankiewicz on The Quiet American. The collaboration resulted in three hit films. During the late 1950s, Murphy began doing Westerns, a genre he mastered only a few years. During the 60s, other than delivering successful films, Murphy also made giant steps towards the television. Murphy starred as Tom Smith in the Western television series Whispering Smith, which was quite a big hit. Towards the end of the decade, Murphy met Budd Boetticher, who wrote the script for Murphy’s last film A Time for Dying.

Last Project: A Time For Dying

In an ironic turn of events, A Time for Dying proved to be Murphy’s last project. On May 28, 1971, Murphy died in a plane crash near Catawba, Virginia. Though the pilot had a private pilot license and 8,000 hours of flying time on his resume, he had no instrument rating, and weather conditions on the day were harsh — he was flying the plan amidst rain, fog, and zero visibility when it crashed into the Brush Mountain. A search party found the plane on May 31, 1971; no survivors were found. Murphy was given military honors and buried at the Arlington National Cemetry on June 7, 1971. President John F. Kennedy was also buried at the Arlington National Cemetry and Audie Murphy’s gravesite is the second-most visited grave after that of President John F. Kennedy.

Audie Murphy lived an extraordinary life and the man will always be remembered for his courage and grit. Did you enjoy this video? Please leave a comment and let us know. If you enjoy Facts Verse videos, do not forget to like and subscribe to our channel and press the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest videos.

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