A Soldier's Story: Major Audie Leon Murphy


Major Audie Leon Murphy was born in Kingston, Texas, on June 20, 1925. The son of sharecroppers, he dropped out of school in the fifth grade to work in the cotton fields and help support the family. Major Audie Murphy also regularly hunted small game and worked at the local general store/gas station.  

In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the US entry into World War II, Major Audie Leon Murphy tried to enlist in the military and was turned away from all branches due to his age and small physical stature. Finally, in June 1942, he succeeded enlisting in the US Army after falsifying his birth records.

He was assigned to the 3rd Infantry and deployed to Casablanca in February 1943. He was then assigned to Sicily in July 1943, then Salerno in September 1943, before Major Audie Leon Murphy participated in the Allied invasion of Southern France in 1944. Major Audie Murphy would earn valor awards at every site.

Major Audie Leon Murphy earned a Congressional Medal of Honor on January 26, 1945, while at Holtzwihr, France, after his M10 Tank destroyer was disabled by six tanks and 250 enemy troops and set on fire. Major Audie Murphy climbed atop the flaming tank destroyer, firing a 50-caliber machine at enemy troops for over an hour, holding the enemy at bay and causing at least 50 enemy casualties. Then, while injured, he led US troops in pursuit of enemy troops and cleared the area.  

Major Audie Leon Murphy remained in the US Army Reserves.

In July 1945, Life Magazine featured an article about Major Audie Murphy and his status as "The Most Decorated US Soldier."  James Cagney saw the article and invented Major Murphy to Hollywood. He began his acting career and appeared in more than 40 films, mainly within the Western and War genres, and included the role of Henry Fleming in the 1951 film adaptation of Stephen Crane's novel The Red Badge of Courage. 

Major Audie Leon Murphy also wrote the book "To Hell and Back," where he recounted his war experiences. In addition, he spoke publicly about his struggles with PTSD and the after-effects of war on soldiers.

Major Audie Leon Murphy died on May 28, 1971, in a plane crash in the mountains outside of Roanoke, Virginia. He rests at Arlington Cemetery.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

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