AUDIE MURPHY – Medal of Honor

Audie Leon Murphy, born on June 20, 1925, and passing away on May 28, 1971, was a multifaceted individual renowned as an American soldier, actor, and songwriter. Recognised as the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II and often hailed as the most highly decorated soldier in U.S. history, Murphy’s contributions to his nation were unparalleled. His valour was exemplified by receiving every military combat award for valour available from the United States Army, along with commendations from France and Belgium for acts of heroism.

Born into a large family of sharecroppers in Hunt County, Texas, Murphy faced early hardships when his father abandoned the family and his mother passed away during his teenage years. Despite leaving school in fifth grade to work and support his family, Murphy’s exceptional skill with a hunting rifle became a crucial means of providing sustenance.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Murphy, with the help of his older sister, altered documentation to meet the minimum age requirement for military enlistment. Initially rejected by the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps due to being underweight, he eventually joined the Army. His wartime experiences included the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily, participation in the Battle of Anzio, the liberation of Rome, and the invasion of southern France. Notable feats included holding off a company of German soldiers at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945 and leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition, earning him the Medal of Honor.

Despite grappling with multiple illnesses and wounds throughout his service, Murphy emerged as one of the most highly praised and decorated soldiers of World War II, credited with the demise of 241 enemy soldiers.

Struggling with what would now be identified as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), referred to as “battle fatigue” during his time, Murphy coped by sleeping with a loaded handgun and resorting to addictive sleeping pills. In his final years, financial difficulties plagued him, but he declined offers to endorse alcohol and cigarette commercials, prioritising a positive example.

Tragically, Audie Murphy lost his life in a plane crash in Virginia in 1971, just before his 46th birthday. He was laid to rest with military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, and his grave remains one of the most visited, commemorating a remarkable life dedicated to service and valour.

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