A short story of America's greatest war hero…





The greatest American U.S. Army combat infantry soldier in the more than 200-year history of the United States Army. A leader of fighting men during World War II. A tower of courage unmatched even today. America's most decorated soldier ever. The recipient of citations and decorations, including every medal for valor that America gives - some even twice. He was also awarded three French and one Belgian medal. He received a total of 3 Purple Hearts, 33 awards and medals, including the Congressional Medal of Honor. At war's end, he was only 21 years of age. At 5.5 inches tall, he is the epitome of the olde adage - "It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." A war hero, father, movie actor, Mason, Shriner, song writer, poet, and legend in his own time, Audie left a lasting imprint on American history. His biography reads more like fiction or legend than fact. He lived only 46 years, but he made a lasting imprint on American history.


Audie was born on a sharecropper's farm in North Texas on June 20, 1924. Audie was the seventh born child of a total of twelve children born to Emmett Berry Murphy and his wife Josie Bell Killian in Kingston, Texas. The Murphys were sharecroppers of Irish descent.

As a boy, he chopped cotton for one dollar a day and was noted for his feats of derring-do and his accuracy with a gun. By age 16, Audie had only 5 years of schooling and was also orphaned with the death of his beloved mother.

Audie as a young boy in one of the very few surviving photographs


After being refused enlistment during World War II by both the Marines and U.S. Army Paratroopers for being too small (5'5") and underweight (110 lbs), he enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry a few days after his 18th birthday. After basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas, and advanced infantry training at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, Audie was sent overseas, first to North Africa, then onwards to Europe. He was assigned to the famous "CAN DO" Company B, 15th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division, where he first fought in North Africa, followed by action in Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. Before long, due to his leadership, courage and heroism, Audie earned a battlefield commission to Lieutenant during nine separate campaigns in Europe from 1942 to 1945.

Medals, Awards, Citations

  1. Medal of Honor
  2. Distinguished Service Cross
  3. Silver Star with First Oak Leaf Cluster
  4. Legion of Merit
  5. Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device and First Oak Leaf Cluster
  6. Purple Heart with Second Oak Leaf Cluster
  7. U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
  8. Good Conduct Medal
  9. Distinguished Unit Emblem with First Oak Leaf Cluster
  10. American Campaign Medal
  11. European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France)
  12. World War II Victory Medal
  13. Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp
  14. Armed Forces Reserve Medal
  15. Combat Infantry Badge
  16. Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar
  17. Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar
  18. French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre
  19. French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier
  20. French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star
  21. French Croix de Guerre with Palm
  22. Medal of Liberated France
  23. Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm


In 1950 Audie joined the 36th Infantry Division ("T-Patchers") of the Texas National Guard and served with it until 1966. He was a Mason and a Shriner, and belonged to several veterans' organizations.


Following his discharged from the Army on September 21, 1945, Audie went to Hollywood at the invitation of movie star James Cagney. He remained in California for the rest of his life and was closely associated with the movie industry, both as an actor and a producer. He acted in 44 films, starring in 39 of them. His best known film was "To Hell and Back," adopted from the bestselling book of his war experiences by the same name. Most of his movies were westerns. In 1955, Audie Murphy was voted the Most Popular Western Actor in America by the Motion Picture Exhibitors.

His movies include:

  1. Beyond Glory
  2. Texas, Heaven and Brooklyn
  3. Bad Boy
  4. The Kid from Texas
  5. Sierra
  6. Kansas Raiders
  7. The Red Badge of Courage
  8. The Cimarron Kid
  9. The Duel at Silver Creek
  1. Gunsmoke
  2. Column South
  3. Tumbleweed
  4. Ride Clear of Diablo
  5. Drums Across the River
  6. Destry
  7. To Hell and Back
  8. World in My Corner
  9. Walk the Proud Land
  10. Joe Butterfly
  11. The Guns of Fort Petticoat
  12. Night Passage
  13. The Quiet American
  14. Ride a Crooked Trail
  15. The Gun Runners
  16. No Name on the Bullet
  17. The Wild and the Innocent
  18. Cast a Long Shadow
  19. The Unforgiven
  20. Hell Bent for Leather
  21. Seven Ways from Sundown
  22. Posse from Hell
  23. Battle at Bloody Beach
  24. Six Black Horses
  25. Showdown
  26. Gunfight at Comanche Creek
  27. The Quick Gun
  28. Bullet for a Badman
  29. Apache Rifles
  30. Arizona Raiders
  31. Gunpoint
  32. The Texican
  33. Trunk to Cairo
  34. 40 Guns to Apache Pass
  35. A Time for Dying


As a song writer, Audie wrote the lyrics to 16 country and western songs, the most popular of which was "Shutters and Boards," written with Scott Turner in 1962. The song was recorded by over 30 pop singers, including Jerry Wallace, Dean Martin, and Porter Waggoner.


  1. Shutters And Boards (Recorded by: Teresa Brewer, Jimmy Dean, Dean Martin, Porter Waggoner, Jerry Wallace, Johnny Mann Singers, and many others), 1962
  2. When The Wind Blows In Chicago, 1962
  3. Please Mr. Music Man Play A Song For Me, 1962
  4. Foolish Clock, 1962
  5. Leave The Weeping To The Willow Tree, 1962
  6. The Only Light I Ever Need Is You, 1962
  7. Go On And Break My Heart, 1963
  8. Willie The Hummer. 1963
  9. My Lonesome Room, 1963
  10. Elena, Goodbye, 1964
  11. Big, Big Day Tomorrow. 1964
  12. If There Is A Short Cut To Nowhere (I'll Take It), 1964
  13. Pedro's Guitar, 1964
  14. Round And Round She Goes, 1965
  15. Rattle Dance, 1966
  16. Dusty Old Helmet, 1969
  17. Was It All Worth Losing You, 1970


Also an accomplished poet writer Audie penned "Crosses Grow on Anzio," "Alone and Far Removed," "Freedom Flies In Your Heart Like An Eagle"; unfortunately, only a few of his total written poems have survived.


As an adult, when asked by producers of TV commercials promoting cigarettes and alcohol, Audie was mindful of his influence, and the effects that both would have on young TV watchers. Murphy married actress Wanda Hendrix in 1949. Their divorce became final two years later in 1951. Four days later, he married former airline stewardess Pamela Archer, who bore him two sons: Terry Michael Murphy, born on 14 March 1952, and James Shannon "Skipper" Murphy, born in 1954.


Terrance Michael Murphy & James Shannon Murphy

Family photo of Audie, wife Pam, and (Left to Right} two sons Terry and James


Audie was killed in a plane crash on a mountain top near Roanoke, Virginia on May 28, 1971 when the private plane in which he was a passenger crashed into Brush Mountain, Virginia, 20 miles (32 km) west of Roanoke in conditions of rain, clouds, fog and zero visibility. The pilot and four other passengers in the plane were also killed. Fittingly, his body was recovered 2 days later on Memorial Day. Audie could very well be the last American war hero of note. Subsequently, he was buried at Arlington Virginia Cemetery. The aircraft was recovered on 31 May.


Today, one can find many landmarks, Gymnasiums, Government Buildings, Public, Veteran and Memorial Parks, Museums, Airfields, Hospitals, Schools, Military Barracks. In Greenville Texas, the only other museum in the country to be named after Murphy is located 40-minutes east of Dallas, and called the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum. In year 2013, the Audie L. Murphy Infantry Museum "Traveling" was founded in Brighton Colorado. The museum mission is simple.., to educate the public about Murphy and his life, and to keep alive the memories of those who have served in America's Armed Forces. Each year, museum volunteer personnel work to maintain period uniforms, memorabilia, military vehicles, and firearms used by America's infantryman.


Audie Murphy is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, just across Memorial Drive from the Memorial Amphitheater. A special flagstone walkway has been constructed to accommodate the large number of people who stop to pay their respects to this hero. At the end of a row of graves, his tomb is marked by a simple, white, government-issue tombstone, which lists only a few of his many military decorations. The stone is, as he was, too small.

Plot: Section 46, Site 366-11
GPS (lat/lon): 38.87603, -77.07388