Hero: Audie Murphy

[July 1, 2019] Yesterday, I was watching the movie, To Hell and Back (1955) when I remembered that I’d not written a “Hero” blog post in a long time. The movie, starring Audie Murphy (playing himself) has been one of my favorites since I can remember.1

“I’ll tell you what bravery really is. Bravery is just determination to do a job that you know has to be done.” – Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy was born to a dirt-poor, Irish sharecropper family in 1934. Born in Texas as one of twelve children, he struggled to help his family survive the harsh conditions of east Texas. He was fortunate that his older sister changed his age so he could join the U.S. Army at age 17. His wish was to be an Army paratrooper. A good summary of his background can be found at the website “World War II Graves.”2

As part of the 3rd Infantry Division, his first combat experience was in the invasion of Sicily in 1943. He was promoted to corporal after killing two Italian officers as they tried to escape on horseback. During the campaign in France, Murphy’s division suffered heavy casualties. He received two Silver Stars and the Distinguished Service Medal for further heroic actions.

Audie Murphy is best known for his heroism during a January 26, 1945 battle. As Company Commander and with his unit’s strength reduced to 19 out of 128, he sent all his remaining men to the rear while he shot at Germans. Running out of ammunition, he climbed aboard an abandoned, burning tank destroyer and used its .50 caliber machine gun to cut down Germany infantry. Using the tanks landline phone, he was able to also call in field artillery.

During the battle, he was wounded several times and only stopped fighting alone when his telephone line was cut by enemy fire. As his men moved forward, he organized a counterattack which drove the enemy from the tank. For this action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

By the war’s end, Murphy had become the nation’s most-decorated soldier, earning 28 medals including three from France and one from Belgium. When victory in Europe was declared in May 1945, he had not yet reached his 21st birthday. Audie Murphy is a true American hero.

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  1. As a young boy, I watched Westerns and War movies. Since the family black and white television only received one good channel and my choice of movie rare, I paid rapt attention. Audie Murphy was the star or co-star in several of these. My brother and I were enthralled at what we saw.
  2. https://ww2gravestone.com/people/murphy-audie-leon/
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Hero: Audie Murphy

  1. Kenny Foster

    Great article to start off the week.

  2. Jonathan B.

    Murphy’s post-WWII life. In 1949, Murphy published his autobiography, To Hell and Back. The book quickly became a national bestseller, and in 1955, after much inner debate, he decided to portray himself in the film version of his book. The movie was a hit and held Universal Studio’s record as its highest-grossing motion picture until 1975. Murphy would go on to make 44 feature films in all. In addition to acting, he became a successful country music songwriter, and many of his songs were recorded by well-known artists, including Dean Martin, Jerry Wallace and Harry Nilsson.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      As a kid, I saw TO HELL AND BACK. It got me to thinking about joining the US military and I did. Never regretted the decision.

      1. Dale Paul Fox

        Same here, Lynn. I joined the US Army. That decision was one of the best of my life.

      2. Lady Hawk

        Thank you for your service.
        🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Georgie M.

    I love your series on heroes. It’s been a long time since you posted one. Please consider more.

  4. Max Foster

    The media in the US once helped make heroes known to all of us. They showed us what being a real man (or woman) was all about and what it took to get there. Today, the media panders to whackos and crybabies. Real heroes are ignored. Don’t believe me? Just name any military hero since WWII. Why? You can’t? Name a sports figure who takes a knee and is called a ‘hero’ by the media .. easy.

    1. Martin Shiell

      While I wholeheartedly agree with you, pointing out the obvious bias of today’s media doesn’t get us anywhere. I suggest we stop reading or watching their outlets. Get off Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms where the crazies hang out. Hit them in the pocket.

      1. Janna Faulkner

        Not so easy to do, Martin. I left all these social media platforms behind last year. I’m better now and don’t have to worry about what goes on there. I got tired of the anti-Americanism and trend toward totalitarianism.

    2. Maureen S. Sullivan

      I like your way of thinking Max. Hit ’em hard.

  5. Tracey Brockman

    After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Murphy’s older sister helped him to falsify documentation about his birthdate in order to meet the minimum age requirement for enlisting in the military. This is how he got in early.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Agreed. What we don’t often mention is that while fighting in the wet mountains of Italy, Murphy contracted malaria. Despite such setbacks, he continually distinguished himself in battle.

      1. Jonnie the Bart

        It is not easy staying physically strong while having that terrible disease.

  6. Albert Ayer

    Audie Murphy received the Medal of Honor for valor that he demonstrated at the age of 19 for single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.

  7. Fred Weber

    Over the past couple of decades, the term ‘hero’ has been watered down. Now it means anybody who is doing something special. While I disagree with that characterization, Lieutenant Audie Murphy is truly a hero for all freedom-loving peoples.

    1. Darryl Sitterly

      Excellent point. I will also add, as Gen. Satterfield noted, that he did all this before he was 20 years old. Sadly, he was killed in a plane crash as age 46.

  8. Army Captain

    Like Sergeant York of WWI, Audie Murphy was the biggest hero of WWII.

    1. Big Al

      Who are our heroes now. From the Korean War? From Afghanistan and Iraq? We don’t hear much anymore about our military heroes.

      1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

        You are right, Big Al. That says something about our times and about the ever-present, anti-American media.

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