Photograph of Audie Murphy 1948 U. S. Army publicity photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy
Photograph of Audie Murphy 1948 U. S. Army publicity photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Audie Murphy (1925–1971)

U.S. Army Soldier, Actor, Medal of Honor Recipient

Audie Leon Murphy was the son of sharecroppers and left school as a fifth grader to support his family by picking cotton. Motivated to serve his country following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Murphy enlisted with the U.S. Army at the age of 16. His service during World War II began in 1943 as part of the invasion of Sicily before he was sent to France. During a battle in France in January 1945, Murphy commandeered a burning tank to single-handedly hold off advancing German soldiers for more than an hour. Though injured during this fight, he led a successful counterattack that forced the enemy to retreat. Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor for this courageous act and earned a total of 28 medals—including three from France and one from Belgium—making him one of the most decorated war veterans in U.S. history. Murphy coauthored a book about his military service, To Hell and Back (1949), and played himself in the 1955 movie version. Murphy became a respected actor and starred in more than 40 Hollywood films before becoming a rancher in Arizona and California. Murphy died in a plane crash on May 28, 1971, and was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.