Murphy file photo [891]

Audie Murphy

Given NameAudie
Born20 Jun 1924
Died25 May 1971
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseAudie Murphy is regarded as one of World War II's most decorated soldiers. Among his 33 citations is the Medal of Honor, awarded for turning back a German attack single-handedly in the face of several Panzer tanks and infantry in France.

ww2dbaseBorn in rural Texas, Murphy had his share of hard times growing up: his father deserted his family (leaving behind ten children) and his mother died when he was sixteen. Murphy "watched as his brothers and sisters were doled out to an orphanage or to relatives."

ww2dbaseIn 1942 at age 17, Murphy tried to join the Marines and the Army paratroops, but was rejected because he was too short. He did gain entrance into the Army, joining the 15th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in North Africa prior to the invasion of Sicily. Murphy proved himself a proficient soldier and "quickly rose to the enlisted rank of Staff Sergeant, was given a battlefield commission as 2nd Lieutenant... [and] fought in nine major campaigns across the European Theater."

ww2dbaseMurphy’s actions in January 1945 near the French village of Holtzwihr earned him the Medal of Honor and enduring fame. His citation reads:

"2d Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by 6 tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, 1 of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from 3 sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective."

ww2dbaseAfter the war, Murphy became an actor, and while it took some time and struggle to get established, he eventually made 44 films, among them "To Hell and Back" based on his autobiography published in 1949. Murphy was also an outspoken advocate of veterans later in his life.

"In an effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans, [Murphy] spoke... candidly about his personal problems with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then known as Battle Fatigue. He publicly called for [the] United States government to give more consideration and study to the emotional impact war has on veterans and to extend health care benefits to address PTSD and other mental health problems of returning war vets."

ww2dbaseMurphy died in a plane crash in 1971. He was 46.

ww2dbaseSources: Arlington National Cemetery,, Medal of Honor Society.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2005

Audie Murphy Interactive Map


Audie MurphyLieutenant Audie Murphy, with Medal of Honor around his neck, at the Hohenwerfen Castle where the headquarters of the US 15th Infantry Regiment was located, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria, 2 Jun 1945Portrait of Audie Murphy, 1948Audie Murphy as his character Tom Smith from the television show Whispering Smith, 1959

Audie Murphy Timeline

20 Jun 1924 Audie Murphy was born.
26 Jan 1945 Despite being wounded, US Army 2nd Lieutenant Audie Murphy single-handedly repelled tank and infantry attacks on his unit's position at Colmar, France. The action earned Murphy America's highest award for bravery, the Medal of Honor. Beginning as a private and earning a battlefield commission, he finished the war as his country's most decorated soldier with 33 medals and was personally credited with killing 240 enemies. After the war, the baby-faced hero made a fortune as a B-movie film star before being killed in a plane crash in 1971, aged 46. After President John F Kennedy, his grave was the most visited plot in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, United States.
25 May 1971 Audie Murphy passed away.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
11 Mar 2009 03:50:28 PM

Audie Murphy, sleep for years with the light on in whatever room he was sleeping in, and a .45 auto was under his pillow. I've met many Veterans, who still have trouble sleeping 30 or 40 years after their war time experiences.
2. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
19 Mar 2009 02:59:58 PM

I've been in the same position, lost alone and not able to trust anyone. Took years just to start living. All I have ever asked, was a good nights sleep.
3. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
8 May 2009 05:52:09 PM

Everyone knows about Audie Murphy however, many other soldiers also received the Medal of Honor. Matt L. Urban was one, he was a decorated Veteran of World War II, Urban was shot seven (7) times, and once in the throat. Killed 116 Germans. Matt L. Urban Lt. Colonel of Infantry.
4. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
13 May 2009 05:35:06 PM

Look at an infantryman's eyes and you can tell how much war he has seen.
Bill Mauldin
5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
10 Feb 2010 04:20:58 PM

On June 15,1919 Van T. Barfoot was born in
Edinburg, Mississippi.
Twenty-five years later, on May 23, 1944 near Carano, Italy, Van T. Barfoot set out to flank German machine-gun positions from
which he was receiving fire.
He advanced through a minefield, took out the machine-gun, if that wasn't enough for a days work, he later took on and destroyed
three German tanks sent to retake the machine-gun positions.
That probably didn't make much news either,
given the scope of the war, but it did earn
Van T. Barfoot,who retired as a Colonel after
serving in Korea and Vietnam, a Congressional
Meal of Honor.

What did make the news was a neighborhood
association quibble with how the 90-year old
veteran chose to fly the American flag out-
side his suburban Virginia home.
Seems the rules said a flag could be flown on
a house-mounted bracket, but for decorum, items such as Barfoots 21-foot flagpole were
He had been denied a permit for the pole, erected it anyway and was facing court action
if he didn't take it down. Since the story made national TV, the neighborhood assocation
has rethought its position and agreed to indulge this old hero who dwells among them.

In the time I have left I plan to continue to
fly the American flag, without interference,
Barfoot told The Associated Press.
As well he should, and if any of his neighbors still takes a notion to contest him
they should read his Medal of Honor Citation
It indicates he is not real good, at backing down.

This 1944 Medal of Honor Citation, listed w/
the National Medal of Honor Society, is for
Second Lieutenant Van T. Barfoot, 157th
Infantry, 45 Infantry:

For conspicuous gallantry and interpidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call
of duty on 23 May, 1944, near Carano, Italy.
With his platoon heavily engaged during an
assault against forces well entrenched on
commanding ground, 2nd. Lt. Barfoot moved off
alone upon the enemy left flank.
He crawled to the proximity of one machine gun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing two and wounding three
He continued along the German defense line to
another machine-gun emplacement, and with his tommygun killed two and captured three enemy soldiers. Members of another enemy
machinegun crew then abandoned their position and gave themselves up to Sgt.Barfoot. Leaving the prisoners for his support squad to pick them up, he proceeded
to mop up positions in the immediate area,
capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to seventeen.
Later that day, after he had reorganized his
men and consolidated the newly captured ground, the enemy launched a fierce armored
counterattack directly at his patoons positions. Securing a bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposed position directly in front
of three advancing enemy tanks.
From a distance of 75 yards his first shot destroyed the track of the lead tank, effectively disabling it, while the other
two advanced toward his direction. As the crew of the disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed three of them with his tommy-
gun. He continued onward into enemy terrain
and destroyed a recently abandoned German
fieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon position, Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts,
assisted two of his seriously wounded men
1,700 yards to a position of safety.
Sgt. Barfoot's extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, and
aggressive determination in the face of point blank fire are a perpetual inspiration
to his fellow soldiers.

"It's the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press."

"It's the Veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech".

"It's the Veteran not the community organizer
who gives us freedom to demonstrate".

"It's the Military who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is
draped by the flag, who allows protesters to
burn the flag".





6. Dave says:
7 Nov 2010 08:02:41 PM

Please sign and support our Petition to honor Audie Murphy with the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his lifetime contributions to the peace and security of America as well as his significant other cultural contributions.

Click or copy and paste into your browser to sign:

It only takes about 30 seconds!

Dave Phillips
Audie Murphy Presidential Medal of Freedom Petition Campaign

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More on Audie Murphy
Event(s) Participated:
» Battle of Anzio

Related Books:
» To Hell and Back

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