Before Audie Murphy was a 1950s Hollywood star, he earned a Medal of Honor for his bravery in Germany during World War II.
Learn more about 2nd Lt. Murphy here:
- "74 Years Ago, Audie Murphy Earned His Medal of Honor with Nothing but a Burning Tank Destroyer's .50 Cal and Insane Bravery" from Task & Purpose
- Audie Murphy's biography on the Association of the United States Army's website
- Murphy's Medal of Honor citation from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Ken Harbaugh: Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
2nd Lt. Audie Murphy was born on a sharecropper farm in North Texas in 1924.
Determined to enlist, Audie was refused by the Marines and the paratroopers for being too small. He finally enlisted in the army in 1942, just after his 18th birthday and into the midst of World War II.
Audie was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division and sent overseas to North Africa, Italy, Germany, and France - where he earned the Medal of Honor.
In 1945, Murphy was a 2nd Lt. in a company near the German border when they were attacked by six German tanks and waves of infantry.
He ordered his soldiers to withdraw to the nearby forest and set up their artillery. He was able to direct fire through telephone access, but this was only available from the forward command post. So that’s where Murphy stayed - alone and exposed.
Meanwhile, the Germans hit one of the Allied tank destroyers, which burst into flames.
Murphy mounted the burning tank, armed with a .50 caliber machine gun and exposed to German fire from three sides.
He received a wound to the leg, but only evacuated his post when he ran out of ammo.
Murphy then returned to his company, refusing medical attention, and organized his soldiers in a counterattack that forced the Germans to withdraw.
He killed or wounded about 50 German soldiers that day and prevented them from taking the woods.
Over the course of his service, 2nd Lt. Murphy spent nearly 400 days on the front lines and earned 33 military awards and citations. He was the most decorated soldier in history, earning every medal of valor awarded by the United States at the time.
But his accomplishments did not end there. When Murphy was discharged from the Army in 1945, he was invited to Hollywood to be a movie star.
Murphy stayed there and became a star in his own right, acting in over 40 films. In 1955, Murphy was voted the most popular actor in westerns by motion picture exhibitors.
2nd Lt. Murphy also became an outspoken advocate for veterans suffering from PTSD. After his death in a plane crash in 1971, Murphy was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.