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(June 20, 1924 - May 28, 1971)

Audie Leon Murphy was born the sixth of twelve children born to Emmett and Josie Murphy on a sharecropper farm near Kingston, Texas on June 20, 1924.

Before his 9th birthday, he had become a decent shot, hunting rabbits and squirrels to help put food on the table, since the task had become to much for his father who had left the family and never returned.

At 12, Audie had to leave school and hire out as a farmer's helper, ploughing and picking cotton at $1 a day to help make ends meet. He had only finished 5 years of school.

At 16, Audie was working in a radio repair shop when tragedy struck again. He became an orphan when his mother passed away. If that wasn't bad enough, he had to place the 3 youngest siblings in an orpanage according to his mother's last wish.

Right after his 18th birthday in June of 1942, Audie tried to enlist in the military. Because of his small build, 5'5" and 110 pounds, he was denied enlistment in the Navy, Marines and Paratroopers. He was finally accepted in the Army and was shipped to Camp Wolters, Texas and then advanced training at Fort Meade, Maryland. There he received the nickname 'baby' where his commanding officers tried to keep him from being sent to combat. Audie had to fight to be able to go overseas to see combat.

Finally in February 1943, he sailed to North Africa as a replacement and joined Company B of the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division near Casablanca. Audie fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany and earned his promtions from Private to Sergeant. Then receiving a battlefield commission to Lieutenant for his courage and leadership ability.

Audie was discharged from service September 21, 1945 earning 33 military awards, citations and decorations, including every medal for valor that the US could give including the Congressional Medal of Honor, PLUS 5 medals from France and Belgium. This made Audie the most honored and decorated soldier in the history of the United States.

After Audie's discharge from the service, he went back to Texas to be welcomed to parades, banquets and speeches. He even had his photo hung at the State Capitol.

But soon, reality began to set in when it was time to look for a job. Things changed soon when Audie graced the cover of Life Magazine, July 16, 1945.

The first change was that James Cagney saw the Life cover and invited Audie to Hollywood to try acting, which Audie accepted.

The second change was Spec McClure from the Army Signal Corps, and former Hollywood columnists, contacts Audie to help write his book 'To Hell and Back'.

The last major change was the meeting of Pamela Archer who would become his fan and 6 years later his wife.

As Audie struggles to learn the ins and outs of Hollywood, he also struggles with handling the battle scars and constant berage of questions from reporters.

In January, 1949, Audie marries Wanda Hendrix, a doomed marriage from the start,, while he prepares for the release of his first film that he has the starring role (Bad Boy).

On March 7, 1949, NBC did a radio show called 'This is Your Life' on the life of Audie Murphy. Even though it was suppose to be a suprise, Audie knew of the show and was prepared for it except for one guest. As a suprise to Audie, they had researched and found out who his closest friend was in the service. They knew that he died in battle and decided to bring his daughter to speak on her fathers behalf. When she was announced, Audie was stunned and became so emotional that he broke into tears. As soon as the microphone was turned off, Audie walked out and disappeared for the rest of the day. This embarrassed and angered his new wife who couldn't possibly understand the battle scars that he carried. Within months, they separated and soon divorced.

Later in 1950, Audie gets acquainted with Pamela Archer and they wed in 1951. Audie and Pam have their first son, Terry, in 1952 and their second, James, in 1954. This same year Audie would also celebrate the release of his biggest film, To Hell and Back which recounted his battles in the service.

Audie went on to make 44 films and starred in 39 of them and most of them westerns. Audie was voted the most popular western actor in America in 1955 by the Motion Picture Exhibitors.

Audie also became a member of the Army Reserves and achieved the rank of Major. He spoke regularly in front of Congress on behalf of veterans rights and health issues.

Audie Murphy was killed in a plane crash on a moutaintop near Roanoke Virginia on May 28, 1971. His body was recovered 2 days later, on Memorial Day, and laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on June 7, 1971. The grave of Audie Murphy is the second most visited gravesite in Arlington just under John Kennedy.

He was survived by his wife Pamela and his 2 sons.

May the new generation of kids learn about and remember a
TRUE American Hero


For more information on the life of Audie Murphy, please visit the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website


Each year, the Audie Murphy/ American Cotton Museum, local Service organizations- American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled Vets host a special 2 day event called Audie Murphy Days on June 18 and 19th in Greenville, Texas. For more information, click here


For books on Audie Murphy, click here


Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy

Clips from "To Hell and Back" - in which he played himself - and interviews with men who fought alongside him highlight this profile of America's most decorated soldier.




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