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
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
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
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