Audie Leon Murphy only lived forty-five years but his achievements greatly influenced American history. Three reasons Audie Murphy is an important person in American history is because of what he did to became known as the most decorated soldier in American history, he contributed significantly to the entertainment industry, and his support for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder studies.
Audie Murphy was known to be a great marksman. He developed his shooting skills while hunting rabbits and other small animals to feed his family. He wanted to serve in the military to support his country in World War II, but he was refused service by the Marines and the Paratroopers for being too small. Shortly after he turned seventeen, he falsified birth documents so that he could meet the minimum age requirement to join the Army. Shortly after he joined, he was assigned to the fifteenth Infantry Regiment of the third Infantry Division and was sent to North Africa to receive additional military training. A few months after his training, his unit was given orders to invade Sicily. Despite developing malaria, he continued to set himself apart from his peers. France is where he earned most of the awards. Audie’s best friend, Lattie Tipton was murdered by a German that was acting like he was surrendering. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross killing the German and taking over his machine gun to kill many more Germans. At war, Audie killed over two hundred and forty German soldiers. He received every medal for valor that a Soldier can receive to include the Medal of Honor. He also received three French and one Belgian medal. He earned a battle field commission for his leadership qualities. Later, Audie served sixteen years in the Thirty-Sixth Infantry Division of the Texas National Guard.
During Murphy’s 3 years active service as a combat soldier in World War II, Audie became one of the best fighting combat soldiers of this or any other century. What Audie accomplished during this period is most significant and probably will never be repeated by another soldier, given today’s high-tech type of warfare. The U.S. Army has always declared that there will never be another Audie Murphy. (Audie Murphy Research Foundation, 1996)
Audie’s term of active service in the Army ended September 21, 1945. He was welcomed back to America and was recognized for his efforts overseas by being on the cover of Time Magazine. He was invited to Hollywood by actor James Cagney. He lived in California for the rest of his life. He was an actor, producer, and a writer of music and poems. He acted in forty-four films, most of which were westerns. His most famous movie was “To Hell and Back.” The movie was based off of an autobiography about his war experiences. Motion Picture Exhibitors voted Audie as “Most Popular Western Actor in America” in 1955. He also wrote 16 country music hits. Many of his songs were recorded with big artists such as Eddy Arnold, Dean Martin, Charley Pride, Porder Waggoner, Roy Clark, Jimmy Bryant, Harry Nilsson, and many others. His most popular country song was titled “Shutters and Boards.”
Even many years after he returned from war he was still having nightmares. This contributed to many sleepless nights. His doctor prescribed him medication to help his insomnia. He became addicted to this medication. After his experiences with what is known today as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he became an advocate for studies to exam how veterans deal with post war mental issues.
Audie Murphy’s bravery and leadership qualities set the example for today’s soldiers. His legacy deserves to be recognized because of what he did serving the country. He is also recognized as an important person in American history because of his contributions to the entertainment industry and fighting for veterans mental health.
Audie Murphy Biography. (2014). Retrieved May 4, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/audie-murphy-9418662#awesm=~oDk9FfxVNHhmJc
Audie Murphy Research Foundation. (1996). Retrieved May 4, 2014, from http://www.audiemurphy.com/biography.htm
Murphy, A. (1949). To hell and back. New York: H. Holt.