South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)
Happy Birthday Audie L. Murphy
Today, June 20, 2013, South Texas Veterans Health Care System celebrates what would have been the 89th birthday of the American hero one of our hospitals was named for.
Audie Leon Murphy was born to poor exas sharecroppers. One of 12 children born to Emmett and Josie Murphy, Audie was skilled in the use of a rifle due to hunting small game to help feed his family.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Audie joined the United States Army on his second try (he was turned down the first time for being underage). He initially tried to join the Marines but was turned down for being too short, but as history has told, that didn't stop him from doing great things. He wanted to make something of himself, and he succeeded. By the end of WWII, his exploits earned him every medal his country could give. He was the war's most decorated soldier and a national hero.
Here is the wording from his Medal of Honor Citation:
"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 machinegun 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."
Released from the Army in September 1945, Murphy found fame as a Hollywood movie actor, receiving his first starring role in 1949 in a film called "Bad Boy". His most famous role would come in 1955. Starring in the lead role of the movie version of his best selling autobiography "To Hell and Back". He would go on to star in, or be involved with, 44 movies.
In the 1960's, Murphy went public with his struggle with PTSD, known then as "Battle Fatigue". He publicly called on the government to give more consideration of and study the emotional impact war has on Veterans and to extend health care benefits to address PTSD and other mental health problems plaguing returning Veterans.
On May 28, 1971 (Memorial Day weekend), Audie L. Murphy was killed in a plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia. He was 46-years-old. On June 7, 1971, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors and his gravesite is the second most visited site, just behind JFK.
Happy Birthday Audie L. Murphy, we are proud to be your namesake!