I first heard of Audie Murphy back in the early 70's. When I was young, my father used to talk about him sometimes, always with reverence and pride. I was too young to understand back then, but I imagined that he was a great big giant of a man. I figured that he had to be, the way my father spoke of him. I found out later that he was just a small guy, 5'5 and 110lbs.
Quiet and humble, Audie Murphy tried to enlist several times when World War Two broke out, only to be rejected by the Marines, the Army and the Navy for being underweight. But he was persistent and kept trying, and he finally made it into the Army, where he fought across North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. By war's end, he'd risen from Private to 1st. Lt. (Later to Major on the Reserves) and he'd been awarded every medal that the US Army presented, including the Congressional Medal of Honor when he was just 19 years old.
In this clip from To Hell and Back, real-life war hero-turned-actor Audie Murphy shows how he saved his squad mates from destruction by taking out three German machine gun nests after a band of Germans pretended to surrender, only to pull weapons and cut his unit to pieces.
He was the real deal. And we visited him at Arlington National Cemetery last week, too.
Here's his war-time autobiography: To Hell and Back
If you haven't read it yet, buy a copy and read it.
After the war, he found a career in Hollywood, making movies and raising horses on his ranch when not battling the demons of PTSD and campaigning to help other vets suffering from the condition. He lost most of his money due to a gambling addiction but even in bankruptcy, he refused to do then-lucrative commercials for cigarettes or alcohol because he did not want to be a bad influence to Americas's youth. He was killed in a plane crash in Virginia not too far from here in 1971.
When you've got a free evening, a lot of his movies are available for free on Nexflix or even Youtube. They're worth the time if only for the picture that they give us of this great American.