Audie Murphy and Courageous Leadership

Veteran’s Day was November 11th, so it seems to be the perfect time to once again recognize Audie Murphy, one of America’s most noted and decorated soldiers from World War II.

Talk about courageous leadership! Mr. Murphy earned 33 awards and medals from the U.S. Army, as well as 5 decorations from France and Belgium. And, he was only 21 when the war ended!

From all accounts his childhood was not an easy one. He helped raise his 11 siblings and learned about responsibility and accountability at a young age.

His father deserted the family, and his mother passed away while he was still a teen, so he decided to enlist in the military in his mother’s honor at the age of 18.

He fought in nine major campaigns over three years, and his ground tactics and leadership impressed those in command, resulting in his rank of private rising to that of battlefield commission as a second lieutenant.

At the age of 19, he witnessed his best friend get killed in southern France (in Operation Dragoon) by a German soldier pretending to surrender. This resulted in Murphy charging and killing the Germans that had killed his friend; he also commandeered the German’s machine gun and grenades, which earned him the Distinguished Service Cross.

He was considered a hero for his numerous courageous actions, and was awarded three Purple Hearts and one Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery that a soldier can receive (the most prestigious of his 33 awards).

After the war, he was honored on the cover of LIFE magazine in the July 16, 1945 issue, and he pursued a variety of careers, most notably that of movie star. His most famous movie was To Hell and Back (1955), which set box office records for Universal, with the record finally broken by Jaws in 1975. (In addition to his 44 film acting career, Murphy was a rancher and businessman, and a songwriter).

Murphy was also was an advocate for returning Vietnam Vets, and heavily campaigned for the government to spend more time and money on the care of veterans. He had suffered from nightmares, anxiety, loss of temper, depression and insomnia, so fully understood the impacts of post traumatic stress, and the need for help.

Audie Murphy’s life ended at the early age of 46 in a plane crash. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, and reportedly his grave site has more visitors than any other site, with only one exception – that of former President John F. Kennedy.

Saluting all our men, women, and animals that give (and gave) so much to keep us safe!


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