Bass Ackwards

TO HELL AND BACK, the Audie Murphy War Story

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I've watched a few of his movies, never knew he was such a war hero until I just read this. I tip my hat to him.

 

Audie Murphy of B Company, 15th Regiment, Third Division. The most decorated soldier in the U.S. Army.

 

At Salzburg, Austria on 2 June 1945, Lieutenant General A.M. Patch, Commander of the 7th Army presented Murphy with the Medal of Honor and Legion of Merit for his actions at Holtzwihr.

When asked after the war why he had seized the machine gun and taken on an entire company of German infantry, he replied, “They were killing my friends.”

Murphy was born on June 20, 1925, in Kingston, Texas as the seventh of 12 children. Murphy’s mother died just before his 16th birthday in 1941. He tried to enlist in both the Army and Marines but was rejected for being both underage and underweight. His older sister helped forge his birth certificate and signed an affidavit where he was finally accepted into the Army on June 30, 1942. He was just 16 years old.

In late February 1943 he was shipped out to Casablanca, Morocco as part of B Company, 1st Bn. 15th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division. He was assigned as the platoon messenger. As a division runner, Murphy was with the division as they fought across Sicily, into the ancient city of Palermo and finally on to Messina where they closed the door on the German’s withdrawal.

He took part in the Salerno landings on mainland Italy at Battipaglia. He and another soldier broke up a German ambush by killing five of the enemy. The fighting in Italy raged thru the autumn and Murphy was promoted to Sergeant in December 1943. Less than a month later he was promoted again to Staff Sergeant in January 1944.

After the landing at Anzio, Murphy took part in the Battle of Cisterna where the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions were annihilated due to faulty intelligence and poor planning by the Corps Commander MG Lucas. Murphy was made a platoon sergeant after the battle. He hadn’t yet turned 19 years old.

Holding up in an abandoned farmhouse, Murphy destroyed a German tank with rifle grenades and killed the crew. For that, he was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device.

Murphy and the division took part in Southern France and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for actions taken on August 15, 1944. Murphy’s platoon was fighting through a vineyard when the men were attacked by German soldiers. Murphy grabbed a machine gun, returned fire at the German soldiers, killing two and wounding one. Two Germans exited a house about 100 yards away and asked to surrender.

Murphy’s best friend responded and as he moved forward to take them, prisoner, they shot and killed him. Murphy advanced alone on the house under direct fire.

He killed six, wounded two more and amazingly after what happened to his friend, took 11 prisoners. The 1st Bn. received a Presidential Unit Citation for their fighting around Montélimar.

He received a Purple Heart from mortar shrapnel in September.

Murphy’s Silver Star medal was for his action in charging a German machine gun position where he killed four and wounded three more.

He received a Bronze Leaf on his Silver Star when he crawled up a hill and directed fire against the Germans while under constant, direct fire. His actions resulted in 15 killed enemy and 35 wounded.

Less than four months after his 19th birthday, Murphy was given a battlefield promotion to 2nd Lieutenant. He was wounded for the 2nd time on October 26, when he captured two Germans before being shot through the hip by a sniper. He returned fire, shooting the sniper right between his eyes. His wound would keep him out of action until January.

He was wounded in both legs in mid-January after rejoining his troops in the fighting around Holtzwihr. On January 26, he became the Company Commander of B Co. On that day as they were attacking the German positions, an M-10 Tank Destroyer supporting the infantry was hit and set afire. While ordering the company to retreat to the woodline, he remained at the flaming M-10, firing his M-1 Carbine and calling in fire on the German troops. The entire time Murphy was in full view of the Germans and they were pouring fire in his direction. Then he did the unimaginable. Murphy climbed up on top of the burning tank destroyer and mounting the .50 caliber machine gun, he poured fire at the German troops. The enemy sent a squad crawling up a ditch trying to get to him but he saw them and cut them all down. He stood alone, on a flaming open-topped tank destroyer for an hour with German infantry and tanks advancing and pouring fire at him. He killed or wounded 50 of the attacking enemy. The Germans finally wounded him in the leg, but he remained on the TD until he ran out of ammunition. He then made his way back to his men and refused medical evacuation until he personally led them back to push the Germans back.

For this incredible action, Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor.

He was promoted to First Lieutenant and moved off the line and into a Regimental Headquarters slot as a liaison officer.

Postwar: Murphy suffered from what we now call PTSD. He spoke to the Veterans Administration about it. In an effort to ease the strain on returning Vietnam veterans, he spoke candidly about his own problems and called on the government to give increased consideration and study to the emotional impact of combat experiences and to extend health care benefits to war veterans.

Film Career: Murphy launched a 21-year career as a film star being active from 1948-1969. He was known mainly for his westerns but he later played himself in the autobiographical “To Hell and Back.” That film became the biggest hit in Universal’s history at that time

He was killed in a plane crash in Virginia in 1971 and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His gravesite across from the amphitheater is one of the most visited other than JFK’s.

 

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i read the book a few years ago and i am not a reader. it was the first and only book i have read as an adult.    it was so riveting, i could not put it down.

from how old he was when joining.   to chasing the chicken around in the barn with the enemy and they both ate it and walked away to the tank on fire and so on.

 

great read.

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Murphy killed more than 80 German and Italian enemy soldiers while he was only a teenager. He slept with a loaded pistol under his pillow after the war. A true American hero.

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I made a point to visit this grave at Arlington  , It's a place every American should see 

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One of my Dad's favorite movies way back when. I did a book report on the book in 6th grade if I recall correctly - back then you could do that without worrying about pissing off a pacifist teacher. 

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13 mins ago, oax said:

 

 

Your next assignment is to read up on Sergeant Alvin York...

That movie is one of my favorites

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13 mins ago, Firinne said:

BA, this is probably the longest post I’ve ever read in the Tavern and also one of the best! Great thread!

Thank you.

 

3 hours ago, coolhandfluke said:

i read the book a few years ago and i am not a reader. it was the first and only book i have read as an adult.    it was so riveting, i could not put it down.

from how old he was when joining.   to chasing the chicken around in the barn with the enemy and they both ate it and walked away to the tank on fire and so on.

 

great read.

I'm not much of a reader either, I just ordered the book.

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29 mins ago, DoOver said:

That movie is one of my favorites

A good movie, the actress Margaret Wycherly played York's mother, she also played Cody's Jarrett's mother.

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1 hour ago, oax said:

 

 

Your next assignment is to read up on Sergeant Alvin York...

York and Murphy had a lot in common, both came from large families, little schooling, worked at a young age to help the family, both hunted and fished to put food on the table and both were good shots.

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2 hours ago, oax said:

 

 

Your next assignment is to read up on Sergeant Alvin York...

Was my favorite thanksgiving day movie. "I'll be a coming back"

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