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Audie Murphy

Soldier / Actor / World War II Figure

Born: 20 June 1924
Died: 28 May 1971 (airplane crash)
Birthplace: Kingston, Texas
Best known as:

The most-decorated American soldier of World War II

Audie Murphy won the Congressional Medal of Honor and was the most decorated American Army soldier of World War II. The orphaned son of Texas sharecroppers, Audie Murphy enlisted in the Army on his birthday in 1942, landed at Casablanca in February of 1943, and spent the next two years fighting his way across North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. He won two dozen military medals for valor, including the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in a French forest on 26 January 1945, when he climbed aboard a burning tank destroyer and used its 50-caliber machine gun to kill dozens of attacking Germans. Famously baby-faced, Audie Murphy was promoted from private to lieutenant during the war, yet was not yet 21 when the war ended. Invited to visit Hollywood in 1945 by James Cagney, Murphy stayed and parlayed his wartime fame into an up-and-down career as a movie actor, songwriter, and businessman. He published his war memoirs, To Hell And Back, in 1949 and played himself in the 1955 movie of the same name. He appeared in more than 40 movies, many of them westernes like Ride Clear of Diablo (1954) and No Name on the Bullet (1959). He was killed along with five other people in a private plane crash in Virginia in 1971.

Extra credit:

June 20th is officially Audie Murphy Day in Texas... Audie Murphy originally tried to join the Marines but was turned down for being too short... Audie Murphy enlisted with a birth certificate which stated he was born in 1924, making him 18 in 1942. However, some scholars now say that he was born in 1925, and used a falsified birth certificate to enter the Army at age 17. William Russo's 2001 biography A Thinker's Damn and Daniel Champagne's 2008 book Dogface Soldiers are two which promote the 1925 date... In 1950, Audie Murphy played both Billy the Kid (in the movie The Kid from Texas) and Jesse James (in Kansas Raiders).

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