Friday, January 26, 2007

TFH 1/26: Audie L. Murphy

My first source of honorees for "Their Finest Hour" is Medal of Honor citations. Today's installment of TFH deals with an individual who needs no introduction: Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated U.S. Soldier in World War II. He enlisted in the Army when he was underage, fought with incredible courage, and later became a movie star. Audie L. Murphy was tragically taken from us before his time on May 28, 1971 in a plane crash at age 46.


He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star Medal (2), the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal (2), three Purple Heart Medals for wounds received in action. Words I could write about his valor wouldn't do him justice, so I'll just post in its entirety his Medal of Honor citation:
Second Lieutenant Audie L. Murphy, 01692509, 15th Infantry, Army of the United
States, on 26 January 1945, near Holtzwihr, France, commanded Company B, which
was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Lieutenant Murphy ordered his
men to withdraw to a prepared position 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 one of our tank destroyers received a direct
hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. Lieutenant Murphy
continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing
enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, Lieutenant Murphy
climbed on the burning tank destroyer which was in danger of blowing up any
instant and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone
and exposed to the German fire from three 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 Lieutenant 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 personally killed or wounded about 50. Lieutenant 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.



Image from Wikipedia

Audie L. Murphy: January 26, 1944 near Holtzwihr, France - conduct above and beyond the call of duty in the face of enemies of freedom - was your finest hour!

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