Audie Murphy: The Real Captain America
In anticipation of the upcoming film Captain America: The First Avenger I put together an article on the most decorated war veteran in WWII. Learn about his feats and heroism and pay tribute to the Soldier in your life.
We all know the story of Steve Rogers AKA Captain America. A weak, frail boy becomes a Super Soldier and a force of good for the U.S. during WWII. But do you know the story of Audie Murphy a man whose life seems to parallel the fictional life of Steve Rogers? With the anticipation of the upcoming film Captain America: The First Avenger I’d like everyone to take a look at a Real American Hero.
Audie Murphy was born in Texas on June 20, 1924. He was the 7th of 12 children. Murphy grew up in a poor household, and was uneducated having dropped out of school in the 5th grade. Audie picked cotton and became very skilled with a rifle to hunt small game to help feed the family. Audie's father left the family in 1940 and his mother died in 1941, so at age 17 both of his parents were gone, leaving Audie to care for his younger siblings.
In December of 1941 the U.S. declared war. Audie stricken with the responsibility of taking care of his family decided to enlist. Audie, much like Steve Rogers, was a scrawny boy weighing only 110 lbs. and with a height of 5’ 5”. Audie attempted to join he Marines first, and also like Rogers was turned down. Audie then went on to the Army Paratroopers, and was again turned down for being too small. Finally Audie caught a break and was allowed In the Regular Army as an Infantryman.
After completing basic training, Audie went through advanced training and was finally shipped overseas to North Africa. Audie saw little action in North Africa but received his so called “Baptism of Fire” when he land in Sicily on July 10, 1943. Audie fought his frustrations when his Captain, attempting to keep him out of danger, made him a “Runner”. Audie, however, had other plans and went off on any patrols he could join. After sometime, Audie proved his worth and was promoted to Corporal.
As a Corporal, Audie was given the responsibility of leading patrols. One night on a patrol, Audie and his men ran into a squad of Germans. Audie and his squad fought back the Germans while taking cover in a rock quarry. The Germans sent a group to flush out Audie and his men but the Germans were met with a hail of gun fire. Three Germans were killed and the rest were captured. For these actions Audie was promoted to Sergeant.
After battling more than a few case of malaria, Audie was healthy and back in the fight. After numerous successful patrols, Audie was offered a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant, but declined because he did not want to leave his men. Audie went back to the front and usually his tactical knowledge, much like Steve Rogers, anticipated the enemies’ movements. Audie heavily mined the area that the he figured the Germans would take. When the Germans attacked the lead tank hit the mines and blocked the road. The Germans fled leaving behind the lead tank. Audie, not wanting the tank to be moved, attacked the tank head on telling his men to cover him. Audie ran at the tank throwing two Molotov Cocktails and one grenade. Both were ineffective. The Germans guarding the tank began to fire at him so Audie used his rifle grenade and took out the tanks treads. Audie was award the Bronze star for his heroism that day.
On May 23, Audie’s Division fought their way to Rome and went through amphibious training. After training, Audie’s Division landed in Southern France. Hours after landing, Audie’s squad was tasked with capturing an enemy artillery position on a high up ridge. The first 1st Battalion went up the ridge but was met by German fire. Every waypoint was covered by Germans. Audie’s platoon, which was in the rear, moved forward and his platoon was split and pinned. Nothing Audie tried worked; his carbine and grenades were ineffective. So Audie crawled slowly down the hill and reached the heavy weapons platoon. Audie grabbed a .30 cal. machine gun and crawled back up the hill. Audie fired on the enemy positions using short burst, making the Germans take cover. Audie and a squad mate charged the enemy position. They silenced the first position and went on to the next, when Audie’s squad mate noticed a white flag coming from the next position he stood up. Audie’s squad mate was shot down. Enraged, Audie grabbed the German machine gun and charged every German position throwing grenades and taking every German out. Audie soon realized the artillery was fake, and it was an ambush from the start. Audie was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
As the allied forces advanced, Audie was wounded and received a Purple Heart. After he returned he was on patrol and his unit was ambushed. Audie took action and threw grenades taking out the enemy positions. He was awarded the Silver Star for this action. Only three days later, Audie’s platoon was ambushed again. Knowing he was out number, Audie grabbed a radio and crawled forward to see the enemy position. While being fired upon, Audie called in artillery and mortar fire on the enemy position taking out 15 and wounding 35. For this Audie received his second Silver Star, and only 3 days after he received the first.
After several days Audie was discharged as a Sergeant and was made a 2nd Lieutenant.
He returned to his platoon and this time it was to command it. Audie was wounded again by a sniper, but that didn’t let it stop him. After recovering from his wound he returned to his men in January of 1945. Audie was tasked with advancing on a German stronghold. Audie’s platoon and a couple of others attacked the stronghold for 3 days with no success. After a while Audie was the only Officer left. Audie took command over the entire Company and organized the next assault on the German stronghold. As Audie and his men waited, 6 German tanks and 250 German soldiers advanced on Audie’s position. Knowing he was outnumbered, Audie ordered his men to pull back. Audie knew something had to be done so he took action. Near his position was a burning tank destroyer with a machine gun attachment. Audie climbed aboard the tank destroyer and opened fire on the advancing Germans. For an hour Audie mowed down enemy soldiers. When he ran outta ammo, Audie realized he had been wounded, and enemy soldiers lay dead only yards away.
For his heroism, Audie Murphy won the Medal of Honor. The highest honor awarded in the US. Along with these honors, Audie won a plethora of awards.
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star with First Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device and First Oak Leaf Cluster
Purple Heart with Second Oak Leaf Cluster
U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
Good Conduct Medal
Distinguished Unit Emblem with First Oak Leaf Cluster
American Campaign Medal Combat Infantry Badge
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns)
Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France)
Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar
Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar
French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre
French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier
French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
Medal of Liberated France
Reading these feats you’re probably thinking to yourself, “No way can an ordinary person do all this.” But Audie Murphy did. He was a real hero. He joined the Army, not to find honor or glory; he was just trying to take care of his family. On July 22nd, when Captain America: The First Avenger comes out in Theaters, I want you to acknowledge the heroes who gave their life so you can live yours. Be proud of your Country and the Soldiers, Marines, and Sailors who are out there every day fighting for your freedoms. Not just America’s freedom but everyone’s freedom.
If you knew or know a Solider, Marine, or Sailor, no matter the country you live in, please feel free to post their name on the comments and thank them for their service. Thank you all!
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