The most decorated U.S. soldier in World War II has finally been honored by his home state. On Oct. 28, Audie Murphy was posthumously awarded the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the Texas Military Forces.
Gov. Rick Perry presented the award to Murphy's last living sibling, Nadine Lokey, in a ceremony in the family's hometown of Famersville.
Though he was only 21 years old at the end of the war, Murphy had killed 240 German soldiers, had been wounded three times, and had earned 33 awards and medals.
"More than four decades since his untimely passing, Audie Murphy lives on in the hearts and memories of a generation of Americans," Gov. Perry said. "He personifies the traits that led America to victory in the Second World War and on other battlefields around the globe. Audie Murphy remains a shining example for anyone who believes in the importance of service, for generations now and into the future."
Murphy joined the Army infantry in 1942. He saw his first combat as a private in Italy in July 1943 when the 3rd Infantry Division invaded Sicily, and he subsequently took part in the landing at Salerno, the Volturno River Campaign, the landing at Anzio, and the march on Rome.
In August 1944, Murphy's division moved to southern France as part of Operation Dragoon. According to Biography.com, it was there that his best friend, Lattie Tipton, was lured into the open and killed by a German soldier pretending to surrender. Enraged by this act, Murphy charged and killed the Germans that had just killed his friend. He then commandeered the German's machine gun and grenades and attacked several more nearby positions, killing all of the German soldiers there, Biography.com states. Murphy was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.
He went on to receive continued promotions and decorations for valor before returning to the United States in 1945. He earned 28 medals before he turned 21 years old, including several from France and Belguim, for his valiant and courageous actions in combat during World War II.
After the war, Murphy became an actor and appeared in more than 40 films, including playing himself in To Hell and Back, the story of his own military actions.
Murphy joined the Texas National Guard in 1950, after the outbreak in the Korean War, eventually attaining the rank of major. He transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve until his death in a plane crash in 1971. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 7, 1971, and was given full military honors.
In addition to the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, he has also been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts.
Biography.com says that Murphy suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder throughout his life.