Many great armies led by great leaders emerged throughout the WWII conflict, but after all was laid to rest, the top decorated WWII soldier was Audie Leon Murphy. Born in Hunt County, Texas on June 20, 1924, Audie was one of 12 children born into a poor sharecropper’s family. He quickly developed a dream to join the military. He attempted to enroll several times before his 18th birthday. At age 17, his sister Corrine forged the date on his birth certificate but his short stature coupled with low body weight – 110 lbs. - Audie was still rejected by the US Marine Corps, the US Army paratroopers and the US Navy before finally be accepted into the US Army. Though difficult, Audie was determined to become a combat soldier. After his initial 13 weeks of basic training, Audie began advanced infantry training at Ft. Meade, Maryland.
Audie quickly rose through the ranks of the Army. In less than three years during his service in the Army of the United States, Audie would rise through the ranks to first lieutenant. After WWII, Audie would become Captain in the Texas National Guard and the National Guard of the United States, and eventually Major. His rank as Major continued throughout his later service in the United States Army Reserve and the US Army Retired Reserves.
Awards and Decorations
Audie Leon Murphy received a total of 33 awards and decorations, including the highest – the Medal of Honor. Throughout his military career he would also receive every valor decoration the service awarded at that time and some of them he received twice. In addition to the Medal of Honor, some of Audie’s top honors included:
Distinguished Services Cross, Purple Heart w/ two oak leaf clusters, WWII Victory Medal, Legion of Merit, and Distinguished Service Cross. He also received the European-African-Easgtern Campaign Medal w/one silver service star and four bronze service stars, which represented nine campaigns, and one bronze arrowhead, representing the assault landing at Sicily and Southern France.
Audie Murphy’s Life After the Service
After the service, Audie Murphy’s life would go on to encompass a movie career, publish a successful autobiography, involvement in Filmography and eventually a successful country music song writer. His successful career did not come without its downside. After the war, Audie is reported to have suffered from depression, insomnia and nightmares - all related to the various battles he fought throughout his life. He was instrumental in opening up about the public discussion of mental conditions of returning soldiers. He also urged the US government to further study the emotional impact of war and to extend benefits to the veterans to properly address the mental related health problems they incurred as a result.
On May 28, 1971 Audie Leon Murphy, WWII top decorated soldier, was killed in a plane crash along with the pilot and four additional passengers.