More information on Audie Murphy who was briefly mentioned earlier in the thread:
In 27 months of combat action Audie Murphy became the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II.
He received the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor, along with 32 additional medals awarded for bravery and service.
Immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Murphy - then just 17 years old - tried to enlist in the military, but the services rejected him because he had not yet reached the required 18 years of age. Shortly after his 18th birthday in June 1942, Murphy was finally accepted into the United States Army, after first being turned down by the Marines and the paratroopers for being underweight and of slight build. He was sent to Camp Wolters, Texas, for basic training. During a session of close order drill, he passed out. His company commander then tried to have him transferred to a cook and bakers' school because of his baby-faced youthfulness and apparent physical weaknesses, but Murphy insisted on becoming a combat soldier. His wish was granted; after 13 weeks of basic training, he was sent to Fort Meade, Maryland for advanced infantry training.
Due to his fragile physical appearance, Murphy still had to "fight the system" to get overseas and into combat. His persistence paid off, and in early 1943 he was shipped out to Casablanca, Morocco (North Africa) as a replacement in Company B, 1st Battalion, U.S. 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Murphy saw no action in Africa, but instead participated in extensive training maneuvers along with the rest of the 3rd Division. His combat initiation finally came when he took part in the liberation of Sicily in July 1943. Shortly after arriving there, he experienced his first encounter with death by killing two Italian officers as they tried to escape on horseback. Murphy contracted malaria while in Sicily, and this illness put him in the hospital several times during his Army years. After Sicily was secured from the Germans, the 3rd Division invaded the Italian mainland, landing near Salerno in September 1943. Murphy distinguished himself in combat on many occasions while in Italy, fighting at the Volturno River, at the Anzio beachhead, and in the cold, wet, desolate Italian mountains. While in Italy, his instinctive skills as a combat infantryman began to earn him promotions, increased responsibilities, and decorations for valor.
Following its participation in the Italian campaign, the 3rd Division invaded Southern France on August 15, 1944. Shortly thereafter, Murphy's best friend, Lattie Tipton, was killed while approaching some German troops feigning surrender. Murphy went into a rage, and single-handedly wiped out the German machine gun crew which had just killed his friend. He then used the German machine gun to destroy several other nearby enemy positions. For this act he received the Distinguished Service Cross (second only to the Medal of Honor).
Just weeks later, he received Silver Stars for two more heroic actions. Murphy, by now a staff sergeant and holding the position of Platoon Sergeant, was eventually awarded a battlefield commission to second lieutenant, which elevated him to the Platoon Leader position. He was wounded in the hip by a sniper's ricocheting bullet 12 days after the promotion to 2nd lieutenant. Audie spent some ten weeks recuperating. Within days of returning to his unit he became the company commander (still wearing bandages, January 25, 1945) and suffered yet another set of wounds from a mortar round (which killed two others near to Audie).
The very next day (day time high temperature was at 14 degrees with 24 inches of snow on the ground) the battle at Holtzwihr began with Audie's unit at a strength of 19 out of 128. Audie sent all of his soldiers to the rear while he took pot-shots at the Germans until out of ammunition. Murphy proceeded to use a burning, disabled tank destroyer's .50 caliber machine gun to cut into the German infantry at a distance, including one full squad of German infantry that had crawled in a ditch to within 100 feet of Audie's position. His almost private battle continued for slightly more than an hour. His focus on the battle before him stopped only when his telephone line to the artillery fire direction center was cut by either U.S. or German artillery. As his remaining men came forward, he quickly organized them to conduct the counter attack, which proved very successful. Audie Murphy's actions earned him the Medal of Honor near Holzwihr, France, on January 26, 1945.
Audie Murphy was credited with killing more than 240 German soldiers during World War II, plus wounding and capturing many others. By the end of the war, he was a legend within the 3rd Infantry Division as a result of his heroism and battlefield leadership. His principal U.S. decorations included the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Star Medals, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals with Valor device, and three Purple Hearts (for the three wounds he received in combat). Murphy participated in many official campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany, as denoted by his European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver battle star (denoting five campaigns), four bronze battle stars, plus a bronze arrowhead representing his two amphibious assault landings at Sicily and southern France. The French government awarded Murphy its highest award, the Legion of Honor (Grade of Chevalier). He also received two Croix de Guerre from France and one from Belgium. In addition, Murphy was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge (a complete list of his awards and decorations appears later in this article). Murphy spent 29 months overseas and just under two years in combat with the 3rd Infantry Division, all before he turned 21 years of age.
In early June 1945, one month after Germany's surrender, Murphy returned from Europe to a hero's welcome in his home state of Texas, where he was showered with parades, banquets, and speeches. Murphy was discharged from active duty with the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant in September 1945.
After the Korean War broke out in June 1950, Murphy joined the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas National Guard. However, that division was not called up for combat duty, and Murphy remained in the United States during all his National Guard service. By the time he left the Guard in 1966, he had attained the rank of major.
Medal of Honor citation
The official U.S. Army citation for Audie Murphy's Medal of Honor reads:
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Holtzwihr France, 26 January, 1945.
Entered service at: Dallas, Texas. Birth: Hunt County, near Kingston, Texas, G.O. No. 65, 9 August 1944.
Citation: Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions 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. Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to 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 Lt. 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 his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back 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 killed or wounded about 50. Lt. 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.
Audie Murphy was indeed a living legend.