Audie Murphy was born on this day, June 20, in 1925.
There is sometimes confusion over his year of birth — as he falsified a birth certificate to join the Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He entered the military as a private at age 17 and rose to the rank of staff sergeant before earning a battlefield commission.
He was wounded three times, fighting in nine major campaigns in the Mediterranean and European Theaters of War.
He would become the most decorated soldier of World War II, receiving the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Colmar Pocket, Holtzwihr, France.
After the war, he wrote the bestselling book "To Hell and Back" — and starred in 44 movies.
The 1955 movie adaptation of his autobiography was Universal’s highest grossing film until 1975.
He was one of the first to bring attention to what is now known as post-traumatic stress, focusing his efforts on assisting Korean War and Vietnam War veterans.
He was killed in a plane crash in 1971.
Audie Murphy was just 45 when he died.
He is buried in Section 46 of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
In part, his Medal of Honor citation reads: "With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d 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."
It goes on, "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."
The citation continues, "For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d 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."
It adds, ""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."
After the war, Murphy was asked what had motivated him to take those heroic actions that day.
He replied simply, "They were killing my friends."
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He was born on a sharecropper farm in north Texas, according to the Association for the U.S. Army.
As a boy, he chopped cotton for $1 a day.
He was noted for his feats of courage — and for his accuracy with a gun.
He had only five years of schooling.
He was orphaned at age 16.
During World War II, he killed hundreds of Germans in combat, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
In 1945, Murphy received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
He also received every military combat award for valor available from the United States Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism.
When he was buried in 1971, he received full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
His gravesite is near the amphitheater — and is one of the most visited gravesites in Arlington.