Texana Thursday: 3 Things You Might Not Know about Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy was World War II’s most decorated hero (public domain photo)

Texans have the real thing when it comes to decorated war heroes.

Audie Murphy (1924-1971) was from Farmersville, 43 miles northeast of Dallas. He is perhaps best remembered as the most decorated American soldier of World War II. He received 33 awards, citations, and decorations, along with a battlefield promotion to second lieutenant.

The most prestigious of his honors is the Medal of Honor. He received it for his actions on January 26, 1945, near Holtzwhir, France, where he was personally credited with killing or wounding about fifty Germans and stopping an attack by enemy tanks.

Yet there’s more to the man than his extraordinary military career. Things you might not know about Murphy include:

1. He was an actor.

Murphy heard the call of Hollywood and acted in several films. Among the most famous of these is The Red Badge of Courage, a 1951 film adaptation of Stephen Crane’s Civil War-era novel, and The Unforgiven, a 1960 film in which he acted with Burt Lancaster.

He also was on television. The most famous of his television appearances was Whispering Smith, a Western series that ran in 1961 on NBC. Murphy played Smith in the series.

2. He wrote country music songs.

Murphy was a country music fan and wrote a number of songs. His first, “Shutters and Boards,” was released in 1962. It was one of his bigger hit songs.

Artists such as Eddy Arnold, Jimmy Bryant, Roy Clark, Dean Martin, Harry Nilsson, Porter Waggoner, and others recorded his songs.

Murphy’s last song, “Was it All Worth Losing You,” was recorded by Charley Pride in 1970.

3. He was an author and poet.

Murphy wrote a memoir of his war experiences, To Hell and Back (1949), which was turned into a film in 1955. Murphy played himself in the film.

He was also a poet. Some of his poems can be found on a tribute web site, audiemurphy.com.

Tragically, Murphy was killed in a 1971 airplane crash in Virginia. He was 45 years old. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.