Badasses in History: Audie Murphy
Well, shut the fuck up and sit down and maybe you’ll see what I’m talking about.
You see our story begins in 1924 when Audie was born the sixth of twelve children to Emmett and Josie Murphy in Kingston, Texas. Things were hard for Audie, as he was and would remain very small, something looked poorly upon in Texas, “where everything is bigger.”
Anyway, Audie and his siblings worked on the family farm as children, at least until his father abandoned the family in 1936, presumably saying, “How the fuck did we end up with this many kids?” His mother died five years later, leaving the Murphy children to fend for themselves, with only the oldest sibling, Elizabeth, at age 31 to care for them.
Audie, rightfully realizing his life was going up shit-creek faster than a prairie dog in a wheelbarrow race, decided the best thing to do would be for him to join the army. So, Audie put his three youngest siblings in an orphanage (he would later reclaim them after coming back from the war), and attempted to enlist.
See, I say “attempted” for a reason.
Thing is, Audie tried to enlist right after Pearl Harbor, at age 17, but was turned away for being too young. Reputedly, Audie hulked the fuck out on the recruiter, but matters would stand this way for some time. Shortly after, Audie tried to enlist once again, but was declined by the Marines, the Air Force, and the Navy.
Why? Well, he was 5’5’’ and 110 pounds. Yeah, he kind of looked like one of those starving kids Sally Struthers is always bitching about. Luckily for Audie however, the United States Army was always on the lookout for meatshields…I mean corpses…I mean cannon fodder.
Damn it! I mean upstanding, brave specimens of American masculinity.
Yeah, that works.
So, long story short, Audie finally got to live out his dream of being a military man. At which point he promptly passed out during training and was ordered to be a cook instead. But, like short people everywhere, Audie wouldn’t shut the fuck up. He insisted on being a combat soldier for so long that finally his drill sergeant gave up and let him do it.
At this point Audie got sent overseas to North Africa, where he saw no action and presumably just fucked around playing stickball or something. After getting tossed over to Sicily however, Audie finally got to prove himself and was quickly promoted to sergeant.
So he was only like 18. He was Audie Motherfucking Murphy, so suck it.
I didn’t mention that before? Really? I could have sworn…
Well no matter! Just listen up.
By the way, Audie contracted malaria during the Allied Invasion of Siciliy. So everything I’m about to explain? He did it with malaria. Yeah.
At one point, Audie mined a road where Axis tanks were known to be crossing. Asking his men to cover him, Audie stealthily snuck up on one such tank and tried to blow the thing up with a Molotov cocktail. When that didn’t work, Audie tried rifle grenades (all while getting shot at, and pulling Matrix style shit to avoid them). It worked. All by his lonesome, Audie managed to knock the tank off its treads, rendering it useless.
Yeah, Audie Murphy took out a tank, all by himself.
What the fuck? I can’t even do that shit in a videogame much less real life. And he was 5’5’’. There are NBA centers whose arms are longer than that. AND he was 110 lbs. That’s like what? How much my books weigh each quarter?
So we’ve established he was a badass, and that alone would be enough to ensure him a place of glory (it did win him a Bronze Star), but it’s not all.
The scene: It’s 1944, the Germans are being repelled and the Allies are pushing forward. BUT! The German forces are by no means down for the count. Enter a beachhead in Southern France.
Audie and his company were ordered to capture an enemy artillery position. In the course of the conflict, the Germans signaled their surrender, at which point Audie and his men went to take their position.
Of course, Nazi’s being total dickwads, they were faking and promptly shot and killed Audie’s BFFL.
This was really quite a poor decision on behalf of those Germans. I say “poor decision,” but what I really mean is “complete and utter catastrophe.” This is because Audie Murphy, on seeing his friend gunned down in front of his eyes, went Super Saiyan.
Legends say that he was doused with fire and emerged unscathed. That he shrugged off the strikes of lightning like they were so much trash. He endured a hail of bullets and his screams of rage flung them to the ground.
It may not be all true, but the reality is this: Within one hour, every single German was dead. Audie literally ran to the German position, amidst a storm of bullets, and took control of the nearest machine gun, slaughtering every Nazi within sight, and winning him the Distinguished Service Cross.
When another machine gun operator starting firing on Audie, he promptly picked up a mortar gun and gave that Kraut bastard what for. He then took out two more turrets and two sniper positions.
All by HIMSELF. This guy makes Rambo look like a pussy. Hell, he makes Seal Team 6 look like kindergarteners.
But even that doesn’t measure up to his actions in Holtzwihr Forest, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Before Holtzwihr Forest, however, Audie won the Purple Heart —for taking a mortar shell fragment to the hip, then immediately requesting to return to the front upon recovery — and two Silver Stars — the first for taking out two German positions using only a pair of hand grenades, saving the lives of numerous other soldiers; the second for reconnoitering near a German outpost and relaying its location to nearby artillery so it could be destroyed.
In case you aren’t keeping track at home, the tally is as follows: 1 Bronze Star, 1 Purple Heart, 1 Distinguished Service Cross, and 2 Silver Stars. Not bad for a 20-year-old right? He was also promoted to staff sergeant, then platoon sergeant, then platoon leader, AND THEN 2nd Lieutenant during this time.
Well it gets better.
On January 26th, 1945 (just one day after being named company commander, as well as suffering wounds from a mortar that exploded nearby that same fucking day), Audie and company became engaged in battle in the Holtzwihr Forest in France (I know, the name sounds German. Shut up).
During the course of the battle, Murphy’s 128-man company was reduced to 19 men, nearly all of them wounded. Realizing things might not turn out sunshine and daises, Audie decided to do something incredible: hold the Germans off by himself.
Yeah, he did that thing every movie hero does but that no one has the balls to pull of in real life. HE PULLED A FUCKING GANDALF AND SAID “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
Seriously though, he shot at the Germans until he ran out of ammunition, at which point he climbed aboard a flaming, abandoned M10 Tank Destroyer (yes, it fucking blows the shit up out of tanks). Remember, it was on fire while he did everything I’m about to tell you. And he still had malaria. And he was wounded from the mortar shell. Also, it was 14°F. Just so we’re clear.
Audie started using the .50 caliber machine gun on all Germans coming his way. He got shot in the leg, but kept going for nearly an hour, all single-handed. The only time he stopped fighting was to call in artillery fire using a nearby telephone line.
In the end, Murphy and his remaining men—who came back—staged a counterattack and drove the Germans back out of Holtzwihr Forest, winning the battle.
When asked why he had decided to seize a machine gun and attack an entire squad of German infantry, he uttered perhaps the most badass explanation ever given:
I stand in awe of this man. If he wanted to punch me in the face I would take it and be honored. For his actions in Holtzwihr, Audie was given the Legion of Merit and the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military award, as well as given a promotion to 1st Lieutenant.
Audie continued fighting in the war, amassing a staggering total of military awards. In fact, he won every single U.S. decoration for valor available to Army ground personnel at the time. Some of them more than once.
In total, Audie was credited with destroying 6 tanks, and personally killing 240 German soldiers. Audie would eventually be promoted to Major while serving in the Texas National Guard. After his retirement from the service, he became an action star in Hollywood, starring in a few Westerns and — get this — playing himself in a movie called To Hell and Back about his battle in Holtzwihr.
He was such a popular actor, in fact, that he got a star on the Walk of Fame.
How can you get more badass?
Oh, here’s a list of Audie’s medals. If you don’t feel like counting, the number is 33. He was, and is, the most decorated soldier in American history.
• Congressional Medal of Honor • Distinguished Service Cross • Two Silver Stars • Legion of Merit • Two Bronze Stars • Three Purple Hearts • U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal • Good Conduct Medal • Two Presidential Unit Citations • American Campaign Medal • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars and one Bronze Arrowhead • World War II Victory Medal • Army of Occupation Medal • Armed Forces Reserve Medal • Combat Infantry Badge • Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar • Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar • French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre • French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier • French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star • French Croix de Guerre with Palm • Medal of Liberated France • Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm