Audie Murphy Was His Name


Audie Murphy, Barefooted and Bewildered

Audie Murphy pictured on the extreme right with his early siblings in Farmsville, Texas.

Audie Murphy lived a humble life with just his name in  a poverty stricken home without shame.  He showed courage at a young age, becoming a family provider.

The price for valor was learned initially  in his early years , Audie Murphy, learned that duty to family came at a high cost. His father abandoned him and his mother of nine children leaving them without a means for getting food for their stomachs and clothes for their backs. It was the worst of times during the “Great Depression.”

One day, his father gave up, and simply walked out of their lives, he was never heard from again. Over the next year,  the severity of the depression overwhelmed his mother with emotions of grief and sadness. She was desperately trying to keep the brood of children together, she worked harder than ever but to no avail, consequentially,  she succumbed to a nervous breakdown and sickness.  Her illness led to  her death.   Audie was just sixteen years old.

Boyhood to Manhood:

Audie Becomes a Young Man

This file is copyright © 2010 by Eva Dano, all rights reserved, and is her personal property. Written permission to use this file has been granted to the Audie Murphy Research Foundation.

Losing his father to abandonment and his mother to a sickness at such a young age was a traumatic experience that few of us can truly understand. He became the family caretaker where he used a plow, an ax, hoe, or a rifle to feed his family. He became a sharpshooter while hunting small game.

Audie Murphy was changed by the loss of his parents.  The grief from his loss manifested itself in a quick tempered teenager who was getting into fights at school, using his fists in an attempt to level what he assumed was his fate –to live  a lifetime in poverty.

Meanwhile, his  siblings were taken by the authorities and put into an orphanage, leaving Audie alone. To escape this unfortunate circumstance,  he would escape reality by using his vivid imagination and  sense of adventure to day dream and escape from his feelings . His dreams helped to calm his fears, temper his anger, and soften his sadness.  It was during these quiet, thought provoking moments, that he affirmed his  character traits  to himself.  He   layed  a foundation for his future manhood.

On December 7, 1941, his life changed drastically with the declaration of war declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After the announcement, Audie’s active mind created dreams of him entering the military to avenge the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, even though he was too young to join the fight.  So, with the help of his sister (altered birth documents), he enlisted (at 17 years) into the U.S. Army. Soon after boot camp training, he began  military life in combat witnessing graphic and horrific  images of  battle.   He responded to the challenges of war with bravery, honor, and disguised service to country.

Private Murphy:

Audie Murphy was assigned to the 3rd Division U.S. Army where, his military saga began with the invasion of Sicily and Salerno, Italy. Audie’s intestinal fortitude, or his “piss and vinegar” spirit was lessened,  as he was shocked and awed by the blood and guts strewn across the beach head near Salerno, Italy. “Seeing the elephant” of war came at a price to a boy who had falsified his birth records to enlist at diminutive height 5’5” and weight 112 pounds. He began to pay the price—he experienced the fear of death.
Audie’s vivid imagination could not have predicted the events and experiences that would become a part of his future legacy and character—as America’s most decorated hero of World War II.

A Complex Person:

Platoon Sergeant, Audie Murphy, illustrated by Don Moore, 2009 of Killeen, Texas

Audie Murphy was a complex personality, and the essence of his character is hard to capture. The Films of Audie Murphy by Larkin and Magers, described Murphy with grayish –green eyes, reddish brown hair, and a liberal sprinkling of freckles that was as Irish as his name. “By nature Audie was an idealist whose circumstances forced him into becoming a realist. He often expressed himself with shocking candor. He chose his friends on the basis of character, he detested snobbery and artificiality in any form.”
The authors summarized: when Audie spoke you knew dam well what he said. This was evidenced by his military training where he was fearless while living on the edge of life and death during the war. He admired sincerity and loyalty in his friends, he would never let himself or another be pushed around or belittled.

An Achille’s Heel:

His one downfall was his habitual gambling—whether it be poker, craps or horses—and his inability to win at these. During his life he lost several fortunes. Money meant nothing to him. His gambling addiction maybe explained by understanding his past  experiences.  Because he lived on adrenalin and the high stakes during combat, he had an emotional need to be  constantly seeking that adrenalin rush.  The winning and losing from gambling provided an adrenalin high and low temporarily that  appeased his emotional need in the moment. The public gained   gained rare insight into the man, when he appeared on “What’s My Line,” a television game show on July 3, 1955. His television appearance was just months before the release of his biographical movie— “To Hell and Back.”  His film career was prolificly impressive with  44 films, which are  conviently listed on Wikipedia.

Honoring an American Hero:

Audie Murphy fought in the European campaign for three years, winning battlefield promotions from private to first lieutenant, and gaining every combat medal awarded by the army, including many for bravery, plus the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was wounded three times, twice in the  legs and once in the hip, and was discharged from the army as fifty percent disabled in September of 1945. Audie Murphy was officially credited with killing 240 enemy soldiers, he returned home as a hero. He was discharged weighing in at 165 pounds and 5″10″ tall. He discusses our country’s combat readiness from Western Germany in 1960.  See the Audie Murphy interview (4:43).


It is perhaps evidence of his strength of character, that although Murphy was scarred both physically and psychologically, he was not defeated by post-traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.). Instead, he was able to carve out a career in the motion picture industry, making 44 films.
This  writing was a personal tribute to honor a man who received a pretty raw deal from life most of the time, and who deserves a little glory and dignity in the world today.



The Accident:

Audie Murpy’s I.D. recovered from the plane crash of 1971.

On the mornng of May 28, 1971, an Aero Commander 680 Super departed Peachtree Airport in Atlanta destined for the Blue Ridge Airport in Martinsville, Virginia, a distance of 246 miles with a flight time of 1 hour and 46 minutes.  At 12:08 the aircraft impacted the west side of Brushy Mountain at the 2,700 foot level while flying at high speed level attitude..  The collision into the heavily wooded slope and post crash fire destroyed the aircraft, and all six passengers, including Audie Murphy at 46 years old.  In December of 1971, the family of Audie Murphy sued the aviation company for negligence in the operation and maintenance of the aircraft.  In December of 1975 a jury awarded the Murphy family $2.5 million in damages to be paid by the aircraft’s owner, Colorado Aviation of Denver. The news report of the crash is available to view.

Audie Murphy was his name, his life and character remain as his legacy.  A song was written to remember his name:  “The Ballad of Audie Murphy.”

Iwo Jima: A Hunk of History

created by R.A.Moore 2018

Iwo Jima An Ugly Hunk of History, 1945

Pre-Conceived Notions:

When someone thinks about the most memorable photograph in the history of the United States Marine Corp, you might be picturing the world famous flag raising that declared victory on the Island of Iwo Jima in February of 1945 in the South Pacific during World War II.  The daunting scene of the stars and stripes flying atop Mount Suribachi was filled with the unfamiliar faces of young marines raising the flag with outstretched arms.  Every one of those Marines that landed on that black, sandy beach had preconceived fears and ideas for the unknown events that were to come.  Set your previously conceived  mental images aside of Iwo Jima, and be prepared to make the landing with the Marines.




Your prior notions about the invasion of Iwo Jima will the first thing to go, just as those pre-conceived notions of the young Marines were changed by the reality of war.  Iwo Jima was a place where no matter which way a soldier turned, there was yet another new and profound thing to have experienced.  As a soldier experienced scenes of life and death, he became empowered to live in the moment.  By living in the here and now, many acts of bravery and valor were inspired.  The many acts of heroism were individually inspired and motivated by unwavering deeds of passion and selflessness.

From Iwo Jima to Hiroshima: The Atomic Bomb

Enola Gay at Iwo Jima enroute to Hiroshima.

What very few Americans knew at the time was that seizure of Iwo Jima was an integral part of preparations for the atomic bombing of Japan.  As early as October of 1944; four months before its invasion, Iwo Jima had been designated as an emergency landing point for B-29’s carrying atomic bombs.  In fact, the Enola Gay refueled and landed on Iwo Jima as a part of its charted flight path to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 5, 1945.  Iwo Jima  was an emergency landing field, if the aircraft carrying the bomb need to abandon its mission.  If the aircraft carrying the bomb malfunctioned, it would have landed at Iwo Jima to transfer the bomb to a spare plane, which would have continued the mission.  The island had no real strategic value in terms of a future amphibious invasion of Japan, but was a vital element in dropping the atomic bomb.and serving as a P-51 fighter base.

Honoring the Flag Raisers:  U.S. Marine Corps (3rd, 4th, and 5th Divisions)

Two world-famous and time honored quotations have come down to us from the Battle of Iwo Jima.  The first was delivered by the then-Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, who witnessed the raising of the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi.  Turning to Marine Lieutenant-General Holland Smith, he observed: “Holland, the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.”  The second quote was by Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who said after the battle:  “Among the Americans serving on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”    Many time honored facts have supported these quotations, many of which are uncommon to most Americans.

Uncommon facts regarding the invasion of Iwo Jima, February of 1945 in the South Pacific Sea:

  • General Holland M. Smith, called the “father” of modern U.S. amphibious warfare, used naval sea power and Marine Corps ground troops to defeat the Japanese.
  • Two days out of Honolulu the identity of the “Island X” was revealed as the point of invasion.
  • The Marines had the task of liberating an ugly little hunk of slag in the ocean, nearly barren of trees or grasses or flowers. It was a dry wasteland (void of potable water) of black volcanic ash that stunk of sulphur (“Iwo Jima” means “sulfur island”).
  • The Army Air Force bombed the island in advance of  the Marines invasion using. B-29 Super Fortresses  and B-24 Liberators, which pummeled the island unmercilessly for seventy-two consecutive days, setting a record for most consecutive bombing days of a target in the Pacific War..  Reconnaissance photographs showed every square inch of the island was bombed.  Admiral Nimitz mistakenly though that  the bombing had pulverized and weakened the enemy defenses.
  • Although, reliable photographic evidence painted a grim picture for the invading forces:  Initially, there were 450 major enemy installations when the bombing began, survelliance showed that at the conclusion of the bombing  a total of 750 major installations. Althought military leadership was in disbelief, they did not alter invasion plans.
  • The air raids were called “softening up” activities, but in fact, Iwo Jima was becoming hardened.
  • There would be no “surprise attack” at Iwo Jima. Japanese General Kuribayashi was well prepared to fight to the death.

General Kuribayashi

  • General Kuribayashi had transformed Iwo Jima into the most ingenious fortress in the history of warfare. He created one huge blockhouse with 1500 underground rooms connected by sixteen miles of tunnels.  Running over the heads of 22,000 well-fed troops with five months of rations.
  • “The Courageous Battle Vow” was posted on the walls of the bunkers, caves, and blockhouses on the island. It read:

“We are here to defend this island to the limit of our strength.  We must devote ourselves to that task entirely.  Each of your shots must kill many Americans….. No man must die until he has killed at least ten Americans…. Long live the Emperor!”


  • General Kuribayashi wrote to his wife in a letter  a private thought that he never shared with his men:  “The United States is the last country in the world Japan should fight.”


  • 120,000 Japanese and Americans on and off shore, consumed life and limb during thirty-six days of combat by killing  or maimimg more than half of the land combatants. The Battle of Iwo Jima turned into a primitive contest of gladiators; Japanese gladiators fighting from caves and tunnels like the catacombs of the Roman Colosseum, and the American gladiators aboveground, exposed on all sides, using liquid gasoline to burn their opponents out of their lethal hiding places.

General Holland Smith, “Father of Amphibious Warfare.”

  • The importance of the capture of Mount Suribachi was described by General Holland Smith, “the success of our entire assault depended upon the early capture of that grim, smoking rock.”
  • One early mistake in the real time of the invasion was to assume that a source of the enemy fire, once extinguished, was permanently dead. It wasn’t. George Bernstein, my step father, shared how the Marines had to regain territory because the Japanese would flank the troops using hidden tunnels.
  • The U.S. military’s highest distinction, the Medal of Honor was awarded to 27 soldiers on Iwo Jima, 14 posthumously. By comparison only 82 received the award for their service in the Pacific in total.
  • The casualties were many; 6.821 U.S. marines were killed and 19,217 wounded in the battle. Over 20,000 Japanese soldiers were killed, a few thousand went into hiding while only 216 prisoners were taken. Just 2 Japanese soldiers remained in hiding on the island until they finally surrendered in 1951.
  • Iwo Jima’s highest point was  the site of Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photograph, it  measures 528 feet above sea level.

Aerial view of Mount Suribachi on the Island of Iwo Jima.

The uninhabitanted volcanic island measures roughly 8 square miles, and it is located 660 miles south of Tokyo, and equidistant from Guam.


The Proud, The Few:

To honor the fallen soldiers and courageous survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima, a few authentic photographs are shared to remind us of the human cost for  our freedom and liberty.  This slogan reflects the unique character of the Marine Corps and underscores the high caliber of those who join and serve their country as Marines, ” Major General Richard T. Tyron, commanding general.