The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978 Page: 243
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being too frail. After all he did stand only 5' 5", and weigh in at l o
pounds. When he arrived for basic training at Camp Wolters he had
never had a shave. But we must mark well another element: his
superiors noted that he demonstrated an "almost fanatical sense of
Enrolled with the famed Third Infantry Division, he embarked
first to North Africa, where the Desert Fox had just been run to earth.
His baptism of fire came soon, however, in the tremendous Allied
invasion of Sicily, and for the succeeding "four hundred days" it was
almost constant unrelenting combat. The great Confederate cavalry-
man .Bedford Forrest once expressed it in his inimitable fashion: "War
means fightin', and fightin' means killin'!" Audie Murphy later named
his own book of battlefield experiences "To Hell and Back." The
Third Division suffered the heaviest casualties of any United States
From the beginning Murphy demonstrated phenomenal qualities
of leadership and fortitude. He was wounded repeatedly, but never
severely enough to hold him back for long. Medals and citations
followed fast, until he had them all, including that supreme accolade,
the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Audie came home to Texas in June, 1945, and found that "the
bubble Reputation" had preceded him. As our nation's most decorated
soldier he was met full force by the blinding glare of adulation. Pos-
sessed of a modesty proportionate to his combat heroism, he shunned
the limelight as much as was possible.
He gravitated to Hollywood, and there demonstrated a commend-
able flair in a string of motion pictures. After a few years he tried his
hand at country-western music composition, with somewhat less suc-
cess. But by then he was rich as well as famous. He loved all sorts of
gambling, and his generosity among family and friends was legendary.
Two Hollywood marriages gave him two sons. He died on May 28,
1971, in the crash of a private plane, while on a business trip to Vir-
ginia, one month short of his forty-seventh birthday. Following a
series of memorial services across the country, he was buried with the
nation's heroes at Arlington.
When Audie Murphy first got back, in 1945, he commented to some
admirers at Greenville; "The real heroes are the ones not coming
home. The real heroes are dead."
ROGER N. CONGER
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978, periodical, 1977/1978; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101205/m1/271/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.