A Tough Texan Goes “To Hell and Back”

The Most Decorated American in WWII was a tough little baby-faced Texan soldier named Audie Murphy.

Audie Murphy was five feet five inches, 110 pounds when he volunteered to join the US Army during World War II. He saw plenty of action in Italy, but let’s go over two stories from Europe.

During the invasion of southern France, enemy soldiers pretended to surrender, then opened fire on his unit. Mad as a hornet, Sergeant Murphy took down the cowards, and proceeded to take out three machine gun nests and a couple of snipers.

In January of 1945, Murphy was a Lieutenant in command of a unit of 18 men and two M-10 tank destroyers when 250 elite troops and six tanks came at them. The American shells bounced off the thick German armor, and were quickly disabled. Murphy ordered his men back, but stayed to direct an artillery strike.

At one point the Germans were within 50 yards of him when headquarters asked about the enemy’s position. Murphy replied,

“If you just hold the phone a minute, I’ll let you talk to one of the bastards.”

Murphy then leaped onto one of the M-10s to man the .50 caliber:

“I concentrated on the foot soldiers, believing that the tanks would not advance very far without them.”

Suddenly, two 88mm shells slammed into the M-10, throwing Murphy against the turret. Surrounded by smoke and flame, he got back to the .50 caliber and continued to fire. Murphy later remarked:

“I remember getting the hell shook out of me, but that was nothing new. I also remember for the first time in three days my feet were warm.”

Murphy held out until airstrikes pushed the enemy back. By the end of the war he had earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, and a host of others. He played himself in a movie after the war, titled “To Hell and Back.”