Pahlawan Perang Dunia II Audie Murphy: 'Kenapa Aku Tidak Mati?'

Pahlawan Perang Dunia II Audie Murphy: 'Kenapa Aku Tidak Mati?'


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Pada tanggal 26 Januari 1945, Audie Murphy dan sekitar 40 tentara AS duduk menggigil di tempat terbuka yang dingin dan tertutup salju di dekat kota Alsatian, Holtzwihr. Para prajurit yang lelah berperang telah diperintahkan untuk menjaga jalan raya yang vital sampai bala bantuan tiba, tetapi operasi itu ditunda dan bantuan yang dijanjikan tidak terlihat di mana pun. Tepat setelah pukul 2 siang, keheningan musim dingin tiba-tiba dipecahkan oleh gemuruh rentetan artileri musuh. Di kejauhan, sekitar 250 tentara Jerman dan enam tank muncul dari hutan.

Saat dia melihat pasukan Jerman berbaris untuk menyerang, Murphy merasakan gelombang kepanikan di perutnya. Itu adalah perasaan yang akrab, yang dia pelajari untuk dikendalikan selama 18 bulan pertempuran sengit di Italia dan Prancis. Di usianya yang baru 19 tahun, pria Texas berwajah bayi itu telah memenangkan dua Silver Stars dan Distinguished Service Cross, dan dia memimpin orang-orang 10 tahun lebih tua darinya ke dalam pertempuran. Begitu penembakan dimulai, dia tahu instingnya akan mengambil alih. “Saraf akan rileks,” tulisnya kemudian, “jantung, hentikan detaknya. Otak akan berubah menjadi kelicikan binatang. Tugasnya ada di depan kita: hancurkan dan bertahan hidup.”

Murphy tahu bahwa anak buahnya tidak memiliki peluang melawan kekuatan yang begitu besar, jadi dia menginstruksikan sebagian besar dari mereka untuk mundur ke posisi bertahan yang telah disiapkan sebelumnya di sepanjang garis pohon terdekat. Saat mereka berlari mencari perlindungan, dia tetap tinggal dan menggunakan telepon lapangannya untuk melakukan serangan artileri. Dia hanya punya cukup waktu untuk radio di koordinatnya sebelum salvo tembakan tank Jerman meletus di sekelilingnya. Satu peluru segera mengebor sebuah pohon di dekat sarang senapan mesin dan menghujani krunya dengan serpihan kayu yang mematikan; yang lain menabrak perusak tank di dekatnya dan membakarnya.

Pos komando Murphy runtuh di depan matanya, tetapi dia bertahan dan terus memanggil artileri Sekutu. Dalam hitungan detik, tirai api persahabatan menghujani antara dia dan infanteri Jerman yang maju, mengadu lapangan terbuka dengan kawah dan menyelubungi segalanya dalam kabut asap. Setelah mengosongkan karabin M-1-nya ke arah musuh, Murphy meraih telepon lapangannya dan berlindung di atas penghancur tank yang terbakar. Melalui radio, dia bisa mendengar komandan artileri bertanya seberapa dekat tentara Jerman dengan posisinya. "Pegang saja teleponnya dan aku akan membiarkanmu berbicara dengan salah satu bajingan itu!" dia berteriak kembali.

Penghancur tank perlahan-lahan dilalap api, tetapi Murphy melihat bahwa menara senapan mesin kaliber .50-nya masih beroperasi. Dia dengan cepat mengambil pistol dan menyemprotkan api yang membakar ke pasukan Jerman yang terdekat dengan posisinya. "Otak mati rasa saya hanya bertujuan untuk menghancurkan," tulis Murphy kemudian dalam otobiografinya. "Saya hanya sadar bahwa asap dan menara memberikan layar yang bagus, dan itu, untuk pertama kalinya dalam tiga hari, kaki saya hangat." Dia terus menembakkan ledakan demi ledakan, merobohkan selusin tentara Nazi dan menjaga agar tank-tank itu tetap berada di teluk. Sementara itu, dia tetap berbicara di telepon, mengarahkan tembakan artileri semakin dekat ke posisinya sendiri dan memberikan kerusakan besar pada infanteri yang maju.

Dari persembunyian mereka di tepi barisan pohon, sebagian besar pasukan Murphy hanya bisa menyaksikan dengan kaget. “Saya berharap melihat seluruh penghancur tank sialan itu meledak di bawahnya sebentar lagi,” tulis Prajurit Anthony Abramski kemudian. Faktanya, kobaran api mungkin telah menyelamatkan nyawa Murphy. Banyak pasukan Jerman dan komandan tank tidak dapat melihatnya di balik tabir asap dan api, dan mereka yang menolak untuk mendekat karena takut kendaraan akan meledak.

Terlepas dari hujan peluru artileri Sekutu, gelombang baru pasukan infanteri Jerman terus beringsut menuju posisi Murphy. Satu regu mencoba membuat manuver mengapit di sisi kanannya, hanya untuk ditebas dengan tembakan tepat dari pistol kaliber .50-nya. Saat Murphy melanjutkan serangan satu orangnya, penembak Jerman menyerang perusak tanknya yang membara dengan senjata ringan dan tembakan tank. Satu ledakan hampir melemparkannya dari kendaraan dan membuat pecahan peluru tajam beterbangan ke kakinya, tetapi dia tidak memperhitungkan lukanya dan terus berjuang. Hanya ketika Murphy kehabisan amunisi, dia akhirnya mundur. Bingung dan berlumuran darah, dia melompat dari penghancur tank yang masih menyala dan tertatih-tatih menuju anak buahnya. Dia kemudian menulis bahwa ketika dia berjalan pergi, satu pikiran secara khusus terus berkecamuk di benaknya: "Kenapa saya tidak mati?"

Anak buah Murphy tidak diragukan lagi bertanya-tanya hal yang sama. Itu adalah “pertunjukan keberanian dan keberanian terbesar yang pernah saya lihat,” tulis Abramski yang tertegun kemudian. "Selama satu jam dia menahan kekuatan musuh sendirian, berjuang melawan rintangan yang mustahil." Murphy secara pribadi telah membunuh atau melukai sekitar 50 pasukan musuh dan mengarahkan artileri terhadap lusinan lainnya. Bahkan setelah mencapai tempat yang aman, ia menolak untuk dievakuasi dari lapangan dan malah mengerahkan anak buahnya dalam serangan balik yang membuat Jerman kembali ke hutan.

Audie Murphy dielu-elukan sebagai pahlawan nasional dan dianugerahi Medal of Honor atas prestasinya yang menakjubkan di Holtzwihr. Tidak ingin mempertaruhkan nyawa prajurit selebriti terbarunya, Angkatan Darat menugaskannya kembali sebagai perwira penghubung dan melakukan yang terbaik untuk menjauhkannya dari pertempuran sampai perang berakhir. Pada saat itu, G.I. telah mengalami tiga luka, kasus malaria yang parah, gangren, dan lebih banyak teman mati daripada yang diingatnya. “Ada VE-Day tanpa,” tulisnya tentang perasaannya yang campur aduk di akhir perang, “tetapi tidak ada kedamaian di dalam.”

Murphy kembali ke rumah pada bulan Juni 1945 untuk menyambut parade pahlawan, mengerumuni wartawan dan wajahnya di sampul Life Magazine. Atas saran dari legenda layar James Cagney, ia kemudian membawa ketampanan kekanak-kanakannya ke Hollywood, di mana ia menempa karir film yang mencakup lebih dari 40 kredit, kebanyakan dari mereka di Barat dan film perang. Perannya yang paling terkenal datang pada tahun 1955, ketika ia bermain sendiri di “To Hell and Back,” sebuah adaptasi blockbuster dari memoarnya sendiri tentang Perang Dunia II. Menghidupkan kembali kengerian pertempuran di depan kamera terbukti sulit bagi Murphy, yang menderita mimpi buruk dan kilas balik sejak kembali ke rumah. Dia kemudian berbicara secara terbuka tentang perjuangannya selama puluhan tahun dengan gangguan stres pasca-trauma, dan mendesak pemerintah AS untuk memberikan perawatan kesehatan mental yang lebih baik bagi para veterannya.

“To Hell and Back” sukses besar—film tersebut merupakan rilisan Universal Studios yang paling menguntungkan hingga “Jaws” pada tahun 1975—dan itu membantu menyegel reputasi Murphy sebagai salah satu veteran Amerika paling terkenal dalam Perang Dunia II. Tetapi meskipun telah memenangkan beberapa lusin medali untuk keberanian, dia selalu menolak upaya untuk memberinya label pahlawan. “Keberanian hanyalah tekad untuk melakukan pekerjaan yang Anda tahu harus dilakukan,” katanya kepada wartawan setelah kembali ke rumah pada tahun 1945. “Saya hanya berjuang untuk tetap hidup, seperti orang lain, saya kira.”


Seorang Wanita Hebat Telah Meninggal &mdash Pamela Murphy

Mengeklaim: Akun menggambarkan upaya Pamela Murphy atas nama pasien di Veteran
Rumah sakit administrasi.

Contoh: [Dikumpulkan melalui email, Juli 2010]

Setiap prajurit atau Marinir yang datang ke rumah sakit mendapat perlakuan khusus yang sama darinya. Dia akan berjalan di lorong dengan clipboard di tangan memastikan anak laki-lakinya melihat spesialis yang mereka butuhkan.

Jika tidak, hati-hati. Anak laki-lakinya bukan penerima Medali Kehormatan atau bintang film seperti Audie, tapi itu tidak masalah bagi Pam. Mereka telah mengabdi pada negara mereka. Itu cukup baik untuknya. Dia tidak pernah memanggil seorang veteran dengan nama depannya. Itu selalu "Tuan." Rasa hormat datang dengan pekerjaan.

“Tidak ada yang bisa memotong birokrasi VA lebih cepat daripada kata veteran Stephen Sherman, berbicara mewakili ribuan veteran yang berteman dengannya selama bertahun-tahun. “Berkali-kali saya melihatnya menggiring seorang veteran yang telah menunggu lebih dari satu jam langsung ke kantor dokter. Dia bahkan ditegur beberapa kali, tetapi tidak masalah untuk “Hanya anak laki-lakinya yang penting. Dia adalah malaikat kami.”

Asal: Audie Murphy adalah veteran Amerika yang paling terkenal di Dunia, setelah menerima Medal of Honor (penghargaan tertinggi militer AS untuk keberanian), serta yang lain dan kutipan dari AS, Prancis, dan Belgia. Kehidupan pasca-perang Murphy termasuk karier yang sukses sebagai aktor yang mencakup penampilan di lebih dari empat puluh film (termasuk Ke neraka dan kembali, versi film dari otobiografi Dunianya di mana Murphy berperan sebagai dirinya sendiri).

Pada tahun 1971 Audie Murphy meninggal pada usia 45 dalam kecelakaan pesawat, meninggalkan istrinya Pamela. (Meskipun pasangan itu telah berpisah pada awal 1960-an, mereka tetap menikah sampai kematian Murphy.) Untuk menghidupi dirinya sendiri setelah kematian suaminya, Pamela Murphy mengambil pekerjaan di rumah sakit Administrasi Veteran Sepulveda (VA) di Lembah California dan menghabiskan waktu berikutnya bekerja di fasilitas itu, di mana dia dikenal luas dan dipuji atas tingkat kepedulian dan perhatian yang dia tunjukkan kepada para veteran yang mencari perawatan di sana.

Pamela Murphy meninggal pada usia 90 di mendorong Dennis McCarthy dari Berita harian untuk menulis kolom tentang dia yang dirujuk di atas, secara anumerta membawa Pamela Murphy ukuran pengakuan publisitas yang selalu dia hina saat masih hidup.


Massa Kritis: Audie Murphy yang sederhana adalah pahlawan Amerika sejati

Audie Murphy (kiri) dan John Dierks membintangi film John Huston tahun 1951 “The Red Badge of Courage.”

Audie Murphy bertubuh kecil, tingginya lebih dari 5 kaki, 5 inci. Dia berasal dari keluarga petani bagi hasil Texas setelah ibunya jatuh sakit pada tahun 1936, dan ayahnya - yang "tidak malas, tetapi memiliki kejeniusan karena tidak mempertimbangkan masa depan" - meninggalkan dia dan 11 anaknya. Audie menjadi pencari nafkah. Dia memetik kapas dan bekerja di toko dan menembak kelinci untuk pergi dengan molase dan roti yang mereka makan. Ibunya, Josie, meninggal pada Mei 1941, ketika dia berusia 15 tahun.

"Saya tidak pernah ingat menjadi muda dalam hidup saya," katanya kemudian.

Dia berusia 16 tahun ketika dia pertama kali mencoba mendaftar di Marinir, segera setelah Jepang menyerang Pearl Harbor. Dia ditolak karena kekurangan berat badan dan di bawah umur.

Dia meminta saudara perempuannya bersumpah palsu yang menyatakan bahwa dia setahun lebih tua darinya, dan melanjutkan pesta makan yang membuat berat badannya naik hingga 112 pon. Angkatan Darat akhirnya membawanya pada bulan Juni 1942, dan selama pelatihan dasar dia unggul sebagai penembak jitu tetapi pingsan selama latihan jarak dekat di bawah terik matahari Texas.

Komandan kompinya mengira dia terlalu kurus untuk bertempur dan mencoba memindahkannya ke sekolah juru masak dan pembuat roti. Tapi Murphy, menurut otobiografinya, selalu ingin menjadi tentara.

Mereka mengirimnya ke luar negeri pada tahun 1943, ketika dia berusia 18 tahun. Pada akhir perang, dikatakan bahwa dia telah membunuh 241 tentara musuh. Dilantik sebagai seorang prajurit, ia akan dengan cepat dipromosikan menjadi kopral dan sersan, akhirnya menerima komisi medan perang yang langka menjadi letnan dua dan pemimpin peleton.

Pada usia 19, ia memenangkan Medal of Honor karena mengalahkan tank Jerman dan serangan infanteri secara harfiah sendirian — menembak dari atas kapal perusak tank yang terdampar dan memanggil tembakan artileri di atas posisinya sendiri. (Diduga ketika dia ditanya seberapa dekat Jerman dengan posisinya, Murphy menjawab, "Pegang saja teleponnya dan saya akan membiarkan Anda berbicara dengan salah satu bajingan itu.") Kemudian, setelah Jerman mundur, Murphy mengumpulkan sisanya. 19 (dari 128 asli) orang di perusahaannya dan mengorganisir serangan balik.

Dia dianugerahi 36 medali lainnya, penghargaan asingnya termasuk French Forrager, Legion of Honor dan Croix de Guerre dengan Palm dan Silver Star dan Belgia Croix de Guerre 1940 dengan Palm. Legislatif Texas juga memberinya Medal of Honor. Dia sering disebut sebagai prajurit paling berjasa dalam Perang Dunia II.

Ketika dia kembali dari Eropa setelah Hari V-E pada bulan Juni 1945, dia disambut sebagai pahlawan, dengan parade dan jamuan makan. Life menempatkannya di sampul edisi 16 Juli 1945. Ternyata Audie Murphy adalah anak yang tampan, selalu digambarkan sebagai "berwajah bayi" atau "kekanak-kanakan". James Cagney melihat foto itu, memanggil Murphy dan mengundangnya ke Hollywood.

Murphy datang, agak enggan, dengan sangat sadar bahwa dia tidak memiliki bakat atau ketertarikan untuk pekerjaan itu, tetapi dia hanya bisa hidup begitu lama dengan pidato setelah makan malam dan pensiun Angkatan Darat $113 per bulannya. Ketika Cagney bertemu langsung dengannya, dia heran bahwa pahlawan perang itu "sangat kurus", dengan "kulit abu-abu kebiruan".

Cagney membatalkan kamar hotel yang dia pesan untuk Murphy dan membawanya ke rumahnya sendiri. Cagney dan saudaranya William menandatangani Murphy sebagai pemain kontrak $ 150 seminggu untuk perusahaan produksi mereka dan menjebaknya dengan pelajaran akting, suara, dan judo.

Tapi mereka tidak pernah memerankannya dalam film, dan pada tahun 1947, dia pindah ke sebuah kamar di Klub Atletik Terry Hunt di Hollywood di mana dia bertemu penulis skenario David "Spec" McClure, yang pernah bertugas di Korps Sinyal Angkatan Darat AS selama Perang Dunia II. McClure mendorong Murphy untuk mencari kesepakatan buku, dan segera dia menandatangani kontrak dengan Henry Holt and Co. untuk menulis memoarnya, dengan McClure menjabat sebagai penulis untuk orang lain.

McClure juga mendapatkan Murphy peran layar pertamanya sebagai anak salinan surat kabar di "Texas, Brooklyn dan Surga." (Bagian kecil yang sama, dalam fitur Alan Ladd "Beyond Glory," difilmkan sebelumnya tetapi dirilis kemudian. Pacar Murphy dan kemudian istri, Wanda Hendrix, membantunya mengamankan peran itu.)

Ketika Murphy terus berakting dalam peran yang semakin besar dalam gambar B, dia dan McClure mulai menulis memoar yang dijanjikan. Mereka terbang ke Eropa untuk menelusuri kembali langkah Murphy melalui Sisilia, dan Salerno, Anzio, Prancis selatan, dan Jerman selatan untuk mengunjungi kembali medan perang tempat dia memenangkan medali.

Prosesnya melelahkan. Murphy kemungkinan adalah seorang introvert alami dan kembali dari perang dengan apa yang sekarang kita kenal sebagai kasus klasik sindrom stres pasca-trauma. (Dia berjuang dengan insomnia, serangan depresi, dan mimpi buruk yang berhubungan dengan banyak pertempuran sepanjang hidupnya. Hendrix terkejut bahwa dia tidur dengan Walther yang ditangkap di bawah bantalnya dan mengklaim dia pernah menariknya setelah dia mengejutkannya. Mereka bercerai pada tahun 1951 .)

Meskipun dia dengan susah payah menulis beberapa bagian dengan tulisan tangan, dia mungkin menulis kurang dari 10% dari buku itu. Selebihnya, McClure mengandalkan kutipan medali Murphy dan "Sejarah Divisi Infanteri Ketiga dalam Perang Dunia II" karya Donald Taggart untuk fakta-faktanya. Kemudian dia akan mencoba mewawancarai Murphy yang pendiam tentang pengalamannya, mengetik apa yang dia pikir telah terjadi, dan mengirimkan salinannya ke Murphy.

Murphy sering kali menolak upaya pertama dan kedua McClure untuk membuat ingatan Murphy. Penulis akan menjadi frustrasi dengan kolaboratornya dan menuntut agar Murphy memberi tahu dia apa yang sebenarnya terjadi. Kadang-kadang pemuda yang patah hati akan melakukan hal itu.

Setelah satu tahun, mereka memiliki sebuah buku yang luar biasa, umumnya dikenal sebagai "Ke Neraka dan Kembali." Tetapi jika Anda melihat jaket debu dari edisi pertama, Anda akan melihat bahwa buku itu sebenarnya berjudul "Audie Murphy's To Hell and Back," yang tampaknya menyiratkan ambiguitas kepengarangan tertentu. Ini bukan "oleh" Murphy, dan nama McClure tidak muncul di mana pun dalam edisi.

Dan sementara itu diriwayatkan dalam orang pertama, Murphy sering tampak mundur dari tempat kejadian, memberikannya kepada rekan-rekan prajuritnya. Dalam satu contoh, sebuah lagu yang ditulis Murphy (dia kemudian mencapai beberapa tingkat kesuksesan sebagai penulis lagu) dikaitkan dengan tentara lain.

Ini dimulai di Sisilia, dengan Murphy merasa kecewa karena masalah penjadwalan, kompinya mendarat beberapa saat setelah serangan awal dan hanya mendapat perlawanan tanda dari pasukan Italia:

Ada beberapa barang besar yang pecah dan dari berbagai titik terdengar derak senjata kecil. Tapi kami segera terbiasa.

Tapi tidak butuh waktu lama untuk horor dimulai. Kematian pertama, salah satu rekan tentara Murphy, terjadi di halaman dua:

Cangkang kedua berbeda. Sesuatu yang mengerikan dan segera tentang peluitnya membuat kulit kepala saya mulai tertusuk-tusuk. Aku mengambil helmku dan membalikkan tubuhku. Ledakannya menggelegar. Pecahan baja merengek, dan tanah sepertinya melompat dan mengenai wajahku.

Diam lagi. Aku mengangkat kepalaku. Asap bedak yang asam telah menyebabkan wabah batuk.

Suara itu menyentak. Kita semua melihatnya. Prajurit berambut merah telah jatuh dari batu. Darah mengucur dari mulut dan hidungnya.

Dibutuhkan delapan halaman lagi sebelum Murphy mencatat pembunuhan pertamanya:

. Saya di depan perusahaan dengan sekelompok pramuka. Kami menyiram beberapa perwira Italia. Mereka seharusnya menyerah. Sebaliknya, mereka menunggangi dua kuda putih yang luar biasa dan berlari kencang menjauh. Tindakan saya adalah naluriah. Jatuh ke satu lutut, saya menembak dua kali. Orang-orang itu jatuh dari kuda, berguling dan berbaring diam.

Sulit untuk mengetahui siapa yang harus dikreditkan untuk irama megah dan nada fakta buku ini. Kerendahan hati kemungkinan adalah milik Murphy — tidak ada dalam memoar yang menyebutkan medalinya, dan sementara buku itu penuh dengan pembantaian dan kegagahan, tampaknya tidak biasa berpusat pada teror kehidupan sehari-hari di zona pertempuran.

Selain percakapan di antara para prajurit yang direkonstruksi, yang kadang-kadang tampak kaku dan luas (masalah yang tidak terbantu oleh upaya untuk meniru aksen daerah), buku ini berdering dengan otoritas seorang saksi mata yang enggan.

Sudah lama sejak saya membaca novel Perang Dunia II Norman Mailer "The Naked and the Dead," tetapi "To Hell and Back" terasa lebih langsung dan entah bagaimana lebih jujur, meskipun disaring melalui kepekaan Hollywood McClure sebanyak "The Naked and the Dead" disaring melalui aspirasi penulis Mailer.

Terkadang ada puisi dalam kolaborasi Murphy/McClure, seperti ketika dia menceritakan mimpi masa kecilnya:

. Saya berada di medan perang yang jauh, di mana terompet ditiup, spanduk dikibarkan dan orang-orang menyerbu dengan gagah melintasi bukit-bukit yang menyala di mana suhu selalu mencapai delapan puluh dan pihak kami selalu menang di mana yang sekarat hanyalah bayangan impersonal dan yang terluka tidak pernah menangis.

"To Hell and Back" panjangnya kurang dari 300 halaman, mudah dibaca. Jauh lebih mudah daripada "The Naked and the Dead." Tapi tidak pernah disebut-sebut sebagai salah satu buku terbaik yang keluar dari Perang Dunia II, mungkin karena dikaburkan oleh versi film 1955, di mana Murphy berperan sebagai dirinya sendiri.

Murphy, terlepas dari penilaiannya yang mencela diri sendiri tentang kemampuan aktingnya sendiri, telah melakukan dengan baik sebagai aktor, terutama dalam "The Red Badge of Courage" tahun 1951 dan peran barat seperti "Destry" tahun 1954 dan "Duel at Silver Creek" tahun 1952, yang disutradarai oleh Don Siegel. Tetap saja, dia enggan untuk berperan sebagai dirinya sendiri, sebagian karena dia takut akan terlihat menguangkan pengalaman perangnya.

Dia mungkin juga benar takut ceritanya akan di Hollywood, terutama setelah McClure kehilangan kesempatan untuk mengadaptasi buku untuk layar dengan pekerja harian Gil Doud, yang lebih dikenal karena karyanya di radio. Sementara Doud bekerja dengan Murphy dengan cara yang sama seperti yang dilakukan McClure, film tersebut tampaknya, setidaknya bagi penonton modern, sebuah film perang standar, meskipun agak lebih gelap daripada kebanyakan film perang pada masa itu: Pada akhirnya, Murphy adalah satu-satunya anggota unit aslinya yang tersisa.

Setelah film itu keluar, Murphy memberikan wawancara di mana dia merenungkan "sentak aneh bolak-balik antara khayalan dan kenyataan" yang ditimbulkan oleh pembuatan film dalam dirinya, "antara berjuang untuk hidup Anda dan penemuan bahwa itu hanya permainan dan Anda harus melakukan pengulangan karena anjing turis berlari melintasi lapangan di tengah pertempuran."

Dia menceritakan sebuah insiden di mana dia memerankan kembali kematian salah satu teman dekatnya dalam pertempuran. Dalam kehidupan nyata, temannya berdiri terlalu tinggi saat mereka mendaki bukit dan terkena ledakan tembakan senapan mesin musuh. Dia jatuh kembali ke pelukan Murphy, tersenyum tipis dan berkata, "Aku melakukan kesalahan, Murphy" saat dia meninggal.

"Ketika kami merekam adegan itu," kenang Murphy, "kami mengubah bagian di mana Brandon tewas dalam pelukanku. Begitulah yang sebenarnya terjadi, tapi kelihatannya terlalu klise, kata mereka. Kurasa memang begitu."

Mungkin karena kebaruan seorang pahlawan perang yang menggambarkan dirinya di layar, ulasan kontemporer hampir semuanya positif. "Kredibilitas membara di wajahnya yang lembut dan gerakannya yang lembut saat dia bergerak melalui adegan pertempuran dengan penuh semangat, seperti seorang pria yang menghidupkannya kembali dengan heran dan hormat," tulis majalah Time.

Penilaian yang lebih baik mungkin telah ditawarkan oleh John McCarten dari The New Yorker, yang menulis: "Saya diberitahu bahwa dia adalah pria yang sederhana, dan dia berperilaku sopan di sini. Namun, peristiwa yang dijelaskan dalam gambar memiliki suasana yang dibuat-buat tentang mereka. Mungkin spontanitas kepahlawanan yang sebenarnya tidak dapat diduplikasi dalam film."

Film berakhir dengan Murphy dihadiahkan Medal of Honor, dengan rekan-rekannya yang gugur diwakili pada upacara itu oleh penampakan hantu. Saya lebih suka halaman terakhir buku di mana, ketika Murphy mendengar bahwa perang akhirnya berakhir, dia berjanji pada dirinya sendiri dia akan "menemukan jenis gadis yang pernah saya impikan. Saya akan belajar melihat kehidupan melalui mata yang tidak sinis, untuk memiliki iman, untuk mengenal cinta. Saya akan belajar bekerja dalam damai seperti dalam perang."

Tapi kisah Murphy tidak berakhir bahagia. Dia menikah lagi dan memiliki dua anak, dan lagu-lagunya direkam oleh orang-orang seperti Dean Martin dan Harry Nilsson, tetapi mimpi buruknya membawanya ke kecanduan obat tidur. Dia tidak pernah mengatasi keterbatasannya sebagai aktor, dan B-western yang tampaknya cocok dengannya segera diperas oleh serial TV di satu sisi dan spaghetti western yang lebih kejam dan lebih kejam di sisi lain. Sebuah film yang dia bayangkan akan dibuat bersama McClure, "The Way Back," sekuel dari memoar perangnya, tidak pernah mendapat pendanaan.

Pada tahun 1960, Murphy, yang mungkin menjadi salah satu inspirasi bagi karakter Quentin Tarantino, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), diturunkan menjadi detektif barat di TV dalam serial "Whispering Smith" yang sebagian besar terlupakan.

Diwawancarai pada tahun 1962, ia berbicara tentang pengalaman pascaperangnya: "Perang merampas Anda secara mental dan fisik, itu menguras Anda. Segalanya tidak menggetarkan Anda lagi. Ini adalah perjuangan setiap hari untuk menemukan sesuatu yang menarik untuk dilakukan."

Beberapa tahun kemudian, dia pensiun dari akting, mengembangkan masalah perjudian, melakukan investasi yang buruk, bangkrut dan menyatakan kebangkrutan pada tahun 1968. Dia diadili karena percobaan pembunuhan - pembelaannya pada dasarnya adalah jika dia ingin membunuh orang yang dia akan lakukan. memiliki

melakukannya. Juri menjabat tangannya setelah mereka membebaskannya.

Setahun kemudian, pada tahun 1971, dia meninggal. Sebuah pesawat yang dia sewa jatuh saat dalam perjalanan untuk melihat peluang investasi potensial di sebuah pabrik yang membuat rumah prefab. Dia berusia 45 tahun.

Ketika orang berpikir tentang tentara Amerika di Perang Dunia II, sebagian besar dari mereka langsung mengingat John Wayne. Orang-orang mengirimi saya surat kemarahan ketika saya menunjukkan bahwa Wayne, yang berusia 34 tahun saat Pearl Harbor dibom, tidak pernah menghabiskan satu hari pun di angkatan bersenjata, bahwa dia mengambil tindakan untuk menghindari dinas selama perang.

Mereka berharap membayangkan pahlawan mereka melakukan misi rahasia untuk O.S.S. Wild Bill Donovan, atau bahwa dia diperintahkan oleh FDR untuk membuat film untuk menjaga moral.

Saya tidak memiliki penjelasan singkat tentang Wayne dia adalah seorang aktor, bukan pahlawan, dan dia melakukan apa yang banyak jika tidak kebanyakan orang akan lakukan dalam situasinya.

Tapi saya memikirkan Audie Murphy, yang datang lemah dan kelaparan dari Texas timur, seorang pahlawan otentik yang dilupakan saat ini ketika keaslian diduga sangat berarti. Dan buku hebat yang terlupakan itu pernah dia tulis.


Oleh Tom Huntington

Sebuah regu pencari berjuang melalui hutan lebat di Gunung Brush Virginia. Di atas puncak setinggi 3.065 kaki sekitar 12 mil dari Roanoke, para pencari menemukan puing-puing pesawat yang telah dilihat awak helikopter sebelumnya. Mereka menemukan tiga mayat di badan pesawat yang hancur dan tiga lainnya di puing-puing yang berserakan. Di antara yang tewas adalah Audie Murphy yang berusia 46 tahun, veteran paling berprestasi dalam sejarah AS.

Murphy, yang telah terbang ke Virginia untuk melihat peluang investasi, telah memperoleh 21 medali dalam Perang Dunia II, termasuk Medali Kehormatan Kongres. Setelah perang dia muncul di banyak film, beberapa bagus, paling biasa-biasa saja. Pada saat pesawat jatuh pada 23 Mei 1971, dia tampak seperti pria dari waktu lain. Berita kematiannya dibagikan di halaman depan New York Times dengan laporan protes Hari Peringatan menentang Perang Vietnam.

Murphy dimakamkan dengan penghormatan militer penuh di Pemakaman Nasional Arlington saat istri dan dua putranya melihat. Kepala Staf Angkatan Darat William Westmoreland menghadiri upacara tersebut. Gedung Putih Presiden Richard Nixon mengeluarkan pernyataan bahwa Murphy telah “tidak hanya memenangkan kekaguman jutaan orang karena eksploitasinya yang berani, dia juga datang untuk melambangkan kegagahan dalam aksi para pejuang Amerika.”

Sayangnya, Murphy juga secara menyeluruh melambangkan akibat wajar yang gelap untuk "kegagahan dalam bertindak," kerugian psikologis yang dapat ditimbulkan oleh perang bahkan pada prajurit yang paling berani sekalipun. Meskipun dia terluka tiga kali dalam pertempuran, bekas luka terdalamnya bukanlah fisik. Dia menderita mimpi buruk yang mengerikan, tidur dengan lampu menyala dan pistol di bawah bantalnya, berjudi berat, dan menemukan sedikit minatnya setelah keberadaannya yang berisiko tinggi di garis depan. “Sepertinya tidak ada yang bisa membuatku bersemangat lagi—kau tahu, antusias?” katanya kepada sutradara John Huston setelah berperan dalam The Red Badge of Courage. “Sebelum perang, saya merasa senang dan antusias tentang banyak hal, tetapi tidak lagi.”

Lahir pada 20 Juni 1924, dekat kota Kingston di Texas, Murphy adalah salah satu dari sembilan anak yang masih hidup dari orang tua yang mencari nafkah dari tanah. “Kami adalah petani bagi hasil,” tulisnya. “Dan untuk mengatakan bahwa keluarga itu miskin akan meremehkan. Kemiskinan menghalangi setiap langkah kami.” Ketika Murphy berusia 16 tahun, ayahnya pergi. "Dia pergi begitu saja dari kehidupan kami, dan kami tidak pernah mendengar kabar darinya lagi," tulis Murphy. Ibunya meninggal tahun berikutnya, dan Murphy menerima kematiannya dengan keras. Keluarga itu harus bubar, dan tiga saudara bungsu Murphy dikirim ke panti asuhan.

Munculnya perang dengan serangan Jepang di Pearl Harbor pada tanggal 7 Desember 1941, tampaknya menjanjikan jalan keluar dari situasi yang buruk, meskipun Murphy—pendek, berwajah bintik, dan kurus—tampak seperti pejuang yang tidak mungkin. Marinir tidak akan membawanya. Para penerjun payung juga tidak. Ketika dia akhirnya berhasil mendaftar di infanteri, dia berusia 18 tahun, tetapi dia terlihat lebih muda. Sersan di kamp pelatihan memanggilnya Baby, dan Murphy pingsan selama latihan jarak dekat pertamanya. Para komandan berusaha mencegahnya dari pertempuran, menyarankan agar mereka menempatkannya sebagai juru tulis atau pembuat roti. Tapi dia ingin melawan.

Kesempatan akhirnya datang ketika Kompi B Murphy dari Resimen ke-15, Divisi ke-3, mendarat di Italia. Dia membunuh tentara musuh pertamanya di Sisilia: dua perwira Italia yang mencoba berlari cepat dengan menunggang kuda. “Saya merasa tidak ada keraguan, tidak ada kebanggaan, tidak ada penyesalan,” katanya dalam To Hell And Back, otobiografi 1949 yang ia tulis bersama jurnalis dan temannya David McClure. "Hanya ada ketidakpedulian lelah yang akan mengikutiku sepanjang perang." Bahkan pada tahap awal dalam karir tempurnya, dia belajar bagaimana menekan emosinya.

Dari Sisilia, perusahaan Murphy pindah ke daratan Italia. Serangan malaria mencegahnya berpartisipasi dalam pendaratan awal di Anzio, tetapi dia cukup melihat aksi. Perlawanan Jerman menegang setelah pendaratan, dan tentara Sekutu mengalami jalan buntu yang menyedihkan. Suatu malam, saat berada di bawah api, Murphy merayap ke tank Jerman yang rusak dan menghentikannya secara permanen. Serangan itu membuatnya mendapatkan medali pertamanya, Bintang Perunggu.

Serangan berani seperti itu menjadi ciri khas Murphy. Dia jago tembak, insting medan perangnya sangat tajam, dan dia tampak tak kenal takut. “Jika saya menemukan satu hal berharga selama hari-hari awal pertempuran saya, itu adalah keberanian, yang sering disalahartikan sebagai keberanian atau kebodohan,” katanya. “Tidak juga. Audacity adalah senjata taktis. Sembilan dari sepuluh itu akan membuat musuh kehilangan keseimbangan dan membingungkannya.”

Keberanian atau tidak, rasa takut tidak pernah benar-benar hilang. “Dalam panasnya pertempuran, itu mungkin hilang,” tulis Murphy. “Kadang-kadang itu menghilang dalam kemarahan membabi buta, merah yang datang ketika Anda melihat seorang teman jatuh. Kemudian lagi Anda menjadi sangat lelah sehingga Anda menjadi acuh tak acuh. Tetapi ketika Anda bergerak ke dalam pertempuran, mengapa mencoba membodohi diri sendiri? Ketakutan ada di sampingmu.”

Kompi B meninggalkan Italia pada 12 Agustus 1944, untuk berperang dalam Operasi Dragoon, invasi Sekutu ke Prancis Selatan. Orang Amerika mengerumuni pantai hampir tanpa lawan. Murphy, sekarang seorang sersan, sedang menuju pedalaman dengan Kompi B ketika senapan mesin Jerman di punggung bukit di atas kebun anggur menembaki mereka. Prajurit Lattie Tipton, seorang Tennessean berusia 33 tahun yang kurus yang telah menjadi teman terdekat Murphy dan semacam figur ayah, mengikuti Murphy maju untuk menghadapi Jerman. Murphy mendesaknya untuk kembali dan merawat telinga yang terluka, tetapi Tipton menolak. "Ayo Murphy," katanya, "mari kita naik. Mereka bisa membunuh kita, tapi mereka tidak bisa memakan kita. Itu melanggar hukum.” Beberapa menit kemudian Tipton mati. Jerman mengibarkan bendera putih, dan Tipton, meskipun seorang prajurit infanteri berpengalaman, membuat kesalahan dengan berdiri. Senapan mesin Jerman dengan berbahaya menembaknya kembali.

Kematian Tipton menyapu Murphy ke dalam kemarahan yang kabur. “Saya ingat pengalaman itu saat saya melakukan mimpi buruk,” tulisnya. “Setan sepertinya telah memasuki tubuhku. Otak saya sangat waspada dan logis. Saya tidak memikirkan bahaya bagi diri saya sendiri. Seluruh keberadaan saya terkonsentrasi pada pembunuhan. Kemudian orang-orang yang dijepit di kebun anggur memberi tahu saya bahwa saya berteriak memohon dan mengutuk mereka, karena mereka tidak datang dan bergabung dengan saya.” Menggunakan senapan mesin Jerman yang ditangkap, Murphy secara metodis merobohkan tentara Jerman yang telah membunuh temannya. “Saat tubuh-tubuh yang terkoyak itu jatuh dan menggeliat, saya menyapu mereka lagi,” tulis Murphy, “dan saya tidak berhenti menembak ketika masih ada getaran kehidupan yang tersisa di dalamnya.” Murphy memenangkan Distinguished Service Cross atas tindakannya hari itu. Dia memberikan medali itu kepada putri Tipton.

Sampai saat ini dalam perang, Murphy entah bagaimana selamat secara fisik tanpa cedera. Dia menerima luka pertamanya saat Amerika mendorong ke utara melalui Prancis, tentara Jerman mundur di depan mereka ke Pegunungan Vosges. Selama satu pertarungan, sebuah mortir menghantam di dekatnya, menewaskan dua tentara dan membuatnya pingsan. Ledakan itu menghancurkan stok karabin keberuntungannya (yang dia sambungkan kembali), tetapi lukanya sendiri hanya kecil.

Kehebatan Murphy di medan perang tidak luput dari perhatian, dan terlepas dari protesnya bahwa dia ingin tetap berada di antara pangkat dan arsip, dia ditugaskan sebagai letnan dua pada 14 Oktober 1944. Kurang dari dua minggu kemudian, karena cuaca dingin mengisyaratkan musim dingin yang pahit. datang, seorang penembak senapan Jerman yang tersembunyi menembaknya di pinggul. Bahkan terluka dan di tanah, Murphy berhasil membunuh penembak jitu sebelum penembak jitu itu bisa menghabisinya. Tapi lukanya segera terinfeksi, dan ahli bedah harus mengeluarkan sepotong besar daging dari pinggulnya. Murphy bergabung kembali dengan Kompi B tiga bulan kemudian, tepat pada waktunya untuk salah satu tindakan unit yang paling sulit: mengalahkan pasukan Jerman di Colmar Pocket, sebuah tonjolan menonjol yang meluas ke Prancis di tepi barat Sungai Rhine.

On January 26, Murphy and Company B found themselves on the outskirts of woods facing the German village of Holtzwihr. The day dawned miserably cold and uncomfortable as the small American force waited tensely for an attack. Finally, six German tanks supported by infantry began moving toward them from the village and quickly put two American tank destroyers near Murphy’s company out of action. Murphy sent his men back, but he stayed put with his field telephone. He was only 20 years old, and it did not look like he would live to see 21.

With his phone, Murphy called in artillery fire on the advancing German infantry. German tanks were approaching on his sides, but Murphy climbed onto a burning tank destroyer—which could have exploded at any second—and began firing its .50-caliber machine gun. He killed dozens of German soldiers, forcing the tanks to fall back due to lack of infantry protection. One German squad sneaking up on Murphy’s right got as close as 10 yards from him before he detected the threat. He shot the whole squad down. Somewhere along the way, Murphy got hit in the leg, but he kept fighting until he ran out of ammunition. Having killed about 50 Germans, he returned to his company, where he refused medical help and instead rallied his men to make a counterattack. The Germans were forced to retreat.

Later, Murphy heard that the enemy had stayed away from his burning tank destroyer because it looked ready to blow up. “I do not know about that,” he answered in his memoir, putting himself back into the scene. “I am conscious only that the smoke and the turret afford a good screen, and that, for the first time in three days, my feet are warm.”

Murphy’s heroics at Holtzwihr earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. The citation read, “Lt. Murphy’s indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy’s objective.” When the army found out Murphy was going to receive the medal, it pulled him off the front lines too many of these medals had ended up being awarded posthumously. Still, Murphy found a way into combat. On one occasion he went in to rescue his company when it was pinned down by German fire along the Siegfried Line in western Germany.

In June 1945, Murphy finally returned. He was a national hero. Life magazine put him on its cover, identifying him simply as “America’s Most Decorated Soldier.” The story inside told of his return to Farmville, Texas. One photograph showed him with his “special girl,” 19-year-old Mary Lee. “Audie hopes she is his own girl,” the caption read, “but he isn’t quite sure yet because he usually blushes when he gets within ten feet of any girl.” The Murphy Life portrayed could hardly have been more different from the Murphy that McClure came to know. While the two men worked together on To Hell And Back, Murphy told McClure about an Italian family in Rome that had invited him to dinner one day. Murphy said that before dinner he seduced the two daughters, and afterward, for good measure, he seduced the mother. “Audie seduced more girls than any man I ever knew with the possible exception of Errol Flynn,” McClure said. “He might even have topped Flynn.”

The Life story opened an unexpected door for Murphy. Actor James Cagney saw it and invited the young veteran to Hollywood. “All I saw him as was a typical fighting Irishman,” Cagney said. “Perhaps I imagined there was a little bit of me in Audie.” Cagney put Murphy up for a time in his Hollywood home and provided him with acting classes, but after two years, the country’s most decorated soldier was broke and living above a gymnasium.

It was around this time that McClure met Murphy. McClure was a fellow Texan and ex-army man, now working as an assistant to Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. He heard of Murphy’s plight and began to champion him. The two men became friends and started working on To Hell And Back, with McClure prodding the reluctant Murphy to provide material he could use in the book. “Audie had been burned out by the war,” McClure said later. “He reacted intensely to the death of his friends in combat. I supposed in order to keep from going insane he buried his emotions so deeply that getting them back was difficult if not impossible.” But McClure persevered, making up the material that Murphy couldn’t—or wouldn’t—supply, and the book came out in 1949 to favorable reviews.

McClure also used his Hollywood connections to help Murphy get movie roles. The first was in 1949’s Bad Boy. Murphy remained clear-eyed about his abilities. “You must remember I’m working under a handicap,” Murphy told the director in his self-deprecating way. “No talent.”

For the most part, Murphy acted in Western B-movies. One exception was The Red Badge of Courage, director John Huston’s 1951 adaptation of Stephen Crane’s story about a Civil War soldier who flees from battle. MGM didn’t want Murphy, but Huston fought for him, realizing he had the right qualities for the role. “They just don’t see Audie the way I do,” he said. “This little, gentle-eyed creature. Why, in the war he’d literally go out of his way to find Germans to kill. He’s a gentle little killer.”

There was another famous WWII veteran in Red Badge: Bill Mauldin, whose cartoons about the inanities of army life entertained GIs in the army publication Stars and Stripes. He had some sharp recollections of Murphy. “He was a scrappy little sonofabitch,” Mauldin said. “He would get into bare-knuckle fistfights just for fun with stuntmen. He was five foot four and he’d beat these guys up. They were tangling with a wildcat. That’s why Huston really liked him.”

Murphy delivered a fine low-key performance, but the movie never found an audience. After two disastrous previews, MGM cut the running time to less than 70 minutes and the film flopped. Red Badge was probably Murphy’s best shot at stardom now he slowly slipped back into the grind of forgettable B-movies. “I’m grateful to the movie business,” he said. “The only trouble is the type-casting. You make a success in Westerns, they milk it dry—until you are dry. That’s why Hollywood has just about dried up for somebody like me.” Murphy categorized himself as “a middle-sized failure.”

Murphy had one undeniable film success: playing himself in Universal’s 1955 adaptation of To Hell And Back. He re-created his combat experiences—even though they were layered over with Hollywood gloss—with an understated dignity that helped lift the movie above its otherwise pedestrian treatment of the war. The movie remained Universal’s biggest moneymaker until Jaws in 1975.

On the personal front, Murphy’s life maintained a slow downward slide. He married starlet Wanda Hendrix in 1949, but the marriage lasted only 15 months. Four days after his divorce, in 1951, he married Pamela Archer. That marriage, too, was strained. Murphy was a haunted man, tortured by insomnia, his nights interrupted by a recurring nightmare in which an army of faceless men attacked him on a hill. Murphy fought back in the dream with his trusty M-1 Garand rifle, but pieces of the gun kept flying off until he had only the trigger guard left.

Plagued by nightmares and sounds he thought he heard, Murphy began sleeping in a bedroom made up in his converted garage, with the lights on and with a pistol under his pillow. He tried using tranquilizers but got addicted to them, finally throwing away the pills and locking himself in a hotel room until the withdrawal symptoms ceased. He acted in more and more forgettable movies, invested in real estate, bred horses, and gambled. “I didn’t care if I won or lost,” he said “it was as if I wanted to destroy everything I had built up.” In 1968 he went bankrupt. Two years later, he was in the headlines again, when he and a friend were charged with beating up a dog trainer. In every news story, he was invariably identified as “America’s most decorated soldier.”

The experiences that had earned Murphy his decorations had taken their toll. Today, his symptoms would be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder, but that term didn’t exist during his lifetime. He had emerged from the crucible of war, but he had not emerged unchanged. He had seen men die—ripped apart by machine guns, run over by tanks, obliterated by mortar fire. He had killed many men himself, supposedly accounting for 240 Germans single-handedly. “To become an executioner, somebody cold and analytical, to be trained to kill, and then to come back into civilian life and be alone in the crowd—it takes an awful long time to get over it,” he told journalist Thomas Morgan in 1967. “Fear and depression come over you.”

When Morgan visited Murphy at his house in California to interview him, he saw a small glass display box with some of his medals inside. The display was in disarray. The Medal of Honor looked “tacky,” Morgan noted, while the first of Murphy’s three Purple Hearts had fallen and lay face down at the bottom of the case. Like Murphy himself, the medals were ignored, forgotten. At the time of Morgan’s visit, Murphy, America’s most decorated soldier, had four more years to live. But part of him had already died, long before his airplane crashed into the top of Brush Mountain.

Tom Huntington, a contributing editor to America in WWII, has written for Smithsonian, American Heritage, Yankee, and other publications. This article appeared in the February 2007 issue of America in WWII. Find out how to order a copy of this issue here. To get more articles like this one, subscribe to America in WWII Majalah.

Photos: Audie Murphy after the war, in 1945, at age 21 Murphy (right) with siblings Murphy playing himself in the 1955 movie To Hell and Back.


Military Career

A few months later, Murphy&aposs division moved to invade Sicily. His actions on the ground impressed his superior officers and they quickly promoted him to corporal. While fighting in the wet mountains of Italy, Murphy contracted malaria. Despite such setbacks, he continually distinguished himself in battle.

In August 1944, Murphy&aposs division moved to southern France as part of Operation Dragoon. It was there that his best friend, Lattie Tipton, was lured into the open and killed by a German soldier pretending to surrender. Enraged by this act, Murphy charged and killed the Germans that had just killed his friend. He then commandeered the German machine gun and grenades and attacked several more nearby positions, killing all of the German soldiers there. Murphy was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.

Over the course of World War II, Murphy witnessed the deaths of hundreds of fellow and enemy soldiers. Endowed with great courage in the face of these horrors, he was awarded 33 U.S. military medals, including three Purple Hearts and one Medal of Honor.

In June 1945, Murphy returned home from Europe a hero and was greeted with parades and elaborate banquets. LIFE magazine honored the brave, baby-faced soldier by putting him on the cover of its July 16, 1945 issue. That photograph inspired actor James Cagney to call Murphy and invite him to Hollywood to begin an acting career. Despite his celebrity, however, Murphy struggled for years to gain recognition.


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The Incredible Story of How I Came to Possess the Gun Audie Murphy Learned to Shoot With

In 1966, I was a young boy of nine years old, and my father took me to Renner Road, a section of of land near Dallas, Texas that was once a rural community of about 10 square miles. There he let me shoot a Winchester single shot .22 caliber rifle for the first time.

But it wasn’t just any Winchester single shot .22 caliber rifle.

After a few hours had passed, and my dad was placing the rifle back into its leather gun sleeve, he turned and looked at me and said, “Don’t ever let go of this gun. Audie Murphy used it.”

I looked at him in bewilderment, and being only a young boy then, replied, “Who is Audie Murphy?” My father just smiled and said, “Someone we grew up with in Farmersville.”

Reminiscing Leads to Researching
This Winchester has been in my possession for many, many years. But as a young man attending college, then married with children and working, etc., I had no time to hunt or think about what I had in my possession up through adulthood.

After my parents passed, I started to reminisce about the days I had spent with my father in my youth. Then the thought hit me about shooting the rifle, and I remembered I had a gun my dad told me never to get rid of. One that Audie Murphy had used to hunt when he and my dad were both young boys.

According to research records, the rifle was manufactured sometime between 1935-37, and was most likely shared back and forth between the boys until they enlisted in 1942. Although I can’t say how many times Audie may have shot the rifle, my father’s words, along with the dates, make me confident it was more than just a few times.

Now, several years later, I was an educated adult and acutely aware of who Audie Murphy was and the legacy he left behind. Since most of his generation has now passed on, I went into a state of mild panic, because I apparently had an irreplaceable piece of history in my possession, but just an oral statement from my father many years ago attesting that it was used by Audie Murphy.

I had by now obtained a bachelors and a masters degree, and I went into student research mode and began my personal project on the rifle in 2014. I didn’t know at that time what a daunting task I was about to face…

Discouraged but Not Defeated
My first thought was to discover if there were any direct living relatives of Audie Murphy. To my surprise, Nadine, one of Audie’s sisters, was alive, and I was given her phone number by the Audie Murphy Museum in Greenville, Texas.

My first contact did not go as well as I wanted it to. Given that she was 79 years old, I had no idea how healthy Nadine would be. I quickly learned that not only was she healthy, but she also had the old spark of an Irish woman. Once I had spoken to her about the rifle and its history, she really didn't have much to say about the rifle, and added in a stern voice, “I don't remember your family!”

I thanked her for taking my call and also thanked her for Audie's heroism during WWII. Nadine replied firmly that, “He wasn't my only brother I had who was a hero.” A bit taken aback by that, I simply told her I agreed! Nadine had a brother who worked as a Deputy Sherriff and who was tragically killed on duty. With apologies and gratitude, I said my goodbyes.

Being so discouraged from that initial conversation, I nearly gave up hope that I could ever learn the real history of the rifle my dad left me. It seemed everything about Audie Murphy had already been told, found, sold, displayed on websites, available for view in museums or in pictures hung on walls in his honor across the nation.

But there I sat with the gun that was used by Audie and my father as young boys hunting to put food on the table. Moreover, this was the rifle that created the marksman who went on the become the most decorated soldier of WWII, and whose sharpshooting skills during the frontline battles with German soldiers saved countless American lives.

With these thoughts in my mind, I was once again energized to seek out more details to substantiate my father’s words and the rifle he passed down to me.

A Modern Key to the Past
Both sides of my family lived within close proximity of the Murphys while in the Farmersville area. Because they were all sharecroppers picking cotton, planting onions, and the like, they would travel to where there was work to be had. This would include not only Farmersville, but other rural communities, namely: Princeton, Celeste, Floyd, all the way to Emory – where my parents were married. Nothing between these towns but old Texas black clay dirt and row after row of cotton… not much different from today.

My next quest was to see if there were pictures on the internet with Audie holding the Winchester. I had low expectations going in, but to my surprise, I came across one picture showing Audie after a squirrel hunt holding a rifle and standing next to an old car, and yes, may dead squirrels.

I researched Audie’s height, weight, and physical characteristics, which I found online. I also used the picture to estimate some of the dimensions of the rifle. I then considered who would be a perfect match for these measurements of Audie for comparison purposes? I turned to ask my wife, and behold! I had Audie standing in front of me – at least the female version.

My first thought was, “Wow! How did a young man this small cause so much damage in WWII?” I had my wife position herself with the gun just like Audie in the picture. It matched perfectly. I also had her move her hands up the barrel and made more comparisons to the picture. Still a perfect match. Lastly, I had a professional authenticator successfully examine the picture along with my gun to confirm it was a Winchester rifle like my father’s.

Connecting the Dots
So now I have my dad’s word, some family history connecting us to the Murphys, and a childhood picture of Audie holding a rifle matching the one I have in my possession.
Backtracking a bit for a moment – many years ago I was sifting through some family pictures my mother handed down to me. I came across a picture of a small group of women standing together by an old white house (it was more like a shack) with the solemn background of a cotton field.

My mother – thank goodness! – could always be relied upon to put the names of people who were pictured on the back of photos for future reference. When I flipped the card over, I was elated to find that she had written “Audie’s sister” as one of the ladies in the picture!

Now I have a dated rifle, a picture of Audie with a very similar looking rifle, and a picture showing that our families did intertwine with each other. I wished there had been more pictures like this, but I'm sure they were hard to come by during the Depression era. I was ecstatic to have at least this one, almost conclusive, piece of evidence.

The Light at the End of a Very Long Tunnel
Pushing forward about five years, I finally saw the light at the end of a very long tunnel.

I thought it would be a good time to reach back out to Audie’s last, surviving, immediate family member, Nadine. Some years had passed since we first spoke, and I wasn’t sure she was even still alive or would accept any contact.

Again, I reached out to the museum, and they gave me the good news that she was still alive, but aging. The people at the museum told me she would only accept mail as communication. I set out to write her an update on what I had discovered and requested that we meet so I could show her the rifle.

I waited for her response for several weeks to point that I assumed she wasn't going to respond at all. Then, one day, to my surprise, I received a letter back from her. Again, in her persistent Irish way wrote, she said she did not know of me or the gun and that it was so long ago.

Well, being a stubborn Irishman myself, I googled her phone number and found a match. Before I called her, I looked at my wife and exclaimed, “I am a sixty-one-year-old male, and I am terrified to call this lady!”

But I did call her. An older female answered the phone: “Hello?” I thought, “So far, so good!” I asked her, “Are you Nadine, Audie's sister?” Her reply was, “Yes I am…”
All of a sudden, I couldn't speak. A lump developed in my throat, and I was afraid she was going to hang up on me if I told her who I was. I finally untied my tongue and took a deep swallow before I told her I was William Trammell, the man who mailed her the letter about the rifle.

Then the clouds parted, and sunshine filled the room. Nadine said she was so sorry about the brash letter response, and that she had been thinking of me ever since she had mailed it.

Thereafter, I had the most wonderful conversation from the loveliest lady since my own mother was alive. It turned out that Nadine had worked at Texas Instruments, where my mother worked as well. We discussed many things that night, and by the end of our conversation, I thought I was actually talking to my mother. She said that she thought I was an “good honest young man,” and added she was sorry that so many people have tried to approach her who deceived her family. She had just been protecting herself. I told her, “I don't blame you one bit for that. I would do the same if my brother were Audie Murphy!”

We ended a long, fruitful conversation, and at the end, I let slip quickly, as though I were talking on the phone with my own mother, "I love you.” She replied, "I love you, too.”

What a sweet woman to have had the time to spend with – even if were only by phone. I hope we get to meet each other in person at the Audie Murphy Day celebration in June 2019. That is our plan.

My wife overheard our conversation, and I was so excited that I wanted to keep talking about it. That's when I realized I have an Uncle John Smith (my mother's brother) who would be the same age as Nadine. Maybe he knew the Murphys?

I contacted Uncle John and asked if he ever remembered the Murphy family. He said, “Of course. One of them lived directly behind us at one time.”

Really? Now living “directly behind” someone then does not mean what it means now. The house my uncle referred to was on the other side of a cotton field, probably.
My Uncle John was born in 1934, as was Nadine. So they were much younger than Audie and my parents. Audie was born the same year as my mother – in 1925, not in 1924! He had to “exaggerate” his age to enter the service. Although Audie was born in Kingston, Texas, it was soon after that his family moved to Farmersville, where my family had already been established.

I told my uncle about the Winchester, and he said he remembered my father (Dub) showing it to him. My wife and I just recently returned from a trip to see my uncle. Once I showed him the gun, he remarked, “That’s it.”

The last piece of the puzzle is a snippet I found in a television documentary in which Nadine is interviewed. At the very end she talks about how great a shooter Audie was, and that they would have starved had it not been for his hunting skills. She goes on to say that, “He used a little old .22, but I’m not sure where he got it from.”

Well, I think I can safely say where he got it. It was my father’s Winchester rifle that he shared with Audie Murphy, and which is still in my possession today.


Audie Murphy, From World War II Hero to Hollywood Hitmaker

Audie Murphy was a bona fide World War II hero, a term which, in these days of endless American conflicts, seems both antiquated and slightly offensive even. But in his time, Murphy — maybe the greatest war hero the country ever has seen — was an out-and-out superstar. He fashioned a grateful country's unbridled adulation into a career as one of Hollywood's biggest draws, most famously playing the lead role in his own film autobiography, "To Hell and Back."

Yet the war that made him famous, as is the case with many who fight, never left him.

"A hero is somebody who takes an abstract virtue and embodies it for a short time," says David A. Smith, the author of "The Price of Valor: The Life of Audie Murphy, America's Most Decorated Hero of World War II." Smith teaches history at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. "As human beings, we're not comfortable with abstractions. But if you show me what honor looks like, even a glimpse, I'll know. If you show me what valor looks like, then I'll know what it means.

"Audie Murphy fit the role of a hero. Being a hero is great for the society. But it's really hard on the person who, for a moment, becomes a hero."

The Roots of a Legend

Born in Hunt County, Texas, in 1925, the son of Irish sharecroppers, Audie Leon Murphy grew up in extreme poverty — the Great Depression began in 1929 — inside a family in turmoil. Murphy's father deserted the family when he was just a kid. When Murphy was 16, as World War II broke out in Europe, his mother died. Some of his younger siblings were placed in an orphanage.

"[T]o say that the family was poor would be an understatement. Poverty dogged our every step," Murphy wrote in "To Hell and Back," his 1949 memoir. "Year after year the babies had come until there were nine of us children living, and two dead. Getting food for our stomachs and clothes for our back was an ever-present problem. As soon as we were old enough to handle a plow, an ax, or a hoe, we were thrown into the struggle for existence," he wrote.

Just 5-foot-5 (1.6 meters) and barely 100 pounds (45 kilograms), Murphy dreamed of the service as a way out. After his mother died, he tried to join the Marines but was turned down for being too small and too young. He was finally accepted into the U.S. Army, with some tweaked documentation, in June 1942. He was just 17.

After his training in the States, Murphy was shipped to North Africa with the 3rd Infantry Division, the beginning of a short but unparalleled career in which he was awarded every medal for valor that the Army could confer. (Some of the original commendations are here.) One of his battlefield exploits, in particular, became legendary.

During a firefight in France on Jan. 26, 1945, an American tank destroyer was hit by German fire, setting it ablaze and forcing the crew to abandon. Murphy ordered artillery fire on the German positions and called for his men to retreat to nearby woods. But Murphy did not fall back. Instead, he mounted the burning tank, grabbed control of its .50-caliber machine gun, and faced with hostile fire from three sides for more than an hour, kept the Germans at bay, killing scores of them. Murphy was wounded in both legs in the fight.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. From the his citation (via the Smithsonian Institution):

Murphy returned home to parades — some 300,000 people in San Antonio — more awards (from France and Belgium, too), and rewards that enabled him to buy a house for his older sister, where his younger siblings came to live for some time. On July 16, 1945, a smiling Murphy was featured on the cover of Life Magazine with the words "Most Decorated Soldier."


6. tak terputus (2014)

After crashing their plane in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends 47 days on a life raft with two fellow crewmen. Eventually, he’s caught by the Japanese and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp where he’s tortured and forced to endure hard labor — but he never gives up.

(Image via Universal Pictures)


North Korea threatens pre-emptive strikes after ‘madcap joint military drills’

Posted On February 04, 2020 17:24:11

North Korea has threatened its own pre-emptive strikes in response to recent drills for “decapitation” strikes by U.S. and South Korean special operations forces aimed at taking out the leadership in Pyongyang.

The simulated strikes reportedly targeted the upper echelons of the North Korean regime, including leader Kim Jong Un, as well as key nuclear sites.

They also involved the participation of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team 6 — the outfit famed for killing al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, the Asahi Shimbun reported earlier this month. Media reports said a number of U.S. special operations forces also participated, including U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force and Green Berets.

North Korea recently launched satellite-carrying Unha rockets, which is the same delivery system as North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, which was tested successfully in December 2012 and January 2016. (Photo: Reuters/KNCA)

In a statement released March 26 by the Korean People’s Army (KPA), a spokesman said the “madcap joint military drills” would be met with the North’s “own style of special operation and pre-emptive attack,” which it said could come “without prior warning any time.”

The statement, published by the official Korean Central News Agency, said the U.S. and South Korea “should think twice about the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by their outrageous military actions.

“The KPA’s warning is not hot air,” the statement added.

In mid-March, several U.S. Marine F-35B stealth fighter jets conducted bombing practice runs over the Korean Peninsula as a part of the joint exercises, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported Saturday.

The dispatch of the fighters, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture, was the first time they had been sent to the Korean Peninsula. The fighters returned to Japan after the drills wrapped up.

Pyongyang has stepped up efforts to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile over the last year and a half, conducting two atomic explosions and more than 25 missile launches — including an apparent simulated nuclear strike on the U.S. base at Iwakuni.

In the event of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. troops and equipment from Iwakuni would likely be among the first deployed.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is in the midst of a policy review on North Korea, and has said all options, including military action, remain on the table.

But this review could be bumped up Trump’s list of priorities in the near future.

U.S. and South Korean intelligence sources, as well as recent satellite imagery, has shown that the North is apparently ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test at any time, media reports have said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Audie Murphy received every combat award which the United States Army could offer, as well as awards from its European Allies France and Belgium, for his heroism as an infantryman during the Second World War. He wrote memoirs of his combat days entitled To Hell and Back and appeared as himself in a film made of the book under the same name.

Murphy enjoyed a film career of just over twenty years, in war films and westerns, and eventually branched into television. Murphy became an accomplished horse breeder and though not a performing musician wrote several songs which were recorded by artists such as Harry Nilsson, Roy Clark, Bobby Dare, Dean Martin, and many others.

In late May of 1971, Murphy was killed in a private airplane crash near Roanoke, Virginia. He was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, and his widow began what became a 35-year career with the Veteran&rsquos Administration as a clerk, living in a small apartment in Los Angeles. Given that the war hero had enjoyed a lengthy and successful career in entertainment, with a best-selling book, numerous successful films, and television and music success, questions arose over his finances. What happened to Murphy&rsquos money?

Most of his money was lost in poor investments with his horses. Murphy made many bad business decisions regarding his horse breeding investments and the losses contributed to a depression that originated in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from his combat experiences. He developed a gambling habit that put greater strain on his available funds. He tried to make business deals in areas in which he had little expertise &ndash looking for a quick return &ndash and lost still more money.

In the late 1960s, an oil deal in Algeria collapsed costing Murphy over a quarter of a million, and unpaid taxes to the IRS were troubling him too. Murphy, a child of the depression, had come from a virtually destitute family and sadly died in similar circumstances. After his death, a lawsuit over the causes of the plane crash in which he died eventually afforded his family some financial relief.


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