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This Day in History: January 26, 1945

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by Simonov
This Day in History: January 19, 1809
This Day in History: February 2, 1943
On January 26, 1945, Second Lieutenant Audie Murphy single-handedly defeats an assault by German armor and infantry during fighting in the Colmar Pocket in France. Murphy was born in Kingston, Texas, on June 20, 1925. Following the US entry into World War II, he lied about his age in order to enlist and was accepted into the US Army in June of 1942. Murphy took part in the Allied conquest of Italy, including the landing in Sicily and Salerno, before taking part in the Allied landings in southern France. During the course of his military service, Murphy would become one of the most decorated American soldiers of the war having earned not only the Congressional Medal of Honor but also the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star with bronze oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with V Device and bronze oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart with two bronze oak leaf clusters, French Legion of Honor, French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, and Belgian Croix de Guerre among many others. (The bronze oak leaf denotes an additional awarding of the decoration.)

After the war, Audie Murphy would go on to have a successful career as an actor, including portraying himself in the film To Hell and Back about his experiences during the war. He was killed in a plane crash on May 28, 1971. Murphy was given a burial in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. His grave is currently currently one of the most visited sites in the cemetery.

Audie Murphy's Medal of Honor citation follows:

"I. MEDAL OF HONOR. - By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved 9 July 1918 (WD Bul. 43, 1918), a Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty was awarded by the War Department in the name of Congress to the following-named officer:

Second Lieutenant Audie L. Murphy, 01692509, 15th Infantry, Army of the United States, on 26 January 1945, near Holtzwihr, France, commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Lieutenant Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him to his right one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. It's crew withdrew to the woods. Lieutenant Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, Lieutenant Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer which was in danger of blowing up any instant and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to the German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. the enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminated Lieutenant Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he personally killed or wounded about 50. Lieutenant 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."

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Published: 1 year ago
Rating: General

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1 year ago
I had no idea he played himself in the movie now i'm going to have to find it to watch again!
1 year ago
Very, very, impressive man, this is one piece of history that you've brought up that I knew about. He makes me think of John Rambo! It's sad he died in a plane crash at only 46 and didn't get the long and happy life he deserved.
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