Biographical Sketch of
June 20, 1924 - May 28, 1971
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Audie Leon Murphy, son of poor Texas sharecroppers, rose to national fame as the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II. Among his 33 awards and decorations was the Medal of Honor, the highest military award for bravery that can be given to any individual in the United States of America, for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." He also received every decoration for valor that his country had to offer, some of them more than once, including 5 decorations by France and Belgium. Credited with either killing over 240 of the enemy while wounding and capturing many others, he became a legend within the 3rd Infantry Division. Beginning his service as an Army Private, Audie quickly rose to the enlisted rank of Staff Sergeant, was given a "battle field" commission as 2nd Lieutenant, was wounded three times, fought in 9 major campaigns across the European Theater, and survived the war.

During Murphy's 3 years active service as a combat soldier in World War II, Audie became one of the best fighting combat soldiers of this or any other century. What Audie accomplished during this period is most significant and probably will never be repeated by another soldier, given today's high-tech type of warfare. The U.S. Army has always declared that there will never be another Audie Murphy.

On 21 September, 1945, Audie was released from the Army as an active member and reassigned to inactive status. During this same time, actor James Cagney invited Murphy to Hollywood in September 1945, when he saw Murphy's photo on the cover of Life Magazine. The next couple of years in California were hard times for Audie Murphy. Struggling and becoming disillusioned from lack of work while sleeping in a local gymnasium, he finally received token acting parts in his first two films.

His first starring role came in a 1949 released film by Allied Artists called, Bad Boy. In 1950 Murphy eventually got a contract with Universal-International (later called Universal) where he starred in 26 films, 23 of them westerns over the next 15 years. His 1949 autobiography To Hell And Back was a best seller. Murphy starred as himself in a film biography released by Universal-International in 1955 with the same title. The movie, To Hell and Back, held the record as Universal's highest grossing picture until 1975 when it was finally surpassed by the movie Jaws. In the mid-60s the studios switched from contract players to hiring actors on a picture-by-picture basis. Consequently, when his contract expired in 1965 Universal did not renew. This gave him the opportunity to work with other studios and independent film producers. In the 25 years that Audie spent in Hollywood, he made a total of 44 feature films.

Despite his success in Hollywood, Audie never forgot his rural Texas roots. He returned frequently to the Dallas area where he owned a small ranch for a while. He also had ranches in Perris, California and near Tucson, Arizona. He was a successful Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racehorse owner and breeder, having interests in such great horses as "Depth Charge." His films earned him close to 3 million dollars in 23 years as an actor. Audie loved to gamble, and he bet on horses and different sporting events. He was also a great poker player. In his role as a prodigious gambler, he won and lost fortunes.

Audie Murphy wrote some poetry and was quite successful as a songwriter. He usually teamed up with talented artists and composers such as Guy Mitchell, Jimmy Bryant, Scott Turner, Coy Ziegler, or Terri Eddleman. Dozens of Audie Murphy's songs were recorded and released by such great performers as Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold, Charley Pride, Jimmy Bryant, Porter Waggoner, Jerry Wallace, Roy Clark, Harry Nilsson and many, many others. His two biggest hits were Shutters and Boards and When the Wind Blows in Chicago. Eddy Arnold recorded When the Wind Blows in Chicago for his 1993 album Last of the Love Song Singers which is currently in release by RCA.

Audie sufferred from what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)and was plagued by insomnia and depression. During the mid-60's he became dependent for a time on doctor prescribed sleeping pills called Placidyl. When he recognized that he had become addicted to this prescription drug, he locked himself in a motel room, stopped taking the sleeping pills and went through withdrawal symptoms for a week. Always an advocate for the needs of veterans, he broke the taboo about discussing war related mental problems after this experience. In a effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans, Audie Murphy spoke-out candidly about his personal problems with PTSD, then known as "Battle Fatigue". He publicly called for United States government to give more consideration and study to the emotional impact war has on veterans and to extend health care benefits to address PTSD and other mental health problems of returning war vets.

While on a business trip on May 28, 1971, (Memorial Day Weekend) he was killed at the age of 46. A private plane flying in fog and rain crashed in the side of a mountain near Roanoke, Virginia. Five others including the pilot were also killed. Although Audie owned and flew his own plane earlier in his career at Hollywood, he was among the passengers that tragic day.

On June 7th, Audie Murphy was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. His gravesite, near the Amphitheater, is second most visited gravesite year round. President Kennedy's grave is the most visited.

In 1996 the Texas Legislature officially designated his birthday, June 20th, as Audie Murphy Day. On June 9, 1999 Governor George W. Bush, Texas made a similar proclation declaring June 20th to officially be Audie Murphy Day in the state of Texas.

The Murphy Family Tree

Murphy Family Tree Diagram
Source: Audie Murphy: American Soldier
Written by Harold B. Simpson

Ancestry of Audie Leon Murphy
By Gary D. Murphy, Murphy Family Genealogist
Bill Allen, Dockery Family Association, Inc.
John Lunsford Born circa 1720. Died 1799 in Granville County North Carolina
Mary Wingate Wife, born 1720's. Died 1806 in Perquimans County, North Carolina.
Comment The couple had four sons, one of which was: (see below)
William Lunsford Born 1740's. Died 1810's, Granville County, North Carolina.
Comment Wife's name unknown but William fathered 5 sons, one of which was: (see below)
Nimrod Lunsford Born circa 1765. Died 1847, Iredell County, North Carolina.
Elizabeth Wyatt Wife.
Comment Several children were born from this marriage. The first born was: (see below)
Michael Lunsford Born 1783. Died circa 1860. First wife's name unknown.
Elizabeth Black
2d Wife. Born 27 January 1797, died 2 October 1890 in Suches Georgia.
She may have married a Turnerthere. Father, James Black.
Comment Michael's first marriage produced one known child who was: (see below)
Nimrod Lunsford Born 1815 in Iredell County, North Carolina. Died probably in East Tennessee.
Adeline First wife. Maiden name unknown.
Elizabeth Henegar Second wife.
Comment Children from first marriage included: (see below)
Mary Jane  
Born 25 December 1839. Died 15 November 1913, Collin County
Farmersville, Texas.
Curtis Gill
Husband. Married 31 August 1856, Monroe County, Tennessee
Born 1833. Died 1863. Curtis was in the Confederate Army and was killed
or died on his way home to Monroe County, Tennessee.
Children were: (1) Mary L. Gill, born 1857, Monroe County, Tennessee.
(2) Samuel H. Gill, born 1859, Monroe County, Tennessee. Died 1915,
Collin County, Texas. Married Emma Sneed. (3) William Thomas Gill,
born 1 November 1860, Monroe County, Tennessee. Died 17 April 1916,
Collin County, Texas. (4) Sarah Elizabeth Gill (see below).
Sarah Elizabeth  
Born 6 March 1863, Monroe County Tennessee. Died 1 July 1950, Collins
County, Texas.
Jefferson Davis 

Husband. Married 17 May 1883, Monroe County, Tennessee near Hiwassee
College. Born 23 June 1862, North Carolina. Died 21 November 1941,
Collin County, Texas. Father: Andrew Killian. Mother unknown
Comment Children included: (see below)
Josie Belle Killian Born 1891. Died 1941.
Emmett Murphy
Husband. Born 1886. Died 20 September 1976. Parents: George W. Murphy (1852-1924)
and Virginia Berry-Murphy (1855-1906). Grand Parents: John Berry
(1787-1867) and Hannah Devore-Berry (1812-1904).
Children included: (1) Elizabeth Corrine Murphy. Born 1910. Married
Poland Burns. (2) Charles Emmett "Buck" Murphy. Born 1912.
(3) Vernon Murphy. Born 1915. Died 1919(?). (4) Ariel June Murphy.
Born 1917. Married Van Cleve. (5) Oneta Murphy. Born 1918. Died 1919.
(6) J. W. Murphy. Stillborn 1920. (7) Audie Leon Murphy (see below).
(8) Richard Houston Murphy. Born 1926. Died 1954. (9) Eugene Porter Murphy
Born 1928. (10) Verda Nadine Murphy. Born 1931. (11) Willie Beatrice
"Billie" Murphy. Born 1933. (12) Joseph Preston Murphy. Born 1935. Died
Audie Leon  
Born 20 June 1924. Died 28 May 1971. Interred in Arlington National Cemetery
with full military honors.
Wanda Hendrix First Wife. No children. Married 1949. Divorced 1951.
Pamela Archer Second Wife. Married 1951.
Comment Children: Terry Michael Murphy (born 1952) and James Shannon Murphy (born 1954).
Little Texas
by David Baillie
Little Texas (source: 1997 Greenville, Texas Stamp Cancellaton Mark colorized by the webmaster.)
A hoe and a plow, behind the south end of a Texas mule,
share-croppers son, one of nine bare foot children left behind,
all day long in the hot sun helping feed the younger ones,
just a lad of twelve not more , sitting hours on milk'n stool.

Socked with the depression, and not just the dollar bill, this son,
saw his bothers and sisters off each day to Church and school,
knew the golden rule, hard taught and honor bound , this son,
mother of them all passed to greater rewards, their only jewel.

Sharpshooter before he was a teen, darn few rabbits, missed,
feed a family of many on scraps, the times they were lean,
no other path to follow now t's his choice and God's blest,
strong winds of war blowing from the west, he's getting mean.

Too young for Marines, and Navy too, so off to the Army he went,
a share-croppers son of just sixteen, to take on a struggle this hard,
he was no better or worse than anyone, just did duty where he was sent,
sick at sea and never looked the part of soldier in a fight with his heart.

Distant shores became common rather than new, saw more than a few,
from Morocco to Sicily and Italy, Anzio Beach, to southern France,
no longer a lad of sixteen, older now because of what he's been through,
made a leader of men, most older than he, was the one who took chance.

Baby Face, Murph, Murphy he was called and Little Texas too,
when things got rough and hot, they called for him; Hey Sarge, !
some say he had a death wish, could be true, lucky for me an you,
over hills and mountain tops, rivers and oceans, trees an hedges.

Fear may have been within him, none near him could ever tell,
sights his eyes saw too much for most, he gave all hell to his host,
200 and more slain by his hand alone, and never a word of boast,
rain and snow, heat and cold all ground pounders know this is hell.

Blood spilled again, again and again, return he must too at the end,
now a golden bar upon his collar, more to entrust honor's birth to,
near 300 dough-boys a company to start now less than a dozen, to end,
paths of fear, death traveled and return, from hell and back too.

Years of strife and gore from shore to far off shore the like never seen,
hell a vacation place it would seem, death a greateful rest at last,
more un-seemly than beauty to be viewed no pastoral scene,
memories of deeds done, honors won, always, always in the past.

Now at last the test has been past and honors kept bright an right,
a silver bar now on his collar and ribbons on his chest, he's the best,
others not far behind in all his rewards his name is on top of the list,
blue ribbon with white stars hung around his neck , he's met the test.

Share-croppers son still not twenty one, Little Texas has won,
home again to start anew pride of all, now bravest son of Texas,
soon golden leaf to rest on his collar, and a new star to be won,
fast as lighting to draw a gun, and ride trails this son of Texas.

Lost to the clouds and mist of the mountains, shouldn't have flown,
a spirit of youth and pride he gave to all will last deep inside,
a youthful grin and face to match carry's the red badge we've known,
wait for me Audie "Lee" would like to travel a path or two by your side.

I would like to thank Gary D. Murphy, relative and geneologist of Audie Murphy and Bill Allen, of the Dockery Family Association, Inc. for providing the genealogy information. Please visit his web site or email him regarding the genealogy above.

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the effort and help of
Richard Wade Shaffer for helping prepare this biographical sketch of Audie Murphy.

I would also like to thank David Baillie for writing and providing the poem above. David is a
published poet and author of military works. Visit his website at

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Last updated 20 August 2006