Audie Murphy

1audieAudie Leon Murphy (June 20, 1926 (?) – May 28, 1971) was a much-decorated American soldier who served in the European Theater during World War II. He later became an actor, appearing in 44 American films, and also found some success as a country music composer.
In 27 months of combat action, Murphy became one of the most highly decorated United States soldiers of World War II. He received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest award for valor, along with 32 additional U.S. and foreign medals and citations, including five from France and one from Belgium.
Murphy’s successful movie career included the extremely popular To Hell and Back (1955), which was based on his book of the same name (1949.) He also starred in an impressive 33 Hollywood Western films. He died in a plane crash in 1971 and was interred, with full military honors, in Arlington Audie Murphy youngNational Cemetery. Audie Murphy’s gravesite is the second-most visited grave at Arlington, after that of President John F. Kennedy.
Murphy suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his return from the war.  He was plagued by insomnia, bouts of depression, and nightmares related to his numerous battles.  His first wife, Wanda Hendrix, often talked of his struggle with this condition, even claiming that he had at one time held her at gunpoint. For a time during the mid-1960s, he became dependent on doctor-prescribed sleeping pills called Placidyl. When he recognized that he had become addicted to the drug, he locked himself in a motel room where he took himself off the pills, going through withdrawal for a week.
Always an advocate of the needs of America’s military veterans, Murphy eventually broke the taboo about publicly discussing war-related mental conditions. In an effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans, Murphy spoke out candidly about his own problems with PTSD, known then and during World War II as “battle fatigue” and also commonly known by the World War I term “shell shock.” He called on the United States government to give increased consideration and study to the emotional impact that combat experiences have on veterans, and to extend health care benefits to address PTSD and other mental-health problems suffered by returning war veterans.
Murphy married actress Wanda Hendrix in 1949; they were divorced in 1951. He then married former airline stewardess Pamela Archer, who was an army nurse, by whom he had two children: Terrance Michael “Terry” Murphy (born 1952) and James Shannon “Skipper” Murphy (born 1954). They were named for two of his most respected friends, Terry Hunt and James “Skipper” Cherry, respectively. Audie became a successful actor, rancher, and businessman, breeding and raising quarter horses. He owned ranches in Texas, Tucson, Arizona and Menifee, California.
In 1955, Murphy became interested in Freemasonry. He was encouraged by his close friend, Texas theater owner Skipper Cherry, to petition and join the Masonic Order in California. He returned to Texas to become a 32d degree Scottish Rite Mason and to join the Shriners. He was active in various Masonic events and was a member in good standing for the rest of his life. After seeing the young hero’s photo on the cover of the July 16 edition of Audie MurphyLife Magazine and sensing star potential, actor James Cagney invited Murphy to Hollywood in September 1945. Despite Cagney’s expectations, the next few years in California were difficult for Murphy. He became disillusioned by the lack of work, was frequently broke, and slept on the floor of a gymnasium owned by his friend Terry Hunt. He eventually received token acting parts in the 1948 films Beyond Glory and Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven. His third movie, Bad Boy (1949 film), gave him his first leading role. He also starred in the 1951 adaptation of Stephen Crane’s Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage, which earned critical success. Murphy expressed great discomfort in playing himself in To Hell and Back. In 1959, he starred in the western No Name on the Bullet, in which his performance was well-received despite being cast as the villain, a professional killer who managed to stay within the law.