The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

August 30, 2013

Medal finally awarded to Murphy

Dave Phillips

GREENVILLE — Governor Rick Perry this past week awarded the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to America’s “most decorated” combat soldier of WWII Audie Murphy.

In January of 1945, German infantry and armor in snowy terrain on the outskirts of a small French village couldn’t kill Audie Murphy, and alone he daringly held back 250 enemy soldiers and six tanks for more than an hour, calling an artillery barrage on his own position, while atop a fuel-infested burning tank destroyer protecting his unit against the hordes of advancing enemy infantry and armor.

For this bold action, Audie Murphy was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and became the “most decorated” combat soldier of the war, earning an unprecedented 33 decorations, medals and citations. During the course of the war, Murphy participated in nine campaigns, and though wounded three times, survived the war physically intact, but emotionally wrecked.

Just as he had taken bunker after bunker and hill after hill during the war, he took Hollywood by storm as well, appearing as the lead in some 44 films, mostly westerns. During the course of his film career, Murphy directed another artillery barrage. This one was  aimed at the Veterans Administration, and Murphy became the first noted veteran to speak openly and honestly about the effects of “shell shock, or as we call it today PTSD. In doing so, he brought about great public knowledge to this debilitating disease and was a true pioneer in PTSD awareness.

Amazingly, the government of his home state of Texas nearly succeeded in accomplishing what the Germans failed to do on that cold winter day in France nearly 70 years ago.

Never forgetting the many campaigns that Murphy fought in, over the course of the past two years, Murphy’s fans waged their own campaign on behalf of Audie Murphy.

For the record, Mister Murphy was originally nominated in 2011 by State Representative Dan Flynn, for the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, only through, and at the behest of, Audie Murphy’s legions of admirers and supporters.

It would seem that Audie Murphy, certainly the most be-medaled, celebrated, heralded, beloved and best known combat soldier of World War Two and possibly of any war, would have been the first awardee of this honor in 1997 at the time of its institution. Incredibly, however, he was overlooked by the legislature of Texas, the very legislature in which his portrait hangs. One would think that the nomination for Mister Murphy would have been a no-brainer in 2011, but that was not to be the case, and he was ultimately passed over by the legislature for this most prestigious military decoration.

This year Murphy’s supporters and fans once again took action and laid down their own artillery barrage on the state legislature aimed at assuring that Murphy was finally accorded the state’s most supreme military honor and thereby returning his name to the public spotlight.

At a hearing held in April Murphy was unanimously selected as the alternate nominee for the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor by a committee of the legislature.

Incredibly, it took three separate concurrent resolutions and a special amendment to current law (HB1589) to accord this long-belated honor to Audie Murphy.          

Following the demise of the first two resolutions, State Representative Scott Turner filed the final resolution on Murphy’s behalf during the third called session of the legislature. Through the sheer determination and tenacity of Turner, the resolution was finally passed by both chambers and sent to Governor Perry for signature.

One would think that the government of the state of Texas would take pleasure in honoring a hero like Audie Murphy, one who stood as a man among men, and who remains today, 42 years after his passing a shining example of devotion to duty and who is the very epitome of the American soldier. Audie Murphy is a national treasure and is certainly one of the greatest in the pantheon of America’s heroes. He remains an inspiration to millions throughout our nation and around the world for his selfless courage and patriotism.

Murphy in his autobiography “To Hell and Back” stated that he would go “to hell and back again for his country.”

Seems the state government of Texas wasn’t willing to go “to hell and back” for Audie Murphy.

The resolution to posthumously award Audie Murphy this long overdue honor was finally and quietly signed this past week by Texas Governor Rick Perry without so much as a public acknowledgment of this notable event.

Most interesting of this entire fiasco is the lack of a press release by the Governor’s Press Secretary. The Press Secretary’s Office has stated, “there will not be a press release forthcoming.”

It would seem that the Office of the Press Secretary of the Governor of Texas has done a disservice to their constituents, the citizens of America, and to the legacy and memory of Audie Murphy.

Just as the name of Audie Murphy has faded into obscurity, the resolution to honor him remains just as elusive, thanks to the Office of the Governor of the State of Texas.

Phillips is executive administrator Audie Murphy Presidential Medal of Freedom Petition Campaign