By Caleb Slinkard
After he handed the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Nadine Lokey in honor of her brother Audie Murphy, Gov. Rick Perry leaned in and kissed her on the cheek.
“Well how about that!” she exclaimed to the hundreds gathered in downtown Farmersville to witness the ceremony in honor of America’s most decorated World War II soldier. A crowd full of public officials and veterans broke out in applause at an act that reflected the small town Texas atmosphere Murphy grew up in.
“I’ve overcome,” Nadine said. “I’m thankful to God that we can fly our flags and that we’re still free to do what we want to. Every man and woman who puts on a uniform for the United States is a hero to me.”
The Texas Legislative Medal of Honor is the top military honor the state can award. It the legislature a couple years, and three sessions this year, to pass the bill that awarded the medal to Murphy, a Hunt County native. But people like Texas Representative Scott Turner, who authored the bill, and Dave Phillips, kept working to make it happen.
“I love my country, and I love our servicemen and women,” Turner said. “I come from a military family, so when my staff and I received this opportunity (to author the bill), there was no doubt. I said ‘I’ll do it.’”
Murphy, who died in a plane crash in 1971, was already the most decorated soldier in World War II, having earned such distinctions as the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts. He served in the Texas National Guard from 1950-1966 and was also well known for his acting and music career.
“For him to go off and serve our country so nobly, the courage that he mustered; a reflection of Texas values that we all hold up and support,” Perry said. “We relish to tell our friends from other places what Audie Murphy and Texas are all about. It’s a privilege to live in a state with men and women like Audie Murphy.”
An inspiration to both civilians and military servicemen and women for generations, Murphy’s legacy is reflected often in Hunt County, including the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum in Greenville, the annual Audie Murphy Days celebration in Farmersville and the Audie Murphy Memorial Park in Celeste.
“To have Audie Murphy call Farmersville his hometown is just incredible,” Mayor Jon Helmberger said. “We’re honored to have the celebration here today.”
A large number of state officials and veterans attended the event. The 36th Infantry Division Band from Camp Mabry provided the music and Collin County Judge Keith Self acted as the master of ceremonies. Helmberger, Turner, and Texas’ top military officer Maj. Gen. John Nichols all spoke at the event. The Farmersville VFW Post 7426 posted and retired the colors.
“They say no one is dead until they are forgotten,” Nadine said.
It looks like Murphy has quite a few more years to go.
Correction: An earlier version of this article inacurrately stated that Dave Phillips ran the audiemurphy.com website. Richard Rodgers is the site's webmaster.