I’m happy to say that I grew up in the 1970s – back when we had many heroes and tough guys to look up to: John Wayne, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Patrick Henry, Charles Bronson, and my personal favorite was a Korean War combat veteran, my dad. There was also another hero whom my buddies and I would talk about while climbing trees, shooting guns in the woods, sitting in tree forts, or roasting marshmallows in front of a camp fire. That hero was Audie Murphy.
For those of you who may not know the story of Audie Murphy, or forgot it, or who are in the millennial age-range and only got sports “heroes” or American Idol winners shoved in your face while growing up, let me tell you a little bit about him. Audie Murphy was born on June 20, 1925, in Kingston, Texas. When he was very young, his father abandoned his family, and his mother died while he was a teenager. Instead of running to a counselor to get a prescription for psych meds, which is an unfortunate “common cure” today for children in similar situations, young Audie quit the 5th grade (you read that correctly, 5th grade) and got a job picking cotton to support his siblings and went out shooting rabbits and other wild game in order to keep them from going hungry. He also worked other jobs like radio repairman (a skill that would later aid him in the war), gas station attendant, and store clerk, to name a few.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Audie Murphy tried to enlist in the military at the age of 16. He was rejected by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy for being underweight, of small stature, and for being under age. With the help of his sister, he falsified his birth certificate and then tried to enlist in the U.S. Army, where he was accepted. (Falsifying birth certificates and other documents to join the military was not that uncommon back then. My father joined the U.S. Army at the age of 16, after obtaining a false baptismal certificate from the priest who baptized him. There was certainly a different stock of teenagers back in those days.)
During basic training, young Audie earned marksman and expert status with a rifle (seems that all of that time as a boy alone in the Texas wilderness with his rifle was time well spent). There is a huge story to tell about Audie Murphy’s military service, which only a book or in-depth documentary would do justice, so I am going to list the awards he received with a very brief description of how he earned them. Information quoted from Wikipedia and not in chronological order:
Medal of Honor The Colmar Pocket, 850 square miles (2,200 km2) in the Vosges Mountains, had been held by German troops since November 1944.On 14 January 1945, Murphy rejoined his platoon, which had been moved to the Colmar area in December. He moved with the 3rd Division on 24 January to the town of Holtzwihr, where they faced a strong German counterattack. He was wounded in both legs, for which he received a second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Purple Heart. As the company awaited reinforcements on 26 January, he was made commander of Company B. The Germans scored a direct hit on an M10 tank destroyer, setting it alight, forcing the crew to abandon it. Murphy ordered his men to retreat to positions in the woods, remaining alone at his post, shooting his M1 carbine and directing artillery fire via his field radio while the Germans aimed fire directly at his position. Murphy mounted the abandoned, burning tank destroyer and began firing its .50 caliber machine gun at the advancing Germans, killing a squad crawling through a ditch towards him. For an hour, Murphy stood on the flaming tank destroyer returning German fire from foot soldiers and advancing tanks, killing or wounding 50 Germans. He sustained a leg wound during his stand, and stopped only after he ran out of ammunition. Murphy rejoined his men, disregarding his own injury, and led them back to repel the Germans. He insisted on remaining with his men while his wounds were treated.
Distinguished Service Cross After landing on Yellow Beach near Ramatuelle, Murphy’s platoon was making its way through a vineyard when the men were attacked by German soldiers. He retrieved a machine gun that had been detached from the squad and returned fire at the German soldiers, killing two and wounding one. Two Germans exited a house about 100 yards (91 m) away and appeared to surrender; when Murphy’s best friend responded, they shot and killed him. Murphy advanced alone on the house under direct fire. He killed six, wounded two and took 11 prisoner.
Silver Star Medal (2) His first Silver Star came after he killed four and wounded three at a German machine gun position on 2 October at L’Omet quarry in the Cleurie river valley. Three days later, Murphy crawled alone towards the Germans at L’Omet, carrying an SCR-536 radio and directing his men for an hour while the Germans fired directly at him. When his men finally took the hill, 15 Germans had been killed and 35 wounded. Murphy’s actions earned him a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Silver Star. He was awarded a battlefield commission to second lieutenant on 14 October, which elevated him to platoon leader. While en route to Brouvelieures on 26 October, the 3rd Platoon of Company B was attacked by a German sniper group. Murphy captured two before being shot in the hip by a sniper; he returned fire and shot the sniper between the eyes.
He killed four and wounded three at a German machine gun position on 2 October at L’Omet quarry in the Cleurie river valley. Three days later, Murphy crawled alone towards the Germans at L’Omet, carrying an SCR-536 radio and directing his men for an hour while the Germans fired directly at him. When his men finally took the hill, 15 Germans had been killed and 35 wounded. Murphy’s actions earned him a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his first Silver Star.
Bronze Star (2, 1 with “V” Device) While in Anzio in Italy, Murphy took shelter from the weather in an abandoned farmhouse on 2 March, 1944, Murphy and his platoon killed the crew of a passing German tank. He then crawled out alone close enough to destroy the tank with rifle grenades.
Purple Heart (3) The Colmar Pocket, 850 square miles (2,200 km2) in the Vosges Mountains, had been held by German troops since November 1944. On 14 January 1945, Murphy rejoined his platoon, which had been moved to the Colmar area in December. He moved with the 3rd Division on 24 January to the town of Holtzwihr, where they faced a strong German counterattack. He was wounded in both legs, for which he received a second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Purple Heart.
Army Good Conduct Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Unit Citation (2)
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (9 campaigns, arrowhead device)
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal with Germany clasp
French Legion of Honour(grade of Chevalier)
French Croix de Guerre with silver star
French Croix de Guerre with palm (3)
Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm
French fourragère in colors of the Croix de Guerre
Combat Infantryman Badge
Marksman Badge with Rifle Component Bar
Expert Badge with Bayonet Component Bar
Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
Texas Legislative Medal of Honor
If President Trump’s gun-control proposal to raise the age requirement to 21 to buy a semi-auto rifle were law in 1945, Audie Murphy, and other combat veterans of the same age, or younger, would not have been allowed to purchase a semi-auto rifle at the end of the war. If Governor Rick Scott’s proposal were law back then, Audie Murphy would not have been able to buy ANY type of firearm. Imagine a gun-store clerk telling Audie Murphy in 1945, “Sorry son, you are just too young to be trusted with purchasing a gun.”
What about telling our young combat heroes, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who may have lost limbs and fought for our freedom, that they have no Second Amendment freedom because they are not 21 years old? It is absolutely nonsensical to tell an 18-, 19-, or 20-year-old who has just fired heavy artillery, operated crew-served weapons, carried a machine-gun, or flown combat missions in an Apache helicopter that he (or she) is not old enough (or responsible enough) to buy a semi-auto, military-styled rifle, or any firearm at all.
Now, let’s talk about non-veterans. In the mid-1980s, when I graduated high school, we had many high-school sweethearts from my class who got married at 18 and started having children. Are they not entitled to protect their households with at least a rifle or shotgun? Governor Scott thinks that is just fine. Yet, the U.S. government wants those same 18-year-olds to register for selective service, and will prosecute those qualified citizens who do not. Our government will also welcome almost any 18-year-old (17-year-old with parents’ permission) who would like to join the military to “fight for our freedoms.” The problem is that with this type of law, if enacted, which raises the age to 21 in order to buy a long gun, the “our” in “our freedoms” would not include those who are doing much of the fighting and dying for us.
Audie Murphy did go on to become a living legend and real American hero after the war and had a fantastic acting career, becoming a western film star. Wikipedia has some excellent information about Audie Murphy, and I would also encourage you to watch the movie To Hell and Back, the Audie Murphy story, which actually stars Audie Murphy himself – something unique in Hollywood history.
You can also visit AudieMurphy.com for more information on this outstanding hero, and I would hope that President Trump and Governor Scott would do so as well, before going any further with this un-Constitutional proposal. Most importantly, contact your congressman and senators regarding this issue before another part of our Second Amendment is chipped away.