DEAD: Audie Murphy

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Audie Murphy (aged 45)
American soldier, actor, songwriter

Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. Murphy received the Medal of Honor for valor that he demonstrated at the age of 19 for single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition. Murphy was born into a large family of sharecroppers in Hunt County, Texas. His father abandoned them, and his mother died when he was a teenager. Murphy left school in fifth grade to pick cotton and find other work to help support his family; his skill with a hunting rifle helped feed his family.

DEATH: On 28 May 1971, Murphy was killed when the private plane in which he was a passenger crashed into Brush Mountain, near Catawba, Virginia, 20 miles (32 km) west of Roanoke in conditions of rain, clouds, fog and zero visibility. The pilot and four other passengers were also killed.

On 7 June 1971, Murphy was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. In attendance were Ambassador to the U.N. George H.W. Bush, Army Chief of Staff William Westmoreland, and many of the 3rd Infantry Division. Murphy’s gravesite is in Section 46, headstone number 46-366-11, located across Memorial Drive from the Amphitheater. A special flagstone walkway was later constructed to accommodate the large number of people who visit to pay their respects. It is the cemetery’s second most-visited gravesite, after that of President John F. Kennedy.

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