Saturday, October 2, 2010

War Hero's Wife

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility of this existence and reacts accordingly.

Pamela Murphy died on April 8, 2010, at age 90. She had spent 35 years as a patient liaison at the Sepulveda Veterans Administration in southern California, where she gave special treatment to every soldier under her care. She would cut through the VA red tape and made sure the soldier saw whatever specialist they needed, including marching a veteran directly into the doctor's office if he had been waiting for more than an hour.

The veterans loved her and always called her Mrs. Murphy. In 2002, her job was scheduled to be eliminated due to budget cuts. The veterans held a rally for Mrs. Murphy outside the VA gates. Soon, orders came down from above that Mrs. Murphy's job would not be eliminated after all.

Mrs. Murphy remained working full time at the VA until she was 87 years old.

For you see, Pamela Murphy was the wife of Audie Murphy (1925 - 1971), the most decorated soldier in World War II.

Audie Murphy's Medal of Honor award citation reads as follows: Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad that was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack, which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective.

As the most decorated veteran of World War II, some of Audie Murphy's 33 medals include: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (with Oak Leak Cluster and Valor device), Purple Heart (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award, U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation (with Oak Leaf Cluster), American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with 1 Silver Service Star and 4 Bronze Service Stars, representing 9 campaigns, and 1 Bronze Arrowhead, representing assault landing at Southern France and Italy), World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (with German Clasp), Armed Forces reserve Medal, French Legion of Honor (Grade of Chevalier), French Croix de guerre (with Silver Star), French Croix de guerre (with Palm), Medal of Liberated France, Belgian Croix de guerre (with 1940 Palm), and others.

An Oak Leaf Cluster signifies a subsequent award of the same decoration. First Lieutenant Audie Murphy was one of the very few officers below the rank of lieutenant colonel ever to be awarded the Legion of Merit.

Audie Murphy stood 5' 5" and enlisted into the U.S. Army at age 16 by lying about his age.

After World War II, Audie Murphy went on to become a movie star, starring in 40 Hollywood movies. He died in a plane crash in 1971 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Audie and Pamela Murphy once lived in a comfortable ranch-style house in Van Nuys. But Audie squandered his Hollywood wealth on gambling, bad investments and other women. Pamela was stuck with Audie's debts after his death and forced to move into a small apartment with their two sons. She then found employment at the nearby VA facility and supported the veterans for the next 35 years of her life.

On this spinning orb called Earth, we are all flawed souls and potential heroes. Every thought we generate and every action we pursue is a choice. You can make the world a better place or you can make it a worse place. Or you can make babies, watch TV, go dancing, play golf, buy more bling-bling and wax your legs, thereby making no difference at all.

Choose wisely -- your destiny in eternity may depend on it.

Quote for the Day -- "Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy." F. Scott Fitzgerald

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where a hero is a sandwich. His blogs appear on several websites, including

1 comment:

Christopher Dos Santos said...

Excellent article, thank you for the experience. I look forward to getting caught up on the rest of your work.

Namaste, from a bucket of fear love can be found...