FARMERSVILLE (CBS 11 NEWS) – He was the most decorated soldier of the Greatest Generation. North Texas’ son Audie Murphy won 33-international awards for service in World War II – all before his 21st birthday. But the state of Texas didn’t award its highest military honor until Tuesday afternoon.
Nonetheless it was a day everyone in his home town of Farmersville either knew stories about Audie Murphy or wanted their children to learn his story.
“My grandpa used to hunt rabbits and just hang out with Audie Murphy,” young Blake James told CBS 11 News.
Racheal Tull says her three young children got special instruction on Murphy this week. “My great-grandfather was in WWII – on both sides of my family – so I want them to see the importance of it.”
“It” is the wartime service of Audie Murphy.
Born in Hunt County and enlisted underage – and illegally – at age 16, he fought in Europe during World War II, and in one famous encounter single-handedly held off six German tanks and 250-troops from a burned-out tank destroyer. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Texas has bestowed its highest military honor, the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, on 10 other servicemen. But it wasn’t until today that it was presented to Audie Murphy’s only living sister, Nadine Murphy Lokey, in Farmersville.
At the ceremony Governor Rick Perry called him an extraordinary human being. “The courage that he mustered. The reflection of the Texas values,” he told the audience, then added, “He remains a shining example to anyone who believes in the importance of service.”
Nadine Murphy Lokey accepted the award with typical Murphy-style humility. “I’ve always heard it said that you’re not really dead until you’re forgotten,” she told the crowd, “So we don’t want that to happen to people that lost their lives giving us their freedom.”
Farmersville decided a long time ago that it’s not going to forget Audie Murphy. It hosts Audie Murphy days here every June.
Audie Murphy came home to become a movie star and horse breeder but reportedly never shook off the effects of war. Today it is called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He died in the crash of a small passenger plane in 1971.
His sister, Ms. Lokey, told CBS 11 News his story should be an inspiration young people. “I think they need to pick out something they want to be and stick with it and go with it. Be anything you want to be in the United States.” As to the posthumous honor for her brother, she told us “It’s just wonderful, is all I can say. It’s great. I appreciate it.”
The final thoughts she left the audience put her brother, Audie’s service, in perspective. “And every man and woman that puts on a uniform for the United States is a hero to me,” she said.
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