Ever since the late 1960’s, the cultural Marxists of academe have worked assiduously to destroy American heroes or simply to omit them from textbooks—and they have been largely successful.  As we approach the 60th anniversary of VE Day and VJ Day and the youngest of the World War II veterans are entering their 80’s, it saddens me to find that most young Americans know nothing of such heroes as Butch O’Hare, Jimmy Doolittle, Joe Foss, John Basilone, Red Mike Edson, Commando Kelly, Pappy Boyington, Dick O’Kane, Dave McCampbell, Father O’Callahan, Tommy McGuire, Dick Bong, or Audie Murphy.

These men were my heroes when growing up.  I was told stories about them, read about them, saw movies about them.  This was all part of an American boy’s life in the 1940’s, 50’s, and well into the 60’s.  We didn’t hate ourselves then.  We were inspired by the courage and daring skill of a Doolittle or an O’Hare and aspired to be like them.

For many in America, Audie Murphy was the hero of heroes.  I had an uncle who served in an outfit under the same command for a time as Murphy.  The uncle could not tell me enough about Murphy, the most decorated American of the war—of any war.  I remember my uncle saying—and he was from Superior, Wisconsin, about as far north as one can go in the contiguous 48, and no particular fan of the Lone Star State—that there is no better, tougher, more courageous fighter on earth than an Irishman from Texas.

Murphy would seem like the perfect candidate to remain a famous American hero.  The seventh of 12 children born to a sharecropper and his wife, he was the ultimate underdog in a nation of underdogs during the Great Depression.  His alcoholic father left the family for parts unknown when Audie was 14.  His mother died just before he turned 16.  “People know me for my record as a soldier,” said Murphy in the 1950’s.

But the truth is I must have done some of my best fighting in a war I was in long before I joined the Army.  You might say there never was a “peace time” in my life, a time when things were good. . . . I never had just “fun.”  I am one Texan boy who never had a pair of cowboy boots.  I am one native-born and native-bred American male who actually doesn’t know the rules of our national pastime—baseball.  I never had time to play or the paraphernalia you play it with.  I never had a bike.  It was a full-time job just existing.

Murphy spent most of the years of his youth not inside a classroom but in the fields picking cotton, toting a sack for the first time when he was five.  The few years he actually attended school were marked by weeks of absences necessitated by work.  At school, he was often in fights.  Despite being smaller than the playground bullies, he was never one to back down.  His teacher called him “my Fighting Irishman” and said that Murphy’s childhood was “always a struggle against many odds, but he was intelligent, industrious, quick to anger, but very loyal and devoted to the ones he loved.”

Lying about his age, Murphy enlisted in the Army a week after his 17th birthday.  The official records still have the year of his birth wrong.  He had first tried to join the Marines, but they turned him down because he looked like a malnourished 13-year-old.  With auburn hair and blue eyes, freckles and a baby face, he appeared more cherub than warrior.  Nonetheless, “Little Texas,” as he was nicknamed in basic training, would rise from private to 1st lieutenant and be awarded 33 medals, including the Medal of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars with V, and three Purple Hearts—all before he turned 20.

What Murphy did in Sicily, Italy, and France defies the imagination.  His final action occurred in the Colmar pocket on the border of Germany in January 1945.  With more than 200 enemy troops supported by six enemy tanks advancing on his position, an already wounded Murphy ordered the men of his company to retreat across the snow-covered ground to some nearby woods.  All alone, Murphy remained behind and directed artillery fire at the oncoming Germans, interrupting his transmissions only to use his carbine to drop one German soldier after another.  When his ammunition was exhausted, Murphy climbed onto a burning tank destroyer and opened up with its machine gun.  “The German infantrymen,” said Sgt. Elmer Brawley, “got within 10 yards of Lt. Murphy, who killed them in the draws, in the meadows, in the woods.”

Two German shells exploded on the tank destroyer and slammed Murphy into the turret.  For a moment, he appeared dead from the concussion, but he dragged himself back to the .50 caliber and continued firing.  “I remember getting the hell shook out of me,” he said, “but that was nothing new.  I also remember for the first time in three days my feet were warm.”  Murphy’s accurate fire direction and his own deadly fire caused the German advance to falter, then collapse.  Enveloped in smoke, bleeding profusely, and with flames licking his legs, he leaped from the tank destroyer and began limping toward the woods.  Behind him, the destroyer exploded.

After the war, he wrote a best-selling autobiography and starred in more than 40 films, including To Hell and Back, the highest grossing movie of 1955.  He wrote 14 songs, including two that charted in the top ten, “Shutters and Boards” and “When the Wind Blows in Chicago.”  In 1996, the Texas legislature declared his birthday “Audie Murphy Day.”  Three years later, Texas governor George W. Bush did the same.  Yet Murphy, a hero among heroes, is conspicuously absent in school textbooks today and unknown to most students.