Audie Murphy: Great American Hero, an A & E Biography, VHS version
Five out of five stars
The list of combat accomplishments and medals awarded to Audie Murphy is incredible, he was a very brave soldier, the kind that win wars, whether or not they survive them. Like many men growing up in the Depression, life for him and his family was very hard, as his sister testifies, it was fortunate that young Audie was so proficient at hunting squirrels and rabbits, for many times that was all his family had to eat.
He was the son of a sharecropper in Texas, when his father suddenly left the large family, Murphy was forced to quit school after the fifth grade to help support his mother and siblings. When the war clouds gathered and the storm broke out, like so many poor boys, Murphy was eager to join the military. He was too young and tried to enlist several times, finally managing to join the Army with the help of his older sister who falsified documents about his age.
After the war, even though he was laden with medals, Murphy struggled to make ends meet until he managed to take lessons and get acting work. It was slow at first, but eventually he became a popular star of western movies. Murphy also demonstrated other talents, he wrote quality poetry and has several songwriting credits.
It is not surprising that Murphy suffered from what was then called “combat fatigue” or “shell shock” and is now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He generally slept with a loaded gun under his pillow and suffered from flashback nightmares so severe that he needed pills in order to get any sleep. After becoming addicted to them, he locked himself in a hotel room for several days and went through a cold turkey withdrawal.
This video is an excellent recapitulation of the life of Murphy, his rise from extreme poverty with minimal education to war hero to his success and difficulties after his discharge. Despite his popularity as a film star, Murphy struggled in many ways, openly describing his problems in dealing with his war experiences.
If there is a weak point in this video, it is that there is not enough coverage of Murphy’s battle with PTSD. While it is discussed and there is mention of his talk of suicide, more time could have been spent on Murphy’s attempts to draw attention to the mental struggles of veterans returning from the wars. Wounded several times, the greatest wound Murphy suffered was mental and the one he never recovered from.