Audie Leon Murphy was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II, receiving every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. The 19-year-old Murphy received the Medal of Honor after single-handedly holding off an entire company of Germans 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 sharecropper family 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 was a necessity for putting food on the table. Murphy's older sister helped him to falsify documentation about his birth date to meet the minimum-age requirement for enlisting in the military, and after being turned down by the Navy and the Marine Corps he enlisted in the Army. He first saw action in the Allied invasion of Sicily and Anzio, and in 1944 was part of the liberation of Rome and invasion of southern France.