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    Bill O'Neal speaks to the audience at the Shelby County Historical Museum about Audie Murphy, the most-decorated soldier of World War II.
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    Buster Bounds fits Bill O'Neal with a microphone prior to videoing Mr. O'Neal's presentation on Audie Murphy.
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    Pictured are the medals awarded to Audie Murphy during World War II.

Bill O’Neal relates story of World War II hero, Audie Murphy


Bill O’Neal, three-time Texas Historian honoree (six years, total) and the author of more than 40 books about Texas, was the guest speaker at the March 19, 2019 meeting of the Shelby County Historical Society that was held at the Shelby County Historic Museum in Center. His subject was World War II hero, Audie Murphy.

Audie Murphy is known as one of the most-decorated soldiers (US Army) of World War II. He was born June 20, 1925 to sharecroppers, Emmett Berry Murphy and wife, Josie Bell Killian Murphy, and grew up around Farmersville, Greenville, and Celeste, Texas. Murphy was the 7th of 12 children, and he dropped out of school in the fifth grade to pick cotton, after his father deserted the family. Murphy also hunted small game to help feed the family, becoming skilled with a rifle in the process.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Murphy tried to enlist as a soldier, but was turned down by the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps for being underage and underweight. His sister provided an affidavit stating that he was one year older than his actual age, he was accepted by the US Army on June 30, 1942.

Murphy’s incredible skills with guns and his indomitable courage, despite his small stature, earned him two Metals of Honor, two Silver Stars with Oak Leaf Cluster, as well as battle ribbons and several French Croix de Guerre medals, and a Belgian Croix de Guerre.

After World War II, Murphy wrote “To Hell and Back” about his war experiences, which was later made into a movie, in which Murphy played himself. He made several more movies after that and bought a ranch in California. Audie Murphy died in a plane crash at the age of 45 in 1971.

Bill O’Neal will be back in Center on April 22 as a guest speaker for the Center Noon Lions Club at the Windham Center. His topic will be the Regulator and Moderator War during Republic of Texas days