An Arlington National Cemetery ceremony drew curious tourists from the adjacent Memorial Amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknowns as 50 Sgt. Audie Murphy Club members from the Military District of Washington and SAMC Soldiers from across the country gathered at the grave of Murphy; Murphy was America’s most-decorated World War II Soldier, and was honored at a June 20 wreath-laying ceremony on what would have been the Medal of Honor recipient’s 88th birthday.
“This is an annual event — we honor him with a wreath on his birthday,” said Military District of Washington Chapter President Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Taylor. “He is the face of our organization and our charter. We’re trying to make this a larger event — actually, we have members from our organization from Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Jackson, S.C., here with us today.”
Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and MDW Commander Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington witnessed Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Taylor place a wreath at the Murphy grave. After the wreath laying, Battaglia commented on how Murphy’s example and service is carried on in today’s Army.
“Sgt. Audie Murphy wasn’t someone about awards or award chasing. He was about taking care of his men and women and getting the mission accomplished,” Battaglia commented. “That’s why I say while we’re here, it would be fitting of me to not only recognize Sgt. Audie Murphy on his birthday, but to also thank the members of his club and the loyal and dedicated Soldiers that have continued to serve honorably and with distinguished contributions and volunteerism throughout their communities and neighborhoods.”
Besides the Medal of Honor, Murphy was awarded numerous military awards from numerous countries. The Texas native also received the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver and Bronze Stars, the French Legion of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Murphy, who turned to acting, songwriting and a literary career after his service, was killed in late May 1971 in a plane crash in Western Virginia. During the program, an oral biography recited by Old Guard Soldier and Club Treasurer Staff Sgt. Tanner Welch noted that. Murphy’s remains were discovered days after the crash on Memorial Day.