Wednesday, January 26, 2005

On this day in military 1945

On this day in military history….in 1945. The Soviets enter Auschwitz, Poland. After having “libertated” Warsaw and Krakow, they advanced towards Auschwitz. Before the Soviets got there, the Gestapo tried to cover up their crimes by destroying the crematoriums and shooting sick prisoners. When the Soviets arrived, they found about 650 corpses and 7,000 starving survivors. It is events like this that make the on-the-spot shooting of German concentration camp guards seem like the normal thing to do.

On this day in military history….in 1945. Lt. Audie Murphy is wounded during the action where he earned the Medal of Honor. Audie Murphy was the United States most decorated soldier during World War II. After being rejected by the Marines because he was too short (5’5” tall), he joined the US Army. He served three years of active duty and rose from the rank of Private to Staff Sergeant and finally to 2nd Lieutenant thru a battlefield commission. He was wounded three times, fought in nine major campaigns from Italy to France and Germany and was credited with killing 240 Germans. He won 37 medals and decorations including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Start, the Legion of Merit and the Croix de Guerre.

He won the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle of the Colmar Pocket in France. His company was attacked by six German tanks with supporting infantry. He ordered his men into the forest for cover, but stayed forward to call in artillery on the advancing Germans. During the fighting, he climbed atop a burning tank destroyer and used the tank destroyer’s .50 caliber machine gun against the advancing German infantry and killed or wounded 50 of them.

After the war, he went on to become an actor and a country music songwriter. His life was immortalized in the film, To Hell and Back. Because of his wartime experiences, he suffered from post-tramatic stress syndrome, insomnia and depression. He died in a plane crash in 1971 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetary.


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