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75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Audie Murphy — then a second lieutenant commanding Company B of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division — found himself surrounded by six German tanks and wave after wave of enemy infantry while fighting in Holtzwihr, France. Rather than retreat with his men, Murphy made a gutsy decision: He ordered his soldiers withdraw to the cover of nearby forest and set up their artillery while he remained at his forward command post to direct their fire.
Things quickly took a turn for the worse. A nearby Allied tank destroyer burst into flames following a direct hit from an enemy tank, its crew fleeing to the woods and leaving Murphy alone. But Murphy didn't shrink from the oncoming onslaught of German armor; instead, he mounted the burning tank destroyer and took on wave after wave of German infantry with nothing more than the vehicle's .50 caliber machine gun and superhuman determination.
With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, Second Lieutenant Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machinegun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back.
For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate Second Lieutenant Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as ten yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted.
He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50.
"Second Lieutenant Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective," the citation reads. His bravery also earned him a spot in the history books as one of the most highly-decorated heroes in U.S. military history — and set a new standard for courage under fire in the process.
Here's to you, Audie Murphy. There isn't a field in Valhalla that can hold balls as enormous as yours.
Seventy-five years ago Wednesday, Fred Reidenbach was aboard a Navy patrol craft loaded with radio gear, helping to coordinate the landing at Iwo Jima, a volcanic island the U.S. military hoped to use as a staging area for the eventual invasion of Japan.
Reidenbach was a 22-year-old sergeant with the 4th Marine Division from Rochester, New York, and recalls that it was cold that day. The Marines were issued sweaters, heavy socks and 2.5 ounces of brandy to steel them for the task ahead: dislodging 21,000 Japanese soldiers from heavily fortified bunkers and tunnels. Reidenbach wasn't a drinker but didn't have trouble finding someone to take his brandy.
"I passed it on to somebody who liked it better than me," he said.
Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.
"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.
Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.
Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.