By Crystal Lewis Brown/Fort Jackson LeaderOctober 24, 2008
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (TRADOC News Service, Oct. 24, 2008) -- It's been almost four decades since the death of national hero Audie Murphy, often cited as the country's most decorated war veteran. Now, 66 years after the son of Texas sharecroppers first joined the Army, one of his relatives is on his way to creating his own Army legacy.
Pvt. Clinton Murphy, a 19-year-old Shepherd, Texas, native will be graduating from Basic Combat Training tomorrow.
Though the Soldier grew up hearing about his well-known relative, he was more familiar with his Hollywood stardom than his military accomplishments.
"I knew that my family always talked about him," he said. "Everyone bragged about the movies before they did the military."
Audie Murphy made 44 feature films, and was best known for playing himself in "To Hell and Back," based off his best-selling novel of the same name.
Once in Basic Combat Training, Clinton Murphy said he realized just how well-known his great-great uncle was in the Army, and how much respect and admiration fellow Soldiers had for him.
"I had no idea at all," he said. "I knew he was decorated, I knew he did great things ... but nothing to that extent."
He is referring to Audie Murphy's 33 medals and awards, including the Medal of Honor, the country's highest military award.
When Staff Sgt. Michael Woodland, a drill sergeant with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, first heard there was a Soldier claiming to be related to Audie Murphy, he said he was a bit skeptical.
"I wouldn't say I didn't believe it, but I wouldn't say I believed it either," he said. Woodland said he called Cheryel Oyin -- Clinton Murphy's aunt -- in front of the entire platoon to verify his story. Everything checked out. Not surprisingly, the news spread quickly throughout the company. Since the announcement, the private's fellow BCT Soldiers -- many of whom had little or no knowledge of Audie Murphy before -- have been conducting their own research through letters to their families. He said he's been shown several letters from grandparents sharing their own stories of the hero's legacy.
But the shy Soldier's newfound fame isn't without its share of good-natured ribbing. "Sometimes, the drill sergeants, when I do something wrong say, 'Come on Audie," he said. And his battle buddy, Pvt. James Taylor, said his friend was once offended by the implication he would have it easier because of his famous relative.
"He kind of resented it," Taylor said. "He wanted to make it on his own; he has strong character."
What he also has, said his drill sergeant, is the makings of a fine Soldier. Like his great-great uncle before him, Clinton has qualified as an expert marksman.