2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Audie Murphy, PTSD and the Browning M2 .50 Calibre Machine Gun

I watched "To Hell and Back" recently and thought about how bad-assed Audie Murphy was in real life, and how humanly fragile he was too. Here was a guy who moved into incoming fire to take out Nazis when 99.9% of the population would just messed their pants and run away. He suffered from untreated PTSD (called "Battle Fatigue" back then) for years that cost him personal relationships and an addiction to prescription drugs. Having taken on basically the entire German Wehrmacht by himself earlier, he figured facing this demon wasn't outside his realm of possibility and went public with his struggles with PTSD. For years he actively lobbied the government to enhance programs to treat military members with it as well as other mental disorders. This struggle continues today as we have an entire new generation of veterans that continue the challenge of facing the horrors of war once they leave the battlefield.

If you haven't done anything to thank a vet lately, contact your congressman and tell him that if we can spend BILLIONS of dollars to bail out failed businesses just to watch them piss the money away, that we can fund our nations military and VA medical systems to help soldiers returning from war deal with their own demons. Ask them to do it in memory of Audie Murphy. It may not be the legacy most people think of when they remember Audie Murphy, but to me it may be his most important. Not all wounds are on the outside.

So what exactly did Audie Murphy do you may be asking? If you are, get down and knock out 50 and then read the following:

Medal of Honor citation

The official U.S. Army citation for Audie Murphy's Medal of Honor reads:[1][9]

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Holtzwihr France, January 26, 1945.
Entered service at: Dallas, Texas. Birth: Hunt County, near Kingston, Texas, G.O. No. 65, August 9, 1944.
Citation: Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun 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 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad that was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back 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. 2d Lt. 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
Like I said, most people would have made poopy in their shorts. Apparently Murphy carried a LARGE set of brass balls un-proportionally sized compared to his 5' 5" frame. Then again he was raised in a poor family during the depression where not shooting your own meal meant going hungry for a day. Tough times make for tough people.

Audie Murphy died in 1971, not by enemy fire or by taking his own life due to depression by PTSD, but in a plane crash. He lies buried in Arlington under a standard, plain marble head stone. It is the second most visited grave in Arlington after President Kennedy's. Although his name is not as readily known by today's generation of Nintendo and XBox heads, the small kid from Texas who was rejected by both the Marines, the Navy and Airborne still remains one of our nations highest decorated heroes of all time.

If you want to visit a pretty good site with some candid photos of Audie Murphy, click here.

The M2 Machine Gun

The weapon that Audie Murphy used to inflict those devastating casualties on the Germans in the citation above is an American classic. Designed towards the end of WWI as a heavy machine gun to rule the battle of "No Man's Land" between the trenches, the design has proven so efficient and durable that it still remains the standard heavy machine gun of both US Armed Forces and many others throughout the world. Normally called the "fifty cal" or "fifty" (and more lovingly called "Ma Deuce" by some) the M2 fires a MASSIVE projectile downrange. Flavors include both anti-personnel and armor piercing rounds. To give you an example of how powerful this weapon is, the standard anti-personnel round fires a 706 grain projectile at 2,910 feet a second for a muzzle energy of 13,278 foot pounds!!! You are able to easily demolish small structures with it if that is your whim at the moment. The armor piercing rounds will penetrate over 20mm of steel at 100 yards. I don't know of many homes or buildings that can stand up to that punishment. Stories of enemy soldiers being ripped to shreds after being hit with rounds from the M2 are well founded. Even at extreme ranges the rounds maintain enough energy to be lethal out to several miles. The legendary Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock used a modified M2 to make a 2,500 meter confirmed kill during Vietnam, a feat not beat until 2002 when a Canadian reached out farther using a modern rifle with specialized ammo and ballistics computer. Most M2's are not carried by hand, though if you are a masochist you are certainly welcome to hump all 127 pounds of the gun (weapon, tripod and T&E, ammo not included) around. Normally it is mounted on a vehicle or aircraft or emplaced in a hardened bunker or other such structure - much to the relief of the gunner. I used to have a picture somewhere of me manning the .50 on my M113 track, I would give one of my minor appendages to remember what the hell I did with it. I thankfully can remember the "BOP-BOP-BOP-BOP" sound of it firing and the feeling of it recoiling against the mount in my hands......ah, memories.


Anonymous said...

Please support our effort to bestow upon Audie Murphy, a posthumous presentation of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his lifetime achivements to the Nation.
Please go here to sign:
Thank you!

Huey148 said...

done, I encourage others to do the same..

Ranger Pel said...

Signed. Lest we forget.

Thanks, Huey. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Audie was a real man with demons of the almost 200 Germans he killed during WWII. When I visited him he always drank bourbon and at times broke down in tears over the mothers who's boys he shot and killed in battle. What a guy. He talked about seeing an SS solider hiding behind a hay pile and sending his E5 around the side of the pile after he fired a 3 round burst from his Thompson killing the solider with three hits to the head. The solider turned out to be a boy of 12 in uniform. RIP Audie.