You can't talk about heroes in America without mentioning Audie Murphy. Audie Murphy won every award for valor that this country bestows upon her heroes. He was a phenomenal fighting man, even though his career was over before he was old enough to vote (hat tip to Rick Perry).
"The true meaning of America, you ask? It's in a Texas rodeo, in a policeman's badge, in the sound of laughing children, in a political rally, in a newspaper... In all these things, and many more, you'll find America. In all these things, you'll find freedom. And freedom is what America means to the world. And to me."
Audie Murphy grew up in poverty in Kingston, Texas. He was seventeen years old when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, and like a true hero, he ran to the Marine recruiter. In a blunder that will never be forgiven, the Marine recruiter turned him away. Audie Murphy was so boyish looking, that he appeared to be only twelve years old. Murphy didn't quit, though, he tried the Army, and they sent him away. After he turned 18, with a letter from his older sister saying he was indeed 18, he finally enlisted in the Army.
In a period of 27 months, Murphy was promoted from private to second lieutenant, was awarded every medal for valor, and even doubled up on the Silver Star and Bronze Star. After the war, he went to Hollywood, where he made a lot of Westerns, and a couple of war movies you may have heard of: To Hell and Back, and The Red Badge of Courage. To Hell and Back was based on Murphy's autobiography.
Murphy was killed in a plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia in May of 1971. He has been receiving honors on a regular basis ever since, the most recent in November of 2010, when he was nominated for a posthumous bestowal of the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, the highest military award within the State of Texas.
“I must have done some of my best fighting in a war I was in long before Ijoined the Army. You might say there never was a ‘peace time’ in my life, atime when things were good.... It was a full time job just existing.
“I’ll tell you what bravery really is. Bravery is just the determination to do a job that you know has to be done."