This episode of The Big Picture, a documentary television series produced by the United States Army Signal Corps' Army Pictorial Service, is titled "The Broken Bridge" and features World War II hero and native Texan, Audie Murphy. Murphy was born in Kingston, Texas, was the most decorated U.S. soldier in World War II, and had a 21 year-long acting career after the war. In this short documentary, Murphy's two sons, Terry and James, question Murphy about space-age missiles, inspiring Murphy to make a tour of modern Army installations in Europe and America, all the while reflecting on his time in the war. Murphy visits Nuremberg and views missiles at bases in Wurzburg, Wackernheim, Norway, Italy, and Turkey, then returns to the United States where he is given a tour of White Sands Missile Range. There, Lt. Gen. Arthur G. Trudeau proudly puts on demonstrations of the Sergeant, LaCrosse, Hawk, and Honest John missiles. Murphy was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for his participation in "The Broken Bridge."
Audie Murphy is considered to be the most decorated U.S. soldier in World War II. Born in Kingston, Texas in 1925, Audie was the son of a sharecropper who eventually deserted the family, leaving Audie to hunt small animals to feed his eleven siblings. He enlisted in the military at age 18 and quickly became recognized as an outstanding soldier. By the end of World War II Audie had killed 240 German combatants and received 33 awards and medals for his valiant efforts, including the Medal of Honor. The United States welcomed their war hero home with parades and jubilation, even putting Murphy's face on the July 16, 1945 cover of LIFE magazine. The cover caught the attention of actor James Cagney and Audie was soon brought out to Hollywood to take lessons in acting, singing, and dance.
Audie went on to enjoy a 21 year-long acting career, appearing in over 40 feature films. Roles included playing himself in the autobiographical To Hell and Back and the lead in The Red Badge of Courage. In addition to acting, Murphy also became a successful country songwriter and worked with singers such as Dean Martin and Jerry Wallace. He was married to actress Wanda Hendrix from 1949 to 1951. Four days after his divorce from Hendrix, Murphy remarried to airline stewardess Pamela Archer. They had two sons -- Terry Michael, born in 1952 and James Shannon, born in 1954.
Murphy suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in combat. He quickly became addicted to sleeping pills and began to squander his fortune through gambling at the racetrack. Audie died in a plane crash in 1971, just outside of Roanoke, Virginia. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington Cemetary with George H.W. Bush and William Westmoreland in attendance. His grave is the second most visited at Arlington, after the site of President John F. Kennedy.