September 3rd, 1950:
Camp Mabry, Texas
Hollywood actor Audie Murphy joins the Texas Army National Guard to show his support of the war effort in Korea. Nearly every schoolboy knows Lieutenant Murphy is America's most highly decorated soldier in World War II. Aside from receiving the Medal of Honor, he was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses and four Silver Stars for valor in combat. At the end of the war his picture was everywhere, from movie newsreels to the cover of Life. He left the Army in 1946 to seek an acting career, which literally kept his name in lights and public awareness during the late 1940s. Newly promoted Captain Murphy was assigned to the 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. But he will have little time to train with the troops. The National Guard Bureau decided to use his fame as a recruiting tool to help keep enlistments up despite the war in Korea. Soon his image was on Guard recruiting posters and in magazine ads placed in national publications popular with young male readers. Drawing on his Hollywood background he was featured in the first television (then still a novel invention) commercials ever run by the Guard Bureau. He did recruiting tours speaking to young audiences from coast to coast. While all of this was going on, he continued his movie career, staring in 1951 in one of his best acclaimed film roles, as the young soldier in The Red Badge of Courage, a story set in the Civil War but really dealing with the meanings of courage and duty pertaining to all wars. After two years of working on recruiting and public affairs projects for the Guard Bureau he returned to his unit and actually served as a line officer, being promoted to major before he resigned and left the Guard in 1955. He died in an airplane crash in 1971, having been a strong supporter once again of American involvement in a foreign war, this time in Vietnam.
Recruiting poster "Captain Audie L. Murphy of the
Texas National Guard" used between 1950-1954.
(Texas Armed Forces Museum)