Arlington, Va. -- Sgt. Audie Murphy Club members from across the country gathered at the grave of America's most-decorated World War II Soldier, June 20, for a wreath-laying ceremony on what would have been the Medal of Honor recipient's 88th birthday.
The Arlington National Cemetery ceremony drew curious tourists from the adjacent Memorial Amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknowns.
"Sergeant Audie Murphy wasn't someone about awards or award chasing. He was about taking care of his men and women and getting the mission accomplished," said Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Since 1986, the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club has honored noncommissioned officers who have acted in a manner consistent with the actions of the Medal of Honor recipient. The club was established 26 years ago at the III Corps headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas. It has since spread to Army units around the world. Candidates are nominated, then screened to determine their leadership ability, training accomplishments and how they care for Soldiers while living up to Army values, the Warrior Ethos and the NCO Creed.
"That's why I say while we're here, it would be befitting of me to not only recognize Sergeant Audie Murphy on his birthday, but to also thank the members of his club and the loyal and dedicated Soldiers that have continued to serve honorably and with distinguished contributions and volunteerism throughout their communities and neighborhoods," Battaglia said
Battaglia laid the wreath along with Military District of Washington Sgt. Murphy club chapter president Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Taylor.
"This is an annual event -- we honor him with a wreath on his birthday," Taylor said. "He is the face of our organization and our charter. We're trying to make this a larger event."
Joint Force Headquarters-National Capitol Region and Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington witnessed the ceremony.
Besides the Medal of Honor, Murphy was awarded numerous military awards from numerous countries. The Texas native also received the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver and Bronze Stars, the French Legion of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Murphy, who turned to acting, songwriting and a literary career after his service, was killed in late May 1971 during a plane crash in Western Virginia. During the program, an oral biography recited by an Old Guard Soldier and Club Treasurer Staff Sgt. Tanner Welch noted that after the accident, Murphy's remains were discovered days after the crash on Memorial Day.