A Medal of Honor recipient recognized for courageous actions during the Second World War has died, at the age of 89.
There are warriors, and then there are warriors. Charles Murray was one of those that had it in him to put others including his country ahead of himself. Selfless, doesn’t begin to describe this hero.
Charles Murray was honored for single-handedly stopping an attack waged by 200 Germans against U.S. troops, during World War II. The citation accompanying his Medal of Honor shared that Murray was tasked to lead his men to take over a bridge and build a roadblock. Upon his descent into a valley, he discovered an American battalion pinned down by Germans, and determined that the only way to help the U.S. troops was to wage an attack from the flanks.
Murray decided, however, against committing his entire patrol. Murray fired at the Germans with grenades and an automatic rifle, while being bombarded by heavy fire. His one-man assault left 20 Germans dead, and many others wounded; he was able to disrupt the enemy enough that they eventually withdrew.
Murray was born in Baltimore, but grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina. He enlisted in the Army in September, 1942, while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Aside from the Medal of Honor, Murray was also the recipient of three Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and the French Legion of Honor. He also served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, before serving as commander for the Old Guard, which oversees protection for the Tomb of the Unknowns at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Charles Murray died due to congestive heart failure on Friday, at his home in Columbia, South Carolina.
His official citation:
For commanding Company C, 30th Infantry, displaying supreme courage and heroic initiative near Kaysersberg, France, on 16 December 1944, while leading a reinforced platoon into enemy territory. Descending into a valley beneath hilltop positions held by our troops, he observed a force of 200 Germans pouring deadly mortar, bazooka, machinegun, and small arms fire into an American battalion occupying the crest of the ridge. The enemy's position in a sunken road, though hidden from the ridge, was open to a flank attack by 1st Lt. Murray's patrol but he hesitated to commit so small a force to battle with the superior and strongly disposed enemy. Crawling out ahead of his troops to a vantage point, he called by radio for artillery fire. His shells bracketed the German force, but when he was about to correct the range his radio went dead. He returned to his patrol, secured grenades and a rifle to launch them and went back to his self-appointed outpost. His first shots disclosed his position; the enemy directed heavy fire against him as he methodically fired his missiles into the narrow defile. Again he returned to his patrol. With an automatic rifle and ammunition, he once more moved to his exposed position. Burst after burst he fired into the enemy, killing 20, wounding many others, and completely disorganizing its ranks, which began to withdraw. He prevented the removal of 3 German mortars by knocking out a truck. By that time a mortar had been brought to his support. 1st Lt. Murray directed fire of this weapon, causing further casualties and confusion in the German ranks. Calling on his patrol to follow, he then moved out toward his original objective, possession of a bridge and construction of a roadblock. He captured 10 Germans in foxholes. An eleventh, while pretending to surrender, threw a grenade which knocked him to the ground, inflicting 8 wounds. Though suffering and bleeding profusely, he refused to return to the rear until he had chosen the spot for the block and had seen his men correctly deployed. By his single-handed attack on an overwhelming force and by his intrepid and heroic fighting, 1st Lt. Murray stopped a counterattack, established an advance position against formidable odds, and provided an inspiring example for the men of his command