I was thinking about Audie Murphy yesterday, specifically about a nugget of management advice I long ago found hidden like an Easter egg in some of his writing.
Wait! What? Management advice from Audie Murphy?
Most of us know the bare bones of Murphy's story. Well, I expect most readers of this blog do, anyway.
He was born in 1925 in Texas into a sharecropping family. Most descriptions say "poor sharecropping family." Well, gee, a poor sharecropping family? How did that happen I wonder? But I digress.
Murphy wrote about being hungry as a child, saying that he used to put pepper on molasses. "The pepper burned my stomach and made it feel full," he said.
I guess it helps to understand that peppery molasses was the entire meal available to him, and the only meal of the day.
At 17 he joined the Army to fight in WWII. He lied about his age, using a falsified birth certificate which showed his birth date as 1924. He barely made the minimum weight standard, and then only after eating six bananas and drinking a gallon of milk.
Assigned to the 3rd ID,
Murphy fought in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He hit the beach in southern France as part of Operation Dragoon and fought across France and much of Germany.
He is often described as the most decorated soldier of WWII, having been awarded every US decoration for valor, as well as decorations for heroism from five other nations.
Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on January 26, 1945, near the town of Holzwihr, France. Second Lieutenant Murphy, commissioned only the day before, commanded a badly depleted company (18 effectives) holding a woodline against a determined German counter-attack by two companies of infantry and six tanks. Supporting B Company were a pair of M-10 TD's, armed with three-inch guns and M2 .50 cal machine guns. The tank destroyers were knocked out by enemy tank fire almost immediately. With his troops desperately trying to dig in to the frozen ground and about to be rolled up and destroyed, Murphy dragged a field phone up onto the burning hulk of an M-10 and began to call in arty while engaging enemy troops with the M2 machine gun. The TD was hit several times by tank fire and Murphy was peppered by shrapnel, but he continued to engage the enemy and call in artillery, ultimately beating off the attack.
That's probably the main thing that people remember about his military service.
After the war James Cagney invited Murphy to Hollywood. After sleeping in a gymnasium and eating cheese sandwiches for two years he started getting film roles and ultimately became a star. He appeared in more than 40 films, most of them westerns.
Murphy died, along with five others, on May 28, 1971 in a private plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia.
He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, where his grave marker still reflects the doctored birth certificate which allowed him to join the army at 17.
You might be wondering what this post is all about, considering the title and my reference to a nugget of management advice he mentioned in "To Hell and Back."
His advice was just this: "Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves."
I was worried about the high winds we were having, you see, and how they would affect the cows and calves. The wind was a big thing, and completely out of my control
So I took care of the little things. Fences up, gates closed, stock tanks full of water, shelter available. A cow calved in the evening, and everything was fine.
|See the little shit?|
This morning the wind was down, there was another new calf, and it was fixin' to be another beautiful day.
The other thing I thought about Audie Murphy yesterday was that he was lucky to have died in 1971 so he wouldn't have to see how terrible things are today.
Then it hit me. Reality that is. For firetruck's sake, Evertson, the guy did the '42-'45 ETO tour! He stood on a burning TD that was getting hit by tank fire, calling in arty and lighting up a Kraut infantry attack! World Firetrucking War Two!
Sometimes my brain just don't work right.