Audie Murphy Day
in Farmersville, Texas
In 1998 the city of Farmersville, Texas, began an annual celebration in honor of hometown hero,
Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of World War II.
The celebration not only honors Murphy, but recognizes all veterans who have ever called Farmersville home.
(click on pictures for large view)
AUDIE MURPHY DAY - 2009
Debi Jordan passes out McCraw’s taffy to onlookers
By Wyndi Veigel
The crowd rushed downtown, anxious to get premier seats for the upcoming parade, flags unfurled in anticipation of the veterans they would soon be honoring.
And then the hum of the gathering became a roar as a pair of jet fighters buzzed Farmersville, officially beginning the 10th annual Audie Murphy Day celebration.
As Maj. Kyle Goldstein and Maj. David Solomon from Randolph Field in San Antonio zoomed across the sky, the rumble of their jet engines gave way to spontaneous applause from the awe-struck crowd. Goldstein and Solomon flew two T-38Cs over the downtown area, the harbinger of the parade of veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces that was to follow.
The parade featuring veterans, horses, the Tri-County Veterans Honor Guard, Boy Scouts and several dignitaries including Mayor Don Smith, Congressman Ralph Hall, State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg and Collin County Commissioner Joe Jaynes.
Proceeding the parade and flyover, activities for the day included a special historical exhibit with items from almost all American wars at the Bain-Honaker house and extended hours at the library to allow visitors to see the Audie Murphy exhibit.
A reception for the more than 100 veterans being honored was held at the First Baptist Church.
“In years past, we’ve held the reception at the Civic Center but it has simply become too difficult for our veterans to get up and down the stairs,” Main Street Manager Adah Leah Wolf said.
Veterans took the opportunity to visit with family members, old friends and make new acquaintances during the reception.
Charles “Curly” Combs and his son Randy Combs were one of the families in attendance with more than one generation of military service. Curly served in the Navy during the Korean War and his son, Randy served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. Randy’s son, Maj. Randy Charles Combs, is currently serving in the Air Force and has served a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
“He’s a major ... we had to work for a living,” Curly said, laughing with his family.
Curly, who currently lives in Blue Ridge, said it was patriotism and a sense of duty that caused him to join the military. He served on the U.S.S. Point Cruz which was featured in the CBS movie, “1,000 men and a Baby.”
“The hardest part for me was always being away from home and family,” Curly said.
He made four trips to Korea, each one seven months in duration, while serving in the military.
Randy said he joined the military simply because his father was in the military. The younger Combs served as a high speed radio operator specializing in Morse Code.
Like his father, Randy said the most difficult thing about his military service was the time away from his family. “I also found being away the hardest, especially in remote locations like Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Randy currently lives in Castle Rock, Colo. and came to Farmersville to keep his father company during Audie Murphy Day.
Both Combs said they were impressed with the efforts made to honor the veterans during the celebration.
“This definitely beats the one they put on in Greenville,” friend Kenneth Carlinger said.
Audie Murphy was the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II.
He holds 33 awards and decorations including the Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery that can be given.
Murphy’s claim to Farmersville is that the town was listed as his hometown on his I.D. tags while he was in the military, though Greenville also claims him.
Interesting stories about past wars, fights and history could be heard in every corner of the reception hall.
Monte V. Guidry, who served in the Navy during World War II, was present at the signing of surrender at the end of the war Sept. 2, 1945. He recently donated a copy of the instrument of surrender to Farmersville’s Rike Library.
“It was wonderful at the end to see the message ... we had heard it was over but to actually see it was a relief,” he said.
Guidry was a radio operator on a ship during the war and was involved both with the invasion of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
“We were on our way to Japan when the bomb was dropped,” he said.
For Guidry, the most difficult part of being in the military was the lack of sleep.
“I remember working 12 hours shifts at night and then having to stay awake during the day to complete other duties before getting to sleep,” he said.
Old friends also got reacquainted during the reception.
Paul Foster and William Hass were reunited at the Audie Murphy Day event after not seeing each other for many years.
It’s a familiar pattern for the two. The duo originally played baseball together in Farmersville before joining the military efforts in World War II.
“We hadn’t seen each other in three years and suddenly we spotted each other in the Army PX in Tokyo,” Foster said.
They had a friend take a snapshot of them together when they reconnected in Tokyo.
This time, Hass knew right where to find Foster.
“I hadn’t seen him in many years but saw his name in the paper as being one of the registered vets,” Hass said.
He brought the Tokyo photo with him to the celebration.
“It was great to see him again,” Hass said.
After the parade, veterans were recognized and honored in a program at the Onion Shed.
Jaynes read a proclamation by Gov. Rick Perry proclaiming June as Audie Murphy month.
Smith also read a proclamation dedicating June 20, 2009, as Audie Murphy Day in Farmersville and Laubenberg led audience members in the pledge of allegiance. The National Anthem was performed by Mood Swings Band and the opening invocation given was delivered by retired Air Force Col. Charles Tucker.
Hall thanked the community of Farmersville for sponsoring the event to recognize veterans.
“It’s very apparent everyone cares about this city ... This kind of event doesn’t happen without hard work and dedication,” he said.
Hall also shared thoughts about Audie Murphy.
“He was ours and one of the greatest heroes ever,” he said. “I knew him after the war and he was truly extraordinary.”
Hall also gave mention to Harry Thompson who was a World War II prisoner of war.
“He was hurt and imprisoned and honestly, men like you are those who we remember,” he said. “God bless this day, God bless this president and God bless all those who disagree with me.”
The program also included patriotic songs such as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “America the Beautiful” performed by a 12-member group with big band sound, known as the “Mood Swings Band.”
Audie Murphy’s little sister, Nadine Murphy Lokey, still lives in the area and she, too, addressed those gathered.
“We have to stand up for what is right, stand behind our military and pray to God to keep us free,” she said.
Lokey also shared memories of her and Audie’s childhood.
“All of us were poor and we worked in the fields from daylight to dark,” she said.
Lokey said she and her siblings made their own checkerboard using coal and cardboard with bottle caps for checkers. “There were no store bought toys,” she said.
Despite the hardships, the community is home, she said. “I love Farmersville and always will,” she said.
The Tri-County Veterans Honor Guard presented the colors at the beginning of the ceremony and stood at parade rest attention outside the Onion Shed during the entire two hour event.
A 21-gun volley and “Taps” was followed by the retiring of the colors.
As the final bugle strains of “Taps” echoed off the Onion Shed and through the surrounding area, more than 100 veterans stood as the 10th annual Audie Murphy Day celebration concluded.
Photo by Wyndi Veigel
Veteran Joanna Robertson stands with the rest
of the veterans as each
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