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U.S. Postal Service Salutes Distinguished Soldiers

United States Postal Service - June 1, 2000
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Issue Date: May 3, 2000

Audie Murphy Among Four American Heroes to Appear on U.S. Postage Stamps

WASHINGTON-World War II hero Audie L. Murphy is one of four soldiers who will be honored by the U.S. Postal Service when it issues the Distinguished Soldiers commemorative postage stamps on May 3 at the Pentagon.

Omar N. Bradley, John L. Hines and Alvin C. York complete the set of American war heroes featured on the pane of four first-class stamps.

The dedication ceremony will take place in the courtyard of the Pentagon (weather permitting) at 10 a.m. The ceremony is open to the public, however, those interested in attending must call 703-695-2761 to make reservations. The stamps will be sold at post offices nationwide May 3.

"The Postal Service takes great pride honoring four courageous Americans with the issuance of these stamps," says Einar V. Dyhrkopp, presidentially appointed chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, who will dedicate the stamps. "I know that these four men hold a special place in the hearts of many Americans. It is a fitting tribute that their dedication and bravery will forever be remembered on U.S. postage stamps."

Honored guests will include Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera and family members of the four men depicted on the stamps.

Sgt. Alvin C. York was awarded the Medal of Honor for his single-handed capture of German soldiers during World War I. Gen. John L. Hines, also a veteran of World War I, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal for his bravery and leadership in combat. He went on to become Army Chief of Staff. Lt. Audie L. Murphy received the Medal of Honor for saving the troops in his company and single-handedly breaking up a German attack toward the end of World War II. Gen. Omar Bradley commanded the First Army during the 1944 Allied landing in Normandy, later serving as Army Chief of Staff and the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

York, born in Tennessee in 1887, was a devout Christian fundamentalist. He served with the 82nd Division in World War I. During one battle with the Germans, York defeated the enemy using skills he learned hunting in Tennessee. He was credited with killing 25 Germans, capturing 132, and silencing 35 machine guns. Allied Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch called York's feat "the greatest thing accomplished by any private soldier of all the armies of Europe."

After the war, York devoted much of his time to community service. He died in Veterans Hospital in Nashville in 1964.

Hines was born in 1868 in West Virginia. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1891 and was commissioned in the infantry. Hines volunteered for the Spanish-American War and took part in the battle of San Juan Hill. Eventually Hines served as adjutant to Gen. John J. Pershing during the expedition in Mexico. During World War I, Hines experienced a meteoric rise in rank as he was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel in May 1917, then to colonel, brigadier general, and, in August 1918, to major general-four grades in 16 months. In 1924 Hines succeeded General Pershing as Army Chief of Staff. Hines died at Walter Reed Army Hospital at the age of 100 in 1968.

Murphy may well be remembered as much for his career as a Hollywood movie star as for his daring feats as a soldier in World War II. Born in Texas in 1924, Murphy became an author as well as war hero and actor. He became the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II. Murphy's heroism came through during one brutal attack by the Germans when he ordered his men to retreat while he remained behind on a tank destroyer. Using the tank destroyer's machine gun against the enemy infantry, Murphy eventually killed enough Germans to break up the attack. His book, "To Hell and Back," was published in 1949 and made into a movie in which he played himself. Murphy was killed in a plane crash in 1971 while on a business trip.

Bradley, born in Missouri in 1893, won a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1911. In 1943 he was given a chance to command the American ground forces in the invasion of Normandy. This was the largest American field command in history. After the war, Bradley headed the Veterans Administration, where he supervised the return to civilian life of America's World War II veterans. In 1948 he became Army Chief of Staff and, in 1949, he became the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He died in 1981.

The stamp art features black-and-white photographs of these four men. Color photographs of shoulder sleeve insignia are used as design motifs to indicate units the soldiers served in during their illustrious careers.

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