The Guinness Book of World Records once tracked the number of medals soldiers had. However, they stopped because the symbolism behind each type of medal meant more than the sheer number of medals. Audie Murphy and Matt Urban had the same number, but unlike Murphy, the world did not know who Urban was.
Setting the Record Straight
When retired Lt. Col. Matt Urban was given the Medal of Honor in 1980, President Carter said he was “The Greatest Soldier in American History.” He had at least 10 events of above and beyond bravery on his Medal of Honor citation. The Nazis called Urban “The Ghost,” for whenever they thought they killed him, he returned.
In the Battle of Kasserine Pass in North Africa, he used his leadership skills again, taking out a German post and leading his company. In one incident, he killed a German soldier with a trench knife, took the man’s pistol, and took out the rest of the Germans.
His time in North Africa earned him two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.
Earning A Nickname
In 1944, he landed at Normandy with his division. Later, he led to events in nearby Renouf. Two tanks and a grouping of men began to attack Urban’s men.
They were taking heavy casualties, so Urban grabbed a bazooka and took out both the tanks. His men followed his lead and took out the rest of the German soldiers. After being wounded two days in a row, he finally went to the hospital in England, but it didn’t last long.
He went back to France, taking on the Germans alongside his men. In one offensive, he took out German tanks and took control of one himself, firing at German troops.
He was wounded in August of 1944 but stayed with his men and was promoted to battalion commander. The following month, he fought against the Germans in Belgium, leading a group of men to a Nazi strongpoint.
Once again, he was injured, but he stayed with his men and fought until it was safe for the Allies to cross the Meuse River.
For his bravery in the war, Urban was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but due to a filling error, he did not get it for 36 years. He died a 75 and was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.