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Publius / Jun. 27, 2018

Profiles of Valor: Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner

An American hero from World War II finally received his due recognition with the Medal of Honor.

On Tuesday, an American hero from World War II finally received his due recognition when President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner. Presenting the Medal to Conner’s widow, Pauline, Trump stated, “Today we tell the story about an incredible hero. Although he died 20 years ago, today he takes his rightful place in the eternal chronicle of American valor… Today we pay tribute to this Kentucky farm boy who stared down evil. He was indeed a giant, larger than life, he will never ever be forgotten.”

In accepting the medal, Mrs. Conner said, “My husband was a very humble man, and I’m honored to represent him. It’s not about me; it’s about him. And he was my hero. He was for 53 years, and he still is since he’s been gone 20 years.”

Conner’s citation reads:

First Lieutenant Garlin M. Conner distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity while serving with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. On the morning of January 24, 1945, near the town of Houssen, France, German forces ferociously counterattacked the front left flank of the 7th Infantry Regiment with 600 infantry troops, six Mark VI tanks, and tank destroyers.

Lieutenant Conner, having recently returned to his unit after recovering from a wound received in an earlier battle, was working as the intelligence officer in the 3rd Battalion Command Post at the time of the attack. Understanding the devastating effect that the advancing enemy armor could have on the battalion, Lieutenant Conner immediately volunteered to run straight into the heart of the enemy assault to get to a position from which he could direct friendly artillery on the advancing enemy forces.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Lieutenant Conner maneuvered 400 yards through the enemy artillery fire that destroyed trees in his path and rained shrapnel all around him, while unrolling telephone wire needed to communicate with the battalion command post. Upon reaching the battalion’s front line, he continued to move forward under the enemy assault to a position 30 yards in front of the defending United States forces, where he plunged into a shallow ditch that provided minimal protection from the advancing enemy’s heavy machine gun and small-arms fire.

With rounds impacting all around him, Lieutenant Conner calmly directed multiple fire missions, adjusting round after round of artillery from his prone position, until the enemy was forced to halt its advance and seek cover behind a nearby dike. For three hours, Lieutenant Conner remained in his compromised position, enduring the repeated onslaught of German infantry, which at one point advanced to within five yards of his position.

As German infantry regrouped and began to mass in an overwhelming assault, Lieutenant Conner ordered friendly artillery to concentrate directly on his own position, having resolved to die if necessary to destroy the enemy advance. Ignoring the friendly artillery shells blanketing his position and exploding mere feet from him, Lieutenant Conner continued to direct artillery fire on the enemy assault swarming around him until the German attack was finally broken.

By his heroism and disregard for his own life, Lieutenant Conner stopped the enemy advance. The artillery he expertly directed, while under constant enemy fire, killed approximately 50 German soldiers and wounded an estimated 100 more, preventing what would have undoubtedly been heavy friendly casualties.

His actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3rd Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

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