Garlin Murl Conner

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Garlin Murl Conner
Garlin Murl Conner.jpg
Garlin Murl Conner in approximately 1945
Born (1919-06-02)2 June 1919
Clinton County, Kentucky
Died 5 November 1998(1998-11-05) (aged 79)
Albany, Kentucky
Resting place Memorial Hill
Cemetery, Albany
(36°41′52″N 85°07′54″W / 36.69780°N 85.13170°W / 36.69780; -85.13170Coordinates: 36°41′52″N 85°07′54″W / 36.69780°N 85.13170°W / 36.69780; -85.13170)
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank First Lieutenant
Battles/wars World War II
Awards

Garlin Murl Conner (2 June 1919 – 5 November 1998) was a soldier in the U.S. Army during the Second World War. Assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division and serving in North Africa and Europe, he has been labeled the "second most decorated soldier" after Audie Murphy.[1] Although an effort was made to secure a Medal of Honor for his actions in Houssen, France, the award of the medal was denied in 2014 by a U.S. District Judge on a technicality. In 2015, the issue was ordered into mediation by a circuit court and the award is now under consideration.

Early life[edit]

Conner was born on 2 June 1919 in Clinton County, Kentucky.[2]

Army service[edit]

Conner was a selectee for military and entered the U.S. Army on 1 March 1941 in Louisville, Kentucky[3] and completed his basic training at Fort Lewis. He deployed overseas as a member of K Company, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. He served in French Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sicily, Italy and France.[4]

Conner was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for action against enemy forces on 24 January 1945 near Houssen, France.[5] Through the pictures, medals and testimony of Conner's superior officers, including Maj. Gen. Lloyd Ramsey, the story of Conner's heroic actions more than 50 years earlier in France came back to life. Earlier that day, Conner, who had been badly wounded in the hip, sneaked away from a field hospital and made his way back to his unit's camp. His commanding officer was seeking a volunteer for a suicide mission: Run 400 yards directly toward the enemy while unreeling telephone wire all the way to trenches on the front line. From that point, the volunteer would be able to call in targeting coordinates for mortar fire., Conner grabbed the spool of wire and took off amid intense enemy fire. He made it to the ditch, where he stayed in contact with his unit for three hours in near-zero-degree weather as a ferocious onslaught of German tanks and infantry bore down on him.[citation needed]

"My God, he held off 600 Germans and six tanks coming right at him," Chilton marveled. "When they got too close, his commander told him to vacate and instead, he says, 'Blanket my position.'"[citation needed]

The request meant Conner was calling for artillery strikes as he was being overrun, risking his life in order to draw friendly fire that would take out the enemy, too, during which time he directed his men for three hours by telephone. During the action, Conner killed 50 German soldiers with return fire. Lt. Harold Wigetman credited Conner with saving the 3rd Battalion.[1]

He was wounded seven times. After his unit was sent to occupied Austria, Conner was sent back to the U.S. for rest prior to being sent to fight in the Pacific theater. The War ended before he could be sent overseas a second time. During his service, Conner received a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant and was subsequently promoted to first lieutenant.[6]

Later life and death[edit]

Conner married Pauline Wells on 9 July 1945. They had one son, Paul, one grandson and three granddaughters and lived in Albany, Kentucky. Conner was a businessman in Kentucky and was active in veterans organizations. He was handicapped from his war wounds and from heart surgery. Conner died in 1998.[1] In 2012, the U.S. Army honored Conner by designating a portion of a new maintenance facility at Fort Benning, Georgia as Conner Hall.[7]

Awards[edit]

Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
Distinguished Service Cross[5][8]
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star with three bronze oak-leaf clusters[8]
Width-44 scarlet ribbon with width-4 ultramarine blue stripe at center, surrounded by width-1 white stripes. Width-1 white stripes are at the edges. Bronze Star [9][10]
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 purple ribbon with width-4 white stripes on the borders
Purple Heart with two oak-leaf clusters[9][10]
Good Conduct Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Arrowhead
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze arrowhead device and seven service stars (one silver service star equates to five bronze service stars).[9]
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze oak-leaf cluster. K Company, 7th Infantry Regiment cited for the period 29 February to 1 March 1944/War Department General Order 64-47; 7th Infantry Regiment cited for the period 22 January to 6 February 1945/War Department General Order 44-45.[11]
French Croix de Guerre - French government awarded on 20 June 1945[9][12]
French Fourragère - 7th Infantry Regiment cited for the period 15 August 1944 to 6 February 1945/Department of the Army General Order 43-50.[11]
Overseas Service Bar - authorized four bars which denote 24 months combat zone service.

Posthumous Medal of Honor campaign[edit]

Pauline Conner waged a seventeen-year campaign to gain Garlin the Medal of Honor for the action on 24 January 1945 in France that resulted in his being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. On 11 March 2014, U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell ruled that Pauline had waited too long to submit her most recent request.[1]

There is no doubt that Lt. Conner should have been awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. One of the most disappointing regrets of my career is not having the Medal of Honor awarded to the most outstanding soldier I've ever had the privilege of commanding.

— Maj. Gen. Lloyd B. Ramsey, Ret.

In late October 2015, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the parties into mediation. The Army's Board for Correction of Military Records recommended Connor for the Medal of Honor. The action is pending.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Second-most decorated WWII soldier won't get Medal of Honor". CBS News. March 12, 2014. Retrieved March 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Conner, G. Murl". Gravesite Locator. U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Access to Archival Databases". Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "History of the Third Infantry Division by Phillip St. John". Turner Publishing Company copyright 1994. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Garlin Murl Conner". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Baxter, Randall (2013). The Veteran Next Door: Randall Baxter, Volume 1. AuthorHouse. p. 110. ISBN 978-1491803806. 
  7. ^ Rodewig, Cheryl (3 October 2012). "TACOM FMX dedicates buildings". Bayonet & Saber. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b 3d Infantry Division (1947). Donald Taggart, ed. History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II. 1115 17th Street NM, Washington 6, DC: Infantry Journal. p. 389. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Army Board for the Correction of Military Records: AR20150006700". Boards of Review Reading Room. US Department of Defense. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Ridenour, Hugh (Winter 2012). "Garlin M. Conner: The Elusive Medal of Honor". Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. 110 (1): 79, 81. 
  11. ^ a b "Department of the Army Pamphlet 672-1" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "Rhode Island State Senate 05-R 300". 
  13. ^ Wilson, Greg (4 November 2015). "Battle joined: Army panel backs WWII vet's posthumous bid for Medal of Honor". Fox News. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 

External links[edit]