War Hero’s Wife Accepts Highest Military Honor
WASHINGTON—A hero was saluted at the White House on June 26 as his widow accepted a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Pauline Conner, 89, accepted the military’s highest honor on behalf of her late husband for his extraordinary bravery during World War II.
On Jan. 24, 1945, Army 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner, who had already spent more than two years on the front lines, was laying in an army field hospital in northern France after sustaining a hip injury—the latest in a string of injuries that hadn’t kept him down for long.
Conner was scheduled to be sent home after he had healed sufficiently. But he had other ideas.
“He snuck out of the hospital and he made his way back to his unit,” President Donald Trump said at the medal ceremony. “He saw that it was impossible to tell the strength and position of the Germans, so he volunteered to go to the front line and observe the enemy and to help direct fire.”
Conner took the field telephone and headed toward the enemy.
“He ran 400 yards, dodging shrapnel, bullets, shells everywhere, artillery trying to hit him,” Trump said. “He looked like an NFL star, all the while laying telephone wire wherever he went.”
Conner spent three hours directing artillery fire from a shallow ditch, 30 yards in front of the American line, while bullets rained around him, Trump said.
“In front of the lone American soldier were six German tanks and hundreds of German soldiers,” he said.
The enemy got within five yards of his position.
“In the last attack, swarms of German soldiers rushed forward,” Trump said. “When they were nearly on top of Lieutenant Conner, he ordered fire on his own position—exactly where he was—courageously choosing to face death in order to save his battalion and achieve victory for freedom.”
It worked. The Germans retreated, and miraculously, Conner survived.
“Those people that were with him, many of them now gone, said it was the single bravest act they’ve ever seen,” Trump said.
Conner returned home a hero and his hometown held a parade—which is where Pauline first saw him.
“She soon saw for herself the extraordinary courage and devotion that burned like a righteous fire in his soul. It’s all about the soul,” Trump said. “Murl embodied the pure patriotic love that builds and sustains a nation. Just a few months later, Murl and Pauline were husband and wife. Together, they lived, loved, and thrived through 53 years of an incredibly great marriage.”
Also attending the ceremony were Conner’s son, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Conner grew up on a farm near Albany, Kentucky, as one of 11 children.
“He grew up during the Great Depression and dropped out of school after the 8th grade to help provide for his family,” Trump said.
“Today, we pay tribute to this Kentucky farm boy who stared down evil with the strength of a warrior and the heart of a true hero,” he said. “He will never, ever be forgotten. We will never forget his story. And we will always be grateful to God for giving us heroes like Murl.”
Since he took office, Trump has presented three other Medals of Honor to war heroes—two of whom attended the ceremony for Conner.
The Congressional Medal of Honor was introduced in Congress in 1861, and signed by President Abraham Lincoln late that year.
The first award was made to Pvt. Jacob Parrott on March 25, 1863, according to the official website.
A total of 3,502 medals have been issued, including 19 double recipients.