b. 02/06/1919 Aaron, Kentucky. d. 05/11/1998 Albany, Kentucky.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 24/01/1945 near Houssen, France.
Conner was born on 2 June 1919 in Aaron, Kentucky. He was the third child of eleven brothers and sisters. He and four of his brothers served during World War II. He stood at 5′ 6″. Conner was a selectee for the military and entered the U.S. Army on 1 March 1941 in Louisville, Kentucky. He completed his basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington where he became a member of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. After training with his division at Fort Lewis, he was sent with the 3rd Infantry Division division to Camp Ord, California and Fort Pickett, Virginia for further combat training.
On 23 October 1942, Conner and his division departed the United States from Norfolk, Virginia to fight in the European-African-Middle Eastern theater of operations arriving on 8 November for the invasion of French North Africa. He participated in four amphibious assault landings and eight campaigns including the Anzio Campaign in Italy during which he earned his second Silver Star (Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster). He was promoted to technical sergeant on 13 January 1944. He was discharged on 27 June 1944, and commissioned a second lieutenant on 28 June 1944. On 29 December 1944, he was promoted to 1st lieutenant.
Conner was awarded four Silver Stars for gallantry in action: in October 1943, 30 January 1944, 11 September 1944, and 3 February 1945. He was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal, and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action on 6 March 1944, in August, and in September 1944. He was presented the Distinguished Service Cross from Lieutenant General Alexander Patch, the Commander of the Seventh Army, for extraordinary heroism during a German counterattack with six tanks and 600 infantrymen on 24 January 1945, near Houssen, France. Recently returned to his unit from the the hospital, intelligence staff officer Lt. Conner volunteered to go forward to direct artillery fire against the German counterattack. The enemy got so close that Lt. Conner had to call artillery fire directly on his own position, leading to the death of more than 50 Germans and stopping the assault.
In March 1945, Conner was sent back to the U.S. and was honorably discharged on 22 June 1945. Conner married Lyda Pauline Wells on 9 July 1945. After the war, the Conners lived in Albany, Kentucky. They had one son, Paul, one grandson, and three granddaughters. Conner was in the farming business, working his farm in Albany where he was president of the Clinton County Farm Bureau for seventeen years. He was active in various veterans organizations including the Paralyzed Veterans of America. He was handicapped from his war wounds and from heart surgery in 1979.
Conner died in 1998, and was buried in Memorial Hill Cemetery in Albany. An attempt to upgrade Conner’s Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor, the United States military’s highest decoration for valor, was advanced during 2017. On 29 March 2018, the White House announced President Trump would award the Medal of Honor to Garlin Murl Conner in a ceremony at the White House. On 26 June 2018, the president presented the medal to Pauline Conner, his widow.
For extraordinary heroism in action. On 24 January 1945, at 0800 hours, near Houssen, France, Lieutenant Conner ran four hundred yards through the impact area of an intense concentration of enemy artillery fire to direct friendly artillery on a force of six Mark VI tanks and tank destroyers, followed by six hundred fanatical German infantrymen, which was assaulting in full fury the spearhead position held by his Battalion. Unreeling a spool of telephone wire, Lieutenant Conner disregarded shells which exploded twenty-five yards from him, tearing branches from the trees in his path, and plunged in a shallow ditch thirty yards beyond the position of his foremost company. Although the ditch provided inadequate protection from the heavy automatic fire of the advancing enemy infantry, he calmly directed round after round of artillery on the foe from his prone position, hurling them back to the shelter of a dike. For three hours he remained at his OP [observation post] despite wave after wave of German infantry, which surged forward to within five yards of his position. As the last, all-out German assault swept forward, he ordered his artillery to concentrate on his own position, resolved to die if necessary to halt the enemy. Friendly shells exploded within five yards of him, blanketing his position, wounding his one assistant. Yet Lieutenant Conner continued to direct artillery fire on the assault elements swarming around him until the German attack was shattered and broken. By his exemplary heroism, he killed approximately fifty and wounded an estimated one hundred Germans, disintegrated the powerful enemy assault and prevented heavy casualties in his Battalion. Entered military service from Aaron, Kentucky.
BURIAL LOCATION: MEMORIAL HILL CEMETERY, ALBANY, KENTUCKY.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.