First Lieutenant Garlin M. Conner

First Lieutenant Garlin M. Conner Bio Image

born

June 2, 1919

hometown

Aaron, Kentucky

enlistment date

March 1, 1941

Military Occupation

9301 Intelligence Staff Officer

unit

3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division

campaigns

Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe

Garlin M. Conner was born on June 2, 1919, and raised in rural Clinton County, Kentucky. With the nearest high school almost 15 miles away, Conner’s formal education ended in eighth grade. He spent his teenage years working on his family’s farm and served in the Civilian Conservation Corps when he enlisted in the Army, March 1, 1941, at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Following basic training, Conner was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division. After several months of training, Conner and the 3rd Infantry Division deployed, Oct. 23, 1942. During Conner’s service, he fought for 28 months on the front lines in 10 campaigns, participated in four amphibious assault landings, was wounded seven times and earned a battlefield commission.

Conner’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Bronze Arrowhead and two Silver Service Stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the French Croix de Guerre, the French Fourragere and the Honorable Service Lapel Button-WWII.

After spending over two years in nearly continuous combat, Conner was honorably discharged from the Army, June 22, 1945. Conner returned home to Clinton County after his discharge to a parade in his honor, where he met Pauline Lyda Wells. After a one-week courtship, they were married.

Conner ran a 36 acre farm in Clinton County, Kentucky, where he and Pauline raised their son, Paul. For several years, he served as president of the local Kentucky Farm Bureau, and he and Pauline volunteered their time to help disabled veterans receive their pension benefits. Conner died in 1998 at the age of 79 after battling kidney failure and diabetes.

"Called artillery on his own position"

Luther Conner recalls the actions that earned Garlin Conner the Medal of Honor.

"Called artillery on his own position"

Luther Conner recalls the actions that earned Garlin Conner the Medal of Honor.

The Battle

Operation Grandslam | Jan. 24, 1945 | Houssen, France

3rd Infantry Division

3rd Infantry Division

Read Unit History

On the morning of Jan. 24, 1945, 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner was serving as an intelligence staff officer with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, near the town of Houssen, France, when German formations converged on 3rd Battalion’s position.

With his battalion at risk of being overrun, Conner volunteered to run straight into the heart of the enemy assault in order to get to a position from which he could direct friendly artillery on the advancing enemy forces.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Conner maneuvered 400 yards through 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 withering enemy assault to a position 30 yards in front of the defending U.S. forces. He plunged into a shallow ditch that provided little protection from the advancing enemy’s heavy machine gun and small-arms fire.

“The fight in Southern France wasn't very bad until we got to the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. There, the Germans tried to make a stand and with the weather against us, made it more difficult. The enemy defended one river with snipers and altogether, they caused very heavy casualties among our troops.”

1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner's speech at the Clinton County Court House for a parade in his honor

With rounds impacting all around him, Conner calmly directed multiple fire missions on to the force of 600 German infantry troops, six Mark VI tanks and tank destroyers, adjusting round after round of artillery from his prone position until the enemy was forced to halt their advance.

For three hours, he remained in this prone position, enduring the repeated onslaught of German infantry which, at one point, advanced to within five yards of his position. When the Germans mounted an all-out attack to overrun the American lines and his location, Conner ordered his artillery to concentrate on his own position, resolved to die if necessary to halt the enemy.

Ignoring the friendly artillery shells blanketing his position and exploding within mere feet, Conner continued to direct artillery fire on the enemy assault swarming around him until the German attack was finally shattered and broken. By his incredible heroism and disregard for his own life, Conner stopped the enemy advance. The artillery he expertly directed while under constant enemy fire killed approximately 50 German soldiers and wounded at least 100 more, thus preventing heavy casualties in his battalion.

3rd Infantry Division

3rd Infantry Divison

Read Unit History

The Colmar Pocket. Map courtesy of Google Earth and Dr. Erik Villard, Digital
Historian, U.S. Army Center for Military History.

The Colmar Pocket. Map courtesy of Google Earth and Dr. Erik Villard, Digital Historian, U.S. Army Center for Military History.

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President Trump presents the Medal of Honor to Pauline Conner, the 89-year old widow of World War II veteran Garlin Conner at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2018. Conner earned the award for valorous acts on the morning of Jan. 24, 1945. U.S. Army photo by Joe Lacdan

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President Trump presents the Medal of Honor to Pauline Conner, the 89-year old widow of World War II veteran Garlin Conner at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2018. Conner earned the award for valorous acts on the morning of Jan. 24, 1945. U.S. Army photo by Joe Lacdan

Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, and their son Paul Conner, at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II, Jan. 24 1945. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

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Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, and their son Paul Conner, at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II, Jan. 24 1945. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, and family members pose for a group photo at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II, Jan. 24 1945. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

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Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, and family members pose for a group photo at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II, Jan. 24 1945. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

From left, Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey participate in the Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony for 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., June 27, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, June 26, 2018 for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II on Jan. 24, 1945.  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

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From left, Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey participate in the Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony for 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., June 27, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, June 26, 2018 for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II on Jan. 24, 1945. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan presents Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, the Medal of Honor flag at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., June 27, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, June 26, 2018 for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II on Jan. 24, 1945.  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

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Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan presents Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, the Medal of Honor flag at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., June 27, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, June 26, 2018 for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II on Jan. 24, 1945. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, gives her remarks during the Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony, at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., June 27, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, June 26, 2018 for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II on Jan. 24, 1945.  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

Show Caption +

Pauline Lyda Wells Conner, the spouse of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, gives her remarks during the Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony, at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., June 27, 2018. Conner was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, June 26, 2018 for actions while serving as an intelligence officer during World War II on Jan. 24, 1945. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Pol)

“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.”

President Donald J. Trump

White House Ceremony, June 26, 2018

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by Lt. Gen. Alexander Patch, commander of the 7th Army, Feb. 10, 1945. Photo courtesy of Pauline Conner.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by Lt. Gen. Alexander Patch, commander of the 7th Army, Feb. 10, 1945. Photo courtesy of Pauline Conner.