An American Hero Not Forgotten
"For three hours,
he lay in a shallow
ditch as wave
after wave of
surged toward him,
at times to within
five yards of his position."
Today, all of America should be celebrating Murl Conner Day. But, sadly, the majority of americans do not know who Murl Conner is. He should be the most decorated war hero of all wars, but unfortunately he is yet to receive the honor he is most worthy of.
Conner, who was born on this date, was a sergeant then later a lieutenant with the 7th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. He served on the front lines for over 800 days in eight major campaigns and was wounded a total of seven times. After each wound, Conner would return to combat and continue to fight on the front lines. During his last wound, Conner actually snuck away from the medical facility and went rushing back to the front line, just in time to volunteer for his toughest mission yet.
The date was January 24,1945 near Houssen, France. Conner left the hospital on his own, and when rushed into his commanding officers tent to report back to duty, he overheard talk of needing someone to run some wire to enhance his unit's communication capabilities. He volunteered. At 0800 hours, Conner grabbed the role of wire and charged 400 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 600 fanatical German infantrymen, which was assaulting in full fury the spearhead position held by his battalion. As he unreeled the spool of wire, Lt. Conner disregarded shells which exploded 25 yards from him and set up an observation post. Then, for three hours, he lay in a shallow ditch as wave after wave of German infantry surged toward him, at times to within five yards of his position. In a kill or be killed act, the Lieutenant ordered his men along the front lines to fire at his position, and they did. Lt. Conner was individually credited with stopping more than 150 Germans, destroying all the tanks and completely disintegrating the powerful enemy assault force and preventing heavy loss of life in his own outfit.
For his act on that cold January day in 1945, Conner was awarded a citation for the Distinguished Service Cross. His commanding officer notified headquarters that he had a soldier who was due the Medal of Honor, but the process was interrupted due to the heat of the battle they were in, and, because of an oversight, the paperwork was never completed until after Conner's death. Still, Conner has never received the his Medal of Honor.
During his eight major campaigns on active duty, Conner received the Bronze Star with three oak leaf clusters, Silver Star and three oak leaf clusters, and the nation’s second-highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross. On June 20, 1945, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the French Medal of Honor, that was also awarded to Sergeant Alvin C. York, America's most decorated World War I soldier.
Lt. Conner served in the same division as Audie Murphy, America's most decorated hero of all wars. But, Conner was awarded more silver stars for acts of valor, fought in more campaigns, served on the front lines longer, and was wounded more times than Murphy. If Lt. Conner were to receive the Medal Of Honor, it would mean he would have one more medal than Audie Murphy, which would make Conner the most decorated war hero of all wars.
After the war, Audie Murphy went to Hollywood, and Murl Conner went home to his farm.