Skip to main content

To Honor A Hero


"I just sent one of my officers home. He was my S-2 (Intelligence Officer), Lt. Garlin M. Conner, who is from Aaron, Kentucky. I'm really proud of Lt. Conner. He probably will call you and, if he does, he may not sound like a soldier, will sound like any good old country boy, but, to my way of seeing, he's one of the outstanding soldiers of this war, if not THE outstanding. He was a Sergeant until July and now is a First Lieutenant. He has the D.S.C., which could have been, I believe, a Congressional Medal of Honor but, he was heading home and we wanted to get him what he deserved before he left. He has a Silver Star with 4 clusters, a Bronze Star, Purple Heart with 6 clusters and is in for a French medal. On this last push, within two weeks he earned the D.S.C., a cluster to his Silver Star and a Bronze Star. I've never seen a man with as much courage and ability as he has. I usually don't brag much on my officers but, this is one officer nobody could brag enough about and do him justice; he's a real soldier."

The above was written by former Lt. Col. (later Major General) Lloyd B. Ramsey, while commanding the 3rd. bn., 3rd Div., 7th Inf., 7th Army, a few days after a WWII assault where Murl Conner of Aaron, Kentucky ran 400 yards, through the impact area of an intense concentration of enemy artillery fire near Houssen, France, 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. Along the way, he unreeled a spool of telephone wire, disregarded shells which exploded 25 yards from him and set up an observation post which he manned for more than three hours during the intense fighting. It was on that date, January 24, 1945 at 0800 hours, that Lt. Garlin Murl 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.

Lt. Conner served in the same 3rd Infantry Division as Audie Murphy, who has always been recognized as America's most decorated hero of all wars. That honor should have gone to Conner. The Medal of Honor would have given Conner one more award than Murphy, thus making him America's most decorated hero of all wars. But sadly, Lt. Conner was never awarded the Medal of Honor for his act of heroism. Due to the heat of the battle that day, the commanding officer did not take the time to do the necessary paperwork.

Richard Chilton of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, served with the 11th Airborne Division in Korea and with Israeli paratroopers during Desert Storm. While researching the war records of his uncle, Gordon Roberts, who was killed shortly after the landing at Anzio Italy, one name kept coming up -- Murl Conner. Gordon Roberts was a member of Murl Conner's platoon. One by one, each of the over 300 veterans of the 7th Infantry Regiment spoke of Lt. Conner's heroic efforts. Chilton was so moved by the many eyewitness accounts of Lt. Conner's courage and sacrifice that he began seeking the Medal of Honor for the Clinton County man, who died in 1998. Lt. Conner's selfless acts of bravery, Chilton insists, should place him in the company of Sgt. Alvin York, who lived just down the road from Murl Conner at Pall Mall, and of Audie Murphy, who served in the same division as Conner but who earned one less Silver Star for gallantry than Lt. Conner's four. York and Murphy both received the Medal of Honor. Murphy received his MOH two days after Lt. Conner's act of heroism.

Many of Lt. Conner's battle records were lost. The records that do exist officially document that Murtl Conner repeatedly risked his life under enemy fire to capture and disable numerous enemy positions with grim ferocity, as one of his commanders wrote. You see, for three hours, Lt. Conner lay in a shallow ditch as "wave after wave of German infantry" surged toward him, at times 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 but Lt. Conner continued to direct artillery fire on the assault elements swarming around him until the German attack was shattered and broken.

Lt. Conner was wounded at least seven times during 29 months of nearly continuous combat service, but he refused to accept Purple Hearts for most of the wounds. He was given a battlefield commission to second lieutenant after only three months of fighting. Many of his fellow infantrymen told Chilton they often watched in amazement as Conner repeatedly risked his life to save others. They said Lt. Conner frequently volunteered to take the point on the most dangerous patrols. And one officer remembered that when volunteers were requested for an especially dangerous night mission into enemy territory, Lt. Conner was the only one who reported to the commander's tent. "Where are the rest?" the commander asked. "I'm it," Lt. Conner replied. Murl Conner came home to Clinton County after the war and spent the rest of his life farming and raising a family. He died at age 79.

Because of Chilton's tireless efforts, on January 8, 2003, Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield introduced H.R. 327 in the 108th Congress, authorizing the President to award a Medal of Honor posthumously to Lt. Conner. However, it is yet to be done. I realize this story has been written about several times since Chilton began his campaign. I have written of it several times myself and even if I had never known Murl Conner, I would still be pushing for the nation's highest honor to be awarded him and I will gladly write and rewrite this story as long as it takes, because it is the right thing to do. To me, this story will never grow old. I believe what Richard Chilton once said - "I do not have the option to give up as long as someone will listen. Awarding Lt. Garlin Murl Conner the medal of honor is just something that has to be done." He was, after all, one of the great heroes of World War II.

In the photo above, taken on February 10, 1945, Lt. General Alexander M. Patch is seen awarding Lt. Garlin Murl Conner the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism for his actions on January 24, 1945 near Houssen, France.

Comments

  1. Thanks for refreshing our memories of Murl Conner.

    I think I read an article a few yrs ago that several state legislatures had taken up the cause & passed resolutions in favor of a Medal of Honor, is that correct?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Several state legislatures have done so, however, it apparently has not been enough to grab the attention of the powers that be.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a travesty of justice for this man! I have been going through the same thing with the army awards board .I discovered in 1998 I was recommended for the Medal of Honor in 1953. I have a website if you are interested---robertbarfield.com--I have contacted our local paper and the wife of Lt. Conner. I hope many others will join me in support of this cause for him, that's the least we can do. Our military Awards Board needs a major over haul! Bob Barfield Orlando Fl. Email--rnj187@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Tornado at Beaty Swamps

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, May 10, 1933, Beatty Swamps, TN ( also known as Bethsaida), a small rural community located in Overton County, Tennessee, approximately 6.7 miles from Livingston, was struck by an F4 tornado that completely devastated the community. The funnel, anywhere from one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide, destroyed every home in the community, and killed or injured virtually every single resident. Much of the area was swept clean of debris. This is the second deadliest tornado ever to strike Middle Tennessee.

There have been tornadoes that have gained greater notoriety, such as the Super Outbreak of April 3, 1974, but never has a tornado affected a community as completely as the one that struck Beatty Swamps.

According to the National Weather Service, it had been a humid evening in the rural Cumberland Plateau community. In nearby Allardt, the temperature that Tuesday afternoon had climaxed at 82 degrees, a warmer-than-normal reading for early May. …

Ode To A Mule

James Arness died today. Gunsmoke was every one's favorite TV show back when I was a kid. For years, at my house, we watched every single episode that came on the TV. There's isn't any need to explain the show because I am sure that most of you have seen an episode of Gunsmoke at one time or another.

When I heard that Mr. Arness has passed away, I went online, because I wanted to read some quotes from the TV show - more specifically, I wanted to read some dialogue between Festus, played by singer Ken Curtis (Sons of the Pioneers), and the rest of the cast. Festus had a way of speaking, but he always spoke the truth and what he said always made sense, well in a Festus-sort-of way, I guess.

So, I went online to do that, and well, one click led to another click, and then another and another, and before I knew it, I found myself on YouTube, and that's when I heard, for the first time in many years, this beautiful story that I want to share with you.

If you paid close atte…

Long Live The Goat Man

(This photo was made in the 1950's as the Goat Man passed through my town)
Charles McCartney was born on July 6, 1901. In 1915, at age 14, he ran away from his family's Iowa farm. He eventually wound up in New York, and was soon married to a Spanish knife-thrower. When she got pregnant they tried to make it as farmers, but bad weather and the Great Depression wiped them out. About the same time, he experienced a religious awakening. A man on a mission, he hitched up his team of goats to a wagon and took to the open road with his wife and son. His wife made goatskin clothes for him and his son to wear as a gimmick during their travels, but she quickly grew tired of the road and returned to Iowa, taking their son with her.

Charles McCartney looked like a goat. He smelled like one, too because he rarely took a bath. You take a fellow who looks like a goat, travels around with goats, eats with goats, lies down among goats and smells like a goat and it won't be long before peop…