Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"A Medal of Honor's Long Journey Home"

By the time former Green Beret Richard Chilton of Wisconsin wrote a letter to Murl Conner in search of information on his late uncle, Pfc. Gordon Roberts, who was killed after landing at Anzio, Conner, because of illness, could no longer speak or write.

When Chilton visited him on a fall day in 1996, he learned that Conner had not only served with his uncle but had carried him in his last moments to a medical aid station. Conner, reliving a moment from 50 years prior, began to weep. As Chilton skimmed through pages of old paperwork, records and medals contained inside a cardboard box that Conner kept stored in a weathered rmilitary green duffel bag, his eyes widened. He saw the decorations and the eight major campaigns Murl had participated in. He saw where he had been wounded in each of the countries he toured.

"My God," a stunned Chilton said to Pauline. "This man should have been awarded the Medal of Honor." Feeling sudden inspiration, he asked Murl and his wife if he could pursue an application for the medal on Murl's behalf. Pauline turned to her husband who looked straight at her with tears in his eyes and nodded his head yes.

For more than 53 years after WWII, Murl had rarely spoken about the war -- not to his wife, Pauline, or even to a fellow Soldier. He never boasted about his acts of bravery. When locals would ask about his time time overseas, he would hush them quickly. "I done what I had to do," he would say, "and that's all there is to it." After returning home from the war, Murl decided he had seen enough of the world and the horrors of armed combat. He had found peace plowing the fields on his tobacco farm. But, during Chilton's visit to his home that day, Murl Conner was finally ready to apply for the honor that he had for so long been reluctant to seek.

And so it is that, after spending more than 800 days on the front lines in World War II, suffering seven combat wounds while earning four Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, the French military decoration Croix de Guerre, and the Distinguished Service Cross, and after a 22 year quest by Chilton and numerous others, and 73 years after the fact...on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, Lt. Garlin Murl Conner, who died on Nov. 5, 1998, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor from the President of the United States of America. The Medal of Honor has at last come home.

(Taken from "The Silent Farmer: Decorated Soldier of World War II finally awarded Medal of Honor" by Joe Lacdan, Army News Service, June 14, 2018)

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