President to Award Kentucky War Hero with Medal of Honor
‘I am grateful to President Trump, Secretary Mattis, and Secretary Esper for recognizing this deserving Kentuckian. I’m proud to congratulate Pauline and her family today. And I would like to thank her, for giving our nation the opportunity to salute First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner. He embodied the highest values of our Commonwealth and our nation. But this humble man never called himself a hero. So, it’s incumbent upon us to do just that.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Medal of Honor that will be awarded by President Trump posthumously to First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner of Kentucky:
“This week, our nation will honor the memory of a brave Kentuckian. President Trump will posthumously award First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner with our nation’s highest military distinction: the Medal of Honor.
“In 1941, Garlin left his farm town in Clinton County, Kentucky. This quiet 21-year-old enlisted in the Army. When he returned -- after World War II service that spanned eight major campaigns and earned a battlefield commission, four Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, and the Distinguished Service Cross -- he was a hero.
“Lt. Conner wasn’t supposed to be in a snow-covered forest that January morning in 1945. He was meant to be recovering in a hospital. But with his unit in need, he snuck away and returned to the front in France. When he rejoined his comrades, they were in urgent danger, pinned down by six German tanks.
“Lt. Conner stepped forward. He took a telephone, a radio, and a wire reel, and ran toward the enemy — alone. Totally alone. Past the American line, in a ditch barely large enough to cover him, Lt. Conner began directing artillery against the approaching enemy. He held his ground through wave after wave of German advances.
“When the enemy surged, even coming within feet of him, he called in artillery strikes on his own position. Amazingly, when the dust settled, Lt. Conner was still alive. And Allied artillery had destroyed the German tanks and stopped the advance. On that frigid morning, in complete disregard for his own safety, Lt. Conner saved the lives of his comrades.
“This afternoon, I will have the privilege to welcome Ms. Pauline Conner, Garlin’s wife of more than 50 years, and other family members to the Capitol. Without Pauline’s patience and steadfast resolve, there would be no recognition tomorrow. After the war, Lt. Conner demurred any sort of personal glory. With the humility that’s typical among the Greatest Generation, he returned to his farm and planned to leave the war behind him. Later in life, he took it upon himself to meet privately with his fellow veterans and their families, offering comfort and advice.
“One day, late in Lt. Conner’s life, a former Army Green Beret named Richard Chilton came to their home to ask about about his late uncle, who’d served with him in Europe. He saw all of Garlin’s decorations and medals and urged Pauline to apply for the Medal of Honor. That was the first step. The path wasn’t easy. Filing paperwork; Finding eye-witness accounts; Gathering support from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, generals, and even Members of Congress.
“It was my privilege to join Pauline’s team when they contacted my office over a decade ago. There were setbacks. Even a federal court ruling. But Pauline and her team pushed forward. Her long journey will finally end in victory when the Commander-in-Chief entrusts her with Garlin’s Medal of Honor tomorrow.
“I am grateful to President Trump, Secretary Mattis, and Secretary Esper for recognizing this deserving Kentuckian. I’m proud to congratulate Pauline and her family today. And I would like to thank her, for giving our nation the opportunity to salute First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner. He embodied the highest values of our Commonwealth and our nation. But this humble man never called himself a hero. So, it’s incumbent upon us to do just that.”
Related Issues: Tributes, America's Military, Veterans