This WWII Army Officer Called in Artillery Strikes on His Own Position to Fend Offer German Advance
1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner was wounded during World War II and was sent to a military hospital for treatment. But, instead of being sent home due to the wound to his hip, Conner slipped out of the facility so he could return to his unit and rejoin the fight against enemy forces.
On January 24, 1945, near Houssen, France, while Conner was serving with the 3rd Infantry Division, he single-handedly stopped 600 German troops, along with six tanks, from advancing, according to a report by Task and Purpose.
He unreeled some telephone wire and took a position in a shallow ditch near the front of the battle. Then, in an act of pure heroism, the WWII Army officer put his own life on the line to ensure enemy forces weren’t able to advance.
Conner began directing artillery fire from his position and kept relaying information for approximately three hours while German troops continued to try and advance.
Under Conner’s direction, he steered strikes down onto his own position, prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice to keep the enemy forces at bay. At various times, enemy soldiers also reportedly got within five yards of Conner’s position.
In the end, Conner’s actions resulted in the deaths of 50 enemy soldiers, and an additional 100 were wounded.
“He called for artillery fire upon himself,” said 1st Sgt. Harold J. Miller, an eyewitness. Conner was “determined to destroy and smash the Germans even if it cost him his life.”
Conner survived the onslaught and eventually became the second-most decorated soldier during WWII. He was awarded four Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, the Distinguished Service Cross, and seven Purple Hearts.
In total, Conner spent 28 straight months in combat.
Conner returned to his home state of Kentucky after leaving the Army and spent 17 years as the Clinton County Farm Bureau’s president.
He passed away in 1998.
On March 29, President Donald Trump announced that Conner is being posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valor for his actions that day, that not only repelled enemy forces by likely saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.
“His heroic and entirely voluntary act save our battalion,” said Retired Lt. Harold Wigetman. “If hadn’t done what he did, we would have had to fight for our lives.”