Trump awards Medal of Honor to WWII army officer, 73 years after battle
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Trump awards Medal of Honor to WWII army officer, 73 years after battle

Posthumous award given to Garlin Conner, who confronted German attack in 1945, ordering and surviving friendly fire on his own position; widow receives medal on his behalf

US President Donald Trump, before he awards the Medal of Honor to 1st Lt. Garlin Conner,a posthumous recognition accepted by his widow Pauline Conner, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/ Susan Walsh)
US President Donald Trump, before he awards the Medal of Honor to 1st Lt. Garlin Conner,a posthumous recognition accepted by his widow Pauline Conner, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, June 26, 2018. (AP Photo/ Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) — A battle that began 22 years ago ended at the White House on Tuesday when US President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to a deceased army intelligence officer from Kentucky for gallantry exhibited on the battlefield during World War II.

Trump bestowed the nation’s highest military honor upon 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner, who the president said now takes his “rightful place in the eternal chronicle of American valor.”

Conner’s widow, Pauline, accepted the framed medal on her husband’s behalf.

The lieutenant was honored for volunteering, despite being wounded, in January 1945, to go to the front line near the town of Houssen, France, during the Battle of the Bulge, to observe German enemy forces and direct artillery fire against them. He carried out the mission while lying prone in a shallow ditch.

Hours later, as swarms of German forces rushed forward, Conner ordered friendly fire onto his own position, “courageously choosing to face death in order to save his battalion and achieve victory for freedom,” Trump said.

The artillery fire Conner directed is credited with killing 50 German soldiers and wounding 100 more, ultimately repelling the assault.

Pauline Conner holding a photo of her late husband, 1st Lt. Garlin Conner, while he was in the US army during World War II. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Conner was discharged from the US army in June 1945, and his family battled for the past 22 years with the army’s awards branch and eventually in the courts for the outcome that finally came Tuesday. Unfortunately, the award comes long after Conner’s death.

He died in November 1998.

Trump said Pauline Conner, who is 89, had hoped and prayed that she would live to see her husband receive this honor.

“It’s something he should’ve done in his lifetime,” Pauline Conner told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday, as she answered their questions about her husband of 53 years. “But I’m going to be proud to accept it.”

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