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President presents Medal of Honor during White House Ceremony

President presents Medal of Honor during White House Ceremony


– Thank you very much, thank you. And thank you Chaplain Early, we’re honored to be joined today by members of Congress, military leaders, and distinguished guests. I want to recognize Deputy Secretary of
Defense, Patrick Shanahan. Where’s Patrick? Patrick, please stand up Patrick. You’re doing a great job. (applause) I have a four star in here, John Kelly, a special guy, where’s John? Where is he, John? A special man. (applause) Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper. Army Chief of Staff, thank you. Thank you Mark. (applause) A very good negotiator,
the general, Mark Milley. I could see in his eyes when I talk about the cost of those bombs. (applause) He’s good at throwin’ ’em but
he’s also good at pricing ’em. Right? I see it. And, Sergeant Major of
the Army, Daniel Dailey. Daniel, thank you very much. (applause) Thank you Daniel. Also want to thank Congress, we have some members here, Buddy Carter. Buddy? Thank you Buddy. (applause) Martha McSally. Great, Martha. (applause) James Comer, thank you very much. Thank you for being here. Thank you very much. Special day. Though he could not be
here this afternoon, I wanna thank Majority
Leader, Mitch McConnell, for his years of work to make this day very special. He worked hard, and he’s working hard right
now on a lot of other things, but I will say, he worked very hard. So, we thank Mitch. Thank you. And, to all of the guests who traveled from two of my favorite States and places, Kentucky and Tennessee. They like me in Kentucky and Tennessee. (laughing) (applause) Welcome to The White House, it’s great. Two great places. Today we tell the story
of an incredible hero, who defended our Nation in World War Two, First Lieutenant Garland Murl Conner, although he died 20 years ago today, he takes his rightful place in the eternal chronical of American Valor, and that as you know, is what this is. This is the great great men and women it’s American Valor. We’re thrilled to be joined by his amazing wife, Pauline. Pauline, thank you. Don’t get up, save it for later. (applause) I got to know her a little bit ago in the Oval Office and she’s a very special woman with
a very special family. She’s 89 years old today and she’s going strong, I have to say, going strong. Keep it going. She hoped and prayed she
would live to see this day. Pauline is truly a wonderful, incredible person and it’s my privilege to be with you today as we award your late husband, our nations highest military honor. For today’s Congressional
Medal of Honor presentation, we’re also joined by Pauline
and Murl’s son, Paul. Thank you Paul. Their grandchildren Rachel,
Kara, Caylin, and Brett who serves in the navy. Stand up, please. Submariner, he’s a submariner. (applause) Submariner. Along with their four great-grandchildren, Ethan, Iden, Anabell, and Bellarose. Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. That’s great. You have great genes. Lieutenant Conner must be
looking down from Heaven, proud of this incredible honor, but even prouder of the legacy that lives on in each of you, so true. Finally, to the two previous
Medal of Honor recipients who have joined us today,
we salute your service and we thank you on behalf of one very large, very powerful
and very grateful nation. Thank you. Where are you sitting or standing? Please, thank you very much. (applause) Thank you very much for being
here, it’s a great honor. The American hero we honor today came from a farm near Albany, Kentucky. Murl was one of 11 children. He grew up during the Great Depression and dropped out of school
after the eighth grade to help provide for his family. A wonderful family but they
weren’t rolling in cash, right? But they were wonderful. In March of 1941, Murl enlisted in the Army and joined the 3rd Infantry Division. For 28 months straight, he fought on the front lines, in 10 campaigns. He was wounded seven times but he couldn’t stop. He loved it and he loved our country. On the shores of Sicily, the beaches of Anizo, and the snow covered mountains of France, he fought with everything he had to defeat the Nazi menace. In January of 1945, as the final days of
the Battle of the Bulge, well known fight, General that was a tough one right? Was that a tough one? They taught you that? I know you weren’t there but that was a, I hope you weren’t there, otherwise. He says Kelly was there. (laughing) But that was a rough one. They study that one. The US 3rd Infantry Division was engaged in a fierce battle with the
Nazis in Northern France. At the time, Lieutenant Conner was in a field hospital being treated for a painful hip wound, one of many, and was scheduled to be sent back home. He was wounded so often, so much, but he didn’t want to go home. He snuck out of the hospital and he made his way back to his unit. His doctors, his nurses, were not happy. Lieutenant Conner wasn’t
done fighting yet. In fact, it wasn’t even close. Soon after he arrived, he saw that it was impossible to tell the strength and position of the German. He volunteered to go to the front line and observe the enemy, and to help direct fire. In order to communicate
with the command post, he took a telephone and hundreds of yards of telephone wire. That was a long time ago, before we had what we have today, called a cellphone. He ran 400 yards, dodging
shrapnel, bullets, shells everywhere,
artillery trying to hit him. They saw him, they couldn’t get him. He was going every different way, he looked like an NFL star. All the while laying telephone
wire wherever he went. When he reached the edge of the forest, he raced 30 yards in front
of the American line. Murl lay in a shallow ditch and he laid down in this hole, this shallow ditch, where they could still see him, it was only one foot deep. In front of the lone American soldier were six German tanks and hundreds of German soldiers. As bullets flew all around him, Lieutenant Conner directed artillery fire. Each time, successfully
decimating the enemy. They knew he was there
and they couldn’t get him. At one point, a German soldier came with in five yards
of Lieutenant Conner, before being shot and killed. For three hours the bloody battle raged on. In the last attack,
swarms of German soldiers rushed forward. When they were nearly on
top of Lieutenant Conner, he ordered fire on his own position, exactly where he was, courageously choosing to face death in order to save his battalion and achieve victory. For freedom. And those people that were with him, many of them now gone, said it was the single
bravest act they’ve ever seen. He had shells dropped right on him. Aim at me he said, aim at me. Well, they missed him by feet, but he kept calling in
more rounds, more rounds. Until the blanket of fire
broke the German advance, and the enemy retreated, saving so many American lives. Lieutenant Conner’s courageous actions killed roughly 50 German soldiers, injured 100 more, and saved so many American lives, they don’t even have the count. Somehow Lieutenant Conner
survived the attack. Less than four months later, the Nazis surrendered, and that was a big, big day. Soon after Murl came home, his town organized a parade to celebrate his heroic deeds. One of the speakers was the legendary World War One hero, Sergeant York. You know all about Sergeant York, all my Generals now they know
about Sergeant York, right? It was at this time, that Pauline first caught a glimpse
of her future husband. Right Pauline? I don’t think you were impressed either, we’re you Pauline? (laughing) She said, no I wasn’t. As she put it, I was
expecting a giant of a man because he was a big hero already and she hadn’t met him but they were giving a parade. I was asking her about it and she expected this big powerful guy, but when she saw Murl he was five foot six tops. 120 pounds and she told her mother that little guy could not have done all of the things that
they said he’s done. Couldn’t be possible, right? She soon saw for herself the extraordinary courage and devotion that burned like a
righteous fire in his soul. It’s all about the soul. Murl embodied the pure,
patriotic love that builds and sustains the nation. Just a few months later, Murl and Pauline were husband and wife. Together they lived, loved, and thrived through 53 years of an
incredibly great marriage. Was it good or great Pauline? It was great! That’s good, oh boy,
I’m glad she said that. (laughing) We might of had to cancel the rest that would’ve been terrible! (laughing) She said it was great. Today we pay tribute to
this Kentucky farm boy, who stared down evil with
the strength of a warrior and the heart of a true hero. Lloyd Ramsey, Murls commanding officer, described him this way, I’ve never seen a man with as much courage and ability as he had. I usually don’t brag on my officers but this is one officer
nobody could brag enough about and do him justice. He was a real solider. That’s some quote from his commander. Lieutenant Garland Murl Conner was indeed a giant in his daring, his devotion, and his duty he was larger than life, in that he was. He will never, ever, be forgotten. We will never forget his story, and we will always be grateful to God for giving us heroes like Murl, and you two gentlemen. We didn’t forget you. Two great gentlemen, and by the way, all of these great soldiers and truly brave warriors, that
do such an incredible job protecting the people of this country. And we mean that 100 percent, so everybody in uniform here today, we thank you. I would like to now ask
Pauline to come and accept the Congressional Medal of Honor for her husband and for the military aid to read the citation. Thank you, thank you very much. (applause) (mumbling) (laughing) – [Military Aid] The President of the United States of America, authorized by act of
Congress, March 3rd 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor to first lieutenant Garland M. Conner, United States Army. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty. First lieutenant Garland M. Conner distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity while
serving with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th infantry regiment, 3rd infantry division on the morning of January 24th, 1945 near
the town of Houssen, France. German forces ferociously counter attacked the front left flank of
the 7th infantry regiment with 600 infantry troops, 6 mark VI tanks, and tank destroyers. Lieutenant Conner,
having recently returned to his unit after recovering from a wound received in a earlier battle, was working as the intelligence officer in the 3rd battalion command post, at the time of the attack. Understanding the
devastating effect that the advancing enemy armor
could have on the battalion Lieutenant Conner immediately
volunteered to run straight into the heart
of the enemy assault, to get to a position from
which he could direct friendly artillery on the advancing enemy forces. With complete disregard
for his own safety, Lieutenant Conner
maneuvered 400 yards through the enemy artillery fire,
that destroyed trees in his path and rained
shrapnel all around him. While unrolling telephone
wire needed to communicate with the battalion command post. Upon reaching the battalions front line, he continued to move forward
under the enemy assault to a position 30 yards in front of the defending United States forces. Where he plunged into a shallow ditch that provided minimal protection from the advancing enemies
heavy machine gun, and small arms fire. With rounds impacting all around him, lieutenant Conner calmly directed multiple fire missions, adjusting round after round of artillery from his prone position until the
enemy was forced to halt its advances and seek cover behind a near by dyke. For three hours, lieutenant
Conner remained in his compromised position and
during the repeated onslaught of German infantry which at one point, advanced to within 5
yards of his position. As german infantry
regrouped and began to amass an overwhelming assault, Lieutenant Conner ordered friendly artillery to concentrate directly on his own position. Having resolved to die if necessary to destroy the enemy advance. Ignoring the friendly artillery shells blanketing his position and exploding mere feet from him, Lieutenant Conner continued to direct artillery fire on the enemy assault swarming around him. Until the german attack
was finally broken. By his heroism and
disregard for his own life Lt Conner stopped the enemy advance. The artillery he expertly directed while under constant enemy fire killed approximately 50 German soldiers and wounded an estimated 100 more. Preventing what would
have undoubtedly been heavy friendly casualties. His actions are en keeping
with the highest traditions of military service and
reflect great credit upon himself, the 3rd infantry division, and the United States Army. (applause) – [Chaplain] Let us pray, All Mighty God I ask that
these moments here together and the acts of Lieutenant of this Lieutenant Garland Conner become for us a lifetime of strength we ask you always for
your continued presence for all of our american heroes serving home and abroad
in military service continue to pour your
wisdom on our leaders and fill Pauline Conner,
her family, and our entire nation with your peace, today and always, Amen. (laughing) (applause) (mumbling) (laughing) (applause) (piano music)


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