Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor to a member of the greatest generation, then-1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner, US Army, for conspicuous gallantry during World War II.
Trump awards posthumous Medal of Honor to 'larger than life' WW II soldier
Conner served as an intelligence officer and was honored more than 70 years later for his actions on January 24, 1945, when he "voluntarily left his position of relative safety to place himself in a better position to direct artillery fire onto the assaulting enemy infantry and armor," per a White House statement.
Conner died 20 years ago Tuesday, but his wife, Pauline, son Paul and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren attended the ceremony, as well as two previous Medal of Honor recipients.
While serving in France in January 1945, Conner was hospitalized for a hip wound, one of many injuries he incurred since his 1941 enlistment.
"He snuck out of the hospital and he made his way back to his unit," Trump said. "His doctors, his nurses, were not happy."
Upon his return, Conner volunteered to go to the front line to help direct fire, taking a telephone and hundreds of yards of telephone wire with him.
He directed artillery from 30 yards in front of the American line, lying in a shallow ditch.
"As bullets flew all around him Lt. Conner directed artillery fire, each time successfully decimating the enemy," Trump said, describing the three-hour "bloody battle."
Conner "courageously" chose to face death, helping to break the German advance and leading to enemy retreat, the President said.
His actions "killed roughly 50 German soldiers, injured 100 more and saved so many American lives," Trump said.
Conner "stared down evil with the courage of a warrior and the heart of a true hero," the President said, adding that the late lieutenant "was indeed a giant. In his daring, his devotion in his duty, he was larger than life."
Trump presented the medal to Pauline Conner, now 89, joking that he would bestow her with the military honor "as long as you voted for Trump."