President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to the widow of 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner, above, in the White House Tuesday.
For Pauline Conner, Tuesday is a day that she wasn’t sure would ever come.
The widow of 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner conducted a 22-year-old campaign for his Distinguished Service Cross that he received for his actions on Jan. 24, 1945 in France – upgrade to a Medal of Honor, as his World War II battalion commander had wanted to when.
“After all these years, it is real and it is truly an honor,” the 89-year-old widow said Monday at the Pentagon. “I really had to. I didn’t think it would ever happen. But he has a [battle] record that speaks for itself. I don’t have to tell.”
President Donald Trump awarded the nation’s highest military decoration, with Pauline in a White House ceremony in honor of a remarkable moment, of the heroism of the Conner’s 28-month combat career, which took him to North Africa and Europe.
“Today we tell the story of an incredible hero,” Trump said during the ceremony. “Even though he died 20 years ago today, he takes his rightful place in the eternal chronicle of the American courage.”
As it turns out, the veteran is requires an upgrade of the eyewitnesses, who were eventually found by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, who sent an employee of the National Archives, where the necessary documentation was discovered.
His widow spoke about the toll of his tour of duty, which included wounded seven times, had on her husband, whom she married at the age of 16.
(U.S. Army )
“You know, in the second world War, Korea, they did not know PTSD as they did in Vietnam,” said Pauline in the Pentagon. “But I’ve always said that if someone ever has had PTSD, he did. Because a lot of the time, he would wake up in the night, you know, with nightmares. And after I would wake him up, and he would go outside, sit on the front porch, smoke cigarettes for hours at a time.”
However, her husband has never spoken about what happened to him abroad.
On Jan. 24, 1945, Conner’s soldiers – 7th Infantry, 3rd Battalion – were faced with a counter-attack of 600 German troops armed with tank destroyers. Instead of retreating, he chose to run forward into enemy fire with a telephone to direct artillery fire in the hope of the end of the attack. He lived in an irrigation ditch for three hours before the battle was won as swarms of German soldiers, moved in the direction of his battalion.
“He had just returned from injuries. He was not even intended to be there,” said Erik Villard, digital military historian of the Army Center of Military. “But he came back to his unit and walked forward and offered the mission, and he did what he did.”
“Today we pay tribute to this Kentucky farm boy who stared
down evil,” Trump said. “Indeed, he was a giant, larger than life, he will never be forgotten.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, spoke on the Conner’s sacrifice on the floor of the senate Tuesday
“I am proud to congratulate Pauline and her family today. And I want to thank her for giving our nation the opportunity to salute a First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner,” McConnell said in a statement. “He embodies the highest values of our society and our nation. But this humble man never called himself a hero. It is therefore the responsibility on us to do that.”
Conner’s Army record during the war, four Silver Stars, French valor awards and three Purple Hearts. He earned the decorations in the ferocious battle between October 1942 and March 1945, when his 3rd Infantry Division unit of Morocco, in Tunisia, in Italy, in France and in Germany.
“My husband was a very humble man, and I am honored to represent him. It is—it’s not about me, it’s about him. And he was my hero. He was 53 years old, and he still is because he’s been gone 20 years.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report
Christopher Carbone is a reporter covering global affairs, technology and national news for FoxNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christocarbone.