|Garlin Murl Conner|
That soldier’s heroism, and the 20-year campaign to recognize it with the Medal of Honor, are recounted in “From Honor to Medal: The Story of Garlin M. Conner,” an hour-long documentary coming soon from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky (which publishes The Rural Blog).
A trailer and a “teaser” for the documentary are online at honortomedal.us, along with information about Conner and some of the major players who worked hard to get him the nation’s highest military honor. It was a long time coming.
Conner—“Murl” to friends and family—survived that horrible day in a ditch in the French province of Alsace, and came home to a farm with no electricity or running water near Albany, Ky. He had a family, gave them a good life, and was a leader of his fellow farmers and veterans. He suffered in body and mind from his Army service, but rarely talked about it.
Only after Conner died in 1998 was his story told – first by a complete stranger who became his greatest advocate and inspired others to join the campaign to get the Medal of Honor for him. Led by a neighbor who wouldn’t take no for an answer, they struggled for 20 years to break through Army bureaucracy, losing at every turn – but remaining inspired by Conner’s battlefield examples of determination.
In the end, in an amazing turn of events, they won. And now their story is being told, along with the story of Lt. Conner, who, it turns out, may have been the most decorated American soldier of World War II.
The documentary, which highlights the rurality of Conner's life, is sponsored by private donors and the Veterans Trust Fund of the Kentucky Department for Veterans Affairs, which assisted the Conner team’s legal efforts at the direction of then-Commissioner Heather French Henry, who has championed veterans since her tenure as Miss America 20 years ago.
The film is written and directed by Jeff Hoagland of Lexington, who has helped produce, write and edit documentaries that have appeared on KET, the American Heroes Channel (formerly the Military Channel) and the National Geographic Channel. The associate producer is Janet Whitaker, formerly of KET and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. The institute’s director, UK School of Journalism and Media Professor Al Cross, is executive producer.