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Dedicating a road to Honor
Special to The News Journal/PAT CROWE II
Brothers Jeff (left) and Jim Connor unveil a new street sign Wednesday in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery near Glasgow named after their father, World War II hero and Medal of Honor winner James P. Connor.
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 475 fire a salute Wednesday at the veterans cemetery. George R. Taylor of VFW Post 475 plays taps at the Medal of Honor dedication Wednesday. Medal of Honor recipient James P. Connor, honored Wednesday, is the most recent of 14 Delawareans to receive the country's highest military decoration:
World War II
William Lloyd Nelson
Charles B. Tanner
James Parke Postles
John B. Mayberry
John Shilling III
Henry A. du Pont
David E. Buckingham
Samuel Rodmond Smith
War with Spain
Charles H. Pierce
Delaware celebrates its latest Medal of Honor recipient by dedicating a road in his name
By ROBIN BROWN
Bear Bureau reporter
The main road of the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery near Glasgow was named Wednesday for the state's most recent recipient of the Medal of Honor, Army Sgt. James P. Connor.
Nearly 250 veterans, government officials, military leaders, friends and relatives gathered in the cold afternoon under an outdoor tent at the cemetery where flags marked every grave, including Connor's. The Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs played host at the event, praising Connor with speeches, recollections and the unveiling of a new road sign and state historic marker.
Cemetery administrator J.J. Jones said the sign and marker will be installed near the facility's pond.
Wilmington-born Connor earned his medal on a World War II battlefield, a Nazi-held beach in France being cleared for Allied troops' landing, according to a 1944 account. Seriously injured three times, Connor, then 25, led his outnumbered platoon after its officers were killed and shot two snipers himself.
Speaker Ron Gough, a veteran and historian who developed Dover Air Force Base's Medal of Honor exhibit with Connor's help, told how his inspiring friend became a national symbol as the war ended. After Connor's battlefield decoration, President Harry S. Truman invited him to the White House for personal thanks, said Gough, a state education spokesman.
Truman and Connor were visiting in the Oval Office when the German supreme commander called to surrender, Gough said. Truman then took Connor with him to announce to the world that the war was over.
Gough quoted Truman's answer as to why the Nazis gave up: "The reason they did this is because I threatened to send Jim Connor back to Europe."
Connor was Delaware's last and only living of 14 state Medal of Honor recipients. After his 1994 death, he became the only recipient buried in the state's veterans' cemeteries.
One of Connor's four sons, John of Bear, spoke Tuesday on behalf of his family.
He said he never understood his father's nickname, "Smiles."
"When we were growing up, we didn't see him smile once. He was always chasing us around the table," he said. "I think my brothers will attest to that."
Later, John Connor mulled how his father would have reacted to Wednesday's ceremony.
"He would say everybody was making a fuss over nothing, because that's the way he was," he said.
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© 2002, by The News Journal
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