PVT George Roger Connor
Company B, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion,
6th Armored Division, 3rd US Army
Killed in Action 4 January, 1945, near Wardin, Belgium
(5 miles E. of Bastogne)
-- Roger McKee Connor --
My father and I were born (he in 1914, I in 1937) in the same town -- Danville, Illinois -- and we
grew up in the same house at 604 Sheridan Street. My parents' marriage was stormy from the beginning,
and they were already divorced when the War began. My mother left town when I was three, and I went to
live at "604," as I have always called it, with my father, his parents, and an assortment of aunts and
uncles. He was one of twelve children; I am an only child. How we all fit in that modest house is beyond
me. I remember sleeping under the dining room table with my dad, but I don't think that was an always thing.
I never again lived with my mother.
I have only a few direct memories of my father. Most of what I know is from family stories, his few
surviving letters (mostly to his mother), and military records. He was drafted in late 1943. I remember
that when he was home on leave, probably for the last time before he went overseas, I was called in from
playing and told, "Someone wants to see you." I ran into the living room and there he was in his dress
uniform, sitting in a big chair waiting for me and looking absolutely regal! He took me aside (in the
dining room, by the china closet) and told me to be a good boy. It was during this time that the only
good photograph I have of him was taken (the one here). I love that photograph. My father was a
He was athletic and he was strong, a golfer and a boxer and good at both. He gambled some and liked to go
drinking with the boys. He could be rowdy at times and when trouble was on the horizon, the call might be,
"Go get George." But his sisters remember him as gentle and sweet, and always respectful toward "Mom and
He often asks about me in his letters and there is one postcard to me, which I treasure, of the Arch of
Triumph in Paris at Christmastime 1944. There is little Army talk in his letters. Instead, he was
interested in the doings, health and whereabouts of his considerable circle of friends, family, even pets.
Toward the end, as Company B entered the Battle of the Bulge, there is a change in tone. "I sure hope Bill
[brother] don't have to come over. It's no picnic," and in his last letter, a week before he was killed,
"I'd sure like to be home working for [Pop]. I guess I didn't know when I was well off." He always ended
his letters with, "good-bye Mom - don't worry. Loads of love - Geo."
I was seven years old when he was killed, in the second grade. I clearly remember my first and second grade
teachers, but I can recall very little about my father. I do not remember anybody ever telling me he had
been killed, but of course they must have. I do not recall ever asking questions about my father. This
seems so strange, because as a child I was always asking questions and wanting explanations about EVERYTHING.
But I did not ask about my dad. In AWON I have learned that this is not uncommon.
In February, 1999 I decided I had to try to find out more about my dad. My quest led through the US
Archives, AWON, the 6th Armored Division Association and finally, Company B, still having reunions after
all these years. It was wonderful meeting these gallant old soldiers and they welcomed me with open arms.
Sadly for me, no one remembered my father. I waited too long and I regret it.
From AWONers, I learned of an organization in Luxembourg called US Veterans Friends, Luxembourg (USVFL),
which has as its primary purpose to greet and honor returning American soldiers and their families.
I was the guest of a member of USVFL in Luxembourg from December 27, 1999 -- January 9, 2000. My two
main goals were: 1) to be with my father at midnight on December 31, and 2) to be at the place where he
died on January 4, 2000, the 55th anniversary of his death. I accomplished both.
As the Millennium turned, I was kneeling at my father's grave in the American Military Cemetery in Hamm,
Luxembourg. It was foggy and a gentle mist was falling in the dark cemetery, illuminated only by two
candle-lanterns on my father's cross. The muffled booms of the fireworks in nearby Luxembourg City were
a 21-gun salute to Private George R. Connor. I sprinkled dirt on his grave, dirt gathered by my children
from his home in Danville, and dug some grave dirt to take back to Danville and spread in the yard of his
home. I prayed for my father and read him a letter I had prepared. Having that big beautiful cemetery all
to myself was wonderful beyond compare. I was sad and happy and at peace and crying all at the same time.
I will always remember this magic time. Of course I will.
In a field just south of Wardin, Belgium, on Jan 4, 2000, I spread some dirt from his home at the place
where he died in 1945, and I gathered some dirt from there to take back to Danville. Then, where he lived
will be connected to where he died and where he rests. I want them to be connected. Also on this
bittersweet day, the mayors of Bastogne, Belgium, and Contern, Luxembourg, held receptions, read
proclamations in honor of my father, and gave me souvenirs of their cities. I was overwhelmed.
My father died from a severe head wound on a bitterly cold, snowy day during a German counterattack,
preceded by a devastating artillery barrage. The Germans did not break through but the cost was dear.
Company B suffered its greatest one-day losses ever: thirteen men were killed, 12 were wounded, and 16
went missing. Freedom is not free.
A member of The Greatest Generation, my father died in the greatest battle ever fought by the United States
Army, in the bloodiest war in history. He helped defeat the determined and powerful army of a surpassingly
During the summer of 2009, with much help from Luxembourgers and Belgians, I arranged for a bronze plaque in
memory of my father to be placed on the Youth Services Building in Wardin. In the summer of 2010, I was joined
by an Alderman from Bastogne and several local citizens at a small ceremony to dedicate the plaque. It was the
most beautiful of summer days in this peaceful village, with children playing, birds singing, and a gentle wind
caressing all present. My father and his comrades did not die in vain.
I salute you, Dad. May God bless you. Rest in peace. We will meet again.