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Irvin Franklin Conley

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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Irvin Franklin Conley
1919-1944

“He was a role model for siblings and friends and he was outstanding in academics and athletics.”

Jason Conley (brother)

Irvin Franklin Conley was born on April 20, 1919, at Zona in Roane County, West Virginia, one of fifteen children born to Ord and Ethel Gandee Conley. Irvin attended elementary school at Mount Lebanon and then went to Walton High School, graduating as salutatorian in 1938. His high school sweetheart, Orla Kelly, was valedictorian. The Waltonian of that year lists Irvin Conley as Best Sport, Best Athlete, and Most Scholarly Boy. While in high school, Irvin worked as an “off-bearer” at a saw mill. His job included carrying boards on his back to be placed on the lumber stack. He also worked at digging pipeline.
Irvin Conley and Orla Kelly
Irvin Conley and Orla Kelly

Irvin Franklin Conley, football player
Irvin Franklin Conley, football player at Glenville
In the fall of 1938, Irvin entered Glenville State College under an athletic scholarship. He had a muscular back and while at Glenville was nicknamed “Hump.” Irvin played left tackle in Glenville’s first football game of the season--the first football game he had witnessed.

Irvin Conley joined the 150th Anti-Tank Unit of the Spencer National Guard in 1939 and enlisted in the army early in 1941. He served in Panama and was sent to Europe for the 1944 Normandy Invasion as part of the 320th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division. On July 13, 1944, Irvin Conley, now a sergeant, and his platoon were pinned down by heavy machine gun fire while engaging the enemy. With “courage and coolness under fire,” and in spite of being wounded in the leg, Conley led his men to capture strong enemy positions. For his heroism, Tech. Sgt. Conley was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Irvin Conley in Panama
Irvin Conley in the Panama Canal Zone

Irvin Conley grave
Irvin Conley grave
A month later, on August 10, Irvin Conley died at Mortain, France. He is buried at the Brittany American Cemetery at St. James, France. His mother, Ethel Conley, was presented the Distinguished Service Cross medal, awarded posthumously, on April 2, 1945. In October 1946, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5783 in Spencer was named The Irvin F. Conley Post in his honor. The army also named a harbor craft for him.

On July 4, 2000, a commemorative marker honoring Irvin Conley was dedicated at Heritage Park in Spencer. One of the participants in the dedication and wreath-laying ceremony was Orla Kelly.
Orla Kelly at wreath-laying ceremony
Orla Kelly at wreath-laying ceremony

Honor...

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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