99-year-old Army veteran receives Purple Heart, Bronze Star
More than 76 years after being wounded, 99-year-old Army veteran Marvin Cornett will receive the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart for valorous actions in combat during World War II.
Yeah. Yes. Make frequent. Oh, Peter's going right now for their getting set up their standing during the Pledge of Allegiance in. It's just starting. It looks like there's the old guy in the front seat background. Post 84 was chartered in November. Years old. 19. They're still there. So, Marvin, we're a little bit older than you are. He's supposed to be the master of ceremonies, though you might want to mute. I'd like to introduce a couple guests are here to honor you today. First of all, Bonnie Potter, Admiral U. S. Navy retired Mike Holmes, Captain U. S. Navy retired James Moore, Major U. S. Air Force retired port for our very commander District seven American Legion. And also here to honor you is the Auburn honor guard. This time, I like Thio introduced William Lynn, retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army to carry on. Well, boy, we made it. I would miss this world, actually, so I'd like to thank Don McLean and Post 84 for rolling out the red carpet here to host this event. Also like to thank uh, start Major Terry Crosson. Yes. Army retired and the Post honor guard for leading us in the pledge and their presence today, I'd like to recognize our awardee. So in first class, Marvin D. Cornett, U. S. Army retired and his proud and committed families daughters Marlene Sanders, husband Bill John Mendoza and husband Alex, son in law Phil Wilbur, Granddaughter Jenny Pettitte, grandson Kurt. Multi and great grandchildren Carson, Cody, Bryson and Caleb. I'd like to recognize the attendance of Rear Admiral Bonnie Potter and Lieutenant Colonel Mike Burns all the way from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 82nd Airborne bitch. Lieutenant Colonel Bob Lang, US 24. Retired. Thank you for being here. Also, like to acknowledge the presence and participation of staff Sergeant Thompson and staff started Penny well Bell from the local U S. Army Recruiting Battalion. Both former members of the 82nd Airborne Division would like to acknowledge the members of the press who are covering the event, including of Inclusive of Channel three, Sarah Blake Morgan of The Associated Press, Todd South of Military Times, National Public Radio, Channel 40 Fox News, KOVR Good Day, Sacramento Channel 13, Auburn Journal and Sacramento V as well as others. And so why all the fanfare and attention you might ask. Well, need I remind you this ceremony is about 76 years overdue, and our award recipients turns 100 years old on July 1st. Anything? So we're a bit about our special reward. Eat, Sergeant. First class. Marva D Cornett, U S Army retired actually wore the uniform of the United States before our country entered the war. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 7 41 he enlisted as a volunteer on February 6 1941. According to his enlistment records, he was 5 ft three, £110 and of particular note, he hasn't lost an inch or gained a pound since 1941. I'm of the opinion that if I could still wear my uniform at 99 a lot have things have gone right in my life, so he looks amazingly sharp. There's nothing we can do to outshine him right now. Since August 1940 the U. S. Have been training parachute troops at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Marvin, serving with the Quartermaster unit at the time, wanted to be part of this elite force, the rial army, as he quipped. And so he answered the call for volunteers. Successfully navigating six weeks of intense training at the Parachute School of Four Panic, Georgia. Marvin earned his coveted silver wings on January 2nd, 1943 and joint headquarters company, First Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry, off the famed 82nd Airborne Division. By April, it set sail to join allied forces engaged in combat against the German, Italian and Vichy French in North Africa. Once the island of Sicily was secure, Marvin was manifested to make a combat parachute jump in the dead of the night. Uh, September 13th, 1943 into mainland Italy, near Salerno. He was among 4000 other U. S paratroopers checking the enemy counterattacks that threaten the Allied beachhead we had established there. Having survived that, he became a mule skinner for his unit in the harsh, rugged mountains of Italy and some of the most demanding combat conditions ever faced by American troops. In January 1944 Marvin made a combat amphibious landing with his unit on the beaches of Anzio, further up the coast, and it was here on January 31st, 1944 where he was wounded by an enemy mortar round while fighting long Mussolini Canal pull off the line to be treated and began recovery. His wounds kept him from returning to his unit and the fighting instead. Given his combat experience, he was selected as an instructor at the Parachute School at Fort Benning. Because you see, Fate had another hand to play because there happened to be a young woman Army Corps parachute rigger, packing parachutes of the rigor shared in Fort Benning, surrounded by thousands of men. I have to assume that Marvin Cornett must have been both a dashing figure as well as a bit of a salesman to win the hand of the feature Missed Eloise Cornett. I'm told also that there was an Army Harley Davidson motorcycle involved in the courtship, and it was on that same motorcycle that transported the couple across the Chattahoochee River in a rainstorm to get married in Alabama. He and Eloise left the Army at war's end, but Marvin saw an opportunity to reenlist after a couple of years of civilian life and make the Army a career, finally retiring in 1968. And really, that's where the story would have ended, had his daughter, Jan not watched some of heritage Arsenal's online content, specifically a piece we shot about the women Riggers at the parachute school. More discussions with Jan and some research and your father's service highlighted a 76 year discrepancy. The army had never gotten around to formally awarding Marvin his Purple Heart. I asked you and to find out more about that during her next visit with her dad and really typical of the greatest generation. She relayed the story to me after their visit, and I pray phrase here only slightly. Well, the guy next to me was killed in the same explosion. He was the one who really deserved the medal. When the army didn't give me the Purple Heart, I didn't think to pursue it. So Marvin lived all these years since the war with the disability, the ringing in his ears, the loss and sense of taste and smell, and most admirably, without a sense of entitlement. Well, newsflash, Marvin, you raised two daughters of fighting spirit just like you. Using my experience and knowledge of the process and the system, I began to work with Jan and our initial collective effort resulted in all too familiar letter of denial from the Army, firmly convinced that what is impossible for most people just takes are referred to this five more minutes. I contacted Marvin's old in it, the 82nd Airborne Division, as proud of that unit is today. There even prouder of their veterans, especially those who fought in World War two. I reached out on November 17. By November 25th, the medals were approved, and by December 7th, Jan had both in a great bronze star Purple Heart into her hands. So a bit about these two medals and their significance and Marvin Cornets case. As a result of a study conducted in 1947 a policy was implemented that authorized the retroactive awarded the Bronze Star to all soldiers who had received the Combat Instruments badge or the Combat medical badge during World War Two. The basis of this decision was that these badges were awarded on Lee to soldiers had born hardships, which resulted in the establishment of the Bronze Star medal. So I'm first class. Cornett received the Combat Instruments badge or C I B on October 17th, 1943. Though he previously received the Bronze Star medal, the army wanted him to receive it again during today's ceremony. The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington, then the commander in chief of the Continental Army, by order from his Newburgh, New York, headquarters on August 7, 17 82. The badge of military merit was Onley awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers by General Washington himself by Executive Order, the President. United States The Purple Heart was revived on the 2/100 anniversary of George Washington's birth out of respect to his memory and military achievements by the War Department. General Order Number three Dated February 22nd 1932. The Purple Artist Award in the name of the President, United States Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U. S. Armed services after April 5th 1917, has been wounded or killed. It is an estimated that 1,076,245 U. S. Personnel who served during World War Two received the Purple Heart. Well, as of today, we have one more. I have the distinct honor. They introduced the commanding general, the 82nd Airborne Division. Major General Christopher T. Donahue, who is live with us from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Major General Donahue was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry branch in 1992 from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Major General Donath, you served in leadership positions, from platoon leader to commanding general of a division. Prior to taking command of the 82nd Airborne Division General Donahue served with 75th Ranger Regiment, the 87th Infantry, a Joint staff, U. S. Special Operations Command, US Joint Special Operations Command, J. Sock, the Fourth Infantry Division and the Infantry School. As the commandant, he has deployed 17 times in support of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, North Africa and Eastern Europe. His military education includes the impure officer, basic Advanced Forces, the Naval War College in the U. S. Army War College Fellowship At Harvard University, Major Donald Donaghy assumed command of the 82nd Airborne Division on June 10th. 2020. Ladies and gentlemen, Major General Donahue. Mhm. Thank you, everyone. Um, first of all to Marvin. Um, I just want you to know what a distinct. An incredible honor is for all of us here in the 82nd Airborne Division. One second, sir. Marvin, I just Can you hear me? Okay, that's him right there. Mhm weather. Marvin, I just want you to know, uh, it is an incredible honor to represent all paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division today in the past and the future toe honor you with this incredible award. Your division commander, when you earned this was General Ridgeway. And I know he would be incredible. Proud of incredibly proud of everything that you have done both while you served in the 82nd and everything that you've done with your life afterwards. I also understand that perhaps we may need you in the 82nd Airborne Division. Right now, I'm told that you can still do 100 push ups and you're exactly the type of person that we still need today in this division. So if you if you want to come back for more than what we want, we want you back. So come on back. We need men like you. And thank you for the incredible example. You've given all of us. I'd also just like to thank your daughter's, uh, your grandchildren and great grandchildren. So I'm sure all of them have been part of this process and then also an old comrade and build Lynn who? All the incredible work he did amongst many others to make sure that this day happened. And again, we could not be more proud of you as I looked through. And look at all the incredible things that you have done on the legacy that you built for all of us toe earn and to live up to every day. We can never thank you enough. Also, I would just tell you, I know that you met your wife at Fort Benning and she was also involved in the airborne community. I would tell you that I also met my wife, who is airborne, qualified at Fort Benning as well. So I can just so you know, some things don't change and again way could never thank you enough for everything you did and volunteered during World War Two. But post World War Two all everything you did with your 20 year career is absolutely incredible. What you did bringing back our fallen and then also everything you did to recruit and then continuing the life of service with the California Highway Patrol. Eso thank you for the incredible honor of everything that you are. And again, we would love to have you re enlist and come back to the 82nd, Because way need men like you. And again, we can never thank you enough. And as I, you know, finalize my comments here. You represent everything that is great with this country. You represent everything that is great with paratroopers, and you are the 82nd Airborne Division. Every day we live up to what you have done, and we could never thank you enough. So again, on behalf of all all members of the 82nd Airborne Division, past, present and future, it is incredible honor to be here today and to watch you finally get awarded this Bronze Star medal for service in combat and also the Purple Heart. And again, an incredible honor. And on behalf of everybody, the 82nd, we salute you for everything that you've done, sir. Thank you. Oh, thank you for those remarks, General Donna, You and for your emphasis on this ceremony and in making this presentation of Priority for you and Your Division. Given the tasks, responsibilities and challenges you face every day in the 82nd Airborne Division, I will now ask our first class Cornett to move forward with staff Sergeant Thompson and staff started Penny. Well, Bell also move forward to prepare to make the presentation. At this time, I would also like, uh, toe ask all in attendance who are able to stand for the presentation of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart around face up boots or something that is fine. Attention to orders. This is a certify that the President United States of America, has awarded the Bronze Star medal to then private Marvin D. Cornett headquarters company. First Battalion five oh four. Parachute Infantry Regiment for meritorious achievement. Inactive ground combat against the enemy Private Cornets Example. Performance of duty Inactive ground combat was in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself. The five of four Parachute Infantry Regiment and the United States Army given under my hand in the state of Washington this 25th day of November 2020 signed Ryan D. McCarthy, the secretary of the Army. This is a certified the president. United States of America has awarded the Purple Heart. So then, Private Marvin D. Cornett, headquarters company first Battalion five or four. Parachuted to regiment for wounds received in action on 31. January 1944 in Italy. Given under my hand in the city of Washington this 25th day of November 2020. Signed Ryan D. McCarthy, the secretary of the Army. Please join me in congratulating Sergeant First class. Cornett who? Oh, I think it in. Hey, Daddy. Hello. Oh, they taught me. That's right. We all know how todo tight. Yes. Looking good. Looking good. Okay, that okay. At this time, I would like to invite Jen and Dosa to the podium. She's the youngest daughter of Marvin Cornett and is the spokesman for the Cornish family today. Thank you, Bill. Who? Well, words can't express how proud we are. Marvin, Our father, grandfather, great grandfather. In 1941 Marvin hopped on a train out of the cold mining hills of eastern Kentucky to volunteer for the army. Little did he know that that train ride would also leave to his wife and voice of 72 years, a lengthy career in the Army, a second career with the California Highway Patrol, many world travels and living a very long and successful and fulfilling life. I truly believe that the reason he's celebrating 100 years is because he never stopped being a soldier. He never stopped marching. Some of his neighbors here can attest his entire life every single day, rain or shine. Marvin would double time six miles before sunrise, and that was after he did his 100 push ups every day. Marvin is very proud of his career in the U. S. Army, but especially proud to have been a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, because throughout his life there was a flag in the yard with the 82nd Airborne insignia blazed on it. Hats, closed patches. He wore them all all the time and bumper stickers on his vehicles airborne all the way. The family would like to thank the 82nd Airborne Division building of Heritage Arsenal, Colorado Springs, the American Legion post here in Auburn. All the news media that have come in all of the supporters. Everybody in uniform today. Thank you so much. Representing all of the different branches of service. Some retired, some active duty, but I really appreciate. Appreciate it. Thank you so much. This is something Marvin never pursued himself. A long overdue Purple Heart. But like many combat veterans who had buddies that didn't make it home, he didn't think he deserved it. Keith. Daddy, You deserve it. Thank you. Like going back up. So this concludes the formal portion of the ceremony. I'd like to thank all of the tenants for coming. If you wish to offer your personal congratulations to start Cornett, we will make him available immediately following. And it's also begins a scheduled media time for those who wish to engaged of both starting first class Burnett and the family. And we'll make them available for comment immediately. Following. Thank you so much for the attendants. You'll never see anything like this again in your lifetime. Which is why I flew out from Colorado to see this because I wouldn't miss it for the world. It's been worth every bit of what, this time to get this done. All right. Thank you. All right. Uh, members of the media, I will leave this on for about 10 or 15 minutes and I will come back and check in with you and see if they're ready to us. Let me close some things out here, okay?