99 year old 82nd Airborne vet finally receives medals from WWII

| February 24, 2021

Sergeant First Class Marvin Cornett

This story about Marvin Cornett receiving his earned awards decades after bureaucratic incompetence was sent in by Jeff LPH 3. Reminds me an awful lot about my grandfather, who’d be 101 now. He too was wounded in Italy and never received a Purple Heart for it. Like Sergeant First Class Cornett, he also believed that the medals were for the men who didn’t make it back.

Shaky but sturdy, retired Sgt. 1st Class Marvin Cornett stood tall in a uniform he hadn’t worn in more than half a century to receive an overlooked award he’d been due since 1944.

Donning his “Eisenhower jacket,” a green, waist-length jacket worn by the famous general in the later stages of World War II, a garrison cap and matching trousers, Cornett was the center of attention at American Legion Post 84, in Auburn, California, Monday for an outdoor ceremony in which he finally received his Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal.

Cornett, 99, came in not an inch shorter or a pound heavier than in his fighting shape of three-quarters of a century past, when he stood 5-foot-2-inches tall and carried 110 pounds on his frame.

More than 77 years ago, after having helped capture Sicily, completing a nighttime combat jump in the rain and seeing heavy combat during the Allied invasion of Italy, Cornett was wounded during a combat assault at Anzio on Jan. 31, 1944, which pulled him from the front lines.

His wounds, severe enough to send him home, were listed in unit paperwork. But in the blur of wartime bureaucracy, they were lost.

After his injury, Cornett was sent back to Fort Benning, Ga., to serve as an instructor at the Army’s Airborne School. It was there he met and fell in love with a new kind of soldier, Eloyce Miller of the Women’s Army Corps, who’d come to the base to work as a rigger, packing parachutes for the airborne training school.

He had recently bought a surplus Army Harley Davidson motorcycle.

“My mother saw him on that and that was it,” Cornett’s daughter, Jan Mendoza, told Army Times.

After three months courting they married, and shortly after the war ended he left the Army. But not for long. Cornett returned to uniform in 1947, serving mostly in motor transport and later recruiting while raising a family before retiring in 1968.

He’d joined the Army in early 1941, before the Pearl Harbor attacks, leaving his coal mining, eastern Kentucky home to see the world, live in Europe and eventually settle in California, where he went on to a second career with the California Highway Patrol after the Army.

Mendoza said her father did 100 pushups and ran six miles a day before sunrise for most of his adult life. He proudly flew an 82nd Airborne Division flag in front of their home, wore a hat and planted a fresh division bumper sticker on his car to honor his storied unit.

More at the source, including some great pictures. Source; Army Times

Category: Army, Bronze Star, Guest Link, Purple Heart, Real Soldiers, War Stories, We Remember

Comments (12)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Green Thumb says:

    Fuck yeah!

    “If you want to come back, come on back,” Donahue said. “We need men like you.”

    Ain’t that he truth.

    • KoB says:

      Spot on GT! How many of us were trained and or influenced by Warriors such as this, way back yonder. BZ to SFC Cornett’s daughter and all those that helped insure he got the recognition that he deserved. On the flip side, how many of us can say that we are not a pound heavier than we were when we served? Or say that we are in the shape he is in at his age? Going round is a shape…isn’t it?

      Got to admire, not only his Warrior Spirit, his eye for the ladies. Eloyce was a cutie pie. Got a little curious about her, wanting to know if he had came back to The Benning School for wayward children to snag him a Georgia Peach. (Soldier Boys have ALWAYS wanted them a Georgia Peach) A little Google Fooing on the AlGorbull amazing inherwebz turned up the obit. She was an Okie from Shawnee. Linky attached:

      https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theloomisnews/obituary.aspx?pid=184166374

      • Green Thumb says:

        Word.

        This is the dude you want on your six and I bet this dude would have been a great dude to tear it up and party with as well.

  2. Old tanker says:

    I for one am damn sorry it took so long to get him what he earned. He left some damn big boots when he left the service for today’s troops to try and fill.

  3. 26Limabeans says:

    What a great story. And that photo is priceless.

  4. Andy11M says:

    cool, wonder if now I can get that ETS ARCOM I was supposed to have gotten but it was “still at brigade waiting for the COLs signature”

  5. The Other Whitey says:

    Five-foot-two, 110 pounds, and looking manly as hell!

  6. Sparks says:

    The best story of the year for me!

    Bravo Zulu SFC Cornett!

  7. rgr1480 says:

    The article mentioned his night jump in Italy, but he has two “mustard stains” on his wings.

    Found at https://www.wearethemighty.com/lists/paratroopaloosa-these-are-all-the-times-america-did-large-scale-combat-jumps/

    On the night of 9 July, the 505th PIR reinforced by 3/504 PIR and with attached artillery and engineers spearheaded Operation Husky. Two nights later on 11 July, the remainder of the 504th parachuted into Sicily to block routes toward the beachhead. However, due to numerous Axis air attacks and confusion within the invasion fleet, the troop carrier aircraft were mistaken for German bombers and fired on. This resulted in twenty three planes being shot down and the loss of eighty one paratroopers with many more wounded.

    .

    I just finished reading PARATROOPER by Gerard M. Devlin and he goes into detail about all the WWII the combat jumps — and all the problems (like mentioned in the quote above).

    Tough times … tougher men!

  8. rgr1480 says:

    Here’s the video his daughter put together:
    “The Green Box- A Paratrooper’s Story”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6U76d5OH04

    My dad is currently 99 years old (updated 2020) and retired from the US Army. He served in the 82nd airborne division as a paratrooper during WW2. He never talked about his combat experience. It wasn’t until 2007 when he agreed to tell his story using a micro-cassette recorder.

  9. Jan M. says:

    Thank you for the wonderful comments about my dad. I just uploaded another mini film I hope you enjoy. This purple heart endeavor was quite a journey for all of us. It wasn’t easy, but with the help of a few people, we made it happen! My dad was pretty surprised as we didn’t tell him until we had the medal in hand! Thanks again!

    Name edited to protect PII.
    AW1

    • rgr1480 says:

      Jan,

      What a remarkable tribute to your father! I really enjoyed reading his story and watching the two videos.

      You are a remarkable daughter!