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.
Photo: WWII veteran Jimmie H. Royer attends the ceremony where he was awarded France’s Legion of Honor at VFW Post 346 in Terre Haute, Ind., Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Image Credit: Austen Leake/The Tribune-Star via AP
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 Amzio 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.
Members of the 82nd Airborne, along with other active duty and retired military members, were on hand to see Cornett get the awards he was due at the outdoor ceremony in California. Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, spoke with Cornett on a remote video call during the ceremony.
Recounting Cornett’s wartime and post-war service — along with the anecdote that until a few years ago, the man still regularly did 100 pushups a day — Donahue made an offer.
“If you want to come back, come on back,” Donahue said. “We need men like you.”
Cornett served in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne.
“You represent everything that is great with this country. You represent everything that is great with paratroopers,” Donahue said. “You are the 82nd Airborne Division.”
Read the full article at Army Times.