Almost 80 years after World War II, Marvin Cornett, who was wounded by a German mortar during the battle, received his medals at a ceremony in Auburn, Northern California. According to AP, Cornett is a humble soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division. The 99-year-old stood in his Army greens and shining jump boots as two uniformed soldiers pinned the medals - Purple Heart and Bronze Heart - on his chest.
Cornett was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Abn. Div. when he made the combat jump into Salerno, Italy. He was later wounded during combat operations along the Mussolini Canal at the Anzio beachhead on December 31, 1944. After he was injured, he was then stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he served as a parachute instructor. He later became an Army recruiter and retired as a sergeant first class.
During the medal ceremony, Cornett’s daughter, Jan Mendoza, proudly watched as two uniformed men pinned the medals on his chest. While speaking to the media outlet, Mendoza said that Cornett himself never believed his actions during World War II warranted any credit. “He really thinks the guys that didn’t come back are the guys that really deserved it,” she added.
Maj. General Chris Donahue told Cornett on a video chat during the ceremony, “Thank you for the incredible example you’ve given all of us. We can never thank you enough”.
Donahue serves as the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. It is the same Army unit to which Cornett belonged when he jumped out of aeroplanes and engaged in combat. The Army unit was the one that wanted to make things right as soon as it learned about Cornett and his missing medals.
After receiving the medals, the 99-year-old turned toward the small crowd and rendered an unassuming salute as local television cameras captured the moment. Mendoza said that even though her dad was grateful, the day was a bit overwhelming for him. She also added that Cornett will turn 100 in July and has spent much of the last year quarantined alone inside his assisted-living facility.