AUBURN, Calif. (KTXL) — It was an emotional but well-deserved celebration for a nearly 100-year old World War II veteran in Auburn. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart for his heroism, 77-years later.
Sergeant First Class Marvin Cornett sat quiet yet focused surrounded by his family and friend on a day he never expected to see happen.
Cornett was assigned to the 1st Battalion and 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
On Jan. 31, 1944 he was among the brave souls to combat-parachute in Salerno, Italy during World War II, before storming Anzio Beach and joining the fight along the Mussolini Canal.
After sustaining injuries, Cornett was sent home to the U.S.
“When he was sent back to the states because of his injury, he recovered but they sent him to Fort Benning to be a jump instructor because of his experience being a parachutist,” said Jan Mendoza, Cornett’s daughter. “So my mother was there as a parachute rigger, she was a WAK so she was there and that’s how they met. Married for 72 years.”
As years went by Cornett knew his past heroic deed was eligible for some kind of recognition but he felt as though he wasn’t worthy of such an honor.
“He had opportunities to pursue it himself and he had a career in the army, but he never thought he deserved it because when he was injured the guy that was standing right next to him was killed instantly,” Mendoza explained.
Mendoza and other family members starting inquiring about honoring her father. They received help from the Heritage Arsenal in Colorado Springs after they discovered the missing Bronze Star and Purple Heart on Cornett’s official record.
“These guys, there are not that many of them left and I think this is an opportunity for the U.S Army to finally get it right for these guys and I think today might be their last one,” Mendoza said.
Cornett was awarded his Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart by Two Star Generals via Zoom, a distinct honor Mendoza says was finally achieved through a lot of hard work.
“If you think your loved one didn’t get an award they deserve, definitely pursue it,” she said.