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'I'm Worried Nobody Will Come' — Daughter Of WWII Hero Asks Vets To Celebrate Her Late Father's Life
That's how Cornelius Cornelssen VII signed off on a brief telegram to his son, Cornelius VIII, who had just been wounded in Luxembourg during the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1945.
“Hope wounds not serious mother and I are praying for you have courage," read the telegram, now an artifact folded and faded in the possession of Cornelssen's granddaughter, his son's daughter.
Pfc. Cornelius Cornelssen VIII — born July 25, 1925, in Manhattan and died Dec. 17, 2018, in Hoschton — had courage.
He enlisted into the Army at 18 years old and was a heavy machine gunner in the 101st Infantry Regiment.
He was awarded the Bronze Star for “exemplary conduct in ground combat against the armed enemy" during the Rhineland Campaign in early 1945. He earned two Purple Hearts for his war wounds in Luxembourg and Arracourt, in northern France.
“He was shot in the calf and he fell to the ground," his daughter, Candice Easton, told The Times on Christmas Eve about his fight in Luxembourg. “As he lay there and waited for medics, he saw somebody going around the field — a German picking off the wounded. He lay there and he played dead and hoped for the best, and he got bypassed.'
“When a medic got there to help him, he got shot. It was really something. My dad isn't very dramatic — I'm being dramatic about it — but by the time my father was taken to a field hospital, he thought it was over with and he could finally relax, the field hospital got bombed and they had to move all the patients."
Cornelius Cornelssen's discharge papers show his experience and training during World War II.Jared Keller
At the end of the war, Cornelssen would return to Pennsylvania, where he attended Drexel University in Philadelphia on the GI Bill to study engineering.
He would also meet his wife, Jeanne Cornelssen, at Drexel before graduating and going on to create his own engineering firm in Camden, New Jersey, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.
He moved to North Georgia in the 1990s to be closer to his children. While living in the area, he attended the Brenau University Learning and Leisure Institute and enjoyed local theater.
He lived independently until age 90, when an injury left him in the care of his daughter. For the past few years, he lived in the Oaks at Braselton because of his deteriorating health.
Now, 63 years after Cornelssen was brought to the ground by a rifle round halfway around the world, there's almost no one left to bid farewell to the late soldier — a fate becoming more common for the longest-lived veterans of WWII.
Cornelssen is survived by two children, a son in Hilton Head and his daughter in Hoschton.
He was awarded the Bronze Star for “exemplary conduct in ground combat against the armed enemy" during the Rhineland Campaign in early 1945.
With her father already buried in the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton only two days after his death, Easton is trying to give him a celebration of life worthy of the man himself.
“My father was a very good man, and just because he died so old there's nobody left to come," Easton said, her voice breaking. “We're from New York, and he has two friends up there, and they're in their 90s and they won't be able to come …. I'm the only one left. I'm 63, I'm having a celebration of life for him this Saturday in Flowery Branch at the Masonic Hall, and I'm worried nobody will come."
Cornelssen's celebration of life is set for noon on Saturday, Dec. 29, at the Flowery Branch Masonic Lodge on 5416 Spring Street.
Easton invites local veterans to attend and celebrate her late father.
“Ever since I stepped into my father's life — remember, I was just this little girl, so I wasn't somebody he told a whole lot of stories to — I realize every time my dad was with veterans or veterans are together, they have a certain, very strong, bond and camaraderie," Easton said. “There's a brotherhood, and it matters. They matter to each other."
More than 16 million Americans fought in World War II, and fewer than 500,000 are estimated to still live, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Like other soldiers who returned from Europe and the Pacific theaters, Cornelssen at first didn't talk much about his time in the war. But later in his life, he opened up to his daughter.
“One time, I asked my father what he was thinking about when he was sent overseas," Easton told The Times. “He answered that he was thinking the same thing as every other soldier, 'I hope I'm brave.'"
You can read Cornelssen's obituary here.
Celebration of Life for Cornelius Cornelssen
When: Noon, Dec. 29
Where: Flowery Branch Masonic Lodge, 5416 Spring Street
More info: Candice Easton, firstname.lastname@example.org
©2018 The Times, Gainesville, Ga. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.
Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.
Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."
Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.
Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.
Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.
"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."
Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.
Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.
"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.
Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.
Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.
Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.
When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."
Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.
Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.
Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.
"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.
"Yes," Graffam said.
The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.
US troops are using dating apps more and condoms less as sexually transmitted infections surge within the ranks
The U.S. military is seeing an increase in sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in part due to dating apps, according to the Military Health System.
"There appears to be an increase in high-risk behaviors among service members; that is, having sex without a condom or having more than one sexual partner," Air Force physician Maj. Dianne Frankel said in a news release.
Three Marines killed in a December plane crash are finally coming home.
Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Hercules and one Marine on an F/A-18 Hornet were killed when both planes went down about 200 miles off the Japanese coast.
A recent salvage operation of the KC-130J crash site recovered the remains of three of the Marines, who were later identified, Corps officials said.
The Air Force is investigating an airman after he posted a video on YouTube rife with homophobic slurs and insults.
A man in an Air Force uniform, identified only by the YouTube username "Baptist Dave 1611" ranted in a recent video, calling gay people "sodomites," "vermin scum," and "roaches" among other slurs, according to Air Force Times, which first reported the story Wednesday.
"The specifics of the situation are being reviewed by the airman's command team," said service spokesman Maj Nick Mercurio, confirming the incident. Mercurio did not provide any identifying details about the airman.
Two U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, defense officials have announced.
Operation Resolute Support issued a terse news release announcing the latest casualties that did not include any information about the circumstances of their deaths.