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Video: On cusp of 100, World War II veteran receives long-overdue Purple Heart

Purple Heart medal (Ed Passi/Flickr)
February 27, 2021

A few months shy of his 100th birthday, Army veteran Marvin D. Cornett was finally awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart for his actions in World War II in a small, COVID-conscious ceremony at the American Legion Post in Auburn on Monday.

A paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, Cornett was injured by mortar fire after storming Anzio Beach in Italy on Jan. 31, 1944.

“Well, the guy next to me was killed in the same explosion. He was the one who really deserved a medal. When the Army didn’t give me the Purple Heart, I didn’t think to pursue it,” read Lt. Col. William D. Linn from Cornett’s account at the ceremony. Cornett did not speak.

“So Marvin lived all these years since the war with the disability — the ringing in his ears, the loss of his sense of taste and smell, and most admirably, without a sense of entitlement,” Linn said.

After Cornett retired from the Army in 1968, he moved with his wife Eloyce and daughters Marleen and Jan to California, where he supervised the Sacramento motor fleet pool for the California Highway Patrol, according to a biography released by the 82nd Airborne.

“They are now, finally, 77 years later, making it right,” said daughter Jan Mendoza.

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