Out of high school, I joined the United States Army on the delayed entry program. I attended boot camp at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri then was off to A.I.T. at Fort Lee, Virginia. Upon completion I was shipped out to Fort Hood, Texas 4th MMC 13th COSCOM. While there, I was the line-item manager for Missile Repair Parts.
While stationed at Fort Hood, duty called me to serve in the Persian Gulf War. I received my “For Your Eyes-Only Clearance” before we shipped out. It was a blistering 130 degrees when we got off the plane; and you thought Texas was hot. While there, we started off as theatre supply, which in short means that we were supply for the whole war.
I was shipped to the front line as a supply liaison. I remember my first hour up there. Master Sergeant Tucci came to me and said, “Cornette, you got guard duty.” I’m not even unpacked yet. Where’s my ammo? I get to my guard post, escorted by Msgt Tucci carrying a pair of binoculars. He gave them to me and told me to scan the horizon. Being a good Private First Class, I did what my Msgt said. All I could see for miles was sand and Iraqi tanks. I looked at him and asked, “Where’s the front line?” He said to me, “You are the front line for tonight. I will send someone as soon as I can to relieve you. Good luck.” I asked if I could at least get a hand grenade to go with my 20 rounds of ammo. He laughed, I laughed, and he left. A few days later, the French Foreign Legion showed up. We never did get that front line. I could go on and on with stories from the sand.
After the war was won and we were back at Fort Hood, I was told to either change my MOS (job) or get out of the Army. I changed MOS to Radio Repairman, the only official repairman in the Army at the time. First, I had to get my secret clearance, then I shipped out to Fort Gordon, Georgia for 27-1/2 weeks for electronics training. After training I was stationed at Fort Gordon, and my unit wanted me to be able to repair encrypted equipment, so I got my top secret clearance and then was off to school again. I left active duty in October of 1995, after 6 years, 7 months, and 23 days of active duty.
In 19??, I joined the National Guard in Lapeer, Michigan. While there we deployed to Atlanta, Georgia for security at the Olympics. I was at the Olympic Park when the bombing happened. I was hit with fallout debris but was uninjured. I tried to render first aid to those around me, but medical was on the spot. Later on, some comrades in BDUs gathered some of us and gave us a briefing. Another bomb had been found, and we needed to clear everyone out of the area immediately. That took what seemed like forever, but we got everyone safely out. What a night that was.
After that I transferred to the Jackson, Michigan armory where I was again doing electronics repair. I got my Sergeant Stripes there and was Squad leader and Section Sergeant. While stationed there, I had the opportunity to travel to Italy for three weeks. I was able to work on all kinds of equipment there including night vision goggles. I laugh now, because the Air Force needed help and the Army was there. The radio in the Commanders helicopter had a short in it. It would just cut out in mid transmission, and the electronics guy for the Air Force in Italy couldn’t figure it out. My First Sergeant and I took one look at their stack, looked at each other and laughed. It wasn’t grounded. We spent the next hour scrounging up parts from other units and fixed the commander’s helicopter.
I decided I was done with military service. I had injured my back just after the Gulf War. It was getting to where I couldn’t do the physical training anymore, and I was up for promotion to Staff Sergeant.