Floyd C. Cornelius, U.S. Army

Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts.

Floyd C. Cornelius served with the 716th Military Police Battalion and the 188th Military Police Battalion in Vietnam, as well as serving at the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, with his Tactical Area of Responsibility in Saigon.

He was classified with the Military Police as 95B40. The Military Police are a section of the military solely responsible for policing the armed forces (referred to as provost). His Military Police duties included: Brooklyn Army Terminal Security, 188th M.P. Bn. Vung Tau Detachment Ships Security, the 716th M.P. Bn. Saigon Exterior Guard duty, U.S. Embassy, Saigon (Special Assignment), the 220TH M.P. Det. Army Support and A.W.O.L. Processing (Absent Without Official Leave). His pay grade was E-5 sergeant.

He received the following medals and awards: the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device 60 and the M-45 Caliber Pistol Sharpshooter Award.

Floyd C. Cornelius’ military bases and Army training included basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., in September 1965; Military Police School at Fort Gordon from September 1965 to January 1966; the Brooklyn Army Terminal from January to July 1966; the 188th Military Police Company Vung Tau Det. Vietnam from July to October 1966; ship security for the 716th Military Police Battalion Saigon, Vietnam from October 1966 to January 1967; exterior guard special assignment, U.S. Embassy, Saigon, South Vietnam from January to July 1967; and the 220th Military Police Army Support Center, Niagara Falls, from July 1967 to September 1968.

An In-Country Award Certificate of Achievement was awarded in recognition of meritorious performance of duty to Specialist Four E-4 Floyd C. Cornelius RA 12-745-756, Bravo Company 716th Military Police Battalion. Specialist Cornelius, during the period of July 22, 1966 to July 24, 1967, displayed an exceptional degree of professional competence and devotion to duty in support of counterinsurgency efforts against communism in the Republic of Vietnam. The certificate was dated July 24, 1967 and signed by William Westmoreland, General, U.S. Army. The Army Commendation Medal was awarded to Sergeant E-5 Floyd C. Cornelius RA 12-745-756 of the United States Army for Meritorious Service from July 1967 to September 1967. This award was presented on Sept. 13, 1968.

He was married in August 1968 to Marbeth Davis. The couple was wed one month before Floyd’s discharge. Their children include Jennifer (Cornelius) Rhodes and Stacie (Cornelius) Chapman. Their grandchildren are Gabriel Charles Rhodes, Elizabeth (Lizzy) Rhodes, Sidney Marge Chapman, Grace Brianne Chapman and Ellianna May Chapman.

Floyd C. Cornelius was born May 22, 1945, in Jamestown. The son of Donald and Myrtle M. (Bossman) Cornelius, he became the new king upon his arrival. With no brothers or sisters, Floyd had the run of the Larkin Street home in Randolph.

As a child, Floyd grew up helping his father, working on local farms doing various types of farm work. Farm work demanded not only long hours and working in all kinds of weather, it also demanded dedication. Working on farms in that era required not only knowledge of different crops and soil, it also demanded knowledge of its everyday operations. Being a good farm laborer demanded skills of everyday farm problems which could occur, i.e. a flat tire on a tractor, a broken piece on a farm tool, or knowledge of the various crops that were being grown. Many areas of farm work demanded that work could not be done whenever one felt like doing it.

Certain crops demanded to be picked or harvested when they were ready. Leaving crops in the fields for days or weeks after they were ready meant a farmer could lose the crop he had planned to harvest for himself or his animals, or maybe a crop that was planned to be sold. Leaving that crop because there was no time planned to pick it or there was no help to harvest meant not only the loss of that crop, it also meant the time and money that was spent to plant and maintain that crop. It was a demanding job that was hard labor, and many times small pay. A break came for Floyd’s father when he heard of a position that was open in the Cattaraugus County Highway Department, the position of a highway department laborer. A few days later, Floyd’s dad received a call. After a brief interview, the job was his.

Growing up, Floyd, as most kids, had fun just doing things that the kids of his era did. There were no video games, no iPads, no satellite television. When you came home from school, you didn’t turn the TV on or go up to your room and play video games.

School days saw Floyd attending all of his schools in the Randolph. Elementary and middle school came and went. Before he knew it, Floyd was a high school student. While in high school, Floyd was a busy man. Along with all his classes, Floyd found time to play all the sports he excelled in. Baseball started in early spring, followed by football in the fall. When the snow started to fall, if you were looking for Floyd, all one had to do was go to the gym where Floyd and the rest of the Randolph wrestling team were either practicing or in a match with another high school team. Sports were not the only area that caught Floyd’s interest. When the high school seniors voted for their class president, the name Floyd Cornelius was announced as the winner. When Floyd wasn’t playing baseball, football, wrestling or running the senior class, he spent time with the student council.

While playing football for Randolph High, Floyd would enjoy all the times and stories that came with being on a high school football team. Little did Floyd and his teammates really know, not until a few years later, that they practiced, played, and were also friends with a player from their team who became a stand-out player in the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders. What a thrill it was to watch a professional football game and see a guy who you played with only a few years ago. Marv Hubbard, a standout fullback with the Oakland Raiders from ’72 to ’74 was the classmate, teammate and friend who started his road to the NFL on the Randolph High School football team.

NEXT WEEK: Work and service.