Family of Cornelius Cornelssen VIII

Hundreds give WWII hero the send-off he deserves

December 31, 2018 - 12:41 pm

By Julia LeDoux

Candice Easton’s military family came through for her late father, World War II veteran Cornelius Cornelssen VIII.

She estimated more than 200 people attended her father’s celebration of life service Dec. 29 at the Flowery Branch Masonic Lodge in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

“There were just all kinds of people,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Brian Roots

Easton told Connecting Vets that she was afraid no-one would attend the service because of her father’s advanced age. Cornelssen only has two close friends who remain alive. Both are in their 90s and live in New York, making the journey to Georgia impossible for them. When that word got out, Easton said the community responded in a big way.

Cornelssen, 93, died Dec. 17 and was previously buried at Georgia National Cemetery in Carlton. He enlisted in the Army in 1943 when he was 18 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 and earned two Purple Hearts for war wounds he received at Luxembourg and Arracourt, France.

Easton prepared her father’s favorite meal – smoked beef brisket and apple pie – for 60 people thinking that would be more than enough to handle the crowd at the service. She said she was glad she underestimated the amount of food she prepared.

“It was wonderful, it was amazing,” she continued. “Someone drove 5 hours to be here. There were so many different military units here.”

A flower arrangement was sent by a Marine Corps family who lives in California, said Easton. Local law enforcement, veterans groups and veteran motorcycle riders were on hand, as were retired Army Maj. Gen. Marvin Back and Georgia State Sen. Butch Miller.

Brian Roots

“Maj. Gen. Back didn’t know my father,” Easton said. “He heard about the service and he and his wife came from Jaspar, Georgia to be here.”

When the war ended, Cornelssen returned to Pennsylvania, earned a degree in engineering from Drexel University, where met and married his wife, Jeanne. He opened up his own engineering firm in Camden, New Jersey and moved to North Georgia to be near his children in the 1990s. He lived by himself until an injury left him in his daughter’s care when he was 90. For the past few years, he lived in an assisted care facility due to declining health.

Photo supplied by Candice Easton

“I don’t like to ask anyone for help,” she said. “I was vulnerable and people that I didn’t know came out and made everything okay.”

Want to get more connected to the great stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here and sign up for our weekly newsletter.