Veteran of the Week: USAF Colonel reenacts Gen. Robert Montgomery
By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist
Col. Larry Patrick Cornwell retired from the United States Air Force after 28 years of active service.
From 1968-1996 Cornwell served across our nation, Vietnam, Thailand, Guam and Sicily.
He commanded nuclear weapons security police units, commanded the presidential support unit at Andrews AFB and served as an oversea deputy wing commander for ground defense during the Gulf War.
Highly decorated, Cornwell was awarded 32 medals and oak leaf clusters including the Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters.
Cornwell’s last Air Force assignments were Director of Resource Management, HQ AFROTC and Chief, Plans and Policy Division, HQ Air University, Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Ala.
Cornwell and wife Leanne fell in love with the area, settled and became active in civic affairs and favorite hobby, genealogical research.
Cornwell is a member of the Sons of American Revolution and Leanne founded the Alabama Society Ladies Auxiliary and served as its first president for two years.
Compatriot Cornwell has 28 Revolutionary War SAR ancestors in his family and is very active in SAR serving as chapter president, Alabama State President and National Genealogist General.
He has sponsored over 370 SAR members, founded two SAR chapters, was awarded 54 SAR medals and oak leaf clusters and is a George Washington Fellow.
Cornwell and Leanne recently spoke at the SAR Cahaba-Coosa and DAR David Lindsay Chapters of Shelby County as they put on period clothes of the Revolutionary War period and reenacted the lives of Gen. and Mrs. Richard Montgomery.
From active Air Force Colonel to Revolutionary War General is a fascinating transition.
During research, Cornwell learned of Montgomery’s bravery as he led the charge during the Battle of Quebec and was killed at the age of 37, the first general killed in the Revolutionary War.
Leanne learned of Mrs. Montgomery’s devotion for “her general” and her desire to bring his remains home to New York from the Quebec battlefield.
After being a widow for 43 years, Montgomery returned home in the largest military funeral in U.S. after Gen. George Washington.
The Cornwells’ presentation of Gen. and Mrs. Montgomery’s lives brings the past to life.
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