Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wayne R. Cornell dies of injuries from I.E.D.

HOLSTEIN — Family members say a 26-year-old Army soldier from Holstein was killed in Iraq Monday.

Army Sgt. Wayne Cornell’s family said officials from Fort Riley, Kan. notified them of Cornell’s death on Tuesday. The Defense Department had not confirmed the death as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We just heard that he had died in Baghdad Monday night, that’s all we heard,” said Darlene Christensen, of Grand Island, between tears. “The family is quite distraught.”

Cornell was based at Fort Riley, but it was not immediately clear which unit he was part of. Previously Cornell had been part of Army National Guard’s A Troop, 1st Squadron of the 167th Cavalry Regiment in Hastings.

The husband and father of two was called back to Baghdad from Fort Riley in early February, Christensen said. Cornell was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

His wife, Trisha, is expecting their third child, she said.

Cornell graduated from Silver Lake High School in Roseland in 1999 after growing up in Holstein. Both Holstein and Roseland are about 20 miles southeast of Hastings in south-central Nebraska.

Christensen said her grandson was active in the South Central Taekwondo program in Hastings and taught martial arts to soldiers in special operations. Both his father and grandfather served in the military.

“He just loved the service,” she said.

Sgt. Randy Peterson of Troop A 167th Cavalry said that Cornell served in the mortar section of his unit in 2003-04.

“He was a really nice young man a hard worker, and he really enjoyed the military,” he said. “That’s why he volunteered to go to Bosnia and Afghanistan. He had been trying to go active Army for quite a while.”

Cornell is the 40th soldier with Nebraska ties to have died in Afghanistan or Iraq since the beginning of military operations following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

From the Star