Today’s veteran: Cornell Harvey, 66
Service: Air Force, 29 years
Duties: Administrative specialist
Rank: Chief master sergeant
Recognitions: Vietnam Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; Gulf War Medal; Kuwait Liberation Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Air Force Achievement Medal; Outstanding Unit Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Good Conduct Medal
Duty stations: Germany; Taiwan; Japan; Guam; Warner Robins Air Force Base; Ohio and North Dakota
His story: Cornell Harvey grew up in a household where he had high expectations after graduating high school.
Some of his friends enlisted in the Air Force, and he decided to meet with a recruiter, even though he didn’t plan on enlisting. A recruiter made the Air Force sound so interesting that Harvey decided to enlist for four years.
He was trained as an administrative specialist and had to learn to type, handle different documents and learn military protocol.
After spending two years at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Harvey was sent to Guam, where he worked in support of troops serving in Vietnam. His job was to keep a log of every mission flown by B-52 bombers.
“It was good duty for me,” he said.
He was serving in Taiwan when he decided to re-enlist because the job market was bad, he liked the duty and he was offered a re-enlistment bonus.
He started taking college classes at Warner Robins and continued his education at different duty stations.
He was stationed at a weather station in Ohio when he was promoted to sergeant, before he was send to Japan for four years, where he served as an armed forces courier hand delivering sealed classified printouts of conversations from North Korea.
It was during his time in Japan, which he and his family enjoyed, that Harvey said he realized his pride in being an American.
“It was really educational,” he said.
His next duty station was at a strategic missile complex in North Dakota. Harvey said he’s never experienced colder weather. His job was to deliver the codes if the ballistic missiles ever needed to be launched. He said he understood the enormous responsibility and the consequences if he ever had to issue the codes to launch a strike.
“You try not to think about it,” he said.
After two years in North Dakota, the Air Force sent Harvey to the University of Maryland for a year to finish earning his bachelor’s degree. He then returned to North Dakota, where he was assigned to a strategic missile wing in which he was in charge of tactical administration.
Harvey had ambitions to be an officer, but he chose an offer to serve in Germany.
“It was an opportunity to get out of North Dakota,” he said.
He and his family liked Germany so much, Harvey said they spent the next 12 years there.
He played on a base softball team that toured the country, playing at different military bases. He also traveled to many countries in Europe and North Africa in his duties in logistics.
He was a war game facility administrator working with foreign troops. Near the end of his time in Germany, Harvey was assigned to a special operations unit that flew all over the world on different classified assignments.
“I did a lot of things in a lot of places,” he said.
Harvey finished his career at Warner Robins, where he served as personnel superintendent.
He said the most gratification he received from military service was the opportunity to serve as a mentor to younger airmen and help them advance their careers.
Harvey said he decided while he was in the Air Force that he would someday return home to serve as the mayor of Brunswick.
“I’ve always set goals and learned how to attain them,” he said. “I’m just happy to look back. My whole focus was to help somebody.”
Our Veterans runs Wednesdays. Contact Gordon Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 912-464-7655 to suggest a veteran for a column.