Guide to the Gordon C. Cornell Papers, 1934-1996
H017-04

 Finding aid prepared by Paul A. Oelkrug, CA, 17 August 2005. Arranged and processed by Malcolm Swain.

Collection Overview

Repository
Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Collection.
Creator - Creator
Cornell , Gordon C., Mr., (Gordon Charles ), 1934 -1996
Title
Gordon C. Cornell Papers
ID
H017-04
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1970-1975
Date [inclusive]
1934-1989
Extent
7.75 Linear feet (Three manuscript boxes, two memorabilia boxes (12.5x19x2), two non-standard boxes (11x13.5x2), and one non-standard box (30x18x6).)
Language of Materials
Collection is in English.
Abstract
Cornell enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve on 9 May 1953, completed basic training 9 September 1954, and was sent to NAS Corpus Christi for advanced training. His career as a naval aviator was exemplary. He earned many medals and awards including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Distinguished Flying Cross, most of which he earned while serving as commanding officer of VF-143 conducting air strikes on targets in North Vietnam. On the last day of American involvement in the Vietnam War, Harley Hall, one of the pilots flying with VF-143, was shot down while attacking a North Vietnamese supply convoy near Quang Tri, South Vietnam. Hall was never seen or heard from again and is presumed killed in action making him the last Navy pilot lost, and possibly, the last American killed in Vietnam.

Citation

Gordon C. Cornell Papers, Document name or type, Folder number, Box number, Series number, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Collection. 17 August 2005

800 West Campbell Road, MC33
Richardson, TX, 75080-3021
972-883-2570
[email protected]

Revision Description

 The first revision was a conversion to HTML Format. 23 September 2015

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Provenance Statement

The Gordon C. Cornell Papers were donated to the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by his wife Shirley Cornell on February 13, 2004.

Note to the Researcher

Metal fasteners were replaced by coated paper clips.

Material Removed List

Duplicates were de-accessioned.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Cornell , Gordon C., Mr., (Gordon Charles ), 1934 -1996

Subject(s)

  • History of Aviation Collection

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Biographical Sketch

Gordon Charles Cornell was born 30 March 1934 in Penn Yan, New York. Located at the northern tip of the east fork of Lake Keuka in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, this area was a major influence in Cornell’s decision to become a naval aviator. Lake Keuka played a major role in early aviation development. It was at Hammondsport, located on the southern tip of the lake, where Glenn Curtis built and flew his famous flying boats. In fact, on one of his military records, Cornell states that spending his boyhood on the lake played a major influence in his decision to become a naval aviator; wanting to become a pilot since World War II.

Cornell enrolled in the New York State Institution of Applied Arts and Science in Binghamton, New York where he took courses in Mechanical Physics, Mathematics, Geometry, Trigonometry, Analytical Geometry, and Calculus. He also participated in sports such as volley ball, basketball, and varsity baseball.

In his senior year he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve on 9 May 1953 as an aviation cadet, requesting that he not be ordered to active duty until after graduation. After graduation he reported for duty; completing basic training 9 September 1954, then was sent to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas for advanced training. By March 1955 Cornell was appointed to the rank of Ensign, and in April 1957 he applied for transfer into the regular Navy.

Cornell’s naval career was exemplary. According the latest awards documents dated 13 April 1973, he received the following medals and commendations: Distinguished Flying Cross, 17 Air Medals (S/F), 2 Navy Commendation Medals, Purple Heart, and 8 Air Medals (S/M). It further shows he earned the following but was not yet approved as of the date of this document: Bronze Star, 2 Navy Commendation Medals, 2 Air Medals, and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Lt. Commander Cornell earned his Purple Heart while flying a mission over North Vietnam on 28 September 1966. Assigned to Fighter Squadron 161 (VF-161) operating from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation (CVA-64), LCDR Cornell’s F-4 Phantom II was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire while attacking the Yen Xa railroad bridge in North Vietnam. The damage to the aircraft and the wound suffered by Cornell were not serious enough to prevent him from returning to his ship.

Cornell’s citations testify to his dedication and bravery. He continually went in low to take out designated targets or, when flying flak suppression for the strike package, many times rendered the enemy’s anti-aircraft batteries around the target ineffective.

As a naval aviator, Cornell flew a variety of aircraft starting with the Grumman F-9F Cougar, F-3H Demon, A-4E Skyhawk, F-8B Crusader, and finally, the McDonald-Douglas F-4 Phantom II.

Cornell attained the rank of Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of VF-143 and also served as the Executive Officer of the U.S.S. Coral Sea (CVA-43).

Perhaps one of the saddest moments in his career was as Commanding Officer of VF-143 based on the U.S.S. Enterprise (CVAN-65). On 27 January 1973, the last day of the United States’ military involvement in the Vietnam War, Commander Harley Hall took off from the  Enterprise on a late afternoon mission to bomb targets in South Vietnam about 15 miles northwest of Quang Tri. On Hall’s third bombing run on an enemy supply convoy, Hall’s F-4 was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He and his RIO ejected from their damaged aircraft safely over water, but the wind blew them back over land. The RIO, Al Kientzler, was captured and eventually released after hostilities ceased. Hall was never seen again making him the last Navy pilot, and possibly the last American, lost in the Vietnam War. Gordon Charles Cornell passed away 6 February 1996 and is buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California.

Source
 Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Surnames. San Diego County, California. [Online] 21 June 2005. http://www.internet.net/data/us/ca/sandiego/roswcrans/c/rosecrans_c10.htm
Source
 Gordon Charles Cornell Papers, The History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
Source
 National Museum of Naval Aviation. National Flight Log. [Online] 21 June 2005.  https://naval-air.org/flightlog/moreinfo.asp?UID=2613

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Scope and Content

This collection contains naval documents relating to training, fitness reports, change of command, promotions, awards, citations, and accident reports, pilot log books, photographs, memorabilia, cold weather jacket, and leather jacket that were created/or collected by Cornell. The Gordon Charles Cornell Papers are housed in three manuscript boxes and five non-standard boxes in various sizes totaling 7.75 linear ft.

The collection arrived in good condition. Order was imposed by the archivist, who identified three series with the first series being Documents Series. Materials include orders, medals, citations, enlistment papers, fitness reports, and an accident report. Also included are newspaper clippings about the loss of Harley Hall; enlistment papers, flight questionnaires, pilot examinations, pilot check-out examination for F-9F Cougar, and flying time reports; procedure evaluations, exams, evaluation reports, and flight activity survey reports.

The researcher will also find change of station orders, travel orders, change of duty orders, and temporary attachment orders, dependency certificates, loyalty certificate, aircraft readiness reports for VF-143, officer data cards, fighter cruise reports, annual qualifications questionnaires and fitness reports, recommendations for medals, medal certificates, and citations.

Further materials in this series are academic certification, appointment in Naval Reserves, safety record commendation, Centurion Certificate for 100 arrested landings aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise (CVAN-65), change of command programs from VF-143, aviator flight logbooks, memo book, research papers on various subjects, flash priority messages regarding engagement with a North Vietnamese MiG, daily aircraft situation summaries, and safety surveys.

Materials includes an aircraft accident report regarding an F-3H-2M Demon, narrative of the accident, pilot’s statement (LTJG Gordon C. Cornell), medals and awards to pilots serving in VF-143 (Pukin Dogs) under Cornell operating from the U.S.S. Enterprise (CVAN 65), lists of VF-143 personnel who have received medals, Fighter Squadron VF-143 social rosters, unofficial humorous naval documents, newspaper clippings, clearance notice, letter to Cornell, VF-143 Newsletters, The Scuttle Bone, and  U.S.S. Essex (CVA-9) Second Korean War Cruise Book.

The second series is the Photographs and Negatives Series, which contains an award presented to Cornell by the South Vietnamese Government, accident investigation photographs, images depicting Cornell, ships and planes, people, portraits of Cornell and aircraft inflight.

The third series is the Memorabilia Series, which contains pins, cigarette lighter, tie clasp, electrical cable from flight suite, military uniform buttons, paper weights, gold tee, belt buckles, medals, plaques, pinochle cards, decals, uniform name pins, ephemera, patches, baseball caps, leather gloves, cummerbunds, leather flyer’s jacket, and flyer’s cold weather jacket. Of special note are two audio cassettes containing the pilot debriefing of the shooting down and attempted rescue of Harley Hall and the radio transmissions of the mission on which Hall was shot down.

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Series Description

The Cordon C. Cornell Papers are arranged in three series:

Series I. Documents 1.25 linear ft. (three manuscript boxes), 1934-1989.

Arranged by document type and chronological order within each type.

Series II. Photographs and Negatives 1.8 linear ft. (two non-standard boxes), 1974.

Arranged by subject.

Series III. Memorabilia 4.7 linear ft. (three non-standard boxes), 1966-1984.

Arranged by size.

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Related Materials

Additional Sources

For more information on the aircraft flown by Cornell consult the Aircraft Manufacturer's Collection located at the History of Aviation Collection (HAC), Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

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Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example : 5GC-1-1-PC1

5 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

GC = Cordon C. Cornell Papers

1 = Box Number

1 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

C = Color

1 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Documents 

Birth Certificate. 1934 March 30  


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 1 1

Aviator and Natops Training. 1953-1970   Enlistment papers, flight questionnaires, pilot examinations, pilot check-out examination for F-9F Cougar, and flying time reports.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 1 2

Aviator and Natops Training. 1970-1974   Procedure evaluations, exams, evaluation reports, and flight activity survey reports.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 1 3

Official Orders. 1953-1959   Change of station orders, travel orders, and temporary attachment orders.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 1 4

Official Orders. 1959-1975   Change of station orders, travel orders, change of duty orders, and temporary attachment orders.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 1 5

Service Record. 1959   Dependency certificates, loyalty certificate, aircraft readiness reports for VF-143, officer data cards, and fighter cruise reports.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 1 6

Fitness Reports. 1955-1980   Annual qualifications questionnaires and fitness reports.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 1 7

Medals, Awards, and Certificates. 1962-1974   Recommendations for medals, medal certificates, and citations.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 1 8

Designations, Certifications, Appointments. 1953-1973   Academic certification, appointment in Naval Reserves, safety record commendation, and the Centurion Certificate for 100 arrested landings aboard the "U.S.S. Enterprise (CVAN-65)."


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 2 1

Change of Command Programs. 1971-1972   Change of command programs from VF-143.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 2 2

Aviator Flight Logbooks. 1954 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 2 3

Aviator Flight Logbooks. 1963-1980 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 2 4

Aviator Flight Logbooks. 1980-1989 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 2 5

Calendar Entries. 1967 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 2 6

Memo Book. 1972-1974 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 2 7

Naval Post Graduate School. 1967-1970   Research papers on various subjects.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 2 8

Miscellaneous Naval Messages. 1966-1973   Flash priority messages regarding engagement with a North Vietnamese Mig, daily aircraft situation summaries, and safety surveys.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 3 1

Accident Investigation. 1958    Aircraft accident report.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 3 2

Materials Removed List

Photographs were moved to Box 4, Folder 1.

Medals and Awards: Others. 1971-1974   Medals and awards to pilots serving in VF-143 (Pukin Dogs) under Cornell operating from the "U.S.S. Enterprise (CVAN 65)," and lists of VF-143 personnel who have received medals.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 3 3

Fighter Squadron VF-143 Social Rosters. 1971-1972 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 3 4

Unofficial Humorous Naval Documents. 1971-1972 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 3 5

Items Related to CDR Harley Hall. 1989   Newspaper clippings, a clearance notice, and a letter to Cornell.


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 3 6

VF-143 Newsletters, The Scuttle Bone. 1971-1974 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 3 7

U.S.S. Essex (CVA-9) Korean War Cruise Book. Undated 


    Box Folder
Text   Series I, 3 8

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Series II. Photographs and Negatives 

Award presented to Cornell by the South Vietnamese Government. 1974 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   Series II, 1 Zero

Accident Investigation Photographs. 1958  


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   Series II, 1 1

Processing Information note

Photographs moved from Box 3, Folder 2.

Photographs, Cornell. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   Series II, 1 2

Photographs, Ships and Planes. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   Series II, 1 3

Photographs, People. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   Series II, 1 4

Negatives, Portraits of Cornell. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   Series II, 2 1

Negatives, Aircraft in Flight. Undated 


    Box Folder
Graphic materials   Series II, 2 2

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Series III. Memorabilia 

Pins. Undated   Five “Pukin Dog” pins and one “U.S.S. Coral Sea pin (CVA-43)”.


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 1

Cigarette Lighter. Undated   Pukin Dog insignia inscribed with “Fighting 143.”


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 2

Cigarette Lighter. Undated   Inscribed CDR G.C. Cornell and “U.S.S. Coral Sea (CVA-43).”


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 3

Tie Clasp. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 4

Electrical Cable from Flight Suit. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 5

Military Uniform Button. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 6

Marble Paper Weight. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 7

Golf Tee. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 8

Buttons for Formal Uniform. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 9

Magnifying Stand for Viewing Maps and Aerial Photographs. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 10

Two Metal Belt Buckles. Undated   Engraved Naval Wings inscribed Cornell G.C.


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 11

Two Audio Cassette Tapes. Undated 


    Box Cassette
Audio   Series III, 1 12

Brass Belt Buckle. Undated   Engraved Naval Wings inscribed Cornell G.C.


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 13

Memorabilia. Undated   Boxed Medal presented to Cornell by the Commander of the Republic of Korea Forces Vietnam, ACE dogfight simulation card game, gauge dial, multiple unit patches, large brass fighting 143 plaque, large metal Emblem “CVA-43 Coral Sea,” and McDonnell Phantom II Decal.


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 1 14

Wooden Plaque. 1966-1968   Decal of Chargers-Fighter Squadron 161 and a brass plate inscribed LCDR G.C. Cornell.


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 1

American Red Cross Pinochle Cards. 1984    AOPA Decal.


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 2

Uniform Name Pins. Undated   5 Cent Military Payment Certificate.


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 3

5 Cent Military Payment Certificate. 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 4

Uniform Patches. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 5

Brass Tie Clasps. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 6

Brass Pin. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 7

Business Cards. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 8

Button Pin CVA-43, San Francisco’s Own, U.S.S. Coral Sea. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 9

Uniform Pins. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 10

Uniform Pins. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 11

Brass Pins from McDonnell-Douglas (F-4). Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 12

Uniform Patch. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 2 13

Two Baseball Caps. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 3 1

One Pair of Leather Gloves. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 3 2

One Head Pad. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 3 3

Two Cummerbunds. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 3 4

One G-1 Leather Jacket. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 3 5

One Flyer’s Cold Weather Jacket. Undated 


    Box Object
Realia   Series III, 3 6

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