This is my uncle, Cornelius Kenny O’Neill. This picture appeared on the cover of one of the USO magazines. It also accompanied a newspaper article that appeared in newspapers including the Coalinga Record. This is the text of the newspaper article:
LT. O’Neill is Awarded U.S. Air Medal
Shown beside one of the engines of his B-17 Fling Fortress “Cock of the Sky” is second Lieutenant, Cornelius K. O’Neill, 22 year-old co-pilot from Coalinga, California
Lt. O’Neill has recently been awarded the Air Medal for “meritorious achievement” for his participation in Eighth Air Force attacks on vital German Industrial targets and enemy held installations. The official citation accompanying the award, commented on the “courage, coolness and skill displayed by Lt. O’Neill on all occasions” as reflecting great credit upon himself and the “Armed Forces of the United States.” The presentation was made by group commander, Lieutenant Colonel Wm. J. Wrigglesworth of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
As a member of the 447th Bomb Group, a unit of the Third Air Division, the division which has been cited by the President for the now historic England-Africa shuttle mission bombing of Messerschmitt factories at Regensburg, Germany. Lt. O’Neill is flying combat missions in what is considered to be the toughest theater of aerial warfare.
The son of Mr. and Mrs. C. O’Neill of 436 Pleasant St., Coalinga, Lt. O’Neill before entering the Army Air Force in January 1943, was employed by the Permanente Metals Corp. at San Jose, California. He received his pilot’s wings and commission in January 1944 at Ellington Field Texas. He is a graduate of the Coalinga High School.
To me, he was always Uncle Corney. Corney was the name that most people knew him by. He had a great sense of humor but that is not the reason for the nickname. My mom, Eleanor O’Neill, moved to Coalinga while she was in high school. She and Uncle Corney were in the same high school class. She had never heard the nickname “Corney” before. She went home from one of her first days at Coalinga High and told her mother that there was a boy at school that was so “corney” that is what the teachers called him!
Uncle Corney’s Military shadow box
My father, Edward Thomas “Bud” O’Neill also served in the Army Air Force. He served in the Pacific theater of the war. During World War II, The Army Air Force made an effort not to send brothers to same area of battle to help avoid families from losing more than one son.
My father served in Australia with the 8th Service Squadron and held the rank of First Sargent . His unit was based in Townsville City, Queensland, Australia for most of the war. While my Uncle Corney flew the planes, my Dad made sure they were safe to fly. Both my Dad and Uncle Corney enlisted. They both had civilian jobs that would have kept them from being drafted.
The above pictures were taken in Australia with the exception of the one with Dad in dress uniform which was taken in California. The picture of Dad on the horse reminds me of one of the few stories he told me about his war time service. The story goes that one Saturday night after having too much to drink, Dad stole the General’s horse and took it for a ride! I don’t remember all the details of the story except Dad said he was careful not to be in possession of the horse when it was found the next day!