CW3 CORNELL C. CHAO
Hometown / City: FULLERTON, CA ORANGE
Date of Death: Sunday, January 28, 2007
Conflict: Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)
Branch: U.S. Army
Unit: COMPANY B, 4TH BATTALION, 227TH AVIATION, FORT HOOD, TX
Birth: Mar. 13, 1970
Los Angeles County
Death: Jan. 28, 2007, Iraq
Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chao was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Chao died when his Apache helicopter crashed during combat operations in Najaf. He was providing close air support to Iraqi troops who were taking part in a fierce, daylong combat with hundreds of insurgents hiding in date palm orchards. The insurgents were messianic Shiites who planned to slaughter pilgrims and clerics during Ashoura commemorations in Najaf. More than 300 militants were killed and 650 captured in the battle. Cornell was a 1988 graduate of Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, California where he played golf for the school team. After joining the military, he served in the infantry during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He returned to battle as a helicopter gunner during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, patrolling mostly around Balad. On March 23, 2003, his Apache Longbow helicopter took more than 25 rounds during an attack 100 miles behind enemy lines. Chao escaped serious injury when a round struck the armor plating of his seat, sending shrapnel toward his neck. Instead, it clinked into the barrel of his M-16. He last talked to his family by phone a week before being killed. He sounded tired and was flying missions seven days a week. He told them, "Things are pretty tough over here, but don't worry about me. The ground troops have it tougher." Cornell was a rebel. Friends remember him showing up in jeans for school – you weren't supposed to do that. Or wearing some crazy fashion – he was his own person.
NOTE: Cornell Chao, who was killed in a 2007 battle in Iraq, will be remembered Wednesday, January 28, 2009, by having an office building named in his honor at Fort Hood, Texas – one of the nation's largest U.S. Army bases. Chief Warrant Officer Chao, 36, and Capt. Mark Resh, 28, were in a helicopter acting as bait to distract insurgents who were firing at another American helicopter when both were killed near An Jajaf on Jan. 28, 2007. Fort Hood spokesman Steve Moore said the two were selected for recognition "for putting themselves in harm's way."
Rose Hills Memorial Park
Los Angeles County