‘Pray for my son’

Mother’s anguish over soldier in Iraq

Staff Report
November 01, 2006 at 2:26 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

MOTHER’S LOVE. Tyrell Cornwell displays snapshot of her son holding his baby niece while on leave from the Army.
MOTHER’S LOVE. Tyrell Cornwell displays snapshot of her son holding his baby niece while on leave from the Army.
LULING - “Pray for my son. Pray for all of the men to come home from Iraq.”

With those wrenching words, worried-sick mom Tyrell Cornwell reveals her deep concern for the safety of her eldest child, U.S. Army Sgt. John Cornwell IV, 25, a military policeman serving in Baghdad on the front lines of the desperately brutal war in Iraq.

And even though she understands his soldier’s sense of mission, and his resolve to serve his country and the cause of freedom, the situation in the war-ripped country has become so dangerous that she cannot hide the anguish, fear and heartache that keeps her awake at night, wondering if her son has survived another day half-way around the world.

“The last time I had a conversation with John, which was just a few days ago, I could tell he was worried - and it was heartbreaking,” she told the Herald-Guide in an exclusive interview.

“He tries to sound calm. He has to do what he has to do and react the way he was trained. But it’s worse than ever over there - the bombings, the injuries, the deaths.

“He doesn’t talk about that, about the deaths of people he knows. He doesn’t want to worry his dad and me and the rest of the family.

“All he wants is to come back with all his pieces and survive this war. And he wants his platoon to come back. That’s why I ask people to pray for my son, and pray for all the men. I ask them to pray for a safe return for all of them.”

Cornwell’s father, St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Major John Cornwell III, stands tough in the face of the danger his son faces as a solider, but even though he’s “quiet about that, he’s as worried as I am,” says the young man’s mother, who points out her son started his military career in the Far East before his transfer to Iraq.

“He’s been in the Middle East since January 2006,” she explains. “He served two years in Korea, and when he learned he was being transferred, he didn’t complain. He felt like this was his job and he had to do it.

“He knew that when he signed up for the Army, war was one of the possibilities he might face. But he wasn’t happy to go to war. The soldiers have a motto, ‘No man left behind,’ and that’s he way he looked at it. It was his duty as a soldier to go.”

For months, things were on an even keel. Assigned to train Iraqi policemen, Cornwell enjoyed his assignment. He even got to come home for his mother’s birthday and made a visit to the St. Charles Parish Rotary Club to speak about his tour in Iraq.

“He gets two weeks out of the year for leave, and for one fo them, he chose my birthday,” says Tyrell Cornwell.

“I waited for him at the airport and when I saw his face all I could do was scream with emotion.”

The young man is back in Baghdad now - and anybody who watches the evening news knows how grim and desperate the situation is getting.

“It’s hard for our soldiers to trust anybody, things are getting worse” says Cornwell’s mother.

“They’re not even training the Iraqi police anymore - they’re just trying to survive.”

She says that her son and other soldiers are beginning to wonder what’s become of the mission.

“I don’t remember the exact way he put it, but he asked me something like, ‘What are we accomplishing?’” says the mother. “Almost every day somebody gets killed, and he’s stopped training the Iraqi police just to go on missions.”

“ Everytime someone in his group gets killed, all communications are shut down - and for weeks at a time.

“I never know when I’ll get a phone call. He told me that no phone call is a good phone call. No news is good news.”

Until he comes home, she says, “all we can do is pray.”

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