KIA: August 7, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan
A note from Kevin’s mother
Kevin was all about helping others. He was known for his intelligence, optimism, and will to succeed.
He was full of energy, humor, courage & love. He loved being a Marine and he was always there for his brothers. Kevin was the comic relief even in Afghanistan.
It is not enough to say he was the class clown, even though he was; with his unique sense of humor, he was always making people smile and laugh, often in very creative ways. After Parris Island Kevin told me, “If I can make someone smile, it is worth doing push-ups in the sand.”
When he was little he loved to ride his bike & ‘play-army’. Halloween was his favorite day of the year. I never saw Kevin in a bad mood.
I miss his quick wit, his sense of humor, his positive nature and of course that smile.” ~ Valerie
During the Memorial Service in Afghanistan, two Marines stood and spoke in honor of LCpl Cornelius: Cpl Benner and Cpl Rothermelpilla.
“Good afternoon gentlemen,
Kevin was a man of many qualities, a fierce and dependable fighter and a well-disciplined Marine. [These] are only a few traits used to describe such an awesome person. On the battlefield I didn’t just want him, I needed him. He was a crazy man. He was either firing off 19 of his 22 mags on the line, or a-gunning for the SMAW, or even getting ammo for the M240. He always wanted to be in the fight and would be the first one there. I remember telling Kevin we were doing a push and only a select few were going. He was jumping off the walls, like “can I go, am I going, please, please.” To mess with him I told him no. But then he gave me that grin and started smiling and he knew he was going. There was no way I wasn’t taking him.
Off the battlefield everyone knew him as the funny go-to-guy who could make anybody laugh or smile. If you were down he would just walk by and say something smart or just break dance like an idiot. One time Doc Helton zip-tied his bug net and woke him up to ask him if he played hopscotch, it was hilarious, and Kevin just laid there complaining.
LCpl Cornelius was the hardest working Marine in the platoon if not the company. No matter what the task he would go the extra mile to perfection. He was the platoon RTO, clic rep, driver, Vallon man, and most proficient BAT operator we had. He didn’t just do his job well, he did it with style. One day Cpl Rothermelpilla told Kevin he wasn’t doing BATs one day and he flipped. Asking why, what did he do wrong? It was like we chopped off his right arm. All we wanted to do was give him a day off. That’s how much dedication he had to his job. Kevin stopped at nothing to fully complete his task. He has a will and a desire to be better at any cost in every aspect of his being.
He was younger than me, but I looked up to him. I admired his will to succeed at everything. He set himself apart from everyone in everything he did. I know we had such a good relationship due to the fact that we both are who we are no matter what. I always told him he was the smartest guy I know. He was planning on being a doctor when he got out of the Marine Corps. I have no doubt that he would have made a fine doctor. Kevin would have been great at anything he tried to do.
With him gone the world is without a doubt a colder and darker place. Kevin loved being a Marine, to him it wasn’t a job it was a calling. There wasn’t a job that he couldn’t do and a person he couldn’t make smile. Kevin will live forever in me and the rest of the men who knew him. His prowess and ability to succeed above the rest will never be forgotten. Kevin is a true hero.” ~ Cpl Benner
“Every man is measured and tested throughout Life. Decisions are to be made based on Instinct. Every man has the instinct to react, but only few do so without hesitation. To overcome emotion and accomplish any goal. To stand and deliver. Without Fear. Fear is for the Enemy. Fear and bullets. In the time I have known Kevin, we shared many thoughts on multiple subjects. We never argued but rarely agreed. We respected each others’ differences and positions on all matters. One thing we did agree on was Conviction. Commit yourself totally to yourself and those you care for. Do your job well and show respect for those who have come before. Stop at nothing to fully complete your task. Kevin had a will and a desire to be better at any cost in every aspect of his being. He was six years younger than me, but I looked up to him. I admired his will to succeed at everything. He set himself apart from everyone in everything he did. I believe we had such a good relationship due to the fact that we both are who we are no matter what. In a world of transparencies, Kevin was a stone wall. An unmatched personality. Conforming to nothing. A true man in this world of fakers and swindling liars. Kevin and I agreed to being true to yourself and those you care for. Despite our differences in background and age we had agreement through Conviction. There is glory in subversion: set yourself apart from everyone, but never judge. There is glory in destruction: at any cost defend yourself and those you love. Kevin will live forever in me and the rest of the men who knew him. His prowess and ability to succeed above the rest will never be forgotten. Kevin is a true man. A hero. I hope one day, if I have children, they know someone exactly like him.” ~ Cpl. Stephen Rothermelpilla [submitted by Gram]
Gram also shared that at the end of all Kevin’s letters and emails he wrote, “there is nowhere else I’d rather be/nothing else I’d rather be doing. Semper Fi, Kev “