World War II soldier to be laid to rest at Houston National Cemetery Friday

HOUSTON – An American hero killed in World War II will be laid to rest at Houston National Cemetery Friday afternoon. 

The service for First Lieutenant Ottaway Corwall began Friday morning at Klein Funeral Home and will conclude with a full military honors farewell, including a flyover at Houston National Cemetery.

This is a day some 78 years in the making. A Texan who served in World War II and was killed in combat will be laid to rest.

Steve Benavides, a Vietnam veteran said, “I fought in Vietnam, we have a lot of soldiers that are still MIAs.”

Benavides is one of the dozens of people to pay their respects to First Lieutenant Ottawa Bethard Cornwell, a pilot with the 12th Air Force, 52nd Group who was killed on January 27, 1944.

Cornwell was in a dog fight with German pilots during a reconnaissance mission over southern France. He was 22 at the time he died.

Ashli Sambaluk is Cornwell’s Greg niece. She said, “It was always a tragedy, sadness that hung over our family, knowing my grandfather’s brother that was MIA for years.”

Sambaluk is fluent in French. She was able to translate English to French to the Frenchman who discovered Cornwell’s wreckage in 2014.

“He was just taking a walk in the forest next to his house, and he recognized debris from some of the crash, so he did some research and so eight years later, he is here with us now to see the close of this story,” said Sambaluk.

Cornwell was born in Beaumont, Texas. Almost eight decades later, Cornwell will finally rest in peace in his home state of Texas.

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