Wounded Warrior Assumes Responsibility of Battalion
May 22, 2008
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- When Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Cornejo was wounded in Iraq, he had to return stateside for medical treatment, reluctantly leaving his comrades and mission behind.
But one thing that never left him was his desire to serve.
After three months of in-patient treatment and more than five months in rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center, Cornejo assumed responsibility of the 187th Medical Battalion from Master Sgt. Dwight Wafford during a ceremony May 13 at the battalion headquarters here.
"Giving up never entered my thought process," said Cornejo, speaking of his recovery. "It wasn't if, it was when I was going to get back. I just wanted to know how fast I could get fixed so I could get back."
Cornejo deployed with the 3rd Corps out of Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2006 as the chief medical NCO for the Corps staff. He was wounded Sept. 11, 2007, when the forward operating base he was stationed at in Iraq came under attack by mortar fire. He and 10 other Soldiers were wounded.
"I suffered shrapnel wounds on the left side of my body and left shoulder," he said.
He underwent extensive physical rehabilitation at BAMC and is now working on building strength in his shoulder.
Cornejo found out he was selected for command sergeant major while deployed, and, during his recovery at BAMC, was pleased to learn his assignment would keep him at Fort Sam Houston.
"I was very happy. Since I'm a medic, I've come full circle. I'm back where I was trained 20 years ago," he said.
As the battalion command sergeant major, Cornejo has command responsibility over more than 450 instructors and nearly 6,000 Soldiers being trained throughout the year. The battalion is responsible for the logistics and training of eight Military Occupational Specialties, eight officer courses and nine additional skill identifiers.
Cornejo said he would like to bring lessons learned while deployed to his Soldiers.
"My hope is to shed some light on past experiences to magnify the importance of basic warrior tasks each Soldier needs to know," he said. "My goal is to provide realistic but safe training for our Soldiers."
During the ceremony, 187th Med. Bn. Commander Lt. Col. Michael Hershman thanked Wafford and his Family and welcomed Cornejo and his two daughters, Kayla and Jenna. "He knows what is at stake for our young Americans that we train each day. We look forward to him applying the lessons he learned in combat to take our field training and Soldierization to new levels," Hershman said.
(Elaine Wilson works for the Fort Sam Houston Public Information Office)