|Whenever one cadet attending the Challenge Academy at
Fort McCoy for at-risk youth felt herself giving up during the 22-week
course, she sought strength from her warrior father.
Wisconsin Challenge Academy Cadet Caitlin Cornell, second from
left, stands in front of the entrance sign at Fort McCoy’s Staff
Sgt. Todd R. Cornell NCO Academy. Along with Cornell are, from
left, Academy Commandant Command Sgt. Major M. Kevin Dubois,
Challenge Academy Assistant Director Peter Blum, and NCO Academy
1st Sgt. David White. (Photo
by Tom Michele)
Wisconsin Challenge Academy Cadet
Caitlin Cornell touches one of the insignias on the dress
uniform of her father, Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell, on display at
the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy
at Fort McCoy. Command Sgt. Maj. M. Kevin Dubois, accompanied
her. (Photo by Tom Michele)
Cadet Caitlin Cornell, who will graduate Dec. 17 with academic
honors as a cadet first class, platoon leader, and with a National
Physical Fitness Patch, said she thought of her father, Staff Sgt.
Todd R. Cornell, when she first heard of the program.
Staff Sgt. Cornell was an Army Reserve Soldier serving in Iraq in
2004 when he was killed in action.
The Fort McCoy Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Academy was named after
him in 2007.
Command Sgt. Maj. M. Kevin Dubois said Staff Sgt. Cornell’s legacy
was not to focus on his achievements, but rather on the character
that shaped his life and continues to have a strong impact on many
people, including his daughter, Caitlin.
Dubois, the NCO Academy commandant, served for five months with
Staff Sgt. Cornell in Iraq.
During her time at Fort McCoy, Dubois gave Cadet Cornell a tour of
the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell NCO Academy and showed her mementoes of
her father’s time serving his country.
Because of her outstanding attitude, Dubois also asked Cornell to be
the graduation speaker for the Dec. 16 Warrior Leader Course (WLC) and
share her inspirational story with the WLC students.
After graduation, Cadet Cornell plans to return to high school to
receive her high school diploma and then plans to attend college to
study nursing. The military as a possible career “is a thought that’s
always been in the back of my mind,” she said.
Keeping a goal in mind will help guide future cadets’ success, Cornell
Her motto, which helped her get through physical training, was, “It will