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A McCreary County Hero

WW II hero, originally from McCreary County, returns home for visit


Photo by Eugenia Jones Anna Shoopman Hewerl Cordell (in chair) Faye Stephens, Raymond Shoopman, Grandson James Herting, Hap Strunk, Glenn Stephens, Mel Stephens

Highly decorated WW II veteran Hewerl Cordell recently travelled all the way from the state of Washington to visit his McCreary County cousins and check out his hometown where, during the years of the Great Depression, he attended McCreary County High School and was a caddy on the Stearns Golf Course.

For Hewerl, the place where he grew up has changed.

“There’s been a lot of changes,” Cordell grinned.  “There are additional businesses and many different roads.  I nearly got lost in Stearns!”

Cordell entered the Army in 1940.  Initially stationed at Fort Knox, Cordell was eventually stationed in Africa, Turkey, and Korea.  Although he travelled the world during his twenty-two years of service, he laughed about the fact that he never seemed to get stationed in any of the “fancy” places.

As a Sergeant, Cordell received the Silver Star for outstanding bravery in World War II when his tank was knocked out by enemy artillery fire.  Heroically, Cordell personally assisted in removing the wounded crew, and while under direct fire, placed them in a partially disabled tank and drove it to the rear.

Later in his career, Cordell received the Award of the Army Commendation Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster) for outstanding performance from May 1959 to August 1963 at Fort Ord, California where his “keen intellect and insight” contributed to the formation of improved policies and procedures.  His devotion to duty and his willingness to assume extra responsibilities were also noted and recognized.

Because he travelled and went to so many different duty stations throughout his career, it’s hard for Cordell to come up with a favorite memory of his time spent in the military.  However, the five years he spent in California definitely rank at or near the top of his list of favorite places.

For Cordell, the worst part of his military service was the loss of a couple of crew members.

“I hated that the worst,” Cordell remarked.

Throughout his long life, Cordell has seen many changes to his beloved country.  He admits to worrying about many of the changes he has seen; however, when asked to elaborate on his feelings about the state of the nation, he is diplomatic in his response.

“It might not be proper for me to answer,” he commented with a chuckle.

With about thirty-eight cousins in McCreary County, Cordell had a lot of “catching up” to do.  However, he still managed to find time to visit Rock Creek, Cumberland Falls, Blue Heron, Stearns Golf Course, and other sites before jetting back home.

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