Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Cornell

Last Name: Chao

Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Fullerton, CA
Middle Name: C.

Date of Birth: 13 March 1970

Date of Death: 28 January 2007

Rank: Chief Warrant Officer 3

Years Served: 1989 - 2007
Cornell C. Chao

•  Gulf War (1990 - 1991)
•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


Cornell C. Chao
Chief Warrant Officer 3, U.S. Army

Cornell C. Chao enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1989. He served in Germany, South Korea and fought in Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.

In 1999, Chao attended Warrant Officer Candidate School and completed the AH-64D Aviator Qualification Course and the AH-64D Aircraft Armament Technician Course in 2001 at Fort Rucker, AL. He was assigned to B Troop, 6th Squadron ,6th Cavalry and deployed to Iraq with his unit from 10 February 2003 to January 2004. In August 2005, CW3 Chao was assigned to 4th Battalion, 227th at Fort Hood, TX, as an AH-64D Pilot in Command and Aircraft Armament Officer.

On 28 January 2007, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Cornell C. Chao was serving as Pilot of an AH-64D Longbow Apache Helicopter with the 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On that day, CW3 Chao and Captain Mark T. Resh [Honoree Record ID 6725] responded to coalition troops in contact with enemy forces near the city of An Najaf, Iraq. Facing an unknown enemy and unclear friendly situation, CW3 Chao and CPT Resh quickly developed the situation with their team, working with United States Special Operations Forces and United States Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to determine the Coalition force positions and formulate a plan of attack against an adaptable, well armed, dug-in enemy. At approximately 1317 hours, CW3 Chao and CPT Resh's team bravely made its initial attack into the target area. They quickly realized that their wingman, the lead aircraft, was in a perilous position, as friendly ground forces reported that their team of Apaches was being engaged by heavy machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades. Without hesitation, CW3 Chao and CPT Resh maneuvered their aircraft to attack the enemy positions that were engaging their team, and their Coalition brothers on the ground. During this attack CW3 Chao and CPT Resh's wingman reported taking fire from a truck-mounted heavy machine gun. Without hesitation, CW3 Chao and CPT Resh oriented towards the enemy and began searching for the heavy machine gun that was engaging their wingman. With great skill, they descended to clear their own fires away from their wingman's aircraft and draw the enemy's attention away from their comrades. As the trail aircraft of the team, their mission was to cover their wingman and they completed that mission without regard to their own safety. CW3 Chao and CPT Resh placed their aircraft squarely in the enemy's line of fire. Under a fusillade of enemy fire, they kept their aircraft oriented on the target, returning fire until their wingman was safely out of danger. This successfully gave their wingman the time and space necessary to maneuver clear of the engagement area until CW3 Chao and CPT Resh and their aircraft were mortally wounded by the relentless enemy fire, at approximately 1330 hours. CW3 Chao and CPT Resh selflessly gave their lives to protect their wingman and the Coalition forces on the ground they were supporting. Their courage in the skies of An Najaf greatly contributed to the success of the Multi-National Division-Baghdad that day. CW3 Chao and CPT Resh’s courageous actions that day earned them, at the cost of their lives, the U.S. Army's third highest award for valor, the Silver Star Medal.

Medals, Awards and Badges (Partial List)

Silver Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with Award Numeral 3
Army Commendation Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Army Good Conduct Medal with 3 Bronze Knots
National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korea Defense Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Combat Infantryman Badge
Army Senior Aviator Badge
Parachutist Badge

Silver Star Medal Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Cornell C. Chao, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Pilot of an AH-64D Longbow Apache Helicopter with the 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, during combat operations in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, on 28 January 2007, near An Najaf, Iraq. On that date, Chief Warrant Officer Three Chao was dispatched to the city of An Najaf to assist and support coalition troops who had come in contact with enemy forces. Arriving support aircraft was attacked with heavy machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades and Chief Warrant Officer Three Chao placed his helicopter in the direct line of enemy fire so that another air crew that was under attack could maneuver out of danger. Over the next fifteen minutes he bravely flew in the face of intense enemy fire to support the coalition ground forces until his aircraft was struck and crashed, killing him. Chief Warrant Officer Three Chao's gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.


The ashes of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Cornell C. Chao are inurned at the Prescott National Cemetery in Prescott, Yavapai County, AZ, in Section B, Row H, Site 196.


Honoree ID: 6726   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image