Major Samuel B. Cornelius
2 April 1943 - 16 June 1973
Class of '64
Samuel Cornelius Texas Tech Football Picture for GameDay Programs
7th Air Force Patch (Item #069museum3280)
336th Fighter Squadron Rocketeer Patch (Item #1644museum4046)
Samuel B. Cornelius was born on April 2, 1943, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Spearman, Texas, and was involved in sports and numerous activities during high school. He came to Tech with a football scholarship and played for the Red Raiders from 1962-1964 as a defensive end. He was recruited by the Kansas City Chiefs to play professional football after college, but instead decided to join the Air Force. He trained at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, and eventually became an F-4 Phantom pilot with the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He served two tours in Vietnam and was serving a third overseas tour in Thailand when his plane was shot down over Cambodia on June 16, 1973. His and co-pilot John Smallwood's F-4 was the last US aircraft shot down in the Vietnam War. Major Cornelius was listed as an MIA for a time, but the designation was eventually changed to killed in action in 1979. He was survived by his wife, Lynda, and two children, Leslie and Doug.