Cornelius Hall — who, last month, received a promotion to captain in the U.S. Air Force — supervises a missile alert facility in Montana. He and about 30 other airmen oversee 100-plus intercontinental ballistic missiles, which can travel halfway across the world.
Hall’s primary duties include maintenance, security and overall protection of these missiles
If just one of these weapons sails across the skies and touches down onto enemy territory, it would probably mean World War III. Under extreme circumstances, Hall has access to launch codes, which would deploy these nuclear missiles.
Hall understands how significant of a role he plays in national security and international relations.
“It’s a great responsibility that I do not take lightly,” said Hall, whose official position is listed as a “nuclear missileer operator.”
“I train for it every single day to make sure I do my job right because I know when everyone is sleeping at night, I have a blanket of nuclear deterrents for them and this country,” Hall said. “I can rest calmly knowing we are protected, and that is what makes me calm.”
Hall’s desire to enlist in the military came at a young age.
“After 9/11 happened, I really felt compelled to serve my country,” Hall said.
Hall, an African-American man, obtained inspiration for a military career upon learning about Benjamin O. Davis Sr. and Benjamin O. Davis Jr. The father-son duo both broke military racial barriers a generation apart: Senior became the first African-American Army general, and then junior served as the Air Force’s first African-American general officer.
“Those two men really sparked my interest in getting into the military,” Hall said. “The leadership they exemplified really propelled me into the military.
Hall recalled a quote spoken by Benjamin O. Davis Sr. “He said, ‘How can you tell a young man that the sky is the limit and when he looks up he doesn’t see anyone that looks like himself?’ “Seeing them as generals and held in high regards in the military gave me inspiration and allowed me to relate and identify with them.”
While attending the University of Texas at San Antonio, Hall signed up for the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. After graduating in 2013, he worked as a medical tech with the San Antonio Military Medical Center.
“I wanted to go into the medical field, but the Air Force said they needed me to go to the nuclear missile career field,” Hall said. “They saw something in my character and my personality that would work well with being trusted with missiles. They thought I could give them a great perspective and a positive outlook, and that is what I have brought ever since then.”
In 2014, the Air Force commissioned Hall. Since then, he’s served on several bases — first in California, then in North Dakota and now in Montana — all roles preparing him for his current position of a nuclear missileer operator and an instructor. He teaches other crew members about the nuclear weapons, other systems and more.
“The importance of my job and the safety and protection that it provides to my country is just one of many reasons why I love my job,” Hall said.
Always helping others
Hall also balances a professional career with his personal life. He’s married to his wife, Connie. The two have one child, Cebastian, who just turned 2.
He often returns to Ohio, mostly because his parents — his dad, Christopher, and his mom, Denese — still live in Norwalk.
But he’s also active in an outreach program. Hall’s a founding member of NOW Sandusky, a relatively new nonprofit which aims to promote community positivity, productivity and purpose with children.
Hall also wants to establish a junior ROTC program at Sandusky High School.
“A lot of times, students, and especially seniors, don’t know the next direction to go in life,” Hall said. “There is not a military presence at our school other than once a year when recruiters come out. It would really be beneficial for young people, who are trying to find purpose and different career opportunities, to have an ROTC program. That can open the door for an engineering or pilot or biology or missile career, like me.”
Helping others is a trait Hall learned long before serving in the military, according to one of his friends.
“He is honestly the most motivating and spiritually uplifting person I know,” said Spencer Patterson, a Huron resident who attended high school with Hall. Both have been best friends since the sixth grade. “He always calls me at the right moments to give me motivational talks or words of encouragement. He’s a selfless person, and you won’t find a single person with a bad thing to say about him. He inspires me everyday to make myself a better person.”
Hall envisions of one day becoming a military squadron commander and then possibly a general like his role models: the Davises
“I always tell myself, ‘If your dreams don’t intimidate you, they’re not big enough,’” Hall said. “But, whatever I do, I want to be an inspiration to young children and other young people in the community.”