Major General Cornell Wilson was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1972 through the Navy ROTC program after graduating with a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of South Carolina. He has a long and distinguished record of service to our country in both active and reserve duty assignments. He has commanded Combat Arms and Combat Service Support units from the Company, Battalion, Group, and Brigade levels. His staff assignments included service in operations, manpower, and logistics positions. Selected as a General Officer in 1999, he served as a Deputy Commanding General for Marine Forces Central Command and the Deputy J3 for Central Command in Tampa, Fl; Commanding General for 4th Logistics Service Support Group in New Orleans, La; Commanding General for II MACE, 2nd Brigade Commanding General and the Deputy Commanding General II MEF at Camp Lejeune, NC; Director, Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Headquarters Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.; Commanding General Marine Forces Europe and Africa in Stuttgart, Germany; Deputy Commanding General Marine Forces Command in Norfolk, Va and Commanding General Marine Forces Southern Command in Miami, Fl. In 2003, he served a combat tour in Iraq as the Commanding General of a Joint Task Force of Coalition Partners in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired from the Marine Corps in 2010.
General Wilson served in the Governor of North Carolina’s cabinet as the first Secretary for the newly created Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and formerly as the Governor’s Military Advisor from 2013 to 2016. His responsibilities included protecting the state’s military installations, working with the military communities around the installations, assisting military families and veterans to get the support and services they need, and helping connect veterans with jobs. He was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest award for extraordinary service, at the end of his appointment.
His professional military education includes the Harvard University Program for Senior Executives for National and International Security, Marshall Center Senior Executive Seminar in Garmisch, Germany; NATO Defense College General and Flag Officer Course, Rome, Italy; National Defense University’s Capstone Course and the Logtech Executive Course.
His personal decorations for military service include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.