Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran, 20, of Wilder, Idaho

LCpl Cochran was assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; died Jan. 15, 2012 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

PARMA — Born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, Kenny Cochran spent his first days in a neonatal unit fighting to survive. For the next 20 years, he didn’t take a moment for granted.

“Live life every second, because every second counts,” Kenny wrote for an assignment at Parma High School on his life goals.

He also wrote that the country he’d most like to visit was Afghanistan. He wanted to be a Marine, and he thought Afghanistan was a place where he could test his body and soul, where he could learn to fight and bring honor to himself and his country.

About 450 people gathered in the Parma High School gymnasium Sunday to remember Kenny. The Marine from Wilder died in Afghanistan Jan. 15 at age 20.

In a written statement, Kenny’s mother, Julia, remembered her son as always on the move. As a child, he zoomed around on a red electric Jeep. Later, he graduated to a Model A pickup go-kart his father built, then a motor bike and finally a Camaro.

Motoring around, he always shone an ebullient smile, she said.

His uncle, Jim Howell, recalled Kenny as an energetic boy running wild with his brother and sisters. After the others grew tired, Kenny would keep playing, alone. He entertained himself with a game: he would knock on a door then jump out of the doorway and laugh out loud, pretending to surprise himself, Howell remembered.

As he grew, Kenny harnessed his energy.

At 13, he decided to become a Marine like his father, George. But he doubted the Marines would take him, so he endeavored to become stronger and smarter. He trained with weights and studied from a book of vocabulary words he kept in his pocket.

Kenny also developed a love for the written word. He had a hard time talking about his beliefs — honor, freedom and responsibility — so he spent endless hours creating stories, poems and essays, expressing himself through writing.

“His ideals came from an earlier era of chivalry,” his mother said. “He would have made an exceptional knight during the early Crusades.”

His pastor, Dale Larson, remembered sitting in his pickup truck one day when Kenny approached him and started a conversation. The Parma High graduate seemed so mature and spoke so eloquently about matters of faith that Larson was awestruck.

Kenny was concerned about people acting selfishly when there’s so much good work to be done in the world, Larson said. He believed that life is about helping others.

“I watched him walk away and thought, there is a good man. He is a good man,” Larson said.

Kenny also had a mischievous side.

His uncle recalled going over to the Cochrans’ home one day, and seeing a police cruiser outside. Kenny and his brother, Geo, had convinced a neighbor girl that a gorilla was rumbling around in their basement. The frightened girl believed their story and called her mother.

The girl convinced her mother, and the mother convinced the police, Kenny explained to his uncle with a satisfied grin.

Another time, Kenny visited his uncle’s house, which was under construction. After writing his favorite Bible verse, Psalm 23, on a beam, Kenny climbed up into the unfinished rafters and began walking around.

His uncle looked up and expressed concern for his nephew’s safety.

“He told me, ‘I’m going to be a Marine. If I fell off, I wouldn’t be a very good Marine.’ I had to let Kenny go. I had to let him be his own person,” Jim Howell said.

The Cochran family has a legacy of military service. Kenny’s mother, Julia, is an Army captain on active reserve, his father, George, is a retired Marine, and his older sister, Joyce, is an Army specialist.

Joyce Cochran was also serving in Afghanistan when Kenny was there. About a week before he died, they spent time together.

Kenny showed her around his base and introduced her to his fellow Marines. He was happy to be with his sister and proud to be in Afghanistan following his life’s dreams.

“He died wearing his Marine uniform. He was so proud of it. I can be happy knowing he will be in it until the end of time,” Joyce said.

Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran was killed in action on 01/15/12.

No comments: