Born in Decatur, Illinois. Nicknamed "Herbie". Prior to the war, he married Betty Jean Park.
Assigned to the 475th Fighter Group,
433rd Fighter Squadron.
In a letter to his wife dated October 11, 1943 he mentioned "Getting a plane assigned to me" and was assigned his first aircraft, P-38H "Red" 42-66843 until lost on November 2, 1943 piloted by 2nd Lt. Owen N. Giertsen who was later resuced.
In October 1943, Cochran began flying combat missions stationed at Dobodura No. 11 (Borio Airfield) in New Guinea.
On October 24, 1943 Cochran was credited with his first aerial victory against a Zero while piloting P-38 42-66839 on an escort mission over Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul.
On October 29, 1943 Cochran took off piloting P-38H "Red" 42-66843 on a mission escorting B-25s over Alexishafen when he was credited with shooting down a "Zero", his second aerial victory. Later, this P-38 was later lost on November 2, 1943 piloted by Giertsen.
During early 1944, assigned P-38J "Decatur Illinois" 42-104358 that ditched on July 28, 1944 after both engines failed after take off.
After the crash of July 28, 1944, based on flight records and combat fatique flying time was minimal.
Later, he was transfered back to the United States and became a P-38 flight instructor at Luke Field near Phoenix, AZ.
Promoted to Captain on Sept. 22, 1944. Finally, to Redistribution Center in Miami, Florida on April 18, 1945. For his service, Cochran was awarded the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, WW2 Victory and Pacific Campaign Medal with a Bronze Star.
After the war, Cochran and his wife Betty returned to Decatur, Illinois. He worked for 39 years as a supervisor of Staley (A. E. Staley). In 1948 they adopted their only son, Jay.
Cochran died on March 10, 2004. He is buried at Boiling Springs Cemetery in Decatur, IL.
Individual Flight Record - 1st Lt. Herbert W. Cochran
Newspaper article: "Leut. Cochran Gets Jap Plane"
Newspaper article: " Cochran Gets another plane"
Newspaper article: " Cochran home from the Pacific"
Charles Lindbergh and the 475th Fighter Group "MacDonald and Lindbergh, flying with the Possums, led two flights up to 18,000 feet and cleared the thunderheads. Unnoticed, Lieutenant Herbert W. "Herbie" Cochran's Lightning, number 186, was going down after first the right, then the left engine quit. Too low to bailout, Cochran successfully ditched in the sea. So quickly had the lieutenant gone in that later his wingman, Lieutenant Ethelbert B. "E. B." Roberts assumed the downed pilot had snafued and had gone back to Mokmer."
Possum, Clover & Hades: 475th Fighter Group in World War II pages 191-193
475th Fighter Group page 56 color profile incorectly notes serial number as 42-104319
FindAGrave - Herbert W. Cochran (grave photo)
Thanks to Mike Newland for additional information
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