COL. Phil Cochran, World War II commander of the 1st Air Commando Group, was honored during Veteran's Day activities in his hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania.

    On Sunday, 11 November 2001, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Erie County Historical Society and Museum dedicated a State Historical Marker at Erie County's World War II Memorial.  The marker is located at the intersection of State Street and Glenwood Park Avenue.

    The marker reads:  COL. PHILIP COCHRAN (1910-1979) WWII Hero.  Cochran distinguished himself as a daring pilot commanding P-40 fighter planes in N. Africa and as the colorful leader of the 1st Air Commandos during the invasion of Burma.  He became a colonel at the age of 33 and earned such honors as the Distinguished Service Medal and British Distinguished Service Order.  The Erie native inspired cartoon characters Flip Corkin in “Terry & the Pirates” and Gen. Philerie in “Steve Canyon”.

Mark P. Zaitsoff  MAJ, EN – USAR (Ret)
State Historical Marker honoring COL Cochran

Mark P. Zaitsoff  MAJ, EN – USAR (Ret)
COL Cochran featured on WWII Memorial

    MG John Alison, USAFR (Ret), deputy commander of the 1st ACG, remembered his friend and spoke about Cochran’s exploits, formation of the 1st ACG, and missions with the British during the war.  BG Steve Speer, ANG, commander of the 193rd Special Operations Wing, PA Air National Guard (part of the USAF Special Operations Command, present day successor to the 1st ACG), credited Cochran and the 1st ACG with pioneering special operations techniques with the British Chindits and on the importance of special operations in the world today.  Mayor Joyce Savacchio read a proclamation declaring November 11, 2001, Phil Cochran Day and presented it to Cochran family members.

    The Veteran's Day activities included a parade, the dedication of the Cochran historical marker, ceremonies honoring all veterans and a reception.

    COL Cochran was born in Erie in 1910, died there in 1979 and is buried in the family plot in Trinity Cemetery.

With thanks to: Mark P. Zaitsoff  MAJ, EN – USAR (Ret)
Photographs and text used with permission