COCHRAN, JULIAN CLAIR, First Lieutenant, # 0-683118, USAAF


Julian C. Cochran was born on 2 September 1918 in Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., Kansas, to Julian Orad Cochran (1897-1918) and Gladine (Miller) Harris nee Cochran (1899-1944).


After enlisting in the USAAF, he was trained as a navigator on the B-29 Superfotress and earned his commission and wings. On 14 December 1944, a B-29 40BW, # 42-24574, assigned to 20th Air Force, 40th Bomb Group, 45th Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Chakulia, India, on a bombing mission at 20,000’, over Rangoon railway yards, Burma, and Bangkok, Siam (Thailand). It crashed about 70 to 80 miles west of Rangoon. Its last known location was near 16º 46’ North & 94º 46’ East. According to 1stLt Etherington, the crew was able to bail out, were captured by enemy Burmese and turned over to the Japanese enemy, who imprisoned them in the Rangoon Cantonment (old British Prison). The pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, engineer, and radio operator bailed out through the nosewheel well. The waist gunners, senior gunner, tail gunner, and radar operator bailed out through the rear door. The co-pilot sprained an ankle upon landing. The rest were uninjured by the jump. Therington, Benedict, Fletcher, Majors, Oglesby, Pisterzi, Basche, and Cochran were marched through the jungle by the enemy for 65 miles when the Japanese abandoned them in a Burmese village about 10 miles NW of Pegu, Burma. By 29 April 1945, they were liberated by the British Army. Shanks, Lentz and Sommers were imprisoned in the Rangoon Cantonment. Upon liberation about 11 May 1945, they were taken to the 142nd General Hospital, Calcutta, India. He died on 18 April 2000 and is buried in the Fort Scott National Cemetery, Fort Scott, Kansas. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, and the POW medal.


His father served during WW I, U.S. Army Kansas National Guard, 69th Infantry Brigade, 137th Infantry Regiment (Commander, Col. Clad Hamilton), the First Kansas, Co. G, Corporal, # 1448805. He died on 28 September 1918 and is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery & Memorial, France Sec. G, Row 15, Grave 26). When the US declared war on Germany on 5 April 1917, companies were increased in size from 60 to 150 men, then eventually, to 250 men. On 5 August, the 137th Infantry Regiment was drafted into Federal service. On 1 October it was consolidated with the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Kansas National Guard to become the 137th Infantry, part of the 35th Division. They subsequently set sail for Europe, entering the frontline on 18 June 1918. The 137th was stationed in the Metz area and successfully repulsed a German raid on the night of 22–23 June. On 20 July, Company C put on a successful raid of its own against the enemy. 1 September saw the regiment moved by truck from the Vosges Mountains to Nancy and then into reserve for the Saint-Mihiel attack of 12–16 September. This surprise attack was so successful that the 35th Division was not used, and it was soon headed for the greatest American battle of the war. 25 September found the 137th Infantry in position facing Vauquois Hill, an impregnable natural fortress the Germans had held over four years. In the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, a 6-hour barrage was launched on this hill and was taken by the Kansas soldiers in their first attempt on 26 September, and their trial by fire began; an ordeal that was to last six days and six nights, with little or no food, only snatches of sleep, and an uninterrupted rain of shells, gas, and bullets from infantry, artillery and warplanes. The 137th Infantry took every objective assigned it, but in the taking suffered casualties of nearly 1,300 men out of the 2,800 combatants engaged; 46%. The regiment was relieved by the 1st Infantry Division on 1 October 1918, and after resting in the rear for 10 days, the regiment moved to Verdun and remained in the fighting until 4 November. They were in the thick of fighting until 9 November when they were relieved.