Every Day Heroes

Meet Stephen Cochrane:

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Country singer-songwriter Stephen Cochran is a former Marine and a wounded veteran. His back was broken in an ambush while he was serving in Afghanistan in July 2004. Now, with his music career on track, Cochran also works to promote programs that help to meet the needs of wounded veterans. Courtesy photo


Face of Defense: Country Music Star Earned Stripes in Iraq, Afghanistan

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2009 – Stephen Cochran was a normal 19-year-old with a dream of making music his life when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led him down an unplanned path to the Marine Corps.

“I dropped out of college. I walked away from a record deal,” he said. “I was engaged.”
He didn’t discuss his decision with his parents, or even his then-fiancée, who broke the engagement when he announced he’d enlisted. “It was really the first grown-up decision I’d ever made,” Cochran said.

The musician, born in Pikeville, Ky., grew up in Nashville’s songwriting and recording community. There, he learned the art of songwriting from his father. He made his musical debut on the radio at age 3 and had his first band by 15….


The company offered a promissory note, but then Sept. 11 happened.

“It was just so horrific,” he said. “It’s like I’d been called. I’d never been pulled so hard to do something.”

It may have been the audacity of the attacks, but more likely it was his family’s long history of military service that drew him to enlist, he said. Both grandfathers served, as did an uncle and several other relatives.

“I’ve always been raised very, very patriotic. It’s just what I had to do,” Cochran said of his decision to join the Marines.

It wasn’t long before he found himself in Kuwait with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, waiting to cross into Iraq. He was 20.

Once the unit crossed the Kuwait-Iraq border, contact with the enemy was a daily occurrence, Cochran said. When the unit’s tour was finished, the Marines had fought their way to Tikrit and back.

“We brought every man home with us,” he said. “They said we did 111 missions. That was more missions than any other unit had done since Vietnam.”

But daily battle takes its toll. Cochran said he thinks every Marine in his section showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Four months later, however, the entire battalion volunteered to go to Afghanistan with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. They figured nothing could be worse than Iraq. …

There is more, and I found this story at Little Drops…..Into the Pool of Life. Not only is the rest of this hero interview there, but also Little Drops take on Appalachian boys who become men. Go read it ALL, here.

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