The day is being set aside, and the parade is being held to honor military veterans. This year one veteran in particular is being remembered.
Kimble “Kim” Cochran, Vietnam War veteran and past-Commander of Grantham Howell American Legion Post 53, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer this year in early June after a nearly three-year struggle with the deadly disease.
This year’s parade will be held on Saturday, November 5. The parade will begin at the L.C. Hatcher Elementary School at 11 a.m., according to Vice-Commander Buddy Horn. Cochran’s widow, Glenda, his two daughters, Tara and Kindall, along with his grandchildren, brothers and other family members, will ride a float honoring Cochran.
Cochran, who’s roots in the red George County soil are generations deep, graduated from George County High School in 1969 and was drafted into the Army in 1970. After basic and infantry training at Ft. Polk, Louisiana, he was sent to Chu Lai, Vietnam. He served with the 23rd Americal Division of the U.S. Army, going out on patrol for three to five days at a time in the mountains of South Vietnam, traveling by helicopter. The only communication with his family back home was by mail that was delivered every three or four days.
While in Vietnam, he participated in the Easter Offensive which took place in the spring of 1972.
With most U.S. troops already out of South Vietnam, the North Vietnamese sensed an opportunity to end the war with a conventional invasion. On March 30, 1972, North Vietnam launched the Easter Offensive -- a large, three-pronged drive into South Vietnam using heavy tanks and mobile units. When the Easter Offensive was halted in October that year, North Vietnam controlled much of South Vietnam along South Vietnam’s border with Laos and Cambodia.
It was a very difficult time for the teenager from South Mississippi.
For his service he earned the Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Army Commendation Medal w/”V” Device and the Combat Infantryman Badge, among other awards and citations.
One thing he never got past was the way Vietnam veterans were treated when they got home. He spent the rest of his life concerned with veteran welfare. Always concerned with others, he rarely spoke about his own service, his youngest brother, Kevin, recalls.
A quiet, but energetic man, he went to work at Mississippi Phosphate when he got out of service.
He worked there for the next 40-plus years as that company went through name and ownership changes, finally closing its doors for good in 2015.
His daughter Tara was born during his first marriage. Kindall was born to Cochran and his widow, Glenda. Both daughters are married with children of their own.
He loved to play golf, and he enjoyed NASCAR racing, videotaping races and going to a number of races with his brothers. As NASCAR changed, however, he lost interest in the sport. His real passion, Glenda said, was his cow herd. He enjoyed working with the cows and kept detailed records on each one.
Glenda remembers that Cochran was always concerned about veteran welfare and did many little things over the years to help out fellow veterans or anyone needing benefit of his generosity.
She said, “If someone approached us at a gas station and asked for a handout, he would always give them a few dollars. He would tell them ‘I hope you put this to good use. What you do with it is between you and God. God put it in my heart to give it to you.’”
He was a proud Christian and lifelong member of Shady Grove Baptist Church, Glenda remembers. Some time back, she underwent eye surgery and couldn’t read her Bible. Every evening he would read the Bible to her.
American Legion Post 53 was formed more than a century ago, but as times changed it went into a period of hiatus in the 1990’s. Never actually disbanded, it became largely inactive. Kimble Cochran was one of the concerned veterans that reconstituted it about a decade ago.
In 2016, he was elected Commander. Under his leadership the Post grew to nearly 100 members strong and took on a number of community service projects. Projects included funding students to go to Boys State, Girls State, Poppy Day and decorating veterans’ graves with small American flags for Memorial Day.
“He would put flags on veterans’ graves even before he got involved with the Legion,” Glenda recalled. “Especially at Shady Grove where his parents and aunts and uncles are buried.”
This year members of the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Junior Auxiliary will place American flags on hundreds of veterans’ graves found in some 36 cemeteries in George County.
Other projects include organizing a 100th year anniversary celebration and a luncheon honoring Post member.
“He was always on the go, on the phone calling other Legion members such as Jimmy Vice, Buddy Horn or Kirk Dyer with ideas for the Legion or ways to help veterans.
“Nothing could deter him. Only his cancer could stop him. He was putting flags on veterans’ graves in preparation for Memorial Day three days before he died,” Glenda said.
Just as in past years, there will be a float for each branch of service. Individuals, civic and church groups are invited to participate.
All veterans are invited to participate. There will be a reception for all veterans and their spouse immediately following the parade at the American Legion Post/ Fine Arts building.