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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Corpsman takes lifesaving to new heights;

By Sgt. Phuong Chau | | January 10, 2003

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.," said Theodore Roosevelt.

Petty Officer 2nd Class James "Mac" Cochran, a hospital corpsman at the Naval Branch Medical Clinic here, says that quote from the former President sums up many of the reasons why he began a quest to become part of the special operations community recently.

Cochran, a native of Macon, Ga., graduated from the three-week long Basic Airborne course at Fort Benning, Ga., last year. This was the most recent accomplishment in a career that began more than 8 years ago when he enlisted in the Navy as a Deck Seaman. After three years he became a Hospital Corpsman.

According to Cochran, he has always had an interest in being part of the special operations community, but never had the motivation to follow through with his dreams... until Sept. 11, 2001.
The images of men and women jumping to their deaths triggered something deep within his soul. Anger, sadness and other emotions flooded his heart like with many other Americans. He felt he could not sit back and do nothing.

"Never again," said Cochran to himself.

He wanted to be able to play an active role in preventing anything like that from happening to his country in the future. To do this, he felt he must be at the tip of the spear - which meant special operations.

Cochran took the first steps toward this by working to achieve a Marine Corps level of combat water survival, training that is not required of Sailors. With the help of Staff Sgt. David McKinley, the Marine Combat Instructor of Water Survival, primary marksmanship instructor and Airborne Staff NCOIC here, he achieved a rating of CWS 2 and is working on the next level.

According to McKinley, Cochran will soon be completing WSQ, the goal of every Marine.

Committing to jump school was one major step in his career. Working with McKinley and Headquarters Battalion's S-3 section personnel, Cochran prepared for the three-week long school which trained him to be able to jump out of a perfectly good C-130 flying through the air at 120 knots 1250 ft from the ground and land safe using a parachute while carrying full combat gear.

ÒHM2 Cochran has dedicated himself completely to achieving his goals," said McKinley. ÒIt is good to see a Corpsman trying to out do the Marines he is here to take care of. It not only gives him the confidence to succeed, but gives me the confidence that he will be ready in our time of need should our number be called."

The number of Corpsman in the Navy that has had the opportunity to earn their jump wings is few and far between. Usually only corpsmen, who are attached to special operations units such as Marine reconnaissance and explosive ordinance disposal, are given the chance to earn their wings. Cochran only had one other Corpsman in his platoon at jump school. The number of Navy Corpsman who have completed jump school are few and far between.

Cochran emphasized that he could not have completed the training without the help from McKinley and personnel from the S-3.He also stated his deep appreciation for the marines at Base Provost Marshal's Office.

He appreciates the hard work and long hours military policeman works to keep us all safe here on base. They and the other Marines and Sailors here play an integral part to the defense of the nation.

Cochran said that he does have a fear of heights but that wasn't enough to stop him.

"After completing the school, I learned that there is nothing wrong with being afraid, but it is what do with that fear," said Cochran. "Face it and move on." he also stated that although he doesn't view himself a good example of Christian life his faith in god plays a big role in his daily life.

And moving on is what Cochran is doing. Having completed this training, Cochran is going to the next level in his quest, the competition of dive school, he said.

Cochran will head to the Naval School of Diving and Salvage to become a diving medical technician. The course spans 119 days and is designed to provide qualified corpsman with the necessary training to be a part and supervise diving missions. He will be trained in all aspects of diving.

Completing the dive school, Cochran said that he would have more skills that will make him useful to a larger spectrum of missions. He wants to be assigned to the 3rd Marine Division or another forward assignment that will give him the chance to use his skills, whether at the training level or the field level.

Cochran looks forward to the next twenty plus years in the Navy. He hopes to be able to achieve the rank of Master Diver, but he knows it will not come easy. A lot of hard work and dedication will be asked, but he is ready.

"I just want to be part of the best part of the military, which I feel is the special ops community," said Cochran. "I just want to do my part."