2015 Veteran Honoree

2015 Veteran Honoree: James Cochenour


James Cochenour


World War Two, Korean War

Service Branch(es)


Date of Birth


Date of Death

Captured 11/30/1950,  found dead 2/28/1951

Cause of Death

Prisoner of War, executed

Place of Death

Ch’ongch’on River


82nd Airborne Div. 508th Parachute Inf. Reg. 3rd Bat. Co. I (World War Two)

8th Army, 2nd Inf. Div. 23rd Inf. Reg. Co. L (Korean War)

James Cochenour had the honor of being the 2015 “Voices from the Stone” Honoree. James was born on October 1, 1922 at a farm just outside of Plain City. James was the second child of Wilby and Donna Cochenour. He had an older brother named John, a younger brother named Jerry, and a little sister named Donna Jean. He attended Jerome Rural Township School in New California. He was active in sports as wells as the Future Farmers of America, Boys’ Chorus, and Literary Club.

After James graduated in 1940, he stayed at home to help on the farm. James enlisted in the U.S. Army on November 5, 1942 and was officially sworn in in December, 1942. In 1943, after basic training, James decided to join the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion. In January, 1944, the 508th was assigned to the 82nd “All American” Division for the Invasion of Europe.

On June 6, 1944, James and the rest of the division were dropped south of Utah Beach to secure the area around the Ste. Mere-Eglise road junction. The 508th served in Normandy until July 11, 1944 when they were transferred back to England to recuperate. On September 17, 1944, James and the 508th were dropped in Holland to secure bridges in and around Nijmegen during Operation Market Garden. The 508th remained in Holland until November 2, 1944 when they returned to France to rest. However, their rest was not long as the Germans launched the attack known as the Battle of the Bulge on December 16, 1944. The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were the only reserves close by, so James and the 82nd were sent through Bastogne to defend bridges at Trois-Ponts and Vielsalm, Belgium. The 82nd joined the counter-attack to drive back the Germans and in late January or early February James was wounded in action. In April, 1945, the 508th was re-assigned and eventually became the guard unit for General Eisenhower after the German surrender in May. James remained with the 508th until November, 1945, when he was discharged from the regular Army as a Tech or Platoon Sergeant.

While serving in World War Two James won the following decorations: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct medal, Presidential Unit Citation, American Campaign medal, European Theater medal with four battle stars, WWII Victory medal, Army of Occupation medal, Dutch Bronze Cross, Belgian Fourragere, and Combat Infantry badge.

In 1946, James enlisted in the Army Reserves and was assigned to the 2nd Army. Sometime in the late 1940’s or early 1950 he married Mary Lou Rausch of Plain City. In July, 1950, James was assigned to Company L, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division and left for Korea July 23, 1950.

The 2nd first entered combat on August 24, 1950 along the Pusan Perimeter. During a counter-attack on the Naktong River on September 16, 1950, James made a three mile round trip under enemy fire several times to bring ammunition and grenades to his men. For his heroism, he received the Bronze Star and was promoted to Master Sergeant. As the 2nd drove north it became the first American force to enter the North Korean capital of Pyongyang while continuing to drive north towards the Yalu River.

The Chinese Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, fearing a UN invasion, ordered 260,000 soldiers into Korea. At the Battle of Ch’ongch’on River, the 2nd Division was given the task of protecting the 8th Army’s flank and rear. The 2nd Division was surrounded and had to fight their way out of a 6 mile long Chinese roadblock called the “Gauntlet”. It was during this action that James was captured on November 30, 1950.

On February 28, 1951, James’ body, along with many others, was found during a UN offensive. James and the others had had their hands wired behind their backs before being shot in the head by their captors, either Chinese or Korean. James’ body was returned to the United States and he now rests at Forest Grove Cemetery, Plain City.

For his Service in Korea, James was awarded the Bronze Star, National Defense medal, Korean Service medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, another Combat Infantry badge, and posthumously the UN Service medal, Republic of Korea War Service medal, and the Prisoner of War medal.