On 21 August 1967 Lima 3/26 (then attached to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines) was conducting a company-size sweep along a ridge line through a dense bamboo thicket that channelized them on the only trail. The little ridge ended in an open area, a complex of rice paddies. As the point element hit the edge of the open area it took sniper fire.
The engagement escalated into a larger battle involving the company's organic weapons as well as tactical air and artillery support. Although Lima 3/26 cleared their objective of North Vietnamese Army troops, it cost two dead, two seriously wounded, and two lightly wounded Marines. Corporal Patrick S. Cochran was one of the two dead Marines.
The Commanding Officer of Lima 3/26, then-Captain R. D. Camp, Jr., remembers Corporal Cochran's death in his book LIMA-6: A Marine Company Commander in Vietnam:
I was still trying to get a handle on the situation when, above the sound of many M-16s and a few M-60s, I heard someone nearby yelling threats. I climbed back up to the lip of the crater and saw our senior corpsman, Larry Bratton, beating a Marine on the chest, swearing as loud as he could, "Goddammit, you're not gonna die! Dammit, you son of a bitch, breathe! Breathe!"
As the firing died down -- it was all ours by then -- I found another Marine lying on his rifle in another bomb crater. He was sort of kneeling at the edge of the crater, with his arms and hands in a firing position on his rifle, but his head was leaning against the rifle on the ground. I said, "Are you all right, Marine?" I took him by the shoulder and pulled him back. It was Private First Class [David Anthony] Francis, the stutterer. His eyes and mouth were wide open, but a second look revealed that he had been hit right in the back of the head. He was dead. He was the first dead Marine I had ever seen.
I called one of the corpsmen over to take care of Francis and then I went over to see how Doc Bratton was doing with the wounded man. Doc was beating on the man's chest to try to keep his heart going. I saw that the Marine was one of my squad leaders, Corporal Pat Cochran, formerly a semi-professional football player, a handsome six-footer with enormous, wide shoulders. Cochran had taken a round in the initial burst of enemy fire that sort of creased his scalp. Doc Bratton was standing right next to him when Cochran turned to him and said, "Doc, I'm hit." Bratton said, "Right," and reached down to pick up his aid bag. By the time the doc straightened back up, Cochran had been hit again--right in the head. The second round had penetrated Cochran's skull and gone right into his brain. He was clinically dead, but his body functions were still going on, so Doc Bratton was trying to keep him alive.
The helicopters started coming in for the casualties, who were being staged beside the big burned-out area on top of the hill. The litter teams Gunny Bailey had organized were really sweating. It takes six or seven men to lift a makeshift poncho litter. We got the two serious WIAs on the first helo and Cochran and Francis waited for the second. Two other Marines who were lightly wounded opted to stay with the company.
LIMA-6: A Marine Company Commander in Vietnam
Copyright © 1989 by Colonel R. D. Camp, Jr., with Eric Hammel,
with the kind permission of Colonel Camp and
Pacifica Military History, publishers.
The text is taken from