Harold Cochran, a Merchant Marine during WW2, was buried with veteran's honors nearly 60 years after his death. He'd lost contact with his family when he passed away in Merced County in 1953 and was not given military honors. Recently, a family member connected the dots, and Tuesday Cochran interred at San Joaquin National Cemetery.
The full military honors may have never happened without Norma Head, Cochran was her father's uncle.
“I started searching for him in 1977 and I hoped that he would be alive when I found him,” said Head.
All she had were old stories, a few letters and some pictures. She got her break when she found a note Cochran wrote to her great aunt.
“He said I can see the mountains and I can see the sea and that's where I want to be. That's when I said, ‘oh, California,’” said Head.
Head, who lives in Texas was able to narrow her search, eventually finding a record of his death in Merced County. Cochran died of a massive heart attack and at the time, no family knew to claim him.
“He was put in an indigent cemetery here in Merced County. So, he was named, he was identified,” said Merced County Sheriff, Mark Pazin, who attended the ceremony Tuesday.
Cochran's body was exhumed last week so he could be properly put to rest. Head received a Merchant Marine flag as well as an American flag.
Cochran never married or had kids. Now his service to his country is his legacy. Head placed several personal items inside Cochran's casket, including family letters and pictures, so that he wouldn't be alone any longer.