Sunday, October 14, 2012

RCAF F/O Louis Cochand

Along with the RCAF 111(F) Squadron, the RCAF 14(F) Squadron arrived in Umnak, AK in March, 1943 to aide in the war in Alaska.  Louis Cochand was part of that 15 strong P-40 Kittyhawk squadron. 

Flying Officer Cochand was  from St. Marguerite, Quebec.  He joined the RCAF as a fighter pilot at the age of 23 and was stationed with the 14(F) squadron bound for Alaska to help the Americans defend the continent.   His squadron recorded 14 missions comprising a total of 88 individual sorties during the campaign.  He was one of seven men in 14(F) to be awarded an American Air Medal by Major General N.E. Ladd. 

F/O Louis Cochand

"These officers, as pilots of fighter planes, participated in numerous attacks on enemy installations in the Aleutian Islands which were pressed home despite very heavy anti-aircraft fire and often under adverse weather conditions. All flights were made from advanced bases and required skillful airmenship for a successful execution of the mission.  The courage and devotion to duty of these officers reflect great credit upon themselves and the organization they are a part of. "
AAF, Major General Ladd

After the Aleutian campaign the squadron was re-designated as the 442(F) Squadron and headed off to fly spitfires in England and then Mustangs right into the heartland of Germany. For his efforts there he was decorated with the distinguished Croix de Guerre.  The recommendation said:

"This officer has completed 158 sorties over enemy territory, many of them against heavily defended ground targets, and he at all times has proven himself as exceptionally keen and aggressive.  On August 18th and 19th, Flying Officer Cochand destroyed and damaged 21 enemy vehicles bringing his total to 62 destroyed or damaged enemy vehicles since the invasion of the Continent.  The officer's courageous and determined low level attacks in the face of very intense flak have obtained many fine results and he has gained the greatest admiration and respect of all."

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