Veterans Day service is planned for Monday at 11 a.m.
Grady County will pause Monday to pay tribute to current and former veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
The traditional courthouse ceremony will begin Monday at 11 a.m.
Guest speaker will be Capt. Donnie L. Cochran, U.S. Navy, retired. Cochran grew up on a farm near Pelham. His distinguished career included two tours with the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (The Blue Angels).
He was selected in 1985 as the first African American pilot to fly with The Blue Angels in their 40-year history.
In 1994, Captain Cochran was honored again by his selection as the first African-American pilot to be Commanding Officer and Flight Leader of the Blue Angels. During his tours as a Blue Angel pilot, he flew over 2,200 hours in more than 300 air shows before over 30 million spectators throughout the United States and Canada. Captain Cochran had the unique honor of flying three of the six flying positions as a Blue Angels pilot and flight leader.
Captain Cochran’s Navy career included duty as a fighter pilot, flying the RF-8G and F-14A & D from the decks of the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz, USS Coral Sea, USS Enterprise, USS Ranger and the USS Kitty Hawk. Captain Cochran was the Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron 111. Under his leadership, in 1994 Fighter Squadron 111 earned the Battle E and Safety S as the best F-14 Squadron the Pacific Fleet. Captain Cochran completed his operational tour achieving 888 accident free day and night carrier landings.
Captain Cochran’s distinguished career also included serving as the Professor of Naval Science at Florida A & M University and Florida State Universities. For his final assignment, he served as the Deputy Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, second in command of over 7,000 people at over 1500 locations around the nation and abroad. He was a command pilot with ratings and experience in nine types of aircraft and over 6,000 hours of flight time.
Captain Cochran retired from the Navy in November 2000 and continued his extraordinary contributions to aviation in the civilian aviation industry. He was a flight training supervisor for United Parcel Services UPS and a manager of Aviation Programs for the Coca-Cola Company for 10 years. Now, Captain Cochran is a recognized expert and “motivational teacher” in both the military and business sectors who inspires high-performance in individuals and organizations to achieve heightened and sustained performances in both their personal and professional lives.
Captain Cochran has received many awards and honors including the Distinguished Graduate award from Savannah State University, Black Engineer of the Year for 1989, two Legion of Merit Medals, (three) Meritorious Medals, Navy Commendation Medal, Air Medal and numerous other awards and honors. And most recently, Captain Cochran was honored by Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal in the renaming of the old Pelham Detention Center to the Donnie Cochran Community Complex and in 2016 he was inducted into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame.