LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - When Al Cochran went to Vietnam in 1967, he had completed the ROTC program at McNeese. He was an Army engineer.
"The first thing I built was an airstrip for Caribou and C-123 for Special Forces at Bin Ton."
Al went on to maintain roads and other structures for the army.
"As we were told, we were stopping Communism and basically we did that. There was a job that needed to be done and I was picked to do that and I did it."
Once he got back, he experienced the anti-Vietnam sentiment of the time.
'I witnessed that when I went into the job market. They did not want to hire me as an engineer just because I had the stigma of Vietnam attached to me. That''s a blow when you''re a civil engineer and they don''t want you."
Cochran experienced post-traumatic stress syndrome and fought for treatment.
"I filed for my own disability when I couldn''t get someone to adequately represent me with my claim to the Veterans Administration. I became my own veterans service officer. In doing so, I not only helped myself, but I helped a lot of other veterans."
"He''s a great guy," said Paul Bruce, a friend. "Just a stand up, you know, somebody that you would look up to as an honest role model."
Cochran is a member of the Lake Charles Mayor's Armed Services Commission.