Mary Cochrane enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1944 to “free a man to fight” in World War II by serving as a truck driver.
On April 18 she celebrated her 100th birthday–made sweeter with a cake brought to her home by a detachment of reserve Marines, and a letter of congratulation from Marine commandant Gen. Jim Amos.
The Marines, an inspector-instructor detachment from Peru, Indiana, spent time discussing Marine Corps memories with Cochrane and reviewing photos from her time as a young Marine.
“I had never seen a Marine, by the way,” Cochrane said of arriving in San Diego for the first time after training. “But I read about them. I thought…that’s for me.”
The Marines from Lima were not the only ones to celebrate Cochrane on her big birthday. An email exchange between Amos, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett, and staff director for Headquarters Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Michael Regner reviewed by Marine Corps Times shows that the Corps’ senior leaders took time to honor Cochrane’s service.
“Amazing,” wrote Amos. “Thank you to all of your Marines who make this kind of thing happen across America. This is our heritage. Can you imagine what it must have been like for a woman to join the Corps in the ’40s? She was a true pioneer. Thank you to you and the I&I out of Lima for being ‘always faithful.'”
Watch the video the Marines produced of Cochrane’s birthday presentation below.