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thedrifter
05-17-06, 08:59 AM
05/17/06
ULTIMATE HONOR
Toledo Blade span named for WWII Marine

62 years after his death, Robert Cochran is 'saving lives again'

Robert L. Cochran Jr. was killed nearly 62 years ago with 3,500 fellow U.S. Marines storming an island more than 7,000 miles away.

And now a road named in his honor could save lives for years to come -- the ultimate honor for the ultimate sacrifice.

Charlotte County commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved changing the name of a two-mile span of Toledo Blade Boulevard in Murdock to Cochran Boulevard.

The name change not only honors Cochran, one of 15 Charlotte County residents killed in World War II, but will eliminate confusion created by two Toledo Blade intersections with U.S. 41.

Firefighters and paramedics say they fear showing up at the wrong crossroad when responding to emergencies at "the intersection of Toledo Blade and U.S. 41"

Toledo Blade crosses U.S. 41 north of Murdock before arching through Murdock Village, across State Road 776, and looping east across U.S. 41 again before dead-ending after its intersection with Veterans Boulevard.

There is a two-mile span between Toledo Blade's two U.S. 41 intersections -- rushing to the wrong one in an emergency could cost valuable time.

"A few minutes can be critical when somebody is laying on the street," said Jim Dossett, the county's development review manager.

The new name will apply to the span of Toledo Blade between Collingswood Boulevard to the west and Kenilwood Drive to the northeast.

Commissioner Sara Devos said renaming the street for Cochran is "a natural fit" because it has an intersection with Veterans Boulevard.

Attempts to rename Toledo Blade's southern loop in the past were opposed by roadside business owners and residents who didn't want a new address.

However, Dossett said, the potential to save lives by eliminating confusion along U.S. 41 offset financial concerns.

He initially proposed the span be named Pirates Way because it passes Port Charlotte High School.

Dossett said that suggestion was discarded when local veterans, spearheaded by the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, recommended the road be named in Cochran's honor.

Cochran was killed July 8, 1944, one day before the 24-day Battle of Saipan ended, and 13 months before the Japanese were finally defeated in World War II.

A city street in Punta Gorda honored Cochran until 1995 when it was renamed for Martin Luther King.

Commissioner Adam Cummings said Cochran's family and fellow veterans should "rest assured that through this hard-earned honor, he'll be saving lives again."

You can e-mail John Haughey at jhaughey@sunherald.com.

By JOHN HAUGHEY

Staff Writer

Ellie