Harry T. Cochran was born on February 12, 1917 to Hiram and Della Polhavus Cochran who lived in Long Marsh, Virginia. Harry was the youngest of five children. His father was a farmer. The family later moved to Nottingham, in Chester County.
Harry entered service in the Army Air Corps on February 11, 1941 and served with the 27th Bombardiers, 91st Bombardier Squadron.
In October, 1942, Harry and his squadron were bombing enemy targets in the Philippines when his aircraft went missing. At that time, his wife received a telegram stating that Harry was missing in action. Seven months later, she received another telegram stating that Harry had been taken prisoner by the Japanese.