Brigadier General Erwin Cockett passed on November 5, 2020

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Aloha friends of the SFA – It is my duty to report that a distinguished Veteran of Korea and Vietnam went home today. Brigadier General Erwin Cockett passed away at 11:17 AM on November 5, 2020, in Honolulu. He was born on the island of Kauai, August 24, 1930. He served with distinction in the United States Army through two wars: Korea and Vietnam. He was a part of the 5th Regimental Combat Team that fought in the Korean War. He served as a Special Forces Officer and a chopper pilot in Vietnam. He was well known among service members for having led a rescue mission in the Vietnam War. Erwin Cockett flew his chopper into a very dangerous landing zone, and then went into the jungle to find the US forces who had been left behind. He did this in complete disregard for his own life. The men were rescued, thanks in large part to Erwin Cockett. Later, Erwin Cockett served with the Hawaii Army National Guard, attaining the rank of Brigadier General. And after retirement from the armed forces, he served as Director of the Hawaii Office of Veterans Services. His service to our Nation, our State, and to our Veterans was of the highest caliber. He will be remembered as a person who cared for others, and risked his life for them. This is the song of the life of Erwin Cockett.On behalf of our SFA Chapter, we offer our Respects and Prayers for this Heroic Warrior. He will be Remembered with Honor. BG Cockett was born in Kilauea and raised in Koloa, Cockett attended Kamehameha Schools. It was there that he had his first exposure to a form of military discipline.“They had mandatory ROTC. I was a real screwup,” Cockett said. “My professor of military science, Capt. Mahikoa, called me in one day and said, `You are one of the most worthless Hawaiians I have ever seen and you will never make anything of yourself.’“One of the joys of my life, after I was a brigadier, was to buy him a drink. I still called him sir, though. I always sirred, him even though he was a lieutenant colonel.”Cockett is a local boy made good, who enjoyed his life in the world and then returned to the islands he always called home no matter where else he happened to be.Cockett served during the Korean War as an enlisted man and a member of the 5th Regimental Combat team. After that, Cockett, who was born in Koloa in August 1930, enrolled in officer’s candidate school upon the recommendation of one of his officers who also hailed from Hawaii. Following his commission as a second lieutenant, Cockett had a non-combat tour with the original Green Beret unit and then served three combat tours in Vietnam, where he piloted helicopter gunships.“I was hit several times in the foot (enemy fire came up through the bottom of his gunship) and medically evacuated to Japan,” Cockett said.But 30 years later, Cockett said he isn’t sorry about his combat tours.In between earlier tours of Vietnam, he was shipped back to Texas as a flight instructor. “It was dullsville. I hated it,” he said of his peacetime break.Cockett was awarded the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars and four Purple Hearts and numerous other campaign decorations.Combat gave Cockett a sense of purpose.“You felt like you were accomplishing something without all the politics,” he said.Cockett said he thinks his heritage had something to do with his martial spirit.“Our ancestors were warriors. I think that’s why we Hawaiians do well in the military, and it’s why we take such tremendous losses in combat. Our ancestors were all warriors,” Cockett said.Cockett went from the regular Army to serve as the commander of the Hawaii Army National Guard before retiring at the rank of brigadier general in 1986.Cockett leaves his wife of 70 years, Elizabeth “Betty” Huddy, also of Koloa. The couple had three daughters.