Submitted by his wife
Paul had been fighting fire as an air tanker pilot since 1996. He loved flying – having obtained his pilot license at age 16. He continued with his desire to become an aerial firefighter even though his brother‚ Captain Gary Cockrell‚ who also was an air tanker Captain for the USFS died in 1995 while on duty. Paul enjoyed his job very much and felt very good when structures and lives were saved on the ground due to their efforts from the air. Receiving acknowledgement such as letters from ground crews stating ‘We are the ones who were caught by the fire when trying to get our tractor out of the draw’ – ‘Special thanks to the pilots of the bomber planes whose timing was spectacular whose precision on the drop was perfect.’
In 1999‚ Paul received an award from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department. As ‘Outstanding Citizen of the Year’ Paul was dedicated to his job always willing to go on early in the season if necessary or stay late in the season. He lived life to the fullest in everything he did‚ to firefighting‚ being a loving husband‚ father and grandfather.
He was killed on April 20‚ 2005‚ while on a training mission preparing for the ‘2005’ fire season. He worked for Aero Union Corporation. Paul is survived by his loving wife of 31 years‚ ‘Marilyn’‚ a son ‘Doug’ his wife ‘Betsy’‚ a daughter ‘Jennifer’ her husband ‘Tony’ and one granddaughter ‘Audrey’.