Life on the Summit: Hey, Spike! is pulling for Army Ranger |

Life on the Summit: Hey, Spike! is pulling for Army Ranger

Army Ranger Elliot Cochran
Special to the Daily |

In active Summit County, the levels of what’s normal are often exceeded by wide margins.

Marathoners (26.2 miles) see boundaries extended to ultra-marathons of 100 miles. Expert skiers are shadowed by Big Mountain extreme fliers.

The U.S. Army sees similar comparisons — regular soldiers take on even higher levels of challenges in the Airborne Rangers.

Blue River’s Elliot Cochran, 26, an Army sergeant with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan notched on his service record, was one of the youngest Airborne Rangers when he was selected.

Right now Elliot and partner Bridger VanNess are competing for the title of “Best Ranger” in a contest taking place at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“The Army calls it the 100 best soldiers in the world competition,” says Elliot’s dad, Terry Cochran.

The competition draws 100 Rangers, in 50 teams of twos, who are graded on back-to-back 29-34 military tasks, covering 62 hours. There is little time for rest or meals.

Individuals are selected to represent their units; they are experts in the profession, with high levels of physical and mental stamina.

Elliot and Bridger have been training since Thanksgiving 2014 and are Team 6, according to Terry.

“Cathy and I are both very proud of Elliot,” Terry writes. “He has exhibited exceptional mental stamina and physical conditioning. More importantly he is an honest and good person with a great sense of humor. Elliot is an asset to America and the U.S. Army.”

The Cochrans have lived in Blue River since 1998.

Terry, was drafted and served in the Army from 1967-69. Terry has been the mechanic for the Breckenridge Golf Course since early 1999.

Mom Cathy is a “starving artist” and processes timeshare closings for Breckenridge Grand Vacations.

Elliot attended Breckenridge Elementary School and Summit Middle and High schools. He played baseball and basketball for the local Tigers.

When Elliot graduated from high school in 2007 he was appointed by then-U.S. Rep. Mark Udall to the Air Force Academy. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the final cut.

Elliot then received an engineering scholarship to the University of Wyoming; however, in his junior year he quit school and joined the Army.

Now in the service for a little more than five years, Elliot is an infantry squad leader and stationed in Italy.

Other Cochran family members pulling for Elliot are younger sister Kelly Jean, a Colorado State University graduate residing in Fort Collins, and older half-brother Colin, who lives in Denver.

Here’s the Rangers’ backstory:

The Best Ranger Competition, celebrating its 32nd anniversary, is a U.S. Army event supported by the National Ranger Association, formed in 1998 and governed by a board of six.

The competition was started in 1982 by Dick Leandri to honor his friend, Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr.

The association recognizes distinguished members in the Ranger community and promotes the values established in the Ranger Creed. The National Ranger Association supports the Ranger community activities, which include Best Ranger Competition, Ranger Hall of Fame and the Distinguished Member of the Brigade.

Some of the events in the grueling competition, covering 62 hours and 60 miles, include unknown distance run; push-ups and sit-ups; confidence course; airborne operation; rifle, pistol and machine gun marksmanship competitions; 20-plus-mile march with 60-pound pack; 4.7-mile run; demolitions, grenades, navigation, bayonet assault course; weapons assembly; rope climbing and rappelling; obstacle course; and swimming. And with no programmed sleep.


Meanwhile, Spike! and Mary enjoyed the season finale of the Summit Music and Arts 2014-15 Concert Series in the Finkel Auditorium at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge recently, featuring pianist Len Rhodes and the Carpe Diem String Quartet of Chas Wetherbee, Amy Galluzzo, Carol Ou and Korine Fujiwara.

Among some of those attending were Sandy Rhodes, Bonnie Guthrie, Meg and Jerry Castle, Luray and Jim Wiberg, Brian Hanly, Sharil Caffrey, Karin Maybach Henzey, Kikken and Gary Miller, Jana Hlavaty, Alicia and Peter Dunn, Lauren and John Fisher, Bill and Cynthia Starr, Don Buckalew and Corkie Ramey, and Tony Flitcraft.


Up at the Frisco post office, Spike! visited with longtime local Kurt Morscher, who was giving a tour to buddy Andreas Vaerst, who is visiting from Munich, Germany, and his Schusser Club.

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. Email your social info to

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