First Lieutenant
370th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division

Lt. Edward Franklin Cothren Jr. was the first black soldier from Knoxville to be killed in World War II. He was born in 5 June 1920. He was 24 at the time of his death on October 22, 1944. He was buried at Knoxville National Cemetery, C, 6526.

He was serving on the front lines in Italy with a U.S. Army unit known as the Buffalo Soldiers, named after the highly decorated all-black cavalry units in the American West, when he was killed in combat. He enlisted on April 18, 1942 in Camp Forrest, TN. After receiving his commission at Fort Benning, GA, he served two years in the military. He had been overseas four months before his death in combat.

Cothren attended Austin High School. He graduated from Knoxville College, where he was a member of the college quartet that toured the country and sang in the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco. His parents were Edward F. Cothren and Lucy Cothren, and he had one brother named William. He is buried in the Knoxville National Cemetery.

In 1946, the city’s black swimming pool, Leslie Street Park Pool on West View Avenue, was renamed Edward Cothren Pool in his honor, upon the request of then city manager George R. Dempster and councilman Milton Roberts.

In 1995, the city spent $800,000 for a new replacement pool on Western Avenue and College Street and named it the Edward Cothren Pool. The pool serves families in the Mechanicsville, Lonsdale and Beaumont communities.

  • Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Date of birth:
  • 5 June 1920
  • Date of death: 22 October 1944
  • County: Knox
  • Hometown: Knoxville
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Division/Assignment: 370th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division
  • Theater: Europe
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Knoxville National Cemetery, Knoxville, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XIV, Top Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Edward F. Cothren Jr.

Image Gallery

Click a thumbnail below to view at full size.

Submit more information on this veteran →