This site is designed for viewing with screen resolution of 800 x 600

Captain Ed Freeman, Medal of Honor
  • Intro
  • Geography
  • U.S. Military
  • Politics & Struggle
  • Sounds of Okinawa
  • My Scrapbook
  • VIDEO Tours
  • Web-cams
  • In the News
  • My Library
  • Mail Bag
  • Links
  • Oki Stories
    Okinawa Videos

  • Medal of Honor veteran dies in Idaho

    Edward Freeman, a former Army helicopter pilot awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroics during the Vietnam War and portrayed in the Mel Gibson movie "We Were Soldiers," has died. He was 80.
    Associated Press Writer
    Wednesday, August 20, 2008
    BOISE, Idaho —

    Edward Freeman, a former Army helicopter pilot awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroics during the Vietnam War and portrayed in the Mel Gibson movie "We Were Soldiers," has died. He was 80.

    Doug Freeman said his father died Wednesday in Boise from health complications due to Parkinson's Disease after spending several weeks undergoing treatment.

    The Mississippi native braved intense enemy fire in the Ia Drang Valley as he carried out rescue missions on Nov. 14, 1965, during what was considered one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam war.

    After an Army battalion was surrounded by enemy forces, Freeman flew his unarmed helicopter through enemy fire to evacuate 30 seriously wounded soldiers and bring them to safety. He also delivered water, ammunition and supplies.

    Actor Mark McCracken portrayed Freeman in the 2002 film.

    Freeman was 73 years old when President George W. Bush awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony in 2001.

    During the ceremony, Bush said Freeman initially won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions, but his commanding officer and other witnesses believed he deserved an even higher honor.

    In a statement, Doug Freemen described his father, who lived in Idaho for the last 30 years, as a "humorous person with a lot of integrity."

    "People could relate to him," Doug Freeman said. "He made an impression on people."

    Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, with the Idaho National Guard, said funeral services have been scheduled for Saturday. Freeman will be buried at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery in Boise.

    Freeman was born in Neely, Miss., in Perry County, in 1927 and was a graduate of Washington High School. He was the sixth of nine children.

    After his retirement from the Army, Freeman served as a pilot for the U.S. Interior Department and retired a second time in 1991.

    He also flew as a civilian pilot with the National Interagency Fire Center, which is located in Boise.

    Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

    You're a 19-year-old kid. You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley , 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam . Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.

    You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

    Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter and you look up to see an unarmed Huey, but it doesn't seem real because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

    Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.

    He's coming anyway.

    And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire as they load 2 or 3 of you on board.

    Then he flies you up and out, through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses.

    And he kept coming back, 13 more times, and took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.

    Author Unknown

    By a staff writer,
    ButlerReport/Gold Coast Media Inc.

    There are few true hero’s in the world. Many are referred to as such but few meet the exacting criteria.

    Ed Freeman was one such hero for many reasons. As pilot he saved the lives of soldiers in Vietnam who, without his selfless acts, would have certainly died. Nobody else was there to help them.

    He received the Medal of Honor – late because his application missed the statute of limitations which was subsequently changed – for the bravery he showed. His actions were depicted in the recent movie “We Were Soldiers.” He died last August and his death missed mention in mainstream media; bailouts and elections were deemed more important.

    It is worth remembering that in our breakneck, celebrity-laced world, that real people do great things. Ed Freeman is one such person. RIP.

    Freeman's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
    Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

    As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force. When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the besieged battalion.

    His flights had a direct impact on the battle's outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, without which they would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life.

    After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers -- some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements.

    Captain Freeman's selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

    From: The DailyNightly, MSNBC
    Wednesday, July 11, 2007 11:44 AM by Daily Nightly Editor

    By the time the Korean War broke out, Ed Freeman was a master sergeant in the Army Engineers, but he fought in Korea as an infantryman. He took part in the bloody battle of Pork Chop Hill and was given a battlefield commission, which had the added advantage of making him eligible to fly, a dream of his since childhood. But flight school turned him down because of his height: At six foot four, he was “too tall” (a nickname that followed him throughout his military career). In 1955, however, the height limit was raised, and Freeman was able to enroll. He began flying fixed-wing aircraft, then switched to helicopters.

    By 1965, when he was sent to Vietnam, he had thousands of hours’ flying time in choppers. He was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), second in command of a sixteen-helicopter unit responsible for carrying infantrymen into battle. On November 14, 1965, Freeman’s helicopters carried a battalion into the Ia Drang Valley for what became the first major confrontation between large forces of the American and North Vietnamese armies.

    Back at base, Freeman and the other pilots received word that the GIs they had dropped off were taking heavy casualties and running low on supplies. In fact, the fighting was so fierce that medevac helicopters refused to pick up the wounded. When the commander of the helicopter unit asked for volunteers to fly into the battle zone, Freeman alone stepped forward. He was joined by his commander, and the two of them began several hours of flights into the contested area. Because their small emergency-landing zone was just one hundred yards away from the heaviest fighting, their unarmed and lightly armored helicopters took several hits.

    In all, Freeman carried out fourteen separate rescue missions, bringing in water and ammunition to the besieged soldiers and taking back dozens of wounded, some of whom wouldn’t have survived if they hadn’t been evacuated.

    Freeman left Vietnam in 1966 and retired from the Army the following year. He flew helicopters another twenty years for the Department of the Interior, herding wild horses, fighting fires, and performing animal censuses. Then he retired altogether.

    In the aftermath of the Ia Drang battle, his commanding officer, wanting to recognize Freeman’s valor, proposed him for the Medal of Honor. But the two-year statute of limitations on these kinds of recommendations had passed, and no action was taken. Congress did away with that statute in 1995, and Freeman was finally awarded the medal by President George W. Bush on July 16, 2001.

    Freeman was back at the White House a few months later for the premiere of We Were Soldiers, a 2002 feature film that depicted his role in the Ia Drang battle. As he was filing out of the small White House theater, the president approached him, saluted, and shook his hand. “Good job, Too Tall,” he said.

    ©2009 Webmaster: S.A.Mick McClary Kichigai-noWebDesign P.O. Box 6245 Great Falls, MT 59406 U.S.A.