Monday, April 18, 2011

Ed W. "Too Tall" Freeman

Ed W. "Too Tall" Freeman

(November 20, 1927 - August 20, 2008)

Ed Freeman was a United States Army helicopter pilot who received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Battle of Ia Drang during the Vietnam War. During the battle, he flew through gunfire numerous times, bringing supplies to a trapped American battalion and flying dozens of wounded soldiers to safety. Freeman was a wing-man for Major Bruce Crandall who also received the Medal of Honor for the same missions.

You're a 19 year old kid.

You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam.

It's November 11, 1967. Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the MedEvac 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.

You look up to see a Huey coming in. But.. It doesn't seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.

He's not MedEvac so it's not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.

Even after the MedEvacs 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 3 of you at a time on board.

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

And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!! Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm.

He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

In memory of Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, who passed away at the age of 70 in Boise, Idaho.

May God Bless and Rest His Soul.

Ed Freeman's Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

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.

Preserving the legacy Ed Freeman
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