You’re a 19-year-old kid. You’re critically wounded and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley, November 14th, 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.
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.
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 into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units are perilously holding off the attacking elements and sits there in the machine gun fire as they load two or three of you on board.
Then he flies you up and out, through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses.
And he kept coming back, thirteen more times, and took about thirty of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.
Who is this man?
Ed W. “Too Tall” Freeman (November 20, 1927 – August 20, 2008) 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 wingman for Major Bruce Crandall who also received the Medal of Honor for the same missions.
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.
Medal of Honor Recipient Ed Freeman in Boise, Idaho, USA.
Thank you Mr. Freeman and may you rest in peace.
danger, misfortune, fear, injustice,
while continuing to affirm inwardly that life
with all its sorrows is good;
that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding;
and that there is always tomorrow.”