“Thanks for your service” doesn’t begin to cover it. Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day, and memorialized the end of World War I in 1918 on November 11th at the 11th hour and 11th minute. (11-11 11:11)
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 un-armed 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…. at least 14 times….. And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.
No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit four times in the leg and left arm
Medal of Honor Recipient, Ed Freeman, died August 20th 2008 at the age of 80, in Boise , ID
Medal of Honor
Freeman’s commanding officer nominated him for the Medal of Honor for his actions at Ia Drang, but not in time to meet a two-year deadline then in place. He was instead awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Medal of Honor nomination was disregarded until 1995, when the two-year deadline was removed. He was formally presented with the medal on July 16, 2001, in the East Room of the White House by President George W. Bush.
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.