From the Castle of Argghhh!!!
Medal of Honor helicopter pilot dies
By Jessie L. Bonner - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Aug 21, 2008 6:09:22 EDT
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 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.
MOH CITATION: Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Place and date: Landing Zone X-Ray, Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 14 November 1965. Born: 20 November 1927, Neely, Mississippi. Entered Service At: Hattiesburg, Mississippi Citation: 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 infantry 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 experienced a 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 Freemans 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 Freemans 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.