Military Times NOW hosts the HomeOfHeroes  Awards & Citations Database

 

Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado

News From The Past


December 15, 2000

Boisean wins Medal of Honor--
for heroism in 1965

By Dan Popkey

Thirty-five years ago, Ed Freeman flew through hell and back.  Now, his valor as a pilot in Vietnam finally has been fully recognized.  Freeman has become the 34th Idahoan to win the nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

Though Congress and President Clinton authorized the medal in June, this is the first report of the Boisean's honor.

Freeman, who volunteered to fly 14 helicopter missions in a 14-hour day on Nov. 14, 1965, Will be the second Medal of Honor winner who fought at Ia Drang, a pivotal battle and the subject of the 1992 best-seller, "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young."

Congress singled out Freeman "for conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty."  The absence of publicity is a result of delay in scheduling the ceremony.

The Medal of Honor must be awarded by the president.  With the election now over, Freeman awaits word on when he'll take his wife, Barbara, and their two children and three grandchildren to the White House.

While eager to collect his medal, Freeman has no regrets that it took 35 years.  In fact, he prefers his years of anonymity because it meant he could quietly retire from the U.S. Army.

He settled in Boise in 1967, flying for the Department of Interior and retiring a second time in 1991.  Meanwhile, he's fished, traveled and gone to grandkids' ball games.  "If I'd have been awarded this in a timely way, I would have stayed in the Army and gotten plush assignments," Freeman said, waving his hands at family portraits on a wall of his West Boise home.  "But I wouldn't have been here.  I would have been at the Pentagon, in Hawaii.  All you have to do is hang that around your neck and be a nice boy and stand there.  It totally changes your life."

Even at 73, Freeman is impressive: 6 feet 4, in pressed jeans, a white dress shirt, and brown oxfords.  He's blunt, eloquent, without artifice.  At 13, he saw 20,000 men pass by his Mississippi home on maneuvers.  "I was so impressed, I knew I had to be a soldier."

After two years in the Navy, he joined the Army in 1948.  During the Korean War, he won a battlefield promotion to first sergeant in the 36th Engineer Battalion and was one of 14 men in his 257-man Bravo Company to survive the initial fight for Pork Chop Hill.

In 1965, Freeman was working in Boise at Gowen Field as a regular Army adviser to the Idaho National Guard.  "This was my retirement assignment.  They interrupted that."

That fall, as President Johnson committed more than 500,000 troops to the escalating war, Freeman wound up on a crude, red-dirt airfield.  Thirteen flight-minutes away, he'd helped drop 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore in a clearing in the Ia Drang Valley.  The soldiers were quickly surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese troops, and began taking some of the heaviest fire of the war.

Moore ordered flights halted because of the danger, but finally asked for volunteers to bring ammunition and water and to fly out the wounded.  Medical Evacuation crews had refused to fly into "LZ X-Ray."

"We turned to a group of about 40 pilots and said, 'Hey guys, we need a volunteer,'" Freeman recalled.  "Not a word was said, and the pilots started to meander away.  I said, 'That leaves me,' and I crawled into my helicopter."

Then Capt. Freeman was joined by his commanding officer, Major Bruce Crandall.  "There were wounded in there, they were running out of ammunition," Freeman said.  "He needed us, or else they'd be overrun and annihilated."

Freeman and Crandall and their three-man crews helped turn the battle and saved the lives of perhaps 30 wounded soldiers.  Still, 305 men died during the 34-day campaign.  Their names are together on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.

Freeman never doubted his duty.  "That Huey helicopter was my tool, and I was trained to use it.  It was capable of flying into that hell hole, and I was capable of making it do that."

Which is not to say he was unafraid.  He remembers nervously eating franks and beans and chain-smoking Vantage cigarettes.  "God knows how many I smoked.  Till I had a blister on my tongue."

When he volunteered, heroism was not on his mind, only duty.  "You don't think, 'I'm  going to go out and win the Medal of Honor.'  You're going to win a body bag if you're not real lucky."

But, after the fighting, Freeman figured he'd done something unusual.  "I did think I possibly did a little more than was required of me.  But again, I had a job to do."

A job well done, indeed.

 

2000, by The Idaho Statesman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 Article Contributed by Gayle Alvarez: 

Return To The

Archives Index

 

Home Page

Hall Of Heroes

MOH Community 

NEWS

Kidz Page

FEATURE STORIES
  Profiles In Courage | Wings of ValorThe Brotherhood of Soldiers At War | Go For Broke
 Pearl Harbor  | A Splendid Little War | Shinmiyangyo-Korea 1871 | Quick Links to MOH Stories

RECIPIENT WEB SITES
Barney Barnum  |  Jack Lucas  |  Mitch Paige  |  Wesley Fox  |  Sammy Davis
Roger Donlon
Peter Lemon  |  Drew Dix  |  Mike Novosel

Medal Of Honor Calendar  |  Books By MOH RecipientsSteve Ryan MOH Posters

What Does 
A Hero Look Like?

Click on Superman To Find out


FOOTNOTES
In
HISTORY

NEW
Looking for a Hero or trying to verify awards? We have posted the names of more than 120,000 recipients of the highest awards in a BRAND NEW FREE SECTION
DECORATIONS 1862 - Present
.

Military Medals & Awards 

Information and Images of ALL Military Medals
The Purple Heart 
How to Request Records/Medals Earned
  How to Obtain Military Records of a Family Member 

Honor Roll of America's Military Heroes


Brevet Medal


DSC 


Navy Cross 


Air Force Cross 

Distinguished Service Medals

Defense - Army - Navy - Air Force - Coast Guard - Merchant Marine



Silver Star

U.S. History and Information
The History Room | U.S. Flag HistoryHistory of the Flag |
How to Display the Flag
| The National Anthem | The Pledge of Allegiance The American Creed | The Seal of our Nation | Our National Symbol
Arthur MacArthur's Flag | William Carney's Flag | FDR's Flag of Liberation]

FLAG DAY           STATE FLAGS
American Presidents
U.S. Presidents | Inaugural Addresses

God & Country
ROOM

MY HERO Web Page Creator 
(Create a Tribute to the Hero in Your Own Life)

SEARCH
bn_search.jpg (3967 bytes)
OUR SITE

EDUCATIONAL

GAME ARCADE

OR
Quick Quiz

***
Electronic Post Cards
Talking Points 

Remembering 911
The Binch
Citizens Speak Out

BEYOND THE MEDAL

This 5 Disc DVD Education Program has been distributed to over 17,500 Public & Private High Schools and is now available to the public!


 

HomeOfHeroes.com now has more than 25,000 pages of US History for you to view.