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A Helicopter, A War, A Hero

by John M. White |

My son Chad flies with Air Transport International, and travels all over the world on DC-8 and Boeing 767 aircraft. Today he found the time to send me an email and draw my attention to a true American hero who recently died.


With all of the negative news on the airwaves today it is little wonder we are all a bit depressed, discouraged and mad. But a gentleman by the name of Ed W. Freeman, an ordinary man, did an extraordinary thing as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I think the commendation he received for the Medal of Honor award he was given says it best: "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." Over this 4th of July weekend lets all remember the real heroes who make America great, and forget oil, politicians, crime and natural disasters for a while. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 We're going to bomb them back into the stone Age. — General Curtis E. LeMay USAF, 1965. ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!

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