January 11th, 2012

Captain Ed W. Freeman _ Medal of Honor


Captain Ed Freeman

Captain Ed Freeman


Captain Ed W. Freeman _ Medal of Honor


There is an email chain about Ed Freeman which has been everywhere around the world on the web. Here is what a current version of that email chain says –

-begin partial text from email-

You’re a 19 year old kid.

You’re critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam .

It’s November 11, 1967.  LZ (landing zone) X-ray.

Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that  your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the MedEvac 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.

You look up to see a Huey coming in. But.. It doesn’t seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.  He’s not MedEvac so it’s not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he’s flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway. Even after the MedEvacs 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 3 of you at a time on board.  Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.

And, he kept coming back!! 13 more  times!!

Until all the wounded were out. ….

He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

-end partial copy of email-

The email does not do justice to Ed Freeman, though it does perpetuate the extension of his name. There are better sources.

From this link on January 11, 2012 –


The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to



for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

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 super 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.


A video tribute:






Note: the link above by “urban legends”  has a listing of news outlets which did carry Ed Freeman’s story.


From August 20, 2008: http://www.kboi2.com/news/local/27180989.html

Medal of Honor recipient Ed Freeman dies

BOISE – Idaho Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Ed Freeman has passed away.

He was 80 years old.

Freeman, who lived in Boise, died at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday from complications from Parkinson’s disease, a family member said.

Freeman was a Vietnam veteran who was honored for his heroic services. He piloted a helicopter and saved more than 30 men during the war.

His heroics grew nation wide attention when his character was featured in Mel Gibson’s war movie, “We Were Soldiers.” Actor Mark McCracken played the character of Ed “Too Tall” Freeman in the popular flick.


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One Response to “Captain Ed W. Freeman _ Medal of Honor”

  1. 1


    Freeman was born in Neely, Greene County, Mississippi, the sixth of nine children.[2] When he was 13 years old, he saw thousands of men on maneuvers pass by his home in Mississippi. He knew then that he would become a soldier.[3]

    He grew up in nearby McLain[4] and graduated from Washington High School.[2] At age 17, before graduating from high school, Ed enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served, during World War II, on the USS Cacapon (AO-52) for two years. Once the war was over, he returned to his hometown and graduated from high school. Immediately afterwards, he joined the Army. On April 30, 1954, he married Barbara Morgan. They had two sons, Mike, born in 1956 and Doug, born in 1962.
    Military service

    Beyond his service in the Navy in World War II,[4] he reached the Army rank of first sergeant by the time of the Korean War. Although he was in the Corps of Engineers, he fought as an infantry soldier in Korea. He participated in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill and earned a battlefield commission as one of only 14 survivors out of 257 men who made it through the opening stages of the battle. His second lieutenant bars were pinned on by General James Van Fleet personally. He then assumed command of B Company and led them back up Pork Chop Hill.

    The commission made him eligible to become a pilot, a childhood dream of his. However, when he applied for pilot training he was told that, at six feet four inches, he was “too tall” for pilot duty. The phrase stuck, and he was known by the nickname of “Too Tall” for the rest of his career.[5]

    In 1955, the height limit for pilots was raised and Freeman was accepted into flying school. He first flew fixed-wing Army airplanes before switching to helicopters. After the Korean War, he flew the world on mapping missions. By the time he was sent to Vietnam in 1965, he was an experienced helicopter pilot and was placed second-in-command of his sixteen-craft unit.[5] He served as a captain in Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).[6]
    Vietnam War

    On November 14, 1965, Freeman and his unit transported a battalion of American soldiers to the Ia Drang Valley. Later, after arriving back at base, they learned that the soldiers had come under intense fire and had taken heavy casualties. Enemy fire around the landing zones was so heavy that the landing zone was closed to medical evacuation helicopters. Freeman and his commander, Major Bruce Crandall, volunteered to fly their unarmed, lightly armored UH-1 Huey in support of the embattled troops. Freeman made a total of fourteen trips to the battlefield, bringing in water and ammunition and taking out wounded soldiers under heavy enemy fire in what was later named the Battle of Ia Drang.

    Freeman was subsequently promoted to the rank of major, designated as a Master Army Aviator, and was sent home from Vietnam in 1966.
    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.[5] He was instead awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.[2] 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.[5]

    Military awards
    After receiving the Medal of Honor, Ed Freeman was inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes on July 17, 2001. Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki (left) officiated and was assisted by Sergeant Major of the Army Jack Tilley (right).

    His awards include:

    US Army Master Aviator Badge.png Master Army Aviator Badge

    Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
    Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Flying Cross
    Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star with Combat “V”
    Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
    Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal with three silver oak leaf clusters and one bronze oak leaf cluster
    Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal
    Army Good Conduct ribbon.svg Army Good Conduct Medal
    American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Area Campaign Medal
    Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal
    World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
    Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Army of Occupation Medal
    National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
    KSMRib.svg Korean Service Medal with three bronze service stars
    Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars
    ResMedRib.svg Armed Forces Reserve Medal
    Vietnam Campaign Medal Ribbon.png Vietnam Campaign Medal

    Civilian life

    He retired from the military in 1969.[7] Freeman and his family settled in the Treasure Valley area of Idaho, his wife Barbara’s home state.[4] He continued to work as a pilot. He flew helicopters for another 20 years, fighting wildfires, conducting animal censuses, and herding wild horses for the Department of the Interior[5] until his second retirement in 1991.[2] By then, he had 17,000 flight hours in helicopters, 22,000 overall.

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