Medal of Honor

 

 

FREEMAN, ED W.

 

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion,

First Cavalry Division (Airmobile)

 

Place and date: Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 14 November 1965

 

Born: 1928

 

Citation:

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, First 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 underseige 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 estimates 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.  


 

 

Some of the 50 living Medal of Honor recipients who attended the presentation ceremony of the Medal of Honor to Ed W. Freeman by President G. W.Bush on 16 July 2001. Thanks to Medal of Honor recipient Sammy L. Davis for the photo and for the identification.

 

1.Kenny Stumpf

2.Nick Oresko

3.Woody Williams

4.John Baker

5.Joe Foss

6.Vernon Baker

7.Bob Galer

8.Harvey Barnum

9.Pat Brady

10.Einar Ingman

11.Jimmie Hendrix

12.Robert Modrzejewski

13.Al Rascon

14.George O'Brien

15.Ray Murphy

16.Gary Beikirch

17.Fred Ferguson

18.Desmond Doss

19.Tom Kinsman

20.Bob O'Malley

21.Brian Thacker

22.do not recall

23.Paul Bucha

24.Jack Jacobs

25.Richard Rocco

26.Don Ballard

27.Richard Bush

28.do not recall

29.Bud Stockdale

30.Rudy Hernandez

31.Bob Folley

32.Bob Ingram

33.do not recall

34.Ron Ray


  Bush awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam helicopter pilot

 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Monday, July 16, 2001, presented the nation's highest military honor to an Army chopper pilot who is credited with evacuating wounded soldiers and delivering supplies to a battle zone during the Vietnam War.

Thirty-six years ago, Capt. Ed W. Freeman, a flight leader and second-in-command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, flew his unarmed helicopter through enemy fire to deliver ammunition, water and medical supplies to an infantry battalion engaged in battle in what was then the Republic of Vietnam.

"He served his country and his comrades to the fullest, rising above and beyond anything the Army or the nation could have ever asked," Bush said.

The president draped the Medal of Honor around the neck of Freeman, of Boise, Idaho, in a brief ceremony before other medal winners, Freeman's family, government officials and members of Congress.

According to the citation, Freeman "supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion" in the la Drang Valley.

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," the citation reads.

"When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone, due to intense direct enemy fire, Capt. Freeman risked his own life."

According to the citation, "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."

The citation said 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."

Monday's ceremony was the first time Bush has handed out the Medal of Honor.


 

Bush Awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam Veteran

 

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) July 16, 2001 -- A former Army helicopter pilot who endured intense enemy fire to fly 30 wounded soldiers to safety in Vietnam received the Medal of Honor from President Bush Monday, more than 35 years after surviving one of the fiercest battles of the war.

In a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Bush awarded the medal to 73-year old Edward W. Freeman of Boise, Idaho, fastening its light-blue ribbon around his neck. Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to a salute from superior officers and Freeman got his first one from the commander in chief.

"This moment is well deserved and it has been long in coming,'' Bush said.

As Bush described it, on Nov. 14, 1965, Freeman flew in support of an Army battalion in the Ia Drang Valley. The unit was surrounded by enemy forces, almost out of ammunition and under fire described by one participant as the most intense he had ever seen.

"The survivors remembered the desperate fear of almost certain death,'' Bush said.

Although the helicopter landing zone was closed, Freeman flew his unarmed helicopter through enemy fire to deliver water, ammunition and supplies, the president said.

The medal's citation said Freeman also flew 14 separate rescue missions that successfully evacuated approximately 30 seriously wounded soldiers. It said the medal was for ``conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty.''

More than 50 Medal of Honor recipients along with members of the Joint Chiefs of staff and members of Freeman's family were present for the ceremony.

``To be in the presence of one who has won the medal of honor is a privilege,'' Bush said. ``To be in a room with a group of over 50 is a moment none of us will ever forget. We're in the presence of more than 50 of the bravest men who have ever worn the uniform.''

Bush said that while Freeman initially won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions, his commanding officer and other witnesses always believed he deserved an even higher honor.

The president credited Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., himself a decorated Vietnam veteran, with persuading Congress to award the highest medal to Freeman.

McCain, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senior officials witnessed the presentation.

After his retirement from the Army, Freeman served as a pilot for the Interior Department, retiring for a second time in 1991.


July 17, 2001

President George W. Bush places the Medal of Honor on Edward Freeman of Boise, who received the medal on Monday at the White House. Freeman, who was honored for his heroic efforts in Vietnam nearly 35 years ago, is the 34th Idahoan to receive the nation's highest military honor. It was Bush's first Medal of Honor ceremony.

 

Boisean receives Medal of Honor 35 years after heroism

Helicopter pilot saved men from Vietnam battle

By Faith Bremner

WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Monday gave the Medal of Honor to Boisean Edward Freeman, nearly 35 years after Freeman repeatedly flew his helicopter into enemy territory in Vietnam to rescue U.S. soldiers pinned down by gunfire.

In a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Bush said Freeman, then an Army captain, went beyond the call of duty Nov. 14, 1965, when he volunteered to fly his Huey helicopter on 14 missions in Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley. Over the course of 14 hours, Freeman and his crew flew back and forth to evacuate more than 30 seriously wounded men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry.

"That story began with the battalion surrounded by the enemy in one of Vietnam's fiercest battles," Bush said in his first Medal of Honor ceremony. "The survivors remember the desperate fear of almost certain death.

"They remember gunfire that one witness described as the most intense he had ever seen. And they remember the sight of an unarmed helicopter coming to their aid."

In an interview, Freeman said the helicopter had two door gunners.

In the 139 years since Congress created the Medal of Honor, only 3,452 service men and women have received it. One in six recipients didn't survive their acts of bravery, Bush said.

"And the other five, men just like you all here, probably didn't expect to," the president said, speaking to 50 previous Medal of Honor recipients in the audience.

In all, about 300 people attended Monday's event, including Idaho's congressional delegation, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Freeman said he was honored and humbled. He is the 34th Idahoan to receive the nation's highest military honor. About 80 family members and friends, including two of his three helicopter crewmen and his company commander, attended the ceremony.

Forty pilots were asked to take on the assignment, and only Freeman stepped forward.

"What some people think is above and beyond the call of duty does not coincide with what I think," he said after the ceremony. "I did what I was supposed to do."

Now 73, Freeman said he felt compelled to rescue the soldiers because he had helped drop them off several weeks before.

"I put them there, and I wasn't about to let them die," he said.

Freeman said he regrets that his three crewmembers and his commanding officer, who flew along that day, did not also receive the medal. Shortly after the battle, the men received the Distinguished Flying Cross for their heroism. Freeman must now give up that award because a soldier cannot receive two awards for the same action. He also will receive a special pension of $600 per month and a travel card, which will allow him to fly on military aircraft when space is available.

Freeman said he received the award because he was the captain of the crew.

His commander, Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall, nominated him for the medal.

"The captain of the ship is responsible -- he gets the pat on the back or the kick in the fanny," he said.

Freeman served in three wars -- World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

He retired from the Army in 1967, moved to Boise three years later and went to work for the Department of the Interior. For 20 years, he flew helicopters for the agency, rounding up wild horses, capturing bighorn sheep and fighting fires.


December 15, 2000

Boisean to receive 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, 2000 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.


 

 

Bush Presents Congressional Medal of Honor

Aired July 16, 2001 - 09:35 ET

CNN ANCHOR: We want to the take you now to Washington, to the East Room of the White House. President Bush has just entered the room, and they are now in the midst of the prayer opening the ceremonies where in moments we are going to be witnessing President Bush confirming upon a helicopter pilot from the Vietnam War era the Medal of Honor, the highest nation's honor:

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning, and welcome to the White House.Today for the first time I will present the Medal of Honor. It's a unique privilege to present the nation's highest military distinction to Ed Freeman of Boise, Idaho. This moment is well deserved, and it's been long in coming.Our White House military unit is accustomed to a lot of great events, but I can assure you they started this day with a great sense of anticipation. After all, they know how rare this kind of gathering is and what it means: To be in the presence of one who has won the Medal of Honor is a privilege; to be in the room with a group of over 50 is a moment none of us will ever forget. We're in the presence of more than 50 of the bravest men who've ever worn the uniform and I want to welcome you all to the White House. (APPLAUSE) It's an honor as well to welcome Barbara, a name I kind of like, Ed's wife, along with his family members and members of his unit from Vietnam. As well, I want to welcome the vice president, the secretary of defense, secretary of veterans affairs, the joint chiefs as well as members of the Joint Chiefs. I want to welcome Senator McCain. I want to welcome Senator Craig, Congressman Otter, Congressman Simpson from the delegation of Idaho. And I want to welcome you all.It was in this house, in this office upstairs, that Abraham Lincoln signed into law the bills establishing the Medal of Honor. By a custom that began with Theodore Roosevelt, the Medal of Honor is to be presented by the president. That duty came to Harry S. Truman more than 70 times. He often said that he'd rather wear the medal than to be the commander in chief. Some of you might have heard him say that. (LAUGHTER) Perhaps you were also here on May 2, 1963 when John F. Kennedy welcomed 240 recipients of the Medal of Honor. By all rights, another president from Texas should have had the honor of conferring this medal. It was in the second year of Lyndon Johnson's presidency that Army Captain Ed Freeman did something that the men of the 7th Calvary have never forgotten. Years passed, even decades, but the memory of what happened on November 14, 1965 has always stayed with them.For his actions that day, Captain Freeman was awarded the distinguished Flying Cross, but the men who were there, including the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Crandall, felt a still higher honor was called for. Through the unremitting efforts of Lieutenant Colonel Crandall and many others and the persuasive weight from Senator John McCain, the story now comes to its rightful conclusion.That story began with a battalion surrounded by the enemy in one of Vietnam's fiercest battles. The survivors remember the desperate fear of almost certain death. They remember gunfire that one witness described as the most intense he had ever seen, and they remember the sight of an unarmed helicopter coming to their aid. The man with the controls flew through the gunfire not once, not 10 times, but at least 21 times. That single helicopter brought the water, ammunition and supplies that saved many lives on the ground, and the same pilot flew more than 70 wounded soldiers to safety.In a moment, we will hear the full citation in all its heroic detail. General Eisenhower once observed that when you hear a Medal of Honor citation, you practically assume that the man in question didn't make it out alive. In fact, about 1 in 6 never did, and the other five, men just like you all here, probably didn't expect to. Citations are also written in the most simple of language, needing no embellishment or techniques of rhetoric. They record places and names and events that describe themselves. The medal itself bears only one word and needs only one, valor. As a boy of 13, Ed Freeman saw thousands of men on maneuvers pass by his home in Mississippi. He decided then and there that he would be a soldier. A lifetime later the Congress has now decided that he's even more than a soldier because he did more than his duty. He served his country and his comrades to the fullest, rising above and beyond anything the Army or the nation could have ever asked.It's been some years now, since he left the service and was last saluted. But from this day, wherever he goes, by military tradition, Ed Freeman will merit a salute from any enlisted personnel or officer of rank. Commander Seevers, I'll now ask you to read this citation of the newest member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and it'll be my honor to give him his first salute.

 

COMMANDER GEORGE SEEVERS: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated for the reading of the citation and the presentation of the medal.

 

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 Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, 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, First 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 under seige 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 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.


Thanks to Medal of Honor recipient Sammy L. Davis for the below citation

 

 

 


 

Go to Medal of Honor Citations Page

Go to Home Page

Go to Death in the Ia Drang Valley by Jack P. Smith a Private First Class at the battle. Published by the Saturday Evening Post on 28 January 1967

Go Here: to read the Medal of Honor citation for Walter Joseph Marm Jr., for actions during the Ia Drang Valley battle of 1965.

Go Here: to read the Medal of Honor citation for Bruce P. Crandall, for actions during the Ia Drang Valley battle of 1965.

Go Here: to access an off site web page about the Ia Drang Valley battle, and a excellent book written about the events; We Were Soldiers Once. . . and Young.

Send comments and questions to: neil@mishalov.com