DeWitt Leroy Freeman DeWitt Leroy Freeman passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of Wednesday, November 7, 2012. He was 88. He is survived by his younger brother, John Freeman and his children, William Robert Freeman and his wife, Gayle, Gary Michael Freeman and his wife, Lisa, and Susan O'Donnell; plus three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Witt was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on October 24, 1924, to Edward LeRoy "Bluegrass Roy" Freeman and Grace (Corrie) Freeman but moved to Dunlap Farm near Tuscola, Illinois, soon thereafter. His first big hobby was radio and he earned a first class radio operator's license at age 16, and had a job operating the transmitter at KCMO radio in Kansas City. Witt developed a love of aviation, starting with flying model airplanes, then learned to fly as a teenager, earning his private pilot license at 17 in Champaign, Illinois. He joined the United States Navy during World War II as a naval aviation cadet, earning his naval aviator wings in 1944 and served as a fighter pilot in the United States Navy, flying from aircraft carriers, retiring as a Rear Admiral in 1975. Witt started his United States Navy career flying in open cockpit Stearman biplanes and finished up in the F4 Phantom, capable of twice the speed of sound and able to reach over 100,000 feet altitude. Highlights of his 33 year Navy career included commanding fighter squadron VF-41 during the Cuban missile crisis, commanding a second fighter squadron VF-101 for advanced pilot training, earning a college degree in engineering while on active duty, and commanding two ships, the fleet oiler USS Truckee and the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga. As a Rear Admiral, Witt served as the Deputy Commander of NATO's Southern European Strike and Support Forces in Naples, Italy, and then commanded an aircraft carrier group of four aircraft carriers and finally served as the Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel. Witt married Mary Virginia Gardner after the end of World War II and they had three children, William, Gary and Susan - all pilots, and Gary and Susan also served in the United States Navy as naval aviators flying from aircraft carriers. Gary's son and one son-in-law also became Naval Aviators, flying for the United States Marine Corps. Mary Freeman passed away in 2002. Following retirement from the Navy, Witt spent most of his life on Lake Anna and in Louisa, Virginia. He was always closely involved in aviation, flying his own airplanes in retirement, instructing private pilots and was instrumental in the building and development of Louisa County Airport - named "Freeman Field" in his honor. This was one of his proudest accomplishments. Witt was a past President of the Virginia Aviation Historical Society and was honored by admission to the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame. A Celebration of Life will be held in Witt's honor at Louisa County Airport Freeman Field from 4 until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, in the main hangar. Witt's friends are invited come by and remember Witt and Mary and visit with his children. Refreshments will be served.
This obituary was originally published in the Daily Progress.