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Ed W. Freeman

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Major Ed W. Freeman (U.S. Army, Retired) Medal of Honor Recipient Major Ed W. Freeman (U.S. Army, Retired), passed away on Aug. 20, 2008 at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, due to complications from Parkinson's Disease. He was 80 years old. Ed was born on Nov. 20, 1927 to William Ed and Caroline Freeman in Neely, Miss.; the sixth of nine children. He married Barbara Morgan on April 30, 1954. Ed and Barbara had two sons, Mike, born in 1956 and Doug, born in 1962. At age 17, Ed enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Cacapon for two years. Upon return to Neely, Ed graduated from high school and then enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was a Master Sergeant in the Army Corps of Engineers, but he fought in Korea as an infantryman. He took part in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill and was awarded a Battlefield Commission, which enabled him the opportunity to apply to flight school. However, standing at 6'4", the 6'2" height restriction prevented him from being eligible, earning him the nickname "Too Tall." In 1955, the Army regulations changed, thus allowing Ed to attend flight school. He earned his wings at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. Ed began flying fixed-wing aircraft, then switched to helicopters. After logging thousands of hours in choppers, Ed was sent to Vietnam in 1965, assigned to the 1st Calvary Division (Airmobile). He was second in command of a sixteen-helicopter unit responsible for carrying infantrymen into battle. On Nov. 14, 1965, Ed's helicopters carried a battalion into the Ia Drang Valley for what became the first major confrontation between large forces of the American and North Vietnamese armies. Back at base, Ed and the other pilots received word that the soldiers they had dropped off were taking heavy casualties and running low on supplies. In fact, the fighting was so fierce that Medevac helicopters refused to pick up the wounded. When the commander of the helicopter unit asked for volunteers to fly into the battle zone, Freeman alone stepped forward. He was joined by his commander, and the two of them began several hours of flights into the contested area. Because their small emergency-landing zone was just one hundred yards away from the heaviest fighting, their unarmed and lightly armored helicopters took several hits. In all, Freeman carried out fourteen separate rescue missions, bringing in water and ammunition to the besieged soldiers and taking back dozens of wounded, some of whom wouldn't have survived if they hadn't been evacuated. For these actions, Ed was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on July 16, 2001, by President George W. Bush. Freeman left Vietnam in 1966 and retired from the Army the following year. He flew helicopters another 20 years for the Department of the Interior, herding wild horses, fighting fires, and performing animal census. Then he retired altogether, deciding to spend time with his family. Ed is survived by his wife of 54 years, Barbara Freeman, his sons Mike (Anita) Freeman and Doug (Tina) Freeman, four grandchildren, Cori (Brad) Dalton, Scott Freeman, Haylee Freeman, all residing in Boise and Joshua Freeman of San Diego, Calif., three great-grandsons, Cooper and Bronco Dalton, and Trace Freeman, of Boise, as well as his sister, Betty Waters of Warner-Robbins, Ga. and brother Charles Freeman of Mobile, Ala. Ed was preceded in death by his parents, Caroline and William Ed Freeman, his brothers Pete, Joe, Loren and sisters Miriam, Louise, and Marcella. Ed's life will be celebrated on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008 at 11 a.m. at Capital Christian Center, 2760 E. Fairview, Meridian, Idaho. A committal service with full military honors will follow at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery. Services are under the arrangement of Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel. The family wishes to thank the wonderful staff at St. Alphonsus, Idaho Veteran's Service organizations and the Idaho Army National Guard. Memorial contributions may be made to the National Parkinson's Foundation at 1501 NW 9th Ave. Miami, Fl 33136-1494, www.parkinsons.org or the National Veteran's Foundation, www.nationalveteransfoundation.org.
Published in Idaho Statesman on Aug. 22, 2008
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