View Full Version : Medal of Honor Recipient Ed Freeman passes
August 21, 2008
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Ed Freeman has died. He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Vietnam War. His nickname was “Too Tall” because at six-four, he was supposed to be too tall to be a chopper pilot. Thankfully no one ever enforced that rule.
Ed earned the medal at a place called Landing Zone X-ray during the battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam – later dramatized in the Hollywood film “We Were Soldiers.”
He flew 14 rescue missions with the storied 1st Cav. Airmobile. Under fire most of the time, hit several times, so many men are alive today because of him. Ed “Too Tall” Freeman was 80 years old and his death leaves just 101 living recipients of the Medal of Honor in this country.
Nightly news story HERE. (http://dailynightly.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/07/11/265756.aspx)
Award Citation at http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/vietnam-a-l.html
Off you go.
Farewell to an American Hero
By Joseph L. Galloway
For the better part of 60 years, two old Army pilots who loved each other argued over many a meal and drink as to which of them was the second best pilot in the world.
The two shared the cockpits of old Beaver prop planes and Huey helicopters; they shared rooms in military hooches all over the world; they shared a love of practical and impractical jokes and they shared an undying love of flying and soldiers and the Army.
They also shared membership in a very small and revered fraternity of fewer than 105 men who are entitled to wear around their necks the light blue ribbon and gold pointed star that is the Medal of Honor, America’s highest decoration for heroism above and beyond the call of duty.
Their story was told in a book my buddy Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and I wrote 15 years ago titled "We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young" and in the Mel Gibson movie, "We Were Soldiers," released in the spring of 2002. Too Tall and Old Snake were ably portrayed in the movie.
Their argument over which of them is the Best Pilot in the Whole World sadly came to an end this week when our friend and comrade-in-arms Maj. Ed (Too Tall to Fly) Freeman slipped the surly bonds of earth and headed off to Fiddler’s Green, where the souls of departed cavalrymen gather by dispensation of God Himself.
Too Tall Ed was 80 years old when he died in a hospital in Boise, Idaho, after long being ill with Parkinson’s disease. He turned down a full dress hero’s funeral in Arlington National Cemetery in favor of a hometown service and burial in the National Cemetery in Boise, close to the rivers he loved to fish and the mountains he flew through in his second career flying for the U.S. Forest Service.
A few days before the end, his old buddy Lt. Col. Bruce (Ancient Serpent 6) Crandall came to the hospital to say his goodbyes to Too Tall Ed, and to enjoy one last round of arguing with Ed over that question of which of them was the best pilot in the world.
In a fine display of the sort of gallows humor that's always helped men who know the horrors of war keep some of their sanity, Bruce told Ed that he intended to settle the question once and for all by borrowing a helicopter, sling-loading Ed’s coffin below it and then lowering it into the grave where Too Tall will rest _ something that only the Best Pilot in the World could do. Something that only the best friend in the world could tell a dying man.
These two men received their Medals of Honor long after the deeds that earned them in the furious battles of the Ia Drang Valley in November of 1965 at the dawn of our long, bitter war in Vietnam. President George W. Bush presented Too Tall Ed with his medal in 2001 and hung the medal around Old Snake Crandall’s neck in 2007.
When their friends in the 1st Battalion, 7th U.S. Cavalry were surrounded and fighting for their lives near the Cambodian border and needed ammunition and water and helicopters to carry out the gravely wounded, Bruce and Ed flew their Huey helicopters, again and again, into a small clearing swept by North Vietnamese machine gun and rifle fire.
I rode into Landing Zone X-Ray sitting atop a case of hand grenades on one of Bruce Crandall’s missions after dark on November 14, 1965, wondering if one of those bullets might turn us all into a puff of greasy smoke. I rode out of X-Ray after the battle ended on November 16, again on Bruce’s helicopter.
In later years, he and Ed and I would joke about the love-hate relationship that I and the infantrymen had with the chopper pilots: Hated them for flying us into Hell and dumping us off; loved them for coming back to get us when it was time to leave.
Mostly we laughed ourselves silly as first Ed, then Bruce recounted tales of one escapade after another; of moonlight requisition raids against the U.S. Air Force for needed or merely desired goodies unavailable from the Army supply chain; of the time Bruce was caught trying to sling-load a 10 kilowatt generator off its pad on an airbase.
Now Too Tall Ed Freeman, a much larger than life-size hero at 6 feet 7 inches tall and a much better friend than we deserved, is gone, and we are left with too large a hole in our hearts and in our dwindling ranks.
Cleared for Takeoff, Ed!
FREEMAN, ED W.
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, 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.:patriot: :crying: :patriot:
Awww, man! Fiddler's Green gets another good one.
See ya there, trooper.
:patriot: 21 gun salute!
RIP Too Tall. You were the best.
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