Ed Freeman started his military career in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II on the USS Cacapon (AO-52).
After the war he went home and graduated from high school.
After high school he enlisted in the U.S. Army. By the time the Korean conflict broke out Freeman had earned the rank of First Sergeant. Although he was in the Corps of Engineers, he fought as an infantry soldier in Korea. He participated in theBattle 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.
After his 2nd Lieutenant bars were pinned on he took command of a company and returned to Pork Chop Hill.
At the end of active combat in the Korean conflict Freeman took the opportunity that his commission provided him and applied for flight school. His height (6 feet, 4 inches) made him ineligible for flight duty. He was told he was "Too Tall." That would stick as his nickname for the rest of his life.
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. By the time of the Vietnam conflict he was an experienced helicopter pilot and was placed second-in-command of his sixteen-craft unit. He served as a captain in Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).
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. By the time they landed their heavily damaged Huey, Captain Freeman had been wounded four times by ground fire.
Maybe you saw the movie. In We Were Soldiers Freeman was played by Mark McCracken.
Flying toward the battle takes a soldier. Going there unarmed takes courage.
Returning fourteen times takes a hero.
His Medal of Honor citation reads:
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.
"Too Tall" Freeman died on August 20, 2008 due to complications from Parkinson's disease. He was buried with full military honors at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise, ID.