Always a volunteer for the toughest tasks, it was volunteering for a mission many thought would be suicide that led Ed Freeman to receive the Medal of Honor. Freeman is a veteran Master Army Aviator in both fixed wing and helicopters with over 18,000 hours and more than 1,400 combat hours in Vietnam. Born in 1927, Freeman grew up in Neely, Mississippi. As a boy, he was inspired to be a soldier as he watched thousands of troops preparing to fight in the Great Louisiana Maneuvers. His mother did not approve of the Army after one of his older brothers was injured at Luzon, but in 1945, she allowed him to enlist in the Navy at age 17, before he graduated high school.
After two years aboard a tanker, the USS Cacapon, he went back to Mississippi to finish high school. In 1948, Freeman was finally able to join the Army Corps of Engineers and went to Germany. While there, he conducted border patrols on Harley Davidsons and trained to blow up bridges to halt any Soviet invasion. In the winter of 1951, he shipped off to a new war, this time in Korea. As First Sergeant of Company B, 11th Combat Engineers, Freeman saw more duty as an infantryman than as an engineer. One day, his unit went to retake Pork Chop Hill. At the end of the day Freeman was among the 14 of 257 who were not killed or injured. When Gen. Van Fleet heard of his bravery, he offered Freeman a battlefield commission. He accepted on the condition that he could stay with Company B.
The next day, as the new commander of Company B, Freeman led his troops back up Pork Chop Hill, this time victorious. As a newly commissioned officer, Freeman now was authorized to attend flight school. In 1955, at 6’4″ tall, Freeman barely passed the physical but earned his wings along with the nickname “Too Tall.” His first assignment was to a mapping group where he met 1st Lt. Bruce Crandall, who would later give him the opportunity of a lifetime. Following assignments in Iran, Ft Rucker, Panama, Columbia, and 23 months into an assignment in Idaho, Freeman received a call to report to Ft Benning in three days.
While awaiting his in-processing physical, Freeman was pulled from the line by Major Crandall to serve as executive officer of Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) just before they shipped off to An Khe, Vietnam. As the one of the oldest officers in the company, “Too Tall” naturally mentored the younger aviators in the unit. Following his tour in Vietnam, Major Freeman returned to the US for one last assignment in Mineral Wells, Texas, retiring in 1967. Then he took a job with the Department of Interior fighting fires, herding wild animals and horses. In 1991, after 36 years of flying, he finally retired to Boise, Idaho, the hometown of his wife Barbara. He has two sons, Michael and Douglas.