Monday, November 23, 2009

Ed Freeman's Story

I received a random e-mail today that instantly screamed "junk mail". It was a forwarded e-mail like the kind you get all the time. Most you read, most you delete. Some people believe that they'll find true love if they forward said e-mail to 5 friends, some believe they'll be cursed forever if they don't. I don't.

Usually I read them. Then I delete them.

Today, I followed the same protocol of reading it, pre-programmed to delete at the end. Instead, I did something strange. I re-read it. Then I went to google, then I went to wikipedia, then I came here.

Here's the gist of the story, in all its forwarded e-mail slang glory:

"It's November 14, 1965. Your 19 years old. Your American battalion has come under intense enemy fire in the la Drang Valley in Vietnam. The firefight is so incredibly overbearing that HQ has ordered all medical and rescue choppers to avoid Landing Zone X-Ray. Too many more casualties would happen. No one is coming for you. You've given up hope. You are surrounded by an overpowering enemy. Your fellow soldiers are dead and too wounded to fight. You come to grips with the fact your family is 12,000 miles away, around the world, and you will never see them again. These will be your last moments on earth...

All of a sudden, you hear a sound overhead and see an unmarked Huey flying in. No armor, no weapons, just a helicopter. Is this death? Is this death coming to take you away? No its Ed Freeman. Its United States Army helicopter pilot Ed Freeman, the very man who dropped you off, coming back to save you. His helo is unarmed and not fit for battle but he lands his chopper in between you and the bullets. You get loaded up and fly out of the gun fight realizing that he just saved your life. Ed Freeman returns you to base and heads back to X-Ray to pick up more of the wounded. He does it again and again. In fact, he'd do it a total of 13 more times."

That's the basic story surrounding Ed "Too Tall" Freeman. An Army helo pilot, when Ed heard that his fellow soldiers were surrounded by closing-in enemy, Freeman volunteered to fly into the unlandable zone and bring his boys out. He did it 14 times, saving roughly 30 mens' lives in the process.

The end of the email talks about how this story has rarely been heard before. It also talks about Ed Freeman's recent passing at the age of 80.

Look, Freeman died August 20th, 2008. I received this email November 23rd, 2009, saying "Freeman passed away a few days ago". It's a typical forwarded e-mail but then again its not. Who cares when Freeman died? 5 days ago, 5 months ago, 5 years ago...It's an incredible story that always should be told.

I never heard about Freeman dying in August 2008 because I was ignorant. I heard about Michael Jackson dying but that's because he was treated like Jesus. Ed Freeman? He was just another guy.

Just another guy from Neely, Mississippi, who laid on his death bed while a man came up to him and said, "You don't know me, but I was one of those people you hauled out of X-Ray. Thanks for my life."

Just another guy who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001. A guy who saved 30 men from certain death because he flew his helicopter into a hellish firefight to try and save them.

I'm sure now you understand why I didn't delete this e-mail right away. Ed Freeman was a giant. Someone larger than life that was responsible for saving 30 lives in the middle of a deadly Vietnam War battle. I never heard about his passing and never even heard about his story. I didn't even know "We Were Soldiers" starring Mel Gibson was based around that specific fight.

You can call me ignorant but I've tried to right my wrong by doing this. Whether Ed Freeman died yesterday or forever ago, his story needs to be told. His courage, his selflessness, his heart saved the lives of 30 men. Men who otherwise never should have lived their lives.

Rest in Peace Ed Freeman. The world needs more people like you.

God Bless our Troops and their families. Everything they do should be supported, no matter whether you agree with the fight or not. They are out there, doing what they are told, risking their lives, because they dedicated themselves to their duty. Their word is what they gave, and their word is what they will uphold. They need the love and support that they deserve and it is our duty to give it to them.

Thank you to Ed Freeman and the countless others who have served our wonderful country since its inception. Our debt to you goes beyond words.

For more on Ed Freeman, visit Wikipedia.

Also, in anticipation of one of my favorite yearly events, here is an older video from one of the greatest things that the WWE does, their annual "Tribute to the Troops" show. Honoring vets like Ed Freeman and our current troops is the least we can do. The WWE leaves for their trip on November 30th and the show will air sometime before Christmas on NBC.

Watch it and remember the countless individuals who serve our country in our Armed Forces.
God Bless.

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