We have lost another giant.
Story Updated: Aug 20, 2008 at 3:16 PM MDTHis MOH citation.
BOISE - Idaho Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Ed Freeman has passed away.
He was 80 years old.
Freeman, who lived in Boise, died at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday from complications from Parkinson's disease, a family member said.
Freeman was a Vietnam veteran who was honored for his heroic services. He piloted a helicopter and saved more than 30 men during the war.
His heroics grew nation wide attention when his character was featured in Mel Gibson's war movie, "We Were Soldiers." Actor Mark McCracken played the character of Ed "Too Tall" Freeman in the popular flick.
The family released a statement Wednesday afternoon:
"Our family is grateful for all the wonderful wishes we've received these past few weeks, from our friends and from those we don't even know. The support of the people of Idaho has been overwhelming, and my father really appreciated those kind words and wishes."
"He had visits from Governor Otter, Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne and Major General Lafrenz of the Idaho National Guard. Many others either came to see him or passed on their kind words to us."
"My father touched a lot of people over the years during his career in the U.S. Army and as a civilian pilot with the federal government at the National Interagency Fire Center. People could relate to him, and those who knew him have told me they thought of him as a wonderful, friendly, humorous person with a lot of integrity."
"He made an impression on people. I knew him not only as my father, but as my best friend. We spent many hours together, fishing and just hanging out with each other. My family and I will miss him more than words can express."
Freeman's funeral will be held at 11 a.m. at 2760 E Fairview Ave. in Meridian. Burial will be at Idaho State Veterans Cemetery.
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.RIP, and thank you.
In his own words.
"Too tall" has a connection to the Navy as well. Below are a couple of pics from his visit to his Grandson's unit, TACRON 11.
Hat tip Jerry.