Ed “Too Tall” Freeman was a Master Sergeant in the Army Corps of Engineers, who fought in Korea as an infantryman. He took part in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill and was one of only 14 survivors out of 257 men who made it through the opening stages of the battle.
For his Korean service, Ed was awarded a Battlefield Commission. The Commission allowed him the opportunity to apply to flight school, but at 6’4″, the 6’2″ height restriction prevented him from eligibility, earning him the nickname “Too Tall.”
In 1955, the Army’s height regulations changed, allowing Ed to attend flight school. He earned his wings at Ft. Rucker, Alabama and began flying fixed-wing aircraft, and eventually helicopters.
After logging thousands of hours in choppers, Ed was sent to Vietnam in 1965, assigned to the 1st Calvary Division (Airmobile). He was second in command of a sixteen-helicopter unit responsible for carrying infantrymen into battle.
On Nov. 14, 1965, Ed’s helicopters carried a battalion into the Ia Drang Valley for what became the first major confrontation between large forces of the American and North Vietnamese armies.
Back at base, Ed and the other pilots received word that the soldiers they had dropped off were taking heavy casualties and running low on supplies. In fact, the fighting was so fierce that Medevac helicopters refused to pick up the wounded.
When the commander of the helicopter unit asked for volunteers to fly into the battle zone, Freeman alone stepped forward. He was joined by his commander, and the two of them began several hours of flights into the contested area.
Because their small emergency-landing zone was just one hundred yards away from the heaviest fighting, their unarmed and lightly armored helicopters took several hits.
In all, Freeman carried out fourteen separate rescue missions, bringing in water and ammunition to the besieged soldiers and taking back dozens of wounded, some of whom wouldn’t have survived if they hadn’t been evacuated. For these actions, Ed was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on July 16, 2001, by President George W. Bush for his “conspicuous gallantry” during his many rescue missions. .
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