More detail on this person: 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.
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Ed Freeman of Boise died Wednesday
Medal of Honor recipient Ed "Too Tall" Freeman holds his medal in this file photo.
Katy Moeller - firstname.lastname@example.org
Edition Date: 08/20/08
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Ed Freeman of Boise died Wednesday morning, according to a friend of the Freeman family. He was 80 years old.
Freeman, who was born in November of 1927 in Mississippi, received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions he took as an Army helicopter pilot on Nov. 14, 1965, in Vietnam.
As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the la Drang Valley. He flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers.
Freeman has lived in Idaho for the past 30 years.
Farewell to an American hero
By Joseph L. Galloway
For the better part of 60 years, two old Army pilots who loved each other argued over many a meal and drink as to which of them was the second best pilot in the world.
The two shared the cockpits of old Beaver prop planes and Huey helicopters; they shared rooms in military hooches all over the world; they shared a love of practical and impractical jokes and they shared an undying love of flying and soldiers and the Army.
They also shared membership in a very small and revered fraternity of fewer than 105 men who are entitled to wear around their necks the light blue ribbon and gold pointed star that is the Medal of Honor, America's highest decoration for heroism above and beyond the call of duty.
Their story was told in a book my buddy Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and I wrote 15 years ago titled "We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young" and in the Mel Gibson movie, "We Were Soldiers," released in the spring of 2002. Too Tall and Old Snake were ably portrayed in the movie.
Their argument over which of them is the Best Pilot in the Whole World sadly came to an end this week when our friend and comrade-in-arms Maj. Ed (Too Tall to Fly) Freeman slipped the surly bonds of earth and headed off to Fiddler's Green, where the souls of departed cavalrymen gather by dispensation of God Himself.
Too Tall Ed was 80 years old when he died in a hospital in Boise, Idaho, after long being ill with Parkinson's disease. He turned down a full dress hero's funeral in Arlington National Cemetery in favor of a hometown service and burial in the National Cemetery in Boise, close to the rivers he loved to fish and the mountains he flew through in his second career flying for the U.S. Forest Service.
A few days before the end, his old buddy Lt. Col. Bruce (Ancient Serpent 6) Crandall came to the hospital to say his goodbyes to Too Tall Ed, and to enjoy one last round of arguing with Ed over that question of which of them was the best pilot in the world.
In a fine display of the sort of gallows humor that's always helped men who know the horrors of war keep some of their sanity, Bruce told Ed that he intended to settle the question once and for all by borrowing a helicopter, sling-loading Ed's coffin below it and then lowering it into the grave where Too Tall will rest -- something that only the Best Pilot in the World could do. Something that only the best friend in the world could tell a dying man.
These two men received their Medals of Honor long after the deeds that earned them in the furious battles of the Ia Drang Valley in November of 1965 at the dawn of our long, bitter war in Vietnam. President George W. Bush presented Too Tall Ed with his medal in 2001 and hung the medal around Old Snake Crandall's neck in 2007.
When their friends in the 1st Battalion, 7th U.S. Cavalry were surrounded and fighting for their lives near the Cambodian border and needed ammunition and water and helicopters to carry out the gravely wounded, Bruce and Ed flew their Huey helicopters, again and again, into a small clearing swept by North Vietnamese machine gun and rifle fire.
I rode into Landing Zone X-Ray sitting atop a case of hand grenades on one of Bruce Crandall's missions after dark on November 14, 1965, wondering if one of those bullets might turn us all into a puff of greasy smoke. I rode out of X-Ray after the battle ended on November 16, again on Bruce's helicopter.
In later years, he and Ed and I would joke about the love-hate relationship that I and the infantrymen had with the chopper pilots: Hated them for flying us into Hell and dumping us off; loved them for coming back to get us when it was time to leave.
Mostly we laughed ourselves silly as first Ed, then Bruce recounted tales of one escapade after another; of moonlight requisition raids against the U.S. Air Force for needed or merely desired goodies unavailable from the Army supply chain; of the time Bruce was caught trying to sling-load a 10 kilowatt generator off its pad on an airbase.
Now Too Tall Ed Freeman, a much larger than life-size hero at 6 feet 7 inches tall and a much better friend than we deserved, is gone, and we are left with too large a hole in our hearts and in our dwindling ranks.
Cleared for Takeoff, Ed!
Burial information: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023
Copyright © 1998 - 2023 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association