Battle of Ia Drang Valley information
for A/229 AVN 1 CAV

For date 651114

A/229 AVN 1 CAV was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Pleiku Province, II Corps, South Vietnam
Location, LZ X-Ray
Description: Vietnam hero awarded Medal of Honor by Staff Sgt. Marcia Triggs and Nicholas J. Carter WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 17, 2001) -- Retired MAJ Ed W. Freeman was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor as a pilot in Vietnam by President George W. Bush, July 16. More than 50 Medal of Honor recipients attended the White House ceremony. Also present were Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Army Secretary Thomas White, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and Sen. John McCain, as well as family, friends and fellow unit members that served with Freeman. "This moment is well deserved and it's been long in coming," Bush said. "To be in the presence of one who has won the Medal of Honor is a privilege. To be in the room with a group of over 50 is a moment none of us will ever forget." The memory of talking to Bush is something that Freeman said he will also hold dear. "I don't know how I expected the ceremony to be, but it exceeded any expectations I could've had," said Freeman. "The president was so easy to talk to. My wife is named Barbara, and he told her that he was partial to that name." On Nov. 14, 1965 Freeman spent 14.5 hours flying water and ammunition to an infantry battalion heavily engaged in a battle at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. He is credited with saving more than 30 lives by providing medical evacuations. "It was a long day. For the longest it was just a blur," Freeman said. "I didn't even know it happened on a Sunday until 20 years later. In war days don't count." During the 14.5-hour rescue mission Freeman said they never turned off the helicopter. They refueled it while it was running, and he remembers at one point eating a half a can of beanie weenies. It was in and out all day with water, ammunition, wounded and body bags, he said. Freeman was a pilot in Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), when he volunteered to fly his helicopter through enemy fire to support the rescue mission. "I had a tool that the Army provided me with, and that was my helicopter," Freeman said. "It's an amazing piece of equipment and with that tool I saved many lives." Freeman, who stands 6 feet 4 inches, was two inches taller than the Army's maximum height for pilots. He said he loved what the helicopter was able to do for the Army, and just hates that he couldn't have saved more lives. "I was a professional soldier, and I was just doing my duty," Freeman said. However, others consider his actions going above and beyond his duties. "He's even more than a soldier because he did more than his duty," Bush said. "He served his country and his comrades to the fullest, rising above and beyond anything the Army or the nation could have ever asked." The Medal of Honor is not the first award for heroism Freeman has received. The Medal of Honor is an upgrade from the Distinguished Service Cross. The initial award has been revoked because a soldier cannot receive two awards for the same action. Freeman said he knew when he was 14 that he wanted to be a soldier. After two years in the Navy, Freeman returned to his hometown, Neely, Miss., and finished his last year in high school. He then enlisted in the Army in 1948. During the Korean War, he was one of 14 men out of 257 assigned to Company B, 36th Engineer Battalion to survive the initial fight for Pork Chop Hill. After his term in Vietnam, Freeman was assigned to Mineral Wells, Texas, as a flight instructor. At the completion of that tour he retired from the Army in 1967. Freeman said his experiences in the Army has helped him appreciate life and to value freedom. He said he has tried to instill that in his children and grandchildren. "This nation was born under revolution and rebellion, but we grew up with freedom. That's very difficult to take away once you have it." In 1967 at the end of Freeman's Army career, he celebrated his first retirement. He was able to celebrate another one in 1991 after retiring from the Department of Interior. "For 20 more years I worked for the government fighting wild fires and herding wild horses -- very un-risky work," Freeman said. "I retired 10 years ago with 18,000 flight hours in a helicopter and 8,000-plus fixed wing hours, and I haven't flown since." These days for Freeman are filled with spending time with grandchildren, attending reunions and fishing. Freeman said he considers himself a professional grandfather.
Comments: CPT Freeman, Ed; A/229th Avn flight leader; ;

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Last updated 07/17/2001

Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023