Once a Soldier
In my current role as head of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, I have frequent occasions to meet some of our
Nation’s true heroes like Ed Freeman. The characteristic which stands out in addition to their documented courage under
fire,…..it seems that the closer they were to the life-threatening action, the less likely they are to talk about what
happened to earn them such a high decoration.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for gallantry in combat this Nation can bestow. I know just a few, and they are
truly exceptional human beings. But barely 100 of them are still with us. We lost Ed Freeman just a week
/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr., Executive Director
Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs
Once they were Soldiers....
You're an 18 or 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley, 11-14-1965. LZ Xray,
Vietnam. Your Infantry Unit is outnumbered 8-1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own
Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.
You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the
world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see a Huey, but it doesn't seem
real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.
Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire,
after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.
He's coming anyway.
And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board.
Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the Doctors and Nurses.
And, he kept coming back...... 13 more times..... and took about 30 of you and your buddies
out, who would never have gotten out.
Medal of Honor Recipient Ed Freeman died last Wednesday at the age of 80, in Boise, ID. May God rest his soul.
/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.