Ed Freeman was born on November 20, 1927, in Neely, Mississippi. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on September 11, 1945, and served aboard the fleet oiler USS Cacapon (AO-52) until his honorable discharge on November 13, 1946. Sgt Freeman next enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 13, 1948, and served as an engineer with Company B, 11th Engineer Battalion in Korea from December 1952 to January 1954. During this time he received a battlefield commission to 2d Lt on April 27, 1953. His next assignment was as a Platoon Leader, Motor Officer, and then as a Company Commander with the 78th Engineer Battalion at Fort Benning, Georgia, from January 1954 to September 1955, followed by fixed-wing flight training, earning his Army Aviator Wings at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in May 1956. Lt Freeman next served as a fixed-wing aviator with the 521st Engineer Company at Sharpe General Depot, California, from July 1956 to December 1957, and then as a pilot with the U.S. Army Element to Military Assistance Advisory Group Iran and the U.S. Army Engineer Gulf District in Iran from February 1958 to January 1959. Capt Freeman next attended rotary-wing flight training at Fort Rucker from March to May 1959, and he then stayed on at the school as a Flight Commander from May 1959 to February 1961. His next assignment was as a helicopter pilot with the 937th Engineer Company at Fort Clayton, Panama Canal Zone, from March 1961 to February 1964, followed by service as an Aviation Advisor to the Idaho Army National Guard in Boise, Idaho, from April 1964 to July 1965. Capt Freeman served as a UH-1 Iroquois pilot with Company A, 229th Aviation Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Benning from July to August 1965, and then deployed with his unit to South Vietnam from August 1965 to June 1966. Maj Freeman's final assignment was as an instructor pilot and Flight Safety Officer with the U.S. Army Primary Helicopter School at Fort Wolters, Texas, from August 1966 until his retirement from the Army on September 1, 1967. Ed Freeman died on August 20, 2008, and was buried at Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise, Idaho. Maj Freeman was awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush on July 16, 2001, for action during the Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
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.