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"We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young" Ed (Too Tall to Fly) Freeman, Medal of Honor

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"We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young" Ed (Too Tall to Fly) Freeman, Medal of Honor

Old 29th Aug 2008, 00:38
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"We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young" Ed (Too Tall to Fly) Freeman, Medal of Honor

Farewell to an American hero
By Joseph L. Galloway | McClatchy Newspapers

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 Take off, Ed!

Also see Ed Freeman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Brian Abraham is offline  
Old 29th Aug 2008, 05:05
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An inspiring story of love and friendship.... Makes me feel good about myself even though my input to the helicopter world has been far more humble.
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Old 29th Aug 2008, 14:41
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I just don't know what to say

A true hero has passed on, May god bless his soul
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Old 30th Aug 2008, 00:21
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I would encourage reading the book....and do a bit of you tube viewing to get the feel for what it must have been like at LZ X-Ray. Then read on about the ambush of the column that marched towards LZ Albany and was ambushed by a Regiment of NVA.

Jack Smith was an infantry soldier in the two fights and wrote a very compelling account of the event. His account is absolutely chilling to read if you have any concept at all what it is like to be confronted with mortal danger.

There were a lot of heroes in that patch of woods....some were recognized for what they did.

Smith's account.....

JACK SMITH [Archive] - Military Images Photos Pictures Forums
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Old 31st Aug 2008, 06:27
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I received the following in a message and am sure he will not mind me sharing. Says a lot about the measure of the man, the military guys will understand, especially the Vietnam era.

I was standing around the lobby of the convention hotel chatting with a couple other Aussie guys when a crowd started to gather in the lobby waiting for the opening banquet to start. I noticed a tall older gentleman standing around with his lady -- looked like he was waiting for someone but no one was paying any attention to him. I noticed a light blue ribbon around his neck and a miniature medal. I told my Aussie mates that I thought that might be Ed Freeman. They said, "Who??"

I walked over to him, confirmed that it was a miniature MoH around his neck, and said, "Sir, do they call you 'Too Tall'?" He said, "Yep, that's me." I introduced myself as a fellow 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion vet -- albeit from about 4 years later than his vintage. I then asked, "Sir, is it true that you delayed accepting the invitation to the White House for your medal presentation until after President Bush was inaugurated and Clinton was gone because you didn't want to receive your medal from a draft dodger?" He said, "Yeah, I kept coming up with excuses to put it off. I didn't want that filthy sonofabitch touching my medal with his filthy fingers."
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Old 1st Sep 2008, 02:12
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What a hero, what a story, what an era

A wonderful tribute to an honest to God hero. Yeah, I am sure there were many unsung heros there in the Valley then, and others later as well. Thank Goodness they did receive the recognition they so richly deserved. I saw the movie, and when if finished on The Wall, I can't tell you how moved I was. I was there for two tours flying B Model guns, and still can't get my adult kids to watch the movie, "Why would we want to watch all that war?" What a paradox.
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Old 5th Sep 2008, 02:24
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RIP "Too Tall".

I missed the movie when it was in cinema but when I finally saw it I was so moved I had too watch it again, think I seen it at least 20 times since.
And good god that Hal Moore decided to share this story of those brave men their herosim.
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Old 5th Sep 2008, 14:07
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LCT,

A suggestion.....get your kids to watch "Saving Private Ryan"....the very first part of it.....before the shooting starts. Then, ask them what the real cost of War is.

Of all the war movies and discussion of the evils of war.....that opening sequence shatters me every time I see it. Remembering every single one of those crosses in the cemetery represent young Private Ryan.....the brothers that were killed Private Ryans....and in reality every single life lost due to War.

The other scene in that film that destroys me is the one where the Army Staff car turns into the Ryan Farm lane.....and Mother Ryan collapses on the front porch when she sees the Padre and Army Officer. She did not know which Son had been lost.....much less three of them....when she collapsed in grief. Multiply that by the thousands upon thousands of times that has happened in real life.

A Soldier's life can be a hard one.....but being a Soldier's Mother or Father has to be much harder especially for those that lose children to War.
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Old 5th Sep 2008, 14:30
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RIP Ed.
I echo SASless' comments. In the words of that old song. "War, what is it good for?"
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Old 6th Sep 2008, 01:06
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but being a Soldier's Mother or Father has to be much harder especially for those that lose children to War
Sas, you just made me reflect on what it must have taken my parents to see me go and do my bit 18 months after my brother lost his in a fire fight. Not a word was ever said as to reconsider going. Both had lived through WWII, Mum evacuated from New Guinea when the Japs marched in and the Old Fella stayed till the day it was all over.
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Old 6th Sep 2008, 06:40
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Looking at this tribute to a true hero who served his country in a conflict that I remember at the time was less than popular with the American people in general and the sometimes less than welcoming return that some received after experiencing unbelievable events in the service of the country they loved.
Over the years since then, true recognition for the veterans of the conflict both by the American people and the government has ensured that there bravery will always be remembered.
RIP Ed.
outhouse
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Old 6th Sep 2008, 11:38
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Danger A different picture.

Brian, you lost your brother. For that I am sorry to hear.
I have been linked to PTSD in the last few months. Well truth is that I have it.
For that they have susspended my pliots license. they say I am a risk.

THE BATTLES OF WAR.

Banger
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Old 6th Sep 2008, 23:19
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Banger,

I hate to tell you but that is not a very small society you have joined.....there's lots of us carrying that kind of baggage. Keep your sense of humour about it all....that alone will drive the shrinks nuts!

As to being a risk.....that is a bit of a stretch....accident/incident free 1967-2005 and well over 10,000 hours.

That not withstanding....I gladly took my VA Pension and retired from flying.

Must run....the voices are telling me to go clean my guns!
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Old 7th Sep 2008, 01:24
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Hey Sasless, thanks for the suggestion

G'Day to all in this thread, thanks Sasless for the suggestion, I'll see if I can get my girls to sit down and share something with their old warrior dad. PTSD eh??? I think any war veteran will definately be tarred with that brush. I really don't see how the department can claim PTSD makes a pilot a risk, that's a crock of cra*. From a brother with the same diagnosis, I can only wish you the best.

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Old 7th Sep 2008, 13:27
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Banger,

Send a PM sometime....
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Old 7th Sep 2008, 15:19
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Banger, likewise send PM. May be able to give you vectors, am just down the road, so to speak, as you can see.
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Old 19th Nov 2011, 20:31
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What a man!

You're a 19 year old kid, you're critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the highlands of Veit Nam..

It's November 11th, 1967. LZ X-Ray.

Your unit has been outnumbered 8 to 1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away that your CO has ordered the Medevac helicopters to stop coming in.

You're lying there listening to the enemy machine guns and you knowyou're not going to be gettign out.

Your family is half way accross the world, to be more rpecise around 12000 miles away, and you know 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 the sound of a helicopter. You look up to see a huey coming in. But.. It does'nt seem real, - it has no medevac marking anywhere on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you. Because he is not Medevac it's not his job but he has heard the radio call and decided he is flying his huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.
Even after the Medevacs were ordered not to come in, he is coming anyway.

And he drops in and sits there in the machine gun fore as they load three of you on board at a time.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.

And, he kept coming back! 13 more times!

Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and his left arm.
He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

Medal of Honor recipient Captain Ed Freeman.
United States Airforce, died last wednesday at the age of 70 in Boise Idaho.
May God Bless and Rest his soul.

I'll bey few of you heard of this hero's passing, but we have sure seen a whole bunch about the latest antics of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Tiger Woods and the bockering of congress over Health reform.

Shame on the media, now you pass this along, honout this Real Hero, please.
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Old 19th Nov 2011, 21:15
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Sorry Bolkow, there is no doubt Capt Ed Freeham is a hero, and his story is inspirational, but this thread is now over 3 years old.

Ed Freeman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Old 19th Nov 2011, 21:32
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We just had the 46th anniversary of that fight....and it is a story that bears re-telling now and then. The LZ X-Ray fight was just part of the events that took place in the Ia Drang area.

One of the Battalions that relieved Moore's Battalion got ambushed as they walked towards LZ Albany and suffered horrendous casualties.

Jack Smith, son of NBC News Commentator Howard K. Smith, was an enlisted Soldier in that Battalion. His account of the battle is amazing to read. For those who try to compare Vietnam to Malaya need to recall just how different the two were.

Death in the Ia Drang Valley
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Old 19th Nov 2011, 21:34
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And I only heard of it today, my embarassment! It was not dated but gave the impression it was very recent and I feared his passing would be unknown of. In his case I dont mind the embarassment.
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