A free verse poem about a Vietnam War hero, Cpt. Ed Freeman.
|It was a typical hot and humid day
in sunny Southeast Asia (read Vietnam)
during the Vietnam War on 14 Nov 1965
-- another day in Hell for American soldiers,
only this one would be worse than usual.
A battalion of American grunts (soldiers)
were helicoptered into Ia Drang River Valley.
There they encountered a far superior number
of enemy (NVA and VC) and soon were fighting
in a desperate battle for their survival.
The enemy’s fire was intense … too intense,
bullets whizzed overhead and all too often
struck their target. Casualties were high
(read numerous boys – the average age
of American troops in Vietnam was 19 –
lying in the dirt and dust as their blood
reddened the ground beneath them).
Med-Evac helicopters, with their big, red
crosses embellishing their sides, couldn’t
or wouldn’t fly into such a dangerous
landing zone to ferry the gravely wounded
fallen soldiers to hospitals and safety.
Ammunition in the unit was running out,
along with water and other supplies.
The situation was grave, approaching hopeless.
Many soldiers began to make their peace
with the prospect of meeting their death this day.
Whop … whop … whop came the most
beautiful sound they could imagine.
An unarmed and lightly armored Huey
helicopter landed amidst all the gunfire,
bringing ammunition, water, and supplies.
It carried away seriously wounded soldiers.
To fly through the murderous enemy fire
once had been brave. To do so five times
was truly heroic. To do so ten times was
the stuff of legends. This helicopter pilot did
the impossible 14 times … 14 times flying
straight into the face of grinning death.
After the last flight, the pilot had been wounded
four times in his arms and legs; yet he had kept
making return trips into the battle, saving
countless lives. He carried out at least thirty
gravely wounded soldiers to get life-saving
treatment. His ammo and water allowed
the battalion to remain a fighting force
throughout the battle. Who would believe
such a hero could exist if seen in a Hollywood
script? Yet, this is his true story. Such a man
lived and displayed the courage other men
are awed by. This helicopter pilot helped save
the day for a battalion of American soldiers!
Captain Ed W. Freeman won the Distinguished
Flying Cross, along with his Purple Hearts,
for his actions that day. To those men who
were alive because of his heroism, that wasn’t
sufficient. After years of campaigning in his behalf,
Freeman received the highest award possible,
The Medal of Honor, in the East Room
of the White House from President George Bush
on 16 July 2001 … at long last and richly deserved.
Ed W. Freeman, 20 Nov 1927 – 20 Aug 2008,
merely another of America’s military heroes.
May his service to his country never be forgotten.
[Note: Lest we forget – equally deserving honor:
Major Bruce P. Crandall, Freeman’s commanding
officer, also flew missions into the Battle of
Ia Drang to ferry in water and ammunition and
to carry out wounded soldiers. He flew 22 missions
in all and also was awarded the Medal of Honor.]
Please check out my ten books: