The right stuff

Remembering Ed Freeman, and a certain day in Vietnam
Remembering Ed Freeman, and a certain day in Vietnam

It is well, in the midst of our Seafair and other summer pastimes, that we should pause to honor for a moment those men and women who have truly stepped forward in serious times. I got notice (a year late) that a Northwest neighbor and former Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Ed Freeman, had died in Boise at 80.

Freeman stepped forward on Nov. 14, 1965, during one of the saddest and bloodiest episodes of the Vietnam War. American troopers, isolated and outnumbered, were being decimated at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. The incoming fire was so intense that the American commander on the ground warned Medi-Vac helicopters to stay away. He and his men would die fighting on the ground. Others should not risk themselves trying to evacuate the wounded.

An American helicopter pilot (not flying a Medi-Vac) heard the distress calls, however, and took matters into his own hands. Ed Freeman landed his Huey helicopter and took off 13 times, in the midst of heavy fire, to take two and three of the wounded at a time to doctors and nurses. Overall, he rescued 30 who otherwise would have died with their buddies.

The attention paid to Sarah Palin, the aftermath of Michael Jackson's death, and the Henry Louis Gates-Cambridge, Mass. police imbroglio overshadowed during the period events less tied to "celebrities." We can take a moment now, however, to consider Ed Freeman and his true heroism. The living survivors of Landing Zone X-Ray surely will.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors

Ted Van Dyk

Ted Van Dyk

Ted Van Dyk has been active in national policy and politics since 1961, serving in the White House and State Department and as policy director of several Democratic presidential campaigns. He is author of Heroes, Hacks and Fools and numerous essays in national publications. You can reach him in care of