Command Said the Battlefield was too Dangerous for Medi-Vac. This Pilot Disobeyed & Flew in Anyway. 14 Times.
On November 14, 1965, all seemed to be lost for those battling in the la Drang Valley. An American infantry unit was being overrun, quickly running out of ammunition and suffering heavy casualties. As the enemy’s relentless barrage made it unsafe for Medi-Vac helicopters to land, Capt. Ed W. Freeman decided he wasn’t going to leave the injured stranded.
Freeman was serving as a flight leader with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. He was second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit when enemy fire at Landing Zone X-Ray, located in the la Drang Valley in Vietnam, began to overwhelm US forces.
Enemy fire became so intense that the infantry commander ordered all Medi-Vac helicopters to stop entering the area, as the conditions were too dangerous. But Freeman decided to take action anyway.
Freeman took his unarmed helicopter and headed straight toward the battle, navigating the gauntlet of enemy fire to deliver much-needed ammunition, medical supplies, and water to the battalion that was under siege.
When the Medi-Vac helicopters refused to fly into the area due to the danger, Freeman continued his flights.
And, he didn’t just do it once or twice. Freeman, according to his citation, conducted 14 separate rescue missions, saving the lives of approximately 30 wounded soldiers who may not have otherwise survived.
Each of Freeman’s flights required landing in an emergency landing zone, located no more than 200 meters from the defensive perimeter where valiant soldiers were trying to hold off the enemy attackers.
Aside from personally rescuing around 30 troops, his supply deliveries were also critical, directly impacting the outcome of the battle.
For his actions, Freeman was awarded the Medal of Honor on July 16, 2001, a full 36 years after the battle in the la Drang Valley took place.
Freeman passed away on August 20, 2008.