new heroes

        Major Ed Freeman was a hero.  For one day.  Decades ago, in the jungles of Vietnam, he put his life on the line.  Over and over again.  For one day.  When none of the Medevac helicopters would fly into the battle, Major Freeman flew in.  And his wasn’t even a Medevac helicopter.  Fourteen times he flew in.  Nobody knows how many men lived because of it.  How many sons.  How many fathers.  How many brothers.  How many friends.

        That makes me wonder.  What if I lived like that?  Even just for this one, short day?  What if I took the risk of looking around the office or the carpool line to see who’s wounded and who’s dying of thirst and who’s about to give up?  What if I risked my time and my energy and my compassion and maybe even my reputation to give them a hand?  What if we were all heroes for a day? 

On Nov. 14, 1965, [Major Ed Freeman’s helicopter unit] carried a battalion into the Ia Drang Valley for what became the first major confrontation between large forces of the American and North Vietnamese armies. Back at base, [Freeman] and the other pilots received word that the soldiers they had dropped off were taking heavy casualties and running low on supplies. In fact, the fighting was so fierce that Medevac helicopters refused to pick up the wounded. When the commander of the helicopter unit asked for volunteers to fly into the battle zone, Freeman alone stepped forward. He was joined by his commander, and the two of them began several hours of flights into the contested area. Because their small emergency-landing zone was just one hundred yards away from the heaviest fighting, their unarmed and lightly armored helicopters took several hits. In all, Freeman carried out fourteen separate rescue missions, bringing in water and ammunition to the besieged soldiers and taking back dozens of wounded, some of whom wouldn't have survived if they hadn't been evacuated. For these actions, Ed was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on July 16, 2001, by President George W. Bush.”  Obituary, August 22, 2008