BOISE, Idaho — Edward
Freeman, a former Army helicopter pilot awarded the Medal of Honor for
his heroics during the Vietnam War and portrayed in the Mel Gibson
movie "We Were Soldiers," has died. He was 80.
Doug Freeman said
his father died Wednesday in Boise from health complications due to
Parkinson's Disease after spending several weeks undergoing treatment.
Mississippi native braved intense enemy fire in the Ia Drang Valley as
he carried out rescue missions on Nov. 14, 1965, during what was
considered one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam war.
an Army battalion was surrounded by enemy forces, Freeman flew his
unarmed helicopter through enemy fire to evacuate 30 seriously wounded
soldiers and bring them to safety. He also delivered water, ammunition
Actor Mark McCracken portrayed Freeman in the 2002 film.
was 73 years old when President George W. Bush awarded him the
Congressional Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony in 2001.
the ceremony, Bush said Freeman initially won the Distinguished Flying
Cross for his actions, but his commanding officer and other witnesses
believed he deserved an even higher honor.
In a statement, Doug
Freemen described his father, who lived in Idaho for the last 30 years,
as a "humorous person with a lot of integrity."
"People could relate to him," Doug Freeman said. "He made an impression on people."
Col. Tim Marsano, with the Idaho National Guard, said funeral services
have been scheduled for Saturday. Freeman will be buried at the Idaho
Veterans Cemetery in Boise.
Freeman was born in Neely, Miss., in
Perry County, in 1927 and was a graduate of Washington High School. He
was the sixth of nine children.
After his retirement from the
Army, Freeman served as a pilot for the U.S. Interior Department and
retired a second time in 1991.
He also flew as a civilian pilot with the National Interagency Fire Center, which is located in Boise.
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