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Edward Freeman PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Edward Freeman, in addition to being a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in Viet Nam was also a long-time check pilot for the OAS.  Some of you still flying fires probably were carded by him.


Medal of Honor veteran dies in Idaho

By JESSIE L. BONNER - Associated Press Writer

Edition Date: 08/20/08

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.

The 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.

After 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 and supplies.

Actor Mark McCracken portrayed Freeman in the 2002 film.

Freeman was 73 years old when President George W. Bush awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony in 2001.

During 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."

Lt. 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.

Click here for the original article and posted comments in the Idaho Statesman...


Roark David Schwanenberg PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Roark David Schwanenberg - January 19, 1954 - August 5, 2008

Roark was the Pilot In Command on the Carson Helicopters S-61N (N612AZ) that went down on August 5, 2008 on the Buckhorn Fire in Northern California.


 Click here for his obituary on the NIFC website...


County mourns a hero... Wallowa County Chieftain


Roark Schwanenberg...


James N. Ramage PDF  | Print |  E-mail

News Releases: 2008

[Image]. Forest Service Shield.

News Release

US Forest Service

Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Contact: Mike Odle

photo. James N. Ramage, wearing a flight helmentjimramage.jpgBio and photo released of James N. Ramage

James N. Ramage, age 63, is one of the nine fatalities of the Northern California helicopter crash that happened this past week on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Ramage, a helicopter pilot, had an outstanding career with both the US Forest Service and CAL Fire, California's state fire agency.

Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore said, "The US Forest Service was very fortunate to have Jim as part of our workforce and family. He was an aviation leader with extensive flying experience and knowledge."

Ramage's aviation career began as a helicopter pilot for the US Army from 1966 through 1970. He served one tour of duty in Vietnam. He also served and flew with Air America in Southeast Asia from 1970 to1974.

In 1974 he began his helicopter firefighting career with Evergreen Helicopter, Inc. and flew as a contract pilot for both the US Forest Service and CAL Fire until 1978. He then worked as a contract pilot for Redding Air Service in Redding, California, flying across the Western United States.

For 20 years, beginning in 1984, Ramage worked for CAL Fire. He was the first Forestry Pilot for CAL Fire and carried *** #1 for forestry pilots. He was then promoted to Air Operations Officer and served as CAL Fire Chief Helicopter Pilot and later Aviation Safety Officer until his retirement in 2003.

Ramage's love of firefighting and helicopters was so strong that after 11 days of retirement, he began working for the US Forest Service as helicopter inspector pilot working out of McClellan, California. In 2006, Ramage and his family moved back to Redding, California with the US Forest Service.

Born in Taft, California, Ramage had a passion for aviation. He dedicated himself and his career to help provide for the safety of others. Ramage was performing his duties as a helicopter inspector pilot at the time of the accident.

Ramage is survived by his wife of 38 years, Diane, and his 28-year old daughter Ginger.


 Link to the original article on the NIFC website...


Jim Ramage...  


Carson Helicopters - A Very Sad Day PDF  | Print |  E-mail
  Today, August 6, 2008 is a very sad day.  We all learned today of the tragic loss of life in California in a helicopter accident the evening of August 5.  As of now there are 9 confirmed deceased and 4 more struggling for their lives.  There are many different news reports from various sources but the main points are that a Carson Helicopters S-61N (N612AZ) operating as a troop transport with 13 total aboard crashed on takeoff from a remote wooded area about 35 miles northwest of Redding, California.

   The ground personnel on board were apparently part of the private firefighting contractor, Grayback.  I have personally assisted numerous Grayback crews from the air and have met some later at fire camp.  While not actually an official Helitack crew I believe anyone certainly deserves recognition for their dedication and willingness to place their lives in other people's hands as they are flown from place to place in doing their jobs.

   My heart is heavy with the loss and injury to so many people that knowingly risk themselves in order to fight our nation's fires.  My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved and their families.  I try not to think about the risk every time I strap into my aircraft and just hope to do a good job for everyone and land safely.

   To everyone at Carson Helicopters and Grayback, you are in my prayers.

   God Bless.

Update: 8-07-08

   The missing and presumed dead pilot was Roark Schwanenberg of Lostine, Oregon.  His co-pilot, William Coultas of Cave Junction, Oregon is currently in serious but stable condition.

  Update: 8-15-08

   Not all of the passengers were Grayback personnel.  James Ramage, an OAS Check pilot, was also aboard.   


© 2008 Aerial Fire Fighting