“The medal itself bears only one word, and needs only one: VALOR.”
President George W. Bush made this statement on July 16, 2001, in a ceremony in which he presented the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, to Army Captain Ed Freeman.
President Bush spoke of the reasons why Captain Freeman was being awarded the honor: “That story began with the battalion surrounded by the enemy, in one of Vietnam’s fiercest battles. The survivors remember the desperate fear of almost certain death. They remember gunfire that one witness described as the most intense he had ever seen. And they remember the sight of an unarmed helicopter coming to their aid.”
On that day, November 14, 1965, the unarmed helicopter was piloted by Captain Freeman. Even after the infantry commander had closed the helicopter landing zone in the Ia Drang Valley, “Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire, time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the under-siege battalion,” according to the Citation that accompanied the Medal of Honor.
Due to intense enemy fire, medical evacuation helicopters did not fly into the area. But, as the Citation states: “Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing lifesaving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers, some of whom would not have survived, had he not acted.”
On August 20, 2008, Captain Ed Freeman died at the age of 80. He will always be remembered for his “selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity [which] were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission” (Medal of Honor Citation). *
Captain Freeman’s valor exemplifies the courage with which Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:1-3). With great valor, He suffered untold physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish as He paid the price for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). The valor He displayed can only be fully appreciated by understanding another word that explains His motive: LOVE. He died on the cross for you and for me because he loves us (John 3:16).
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus demonstrated this great love for us by dying for our sins.
Through His heroic sacrifice, we can be rescued!
David A. Sargent Living Water [email protected]