If you saw “We Were Soldiers” (and as a reader of TMDSHTM, it is required viewing, along with “Full Metal Jacket” and “The Patriot”), you saw Captain Ed Freeman, as portrayed by Mark McCracken. He was a chopper pilot who got the wounded out.
His journey into manhood begins with joining the Navy in 1945, at the age of 17, before finishing high school. He was so intent on getting revenge on the USA’s enemies, that he did not wait to graduate before joining in the fight. After two years of Navy service, he went back and finished high school.
Immediately after graduating high school, he joined the US Army. He fought in Korea, including the meat grinder known as “Porkchop Hill”. Do a search on it as I could not do justice to describe what the men faced there. Ed Freeman was one of 14 suvivors out of 250 men who first engaged Porkchop Hill. He received a battlefield commission there.
Having survived the Korean Conflict, he stayed in the Army after enrolling in flight school and flying helicopters. Then Viet Nam happened.
As portrayed in “We Were Soldiers”, he was a combat chopper pilot.
In that battle, the Americans were outnumbered and taking heavy casualties. The gunfire was so intense that the Medivac Hueys were called off from landing. Captain Ed Freeman and his commander Bruce Crandall, despite being combat choppers and not Medivac choppers, flew into the LZ and got out a load of wounded…men who would have died had they remained on the battlefield until the end of the fighting.
But, he did not stop. He flew into the heavy enemy fire 13 more times. He can Crandall rescued 75 men from that combat, working a straight 16 hours to do so.
He stayed in the Army until 1967, when he was forced to retire at age 40. But, he did not retire from flying.
Instead, he moved to Idaho and became a firefighter, flying helicopters to fight forest fires. He continued flying and finally retired in 1991 at the age of 64.
He was given the Medal of Honor by President GW Bush in 2001.