Although the following story from the Vietnam War era is frequently found among “urban legends,” it, unlike most others, is essentially true.
November 14, 1965, Landing Zone X-Ray, Vietnam, 11 days until Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving would come early that year for one 19-year-old kid, critically wounded and dying in the jungle of the Ia Drang Valley.
His infantry unit was outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire was so intense from 100 or 200 yards away, his own commander had ordered the landing zone closed. So there he lay, listening to the enemy machine guns, knowing he wasn’t going to make it. His family was half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and he would never see them again. As the world started to fade in and out, he knew this was “the day.” Then, over the machine gun noise, he faintly heard the sound of a helicopter and looked up to see an unarmed Huey.
Ed Freeman was coming to get him.
Ed wasn’t a med-evac pilot, so it wasn’t his job. But the med-evacs had refused to fly, so there he was, flying down into the machine gun fire, dropping his craft to the ground and sitting there in a hail of bullets while someone loaded up the young man and a couple of others. Then he flew up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses who would save the young men’s lives.
And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!! … until he had rescued about 30 men who would never have seen another Thanksgiving without him.
Question. Do you think those GIs lying in the jungle were thankful for what Ed Freeman did that day? Those men have never forgotten. Under what condition could they ever forget the power of his actions that day? Our Nation thanked him on behalf of those men and others by presenting him with the Medal of Honor.
Giving thanks is more than saying the words. The greatest thanksgiving comes in the telling and retelling the story. Ed Freeman is honored in the telling of the story to those who have never heard it.
We know the “Greatest Story Ever Told.” It is impossible for us to be truly thankful for what our Lord accomplished on our behalf if we refuse to share it with those who have never heard it.
When Peter and John were imprisoned for telling the story of Christ and commanded to stop telling it, they said, “We cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.”
We should be unstoppable. The story of our rescue should be told over and over for the benefit of others and the praise of our Lord.
Guest Article by Chris Schaefer
Randolph Church of Christ, Universal City, TX