Klindt's Place Personal Stories From An Old Dog

April 7, 2009

Medal of Honor Recipient Dies

Filed under: Rollcall — admin @ 4:55 pm

You’re an 19 year old kid. You’re critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley , 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam. Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8 to 1, and the enemy fire from 100 or 200 yards away is so intense that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the Medi-Vac helicopters to stop coming in…

You’re lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you’re not getting out. Your family is halfway around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you’ll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear the sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see an unarmed Huey, but it doesn’t seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

Ed Freeman is coming for you. He’s not Medi-Vac, so it’s not his job, but he’s flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.

He’s coming anyway. And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire as they load two or three of you on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the doctors and nurses. And, he kept coming back… 13 more times… And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.

Medal of Honor Recipient Ed Freeman died last Wednesday at the age of 80, in Boise, ID ……May God rest his soul…..

I bet you didn’t hear about this hero’s passing, but we sure were told a whole bunch about some hip-hop “hero” beating the crap out of his girlfriend.

Shame on the American media!

Letter About W01 Frink – My Flight School Roommate

Filed under: Rollcall — admin @ 4:44 pm

April 22, 2004

Good day, my friends —

Over thirty-two years ago, on April 02, 1972, John Frink, my helicopter flight school roommate and my best friend, was killed in South Vietnam. He was flying his first mission in country, an attempted rescue of an Air Force pilot who had been blasted out of the sky by a SAM. I knew of John’s death but had few details surrounding the circumstances. I knew only that there was a tragic crash and he was declared missing in action (MIA). A movie was made about the rescue attempt, titled “Bat 21.”

Today, while browsing the Internet I discovered a complete report about this incident and the attempted rescue, known as the most intense rescue mission ever attempted in South Viet Nam. Four Army helicopters, two Cobra gunships and two Huey transports, entered the target area to save Air Force pilot, Col. Hambleton, call sign BAT 21, navigator of the EB-66 electronic counter-measure aircraft. My roommate, WO1 John Frink, was the copilot of one of the Hueys, the first of two helicopters to be shot down that day.

Only one of John’s crew lived to reveal the details — after spending a year and a half as a POW. As told by this crewmember, John’s Huey crashed, coming to rest on its side with three of the crew pinned inside. John was trapped, with no way to get out. The aircraft was burning intensely, fueled by jet fuel and magnesium. Pinned in the pilot seat, John tossed his survival gear to the one free crewmember and yelled for him to run. There are no words to describe such selfless courage in the face of certain death.

However, I was pleased to learn today that there is an update to this story that provides closure: They found John and the other two crewmembers’ bodies. After twenty-one years of being MIA, John’s body returned home in 1994.

I am honored to have known John and his wife, and I was immeasurably saddened by his death. I am grateful to discover that it has come full circle and he is finally home, 22 years later. My aviation brother, you did well.

Welcome home, Warrant Officer John Frink.

—- Below was received from the Chaplin who buried John Frink —

2005-04-21 14:11:33

My name is Norman Ellis. I’m a chaplain in the Air Force. I was the officiating chaplain at the interment service of 1/2 of John’s remains in Santa Fe, NM, 25 May 1994.

I didn’t know John. I was stationed at Tan Son Nhut AB in Vietnam at the same time John was in country. I was aware of the the Eastertide offensive of 1972 of which the shoot down and search for Bat 21 was a part. But I would not know of John’s role until this funeral service.

Later, around 1998, I provided an invocation for the dedication of the Mississippi Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I spoke of the death of John at the same time I was in Vietnam, and how 22 years later I officiated at his
interment. I spoke of how Vietnam seemed to wrap itself around a person’s life and not let go. Afterwards, a lady introduced herself as John’s cousin. She was confused, because she thought John was buried in Arlington. I researched further and found out that one half of John’s remains were buried with Blueghost-39 crew members Kulland and Paschall in Arlington Nat’l Cemetery on 29 Apr 94, and the other half was buried with
his father, Harry W Frink (who had died 7 years earlier and was cremated), in Santa Fe (the service I attended). John is the only military member I know to receive two Full-Honors Funerals.

Vietnam continues to wrap itself around us.

Feel free to contact me for additional information.
Norman D. Ellis, Ch, Maj, USAF
ellisnd @ juno.com

Letter to my Twin Brother

Filed under: Rollcall — admin @ 4:41 pm

To my older twin brother, Mark.

For some time now, it’s been on my mind that I’ve never personally discussed with you my feelings about your service to our country during the Vietnam war. I am deeply saddened that it’s now too late to discuss this with our dad. It’s missing that opportunity that now reinforces my desire to talk with you about my feelings.

Even though I am almost 50 years old, I am constantly learning about and reminded of the price paid for our freedom. This might sound unusual, as I too am a helicopter combat veteran. I am reminded that these events influence us, shape us, and infiltrate our very fiber. I know you had extremely painful experiences in Vietnam – being shot down several times, being injured and witnessing unimaginable horrors while flying (troop) lift, Huey Gunships, Pink Teams, and Medivac missions. I know you quietly suffered for many years afterwards. Nevertheless, somehow in my mind, I saw you as someone who went to Vietnam for a year and came home – it was over. I now realize at a deeply personal level that your experiences in “The Nam” are still part of your daily life. I know effects of Agent Orange cause daily trauma and suffering for you and your family. I was only slightly aware of the severe effects you privately endured from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Now I understand why you couldn’t go into the intensive care units with me for my late wife and our mom. You had witnessed too much.

Not only were the members of our family who went overseas affected by war but others as well. I can image that immense terror, pride and daily uncertainty our mother felt when she witnessed our father, you, and me, as well as other relatives who were sent off to WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. This was punctuated when we lost our cousin, Dan, in Vietnam in Dec 1967. I need to, and will, formally recognize mom’s involvement as a Silver Star Mother soonest. Our family’s generations of service is acknowledged and appreciated.

A very surreal image surfaces in my mind of your annual 4th of July party in Canada last year – meeting the tunnel rat who lost his arm while in a Viet Cong tunnel, and the China Beach Nurse who still is affected by the very vibrations and noise made by the rotor blade of the helicopter that flew over your island party. I am proud of your leadership efforts in the Vietnam Veterans in Canada organization. This includes the paradoxical support of protestors who went to Canada to avoid the draft, like the Native American, “Too Tall Tim.” I am truly amazed when I witness your strength, your acceptance and self-confidence – a dedicated warrior never stood taller. I am deeply impressed by your dedication, sense of service and honor. Mark… I stand straight, square shouldered, and salute you.

I regret my failure in not approaching you earlier in your life. Moreover, I regret not having this same exchange with our father, a WWII and Vietnam Combat medic. I regret not standing a little taller myself, and protecting you, him as well as others from the bureaucracy of the country you so willingly defended. I am embarrassed for the US Government bureaucracy and for their lack of support for you and other veterans of other wars. This embarrassment includes stealing the Agent Orange compensation from you, and the actions of the American border guards in Washington State/Canadian border, apparently motivated by thinking you were a deserter, tearing your vehicle apart many times as you came back to the USA to visit our family.

In an attempt to foster community service ideals and support for our vets and their families, I try to teach my son, Ginsu, the price paid by our service members and their families. On many weekends, I have taken him to the local war memorial along the Willamette river, and had him help me pick up the litter, the cigarette butts, the broken glass, remove the damage caused by vandalism, and clean the memorial and the adjoining seats. This is done quietly and without fanfare. I find it interesting as people come by and ask why we would do this – “Is it a court-directed community service?” I try to explain to my son about his grandfather, a Combat medic in two wars, who walked ashore after Normandy, and walked all the way to Czechoslovakia earning a Bronze Star along the way. His mother is Korean. I try to teach him that the warriors who served during the Korean War, in battles such as the Chosen Reservoir, directly impact who he is today. I try to explain to him the struggles of Vietnam that both of his Grandfather and we experienced. I would be proud of him to serve his country. I pray that he would never have to fight.

During this season, my prayers is that the citizens of our county publicly and privately acknowledge, not only the warriors who have fought for us, but acknowledge the wives, partners, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters who are exposed to the effects of war. In addition, I hope more people become involved in the long-term support of our warriors. I belatedly acknowledge the lifetime of sacrifices that you and others have unselfishly given to our country and to me. Though many have not expressed their feelings, or are not able to express them, I know our family and friends feel the same way as I do. I ask your forgiveness for not earlier welcoming you and other warriors home.

“God and the Soldier,
all men adore
in time of strife,
and not before
When the danger is past,
all wrongs arighted
God is forgotten,
the Old Soldier slighted”
– an anonymous soldier under the Duke of Marlborough
circa 1705

Your twin brother, David

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