COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – Bradford Freeman, a member of the famous ‘Band of Brothers,’ assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division celebrated his 96th birthday with representatives of the 43rd Flying Training Squadron and received a special gift.
Team Blaze Airmen and members of the installation Honor Guard replaced a damaged American Flag with a new one outside of his home alongside many of his friends and family.
At 19 years old he flew over the beaches of Normandy and parachuted with his brothers in arms towards foreign soil. Bradford remembers his fellow soldiers every day and said every moment of that jump will stay with him forever.
“He was in every major engagement in Europe during World War II,” said Rufus Ward, local historian and 43rd FTS honorary commander. “He’s a true American hero and we need to honor those people … we owe them more than we could ever repay them.”
Freeman helped guide the realism on the television series on HBO “Band of Brothers,” using his first-hand experience to make the show emulate the reality of Easy Companies struggles and successes.
The 43rd FTS was a bombing squadron in World War II and while Freeman and Easy Company controlled Adolf Hitler’s famous “Eagles Nest,” the 43rd flew the last bombing mission over Japan to end the war. Both the 43rd and Freeman’s accomplishments helped end the Second World War and established themselves in the history books forever.
Freeman was not surprised when the old school Army replica Jeeps showed up with a new flag for him, he joked nothing could surprise him anymore. He expressed his appreciation to the 43rd since he had been planning on changing out his flag “any day now.”
“This was an amazing opportunity for the men and women around you today,” said Lt. Col. Jason Barlow, 43rd FTS commander. “We are so honored to be here with you today. This flag was flown in each aircraft on Columbus AFB in honor of you, your birthday, and your service to this country.”