Paratrooper Bradford C. Freeman was only 19 years old when he jumped into Normandy, France, with the other members of Easy Company, 101st Airborne Division. The same division that was the subject of the miniseries “Band of Brothers.”
Last of The Brothers
Recently, Freeman passed away in Caledonia, MS, at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangel. He was 97 and the last surviving member of his unit. Private First Class Freeman was a part of Operation Overlord and had a mortar base plate on his chest as he jumped.
Freeman landed in a cow pasture, assisting a soldier who broke his leg in the landing before heading to meet the rest of the unit. After their mission in Normandy, Freeman and his unit fought in Operation Market-Garden.
At the siege of Bastogne, or what we know as the Battle of the Bulge, Freeman was hurt. After taking time to recover, he met his unit in Germany and Austria.
Rufus Ward, a local historian, said, “He was in every major engagement in Europe during World War II. He’s a true American hero, and we need to honor those people … we owe them more than we could ever repay them.”
In 1947, he married Willie Louise Gurley in his hometown and spent the next 32 years as a mail carrier. In his obituary, his daughter wrote, “Our dad was always astounded that a country boy from Mississippi was able to see so many places and meet so many interesting people.”
Even though Freeman did not talk much about his experiences, not even at Easy Company reunions, he did add some thoughts to Stephen E. Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers at Dick Winter’s request.
He also was involved in the miniseries where James Farmer plays Freeman in a non-speaking role. In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, vice president of education and access at the National WWII Museum Peter Crean said the miniseries “shows ordinary people doing extraordinary things. These were citizen soldiers.”
“None of these men planned to be in the military. They answered the call when their country needed them.”