Freeman, Bradford

Bradford Freeman was born in Mississippi on September 4, 1924.  He grew up on a farm, where the family was insulated from the worst effects of the Great Depression.  Brad remembers being at a neighbor’s house when the news about Pearl Harbor broke; he ran home to find his mother crying.  Still in high school, Brad graduated the following year, when he was called to the draft board.  He was soon in basic training, and after that he was sent to Fort Benning, as Brad had opted to join the paratroopers.  He ended up in the vaunted 101st Airborne, as seen in the miniseries Band of Brothers.  Brad shipped overseas early in 1944, and spent a few months in England before the D-Day drop.  When they went to Normandy, Brad was in the thick of the fighting, and he and his mortar crew did what they could to provide covering fire for the men.  He especially remembers the attack on Carentan, where the 101st took the town and connected Utah and Omaha beaches, setting up the August breakout.  After that the 101st returned to England for a well-deserved rest, to be called upon the next month for Operation Market Garden, their second combat drop.  They were pushed back by the Germans, as that operation failed to achieve its goal of defeating Germany before the winter.  Germany in fact mounted a counteroffensive that came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge, and Brad was at the center of that battle too, surrounded in Bastogne, where he was wounded in the leg.  They ended up making it all the way into southern Germany, and Brad was near Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest when the war came to an end.  He and his brothers returned to Mississippi in late 1945 and early 1946 and Brad went to work for the government, for the postal service, and he fell into the rhythms of civilian life.  Crestwood students were able to zoom with Brad Freeman in the fall of 2021.