Saturday, January 20, 2007

Army Capt. Brian S. Freeman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, Calif.

Capt. Freeman was assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, Whitehall, Ohio; died Jan. 20 of wounds sustained when his meeting area came under attack by mortar and smalls-arms fire in Karbala, Iraq.

Press-Enterprise -- TEMECULA - A 31-year-old U.S. Army Reserve captain from Temecula was killed Saturday in Iraq, family and Department of Defense officials said.

Brian S. Freeman, a civil affairs officer, died from wounds suffered when his team came under fire in Karbala.

Freeman moved to Temecula in 2004, where he lived with his wife, Charlotte, and two children, Gunnar, 2, and Ingrid, 1, and worked as a project manager for KB Home, said his mother, Kathleen Snyder.

At Freeman's house in the Harveston area Tuesday, Snyder said her son felt that serving in Iraq was part of the obligation he signed up for. She said Freeman told his family: "If I have to go there, I'm going to go and try to make a difference."

His family said Freeman was helping the people in the province of Karbala to become independent and that he was pleased to be doing work to improve conditions for civilians, rather than serving in a traditional combat role.

Freeman's family said he did a lot of work in Iraq that went beyond his official duties. His grandmother, Irene Pound, of Solana Beach, recalled a photograph her grandson sent the family of an Iraqi girl posing with food from a care package they sent. He would regularly share those packages with Iraqi civilians, Pound said. He also helped make arrangements for the young son of a Karbala police officer to travel to the United States for heart surgery, Snyder said.

"He makes such an impression on your life," said his mother-in-law, Ginny Mills. "You just don't forget him."

Freeman expected to return from Iraq in April and was collecting letters of recommendation for his applications to graduate school programs, his family said. In one of those letters, the governor of Karbala described how Freeman worked as a liaison between the local government and coalition forces, helping the Iraqi security forces obtain more equipment and training and additional funding for reconstruction projects in the province.

"Freeman has assisted in forming a warmer relationship with the Army ... I think Capt. Freeman genuinely cares about what happens to Karbala and its people," the governor wrote, adding that the captain helped secure death benefits for one of his interpreters killed in action, as well as condolence payments for civilians previously turned down by the Army.

"His experience was as a solider and a statesman," the governor wrote.

Freeman was born in Bakersfield and moved to the San Diego area in 1981, his mother said. He was a 1993 graduate of Torrey Pines High School, and he attended Washington State University for two years, where he was a member of the ROTC. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1999, Snyder said.

Freeman served on active duty five years, assigned first as an armored scout platoon leader at Fort Knox, Ky. He later transferred to Fort Carson, Colo. In 2002, he was accepted into the Army's World Class Athlete Program and assigned to Lake Placid, N.Y., where he trained with Olympic hopefuls from the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, a Department of Defense news release said.

"He had never done anything like that before," his mother said. But after he saw the bobsledders at the Salt Lake City Olympics, "he said, 'I've got to do that!' " Snyder said.

Freeman started on the America's Cup Bobsledding Team and the next year began competing in skeleton -- a one-person, headfirst luge. He won third place in the America's Cup for Bobsledding at Lake Placid.

He had been a member of the Reserve since spring 2004.

Among the numerous awards he received during his military career are two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, a National Defense Service Medal and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Freeman began mobilizing for Iraq in September 2005 and was assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion from Whitehall, Ohio, a unit of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, the release said.

He was home for two weeks over Christmas and had just returned to Iraq this month.

Charlotte Freeman said her husband had always been interested in community service and had planned to pursue a seat on the local school board before he was called up. She was eight months pregnant when her husband learned that he was being sent to Iraq, but he was granted a three-month deferral to spend a couple of months with his baby daughter. He left for training in January 2006 and went to Iraq in April.

"He's the most genuine man that I've ever met," Charlotte Freeman said. "He was just an amazing guy, and he genuinely cared about others."

Army Capt. Brian S. Freeman was killed in action on 1/20/07.

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