Camp memorial service for Capt. Matthew Freeman

Freeman memorial service 050The rest of Captain Freeman’s team finally arrived in country.  Captain Freeman arrived several weeks ahead as part of the advance team.  Instead of a being a reunion of Marines, they would attend their teammate’s memorial service.  Unlike some of the previous services held here, this one was a bit different.  To begin the service, several songs were played.  Marines holding helmet,weapon, and boots.Three Marines stood stoically 1 pace in front of a wooden box.They were holding the symbolic helmet, weapon, combat boots, and identification tags.  On cue, a Marine inserted the M-4 rifle bayonet into the wooden slot.  The helmet was then placed on top of the butt stock.  A set of identification tags were draped over the pistol grip and a pair of combat boots was positioned on each side of the bayonet.   Freeman memorial service 051On an adjacent table with a white cloth were two pictures of Captain Freeman along with his Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals.

At the podium, several speakers spoke about the life of Captain Matthew Freeman and the Army Chaplain provided some spiritual words too.  Behind the memorial, stood several rows of Marines, Airman, Soldiers, and Sailors at attention.  Freeman memorial service 014A roll call was announced and Capt Freeman did not respond to his name being called out.  Seven Marines who assumed the position of Honor Guard stood ready with their weapons.  With crack precision they raised their weapons to their shoulders and fired a volley of shots.  A command was given and the entire formation came to attention and rendered a sharp salute.  In the background, the somber notes of “Taps” echoed across the speaker.

Single file line waiting to pay respect.Once the final note of “Taps” was played, everyone formed a single line to pay their final respects to Captain Matthew Freeman.  One by one, each person approached the memorial.  After executing a facing movement, they slowly brought their right hand up from their side and performed a precision salute.  Then each member would remove their hat and kneel in front of the memorial.  Marine paying final respect.Some personnel would touch the helmet, while others touched the boots or held the identification tags in their hands.  A few individuals placed mementoes at the memorial to include a Sergeant Major insignia, Army metal cross sabers, patches, and the Marine Corp emblem.  Although I stood a few paces away, I could feel the powerful emotions expressed by his teammates.  Freeman memorial service 044It just wasn’t Marines saying their final goodbye, instead this long line was composed of Army, Air Force, Navy, and some coalition forces from Turkey and Greece.  We all felt the same way; we have lost another brother in arms.

It’s not easy taking these pictures because at times I feel as though I’m violating a person’s privacy.  Freeman memorial service 042But at the same time, I also know the families appreciate them.  After everyone filed through, I also approached the memorial.  I recognized his picture and recall seeing him at the dining hall when he first arrived.  I knelt down and held on to his ID tags and said “Capt Freeman, your death was not in vain and you are a hero.”

Later that night, I was invited to the pavilion area to smoke a cigar with the Marines.  I felt honored and was curious if this was a Marine tradition.  The pavilion was filled with smoke and Marines smoking cigars in honor of Capt Freeman; even Marines who don’t smoke still honored him.

Marine Captain Matthew Freeman

Marine Captain Matthew Freeman

As you can see here (and in the additional slide show pictures), he enjoyed a good cigar.   Not just any cigar either.  Over here, it’s rather easy to buy foreign-made cigars and Capt Freeman had an exquisite taste for them.  I too, participated in the honorary cigar smoking.  This is when one of his teammates gave me a CD with pictures on it.  I also learned a few more things about Captain Freeman.  His team was working on a motto and had plans to have it embroidered on their t-shirts.  According to his team, Capt Freeman with the assistance of his newly married wife Teresa crafted “Locus Pendeo”.  This is a Latin variant for situation dependent meaning—making the right decisions based on the situation on hand.  In honor of Capt Freeman, they have adopted this motto.  In the words of his Marine Staff Sergeant teammate, “I think he lived up to it [motto], taking in the situation around him, analyzing it to the best of his ability, and based his actions on his conclusion.”

Promotion to Capt., USMC

Promotion to Capt., USMC

Through my blog and talking with others, I was able to find out some interesting information too.  Captain Freeman came from a proud military family.  Son like father, they both graduated from the US Naval Academy and flew fighter jets.  Capt Freeman initially flew the Navy Harriers and then trained on C-130 aircraft.  He also served as a General’s aid.   When he was promoted to Captain, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was present at the Army-Navy football game and posed for a picture.

Semper Fidelis Captain Matthew Freeman, may God comfort your family and rest your soul.

Please take a moment to click on the link below and read the documents announcing Capt. Freeman’s Bronze Star for Valor.

Capt. Matt Freeman Bronze Star documents

If you’d like to have the slide show move faster, click on the “+” sign in bottom left corner to reach desired speed. You can also click on “View all images” and look at the photos at your own pace.

Some additional notes:  Family members can request the video and all of the pictures of the memorial service through the Casualty Assistance Officer.  Michael Jordan, freelance photographer and president of Cosmos Mariner Productions was also present.  He will incorporate the memorial service into a movie he has been filming for the past few days.


16 Responses

  1. I Just wanted you to know how much me and my family appreciate you guys over there. It is because of wonderful men and women like you that we have the freedoms we enjoy. I have to admit that I teared up a bit reading this. You guys are my heroes.

  2. I have a pain in my heart. But i thank you Rex for bringing the life and passing of this brave man into my home tonight. I will pray for his family, with all my heart.


  3. As a long-time family friend of the Freemans, I appreciate your reports from the field. It’s been a rough week knowing that I will never again see the remarkable young man that I watched grow from an engaging toddler. Reading and seeing how Matt was honored by his brothers-in-arms is a comfort. Thank you.

  4. My husband was one of the pastors who performed the memorial service for Matt this morning in Richmond Hill. I just want to thank you for sharing this amazing tribute. Thank you for serving our country and thank you for giving this comfort to Matt’s family and friends. You are all in our prayers!

  5. […] Camp memorial service for Capt. Matthew Freeman « Afghanistan My …When he was promoted to Captain, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was present at the Army-Navy football game and posed for a picture. Semper Fidelis Captain Matthew Freeman, may God comfort your family and rest your soul. … […]

  6. Matt was my cousin, thanks for posting this. I appreciate seeing it all, I miss him.

  7. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/17/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  8. Thank you for the article on Captain Matthew Freeman. My son, SSgt Rice, is a part of Matt’s 3 man team. My heart aches for Matt’s family and friends. Matt is a hero for us all. God Bless his family and his Marines.

  9. Matt was one of my cousins. We really appreciate this memorial to him. We are proud to call him family, and he is greatly missed.

  10. The photos and narrative are hauntingly beautiful. I thank God for Matthew and those like him who so fearlessly sacrifice their very lives that I can be free. And I pray that God will wrap His arms around Matt’s family and friends and give them comfort.
    A friend of a friend of Matt’s.

  11. I pray for every soldier, civilian workers, every country and I pray for all the families that are left behing to pick up the pieces of their lives and forge ahead, they think, alone. Please remember you are not alone, there are millions of people in America and around the globe that love what your soldier and you are doing for us.

    God bless and comfort you all.


  12. I am so very humbled by the selfless bravery of Cpt. Freeman and other service personnel. His sacrifice for freedom and his country allow so many to live safe and secure existences. Thank you for the images and may God keep you and the soldiers until the work there is done.
    NW Kansas

  13. Rex,
    Thank you once again for sharing with us the bravery of our men and women in service.

    We continue to pray for all service personnel who work to protect us.

    May God keep you all safe!

    Mary Lu

    p.s. Rex, I’ve learned something remarkable from every single article that you’ve written. Thank you once again for sharing what is going on with us.

  14. Capt Freeman,

    I am on R&R right now and will be heading back to Wardak in 6 days. This is the first time that I have been able to reflect upon you and I am finding it incredibly painful.

    I remember our last conversation. It was a heated argument over how a QRF should be set up and ran. That conversation will haunt me for the rest of my life, because if I knew those would be our last words I would have shook your hand and gave you a hug as a brother, to let you know I was not mad.

    I don’t pray nor am I even sure that there is a higher power besides the Gods of Marine and War, so please think of this as a prayer and thought to you.
    You inspired me! That is no easy feat for a pilot to do with a combat vet. You always where the first to volunteer during training and always wanted to be a part of everything. You always gave the enlisted a chance to voice their opinions, before making a decision and that is a trait every single Officer should embrace. You brought order to chaos in our team. You where not of a combat arms MOS, but trained and reasoned like you a seasoned vet. I know you wanted to go on that operation and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because you knew if brothers in arms would be in harm’s way, you wanted to be there.

    I feel guilty, I am on R&R and our team is still in harm’s way (unprotected by me), probably how you felt if that operation left without you. You are a great Officer, Marine and Man. The team misses you and I will dearly miss you forever.

    Semper Fi Sir, Capt “Freefall”, My Brother, My Captain.

    Locus Pendeo

    SSgt Hammond “Dale”

  15. A year already. It seems like yesterday.

    Never forgotten.

    Semper Fidelis, Captain.

  16. 4 years tomorrow.

    “Never Forgotten” are not just words. They are a promise.

    Semper Fidelis.

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