Marine Captain Matthew Freeman’s death didn’t make headlines, like some others have recently. He was just another number.
He died on a mission for which he volunteered, in a province far from home, leading men into battle. Pinned down and receiving a “heavy volume” of enemy fire, the medal citation says, he rose up and led his men into a mud-brick house, cleared it of the enemy, “was the first to reach the rooftop” where he “spotted an enemy rocket-propelled grenade gunman and immediately killed him . . . and began to engage while under fire.”
His best friend told the mourners, “He would want you to know that he went down swinging.”
There were a dozen Marine captains in dress blue in the overflowing pews of the chapel. Marines may blink hard a few times, but they don’t cry. Their mothers and widows cry for them.
In the week when they laid a young Marine captain to rest, the news was dominated by the death of a politician and the echo from an entertainer’s death. The flag-draped coffin on the front page was not his, but if you look carefully in the paper this week you will see a small picture of Matt Freeman among the faces of those who have fallen recently in battle.
He did not live long enough to become an the icon of Kennedy or Jackson, but he died the greater hero.
If I get to where you’ve gone, captain, the first round’s on me.