Freeman, Paul Lamar [Col CO 23rdIR]

biography   biography


Paul L. Freeman, Jr.

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Paul L. Freeman, Jr.
Paul L Freeman.jpg
General Paul L. Freeman, Jr.
Born (1907-06-29)June 29, 1907
Died April 17, 1988(1988-04-17) (aged 80)
Monterey California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1929–1967
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held U.S. Army Europe
Continental Army Command
4th Infantry Division
2nd Infantry Division
23rd Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star "V" device (4)
Air Medal
Purple Heart

Paul Lamar Freeman, Jr. (June 29, 1907–April 17, 1988) was a United States Army four-star general who served as Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Europe/Commander, Central Army Group (CINCUSAREUR/COMCENTAG) from 1962 to 1965 and Commanding General, U.S. Continental Army Command (CG CONARC) from 1965 to 1967.

Military career

Freeman was born June 29, 1907, in the Philippine Islands, son of Paul Lamar and Emma (Rosenbaum) Freeman. He graduated from the United States Military Academy on June 13, 1929, with a class ranking of 213 and commissioned in the infantry. His first assignment was at Fort Sam Houston with the 9th Infantry Division. While in Texas, he married Mary Ann Fishburn on August 18, 1932, and had one daughter. A month after getting married, he reported to Fort Benning to attend the Officer's Course at the Infantry School, then was assigned to Tianjin (then called Tientsin) in China with the 15th Infantry Regiment until 1936. Upon his return to the U.S. he was assigned to Fort Washington, Maryland and was a company commander in the 12th Infantry Regiment, and subsequently returned to Fort Benning for the Tank Course. He then spent a year as company and battalion Maintenance Officer with the 66th Infantry Regiment.

At the time of the United States entry into World War II, Freeman was in China again, in Beijing as a language student and concurrently as Assistant Military Attaché at the American embassy. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was assigned to the U.S. Military Mission to China, and a few months later reassigned to the staff of the China India Burma Theater as an instructor to Chinese and Indian Armies. He remained on the theater staff until September 1943, when he returned to Washington D.C., as a staff officer. Towards the end of the war in late 1944, he was sent to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as Director of Arms Training for the Joint Brazil-United States Military Commission, a position he held until October 1947. He returned to the Army General Staff in Washington D.C., working in the Latin American Branch of the Plans and Operating Division, then from 1948 to 1950, served as a member of the Joint Brazil-U.S. Military Commission, and was also a member of the U.S. Army delegation to the Inter-American Defense Board.

Korean War

With the outbreak of the Korean War, he was deployed to that theater as the Commander of the 23d  Infantry Regiment in the 2nd Infantry Division, and remained in command until he was wounded (mortar shrapnel in his left calf ) in February 1951 at the Battle of Chipyong-ni. Freeman led his regiment to victory at the Battle of Chipyong-ni, marking the first major victory by the U.S. Army over the Chinese Communist Forces in the Korean War. The 23rd RCT was cut off and surrounded by elements of five Chinese divisions, which launched fanatical all-out assaults against them from 13–15 February 1951. Although wounded on the first night of the engagement, Freeman refused to be evacuated until the battle was over, leading the defense with courage and boldness. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery and leadership during the battle. Although he expected to return to command of the 23rd Infantry Regiment after his wound healed, he was instead sent home for rest and did not return to the war. The Battle of Chipyong-ni was studied for years at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth as a textbook case of how to deal with a numerically superior enemy.

 As commanding general of Continental Army Command (second from left), inspecting Cam Ranh Bay Supply Depot, 1967.

Returning from the war, he attended the National War College, graduating in 1952. In 1955, he assumed command of the 2nd Infantry Division, and in 1956 took command of the 4th Infantry Division, at that time stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. After his second division command ended in 1957, he served as Senior Army Member to the Weapons System Evaluation Group in Washington D.C. He was named Deputy Commanding General for Reserve Forces (CONARC) in 1960. On May 1, 1962 he received his fourth star, and assumed duties as Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Europe/Commander, Central Army Group (CINCUSAREUR/COMCENTAG), serving in that capacity until 1965. His final assignment was Commanding General, U.S. Continental Army Command (CG CONARC) from 1965 to 1967.

Freeman retired from the Army in 1967, and died in Monterey California on April 17, 1988.

Awards and decorations

Service Medals
Foreign Awards
Unit Awards
Freeman, Paul L.
[Col CO 23rdIR]

biography   biography


Col. Paul L. Freeman


In assessing the effectiveness of Marine close air support, Colonel Paul Freeman, USA, commanding officer of the 23rd Infantry, wrote that "the Marines on our left were a sight to behold; they had squadrons of air in direct support. They used it like artillery. It was 'Hey, Joe, this is Smitty. Knock off the left of that ridge in front of Item Company.' They had it day and night." Freeman ended with, "We just have to have air support like that."

The 23rd, like the 9th, also had a brand-new Pentagon assigned commander, West Pointer (1929) Paul F. Freeman, forty-three. Freeman was an "old China hand." He had first served there with the 15th Infantry Regiment from 1933 to 1936. Three years later he returned to China as a language student and intelligence officer and was still in China when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. As the Pacific War spread, he migrated to India, where he became G4 to Joseph W. ("Vinegar Joe") Stilwell, and later organized Stilwell's commando team, which became famous in Burma as Merrill's Marauders.

Returning to the Pentagon in mid1943 as Stilwell's emissary, Freeman was drafted into the Army's war plans group. After working on the plan for the invasion of the Philippines, in late 1944 he joined the operation, serving as chief of staff of the 77th Division on Leyte and Luzon and the Sixth Army and I Corps G3. On Leyte he had a brief tour of combat leadership when he led a two company task force and "got shot at."

After the war George Marshall invited him to join his China mission, but Freeman was "fed up" with China and declined, choosing instead duty in the Army's Latin America section, working with or under Matt Ridgway and Godwin Ordway.

Upon the outbreak of the Korean War Freeman was ordered to command the 23rd Infantry. Like John Hill, he was appointed RCT commander, leaving in place the incumbent regimental commander, West Pointer (1931) Edwin J. (Ed") Messinger, forty-three, a noted athlete and paratrooper who had fought with the 17th Airborne Division in the ETO. However, unlike Hill, Freeman knew Dutch Keiser well from prior service and balked at this "bastard" command arrangement. Upon his arrival in Korea, the RCT title was abolished. Freeman took direct command of the regiment, and Ed Messinger was demoted to exec. In return, Freeman remained deeply loyal to Keiser and, almost alone among the senior officers of the division, defended Keiser's style of commanding from his CP.

Thanks to the fine work of Messinger and others, Freeman found the 23rd Regiment to be well trained and officered. Mated to the 37th FAB, commanded by West Pointer (1933) William H. Richardson, it arrived in Pusan ready for combat.