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We salute Ed Freeman, American hero, but not
the e-mail hoax linking him to Michael Jackson

October 16, 2009 |  6:01 am

Right here, right now we are breaking the e-mail chain.

We won’t be forwarding the e-mail to all of our friends on war hero Ed Freeman, who supposedly died in anonymity while Michael Jackson died, triggering “24/7 news coverage,” the e-mailers are likely to point out.

“This death seems to be worth marking,” a journalism professor at USC’s newly rechristened Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism wrote yesterday as he sent along an attachment that chides the media for disregarding the story of a true American hero.

Problem is, Freeman died more than a year ago.

Freeman, of Boise, Idaho, received the Medal of Honor. He flew his chopper more than a dozen times into a Vietnam jungle to save wounded men who were trapped under enemy fire so threatening that regular medical choppers were grounded.

His hometown paper, and many others, did cover this remarkable man’s death when he died at 80 — on Aug. 20, 2008.

For weeks, we’ve been receiving e-mails that shake a virtual finger at us and our obit-writing colleagues around the country for ignoring Freeman, who they claim died the same week Jackson did in June.

Soon after receiving the first of these, we knew the Freeman-Jackson link to be untrue because we did what we do with every name that is submitted: We asked our librarian to do research.

Snopes, the urban legend clearinghouse, did its best to clear up the confusion, in an “Ed Freeman” entry last updated in July. But the e-mail campaign that uses his death to complain about “all Jackson coverage all the time” continues.

To borrow a tired phrase, “please send this to every red-blooded American you know.”

-- Valerie J. Nelson