Hellraisers Shoot Kill…Ready to Die but Never Will
Memorial Day of 2006 delivered the tragic news. The American Broadcast Corporation’s “Remember the Fallen” announced Specialist Bryan Freeman had fallen in Iraq and was instantly stunned into grief.
He was killed by a roadside bomb. Freeman went to basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma who would go on to become the shining example from our 3rd platoon group of hard chargers leading the pack.
We were called, “the Hellraisers” who were ready to ship off to Somalia after being activated to deploy in week 11 with Delta 1st Battalion 19th Field Artillery Regiment. We Hellraisers have a motto: “Hellraisers Shoot to Kill–Ready to Die, But Never Will.”
We Hellraisers bleed. We never die. The toughest member of our unit was now gone and felt overwhelmed with despair.
Third Platoon was ruthless. If we had to settle a score amongst us, we went to the latrine and unleashed our fury in “the House of Pain.” Freeman made sure when the opponents squared off that they had a fair fight.
Freeman was the barracks enforcer.
Our basic training battery consisted of warriors assigned to the 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry artillery who were assembled as a deployed readiness force.
Our unit ranged from back-alley hustlers all the way to crackheads from New York City, NY trying to rehabilitate and leave lives of crime.
While in basic training, Freeman led the charge during the M60 night live fire exercise who low crawled under a barrage of explosions and live bullets. He was the only one in our group who asked to go again.
We were all chomping at the bit to go kick some ass and give payback for dragging our 10th Mountain in the street.
You did not want to get caught in Freeman’s crosshairs. He was our toughest and bravest.
He had absolute ground zero ruggedness and was not afraid of anyone. Freeman was a squared away hard-charger they called “Robocop,” who was the toughest to crack being built like a brick-shithouse ready to fight.
One night on fire watch, Freeman woke up our platoon by doing donkey kicks and mimicking our half-pint drill sergeant and his “no’ havin’-none-of-that-bullshit-here” lectures.
We were not afraid of any extra physical training, kitchen duty, or grass drills. We had to eat as much grass during push ups to prove our fortitude. Freeman never flinched and would laugh at the drill instructors who would try to make him crack.
Freeman’s reasoning for joining the military stemmed from his grandfather’s service as one of the first African American Rangers. Joining the Army was his life mission.
Memorial Day without Freeman is tough to explain. Losing a battle brother is like a spear stabbing you in the side with dread.
Losing someone close to you who served with you in basic Training feels like a huge void of hurt engulfed in uncomfortable pain—something you never get used to.
Please take a moment to honor our dead and care for the Gold Star Families and our veteran Auxiliaries. God bless the families of the fallen on this Memorial Day, especially the Freeman family.