Dutch town seeks to keep Hamlet veteran’s memory alive

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Army Air Corps Second Lt. Coy Mitchell Freeman was shot down near the Dutch village of Oosterwolde, The Netherlands, on Dec. 16, 1943.

Image from the Hamlet News Messenger, dated Dec. 23, 1943. The official notice of Freeman's plane being shot down a week earlier had not yet arrived.

Image from the Hamlet News Messenger, dated Dec. 23, 1943. The official notice of Freeman’s plane being shot down a week earlier had not yet arrived.

Nearly 4,200 miles away  from his hometown of Hamlet and 71 years later, Freeman’s memory is being resurrected and his actions that day honored by a grateful village of 10,000 people.

May and Tom MacCallum, of the Richmond County Historical Society’s genealogy section, led the local effort for information on Freeman and his family. Their research came at the request of Rene Bosma, a Oosterwolde resident and historian who wrote on Sept. 11 to the historical society in an effort to “keep the memory of the air war alive, especially the many flyers (who) paid with their lives for our Freedom.”

Freeman, son of Coy Monroe Freeman and Heady Ferneman, was serving in the 96th Bombardment Group and flew on Dec. 16, 1943 on a B-17 that was shot down by German fighters near Poppenwier and Rauwerd while returning from a bombing mission on the German city of Bremen. Freeman served as co-pilot; he and nine others were killed, along with 10 others on a second B-17 that was hit while Freeman’s plane crashed to the earth.

Some of the 20 airmen were buried in and around Poppenwier. Others were reburied at the American War Cemetery at Margraten. Freeman was reburied in Margraten and then relocated a second time to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Mo., in Section 82, Site 157.

Freeman was born Nov. 4, 1916 and enlisted in the Army — and right into World War II — on April 14, 1942 at Fort Bragg into the Army Air Corps. At the time of his enlistment, he was married to Marjorie Elizabeth Freeman, who maintained their Second Street Hamlet home while her husband was at war. The couple had one daughter, Cherrie Freeman Moore, who still lives in Hamlet.

An image of the grave marker at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery for 2nd Lt. Coy Freeman, of Hamlet, and two fellow service members who were killed with Freeman on Dec. 16, 1943, when their B-17 bomber was shot down by German fighters.

An image of the grave marker at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery for 2nd Lt. Coy Freeman, of Hamlet, and two fellow service members who were killed with Freeman on Dec. 16, 1943, when their B-17 bomber was shot down by German fighters.

May MacCallum said the research took about a week, and included Tom’s digging into the microfilm archives at the Thomas Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham searching for clippings of the Hamlet News Messenger and the Rockingham Post-Dispatch.

The Richmond County Historical Society offers genealogical research as a fee-based service.

This article is in the Hamlet News Messenger on Dec. 23, 1943.

This article is in the Hamlet News Messenger on Dec. 23, 1943.

 

 

 

Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, Military and Veterans, News

You might like:

GAP program fills a hole for ‘hands-on’ experience GAP program fills a hole for ‘hands-on’ experience
Sit back for an ‘interesting story’ Sit back for an ‘interesting story’
Cash available for crime-solving tips Cash available for crime-solving tips
Rotruck sues Town of Summerfield Rotruck sues Town of Summerfield
© 2020 The Pee Dee Post. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.