Retired General Dick Freeman of Tulsa Comments on Impending War

Monday, March 17th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsan with a lifetime of experience in the military says America's troops are ready to go in Iraq, just as he was, when he served in Vietnam.
He made and kept a promise to a buddy during that war that's still paying off today. News on Six Reporter Emory Bryan has the story.

Retired Brigadier General Dick Freeman knew even when he was far from home in the Air Force - his family was behind him.

They could have surrounded him - there's so many in his family - 13 children in all - eight of them adopted through his connections to Vietnam.

Retired Brigadier General Dick Freeman: "We have 5 children of our own, and then a friend was killed in Vietnam, in 1968, his wife died shortly after that, she was terminally ill when he shipped over, we had been praying with that family about their children and it became evident we were to open our home to those 5 children and then in 1975 when Saigon fell, we took in three Vietnamese young people.

Freeman's family now includes 33 grandchildren.

He served in the Air Force or reserves from the late 1940's to the mid 1980's.

He helped develop the training plans that now keep reserves ready to go on short notice.

Freeman: "So they'd be ready to go. Early on they were kept at training level - 30 day to a year to get ready - now ready for combat in 72 hours or so."

Freeman says when the war starts - the invasion will be fast, designed to quickly overwhelm the Iraqi military.

Freeman: "The strategic surprise we lost when we moved all the troops into the area, but the tactical surprise may not be the time, the hour, the tactical surprise will most likely be the magnitude of the weapons we use, the force used in the early hours."

As the war nears, we'll hear more from this retired General.

He says about half of all reserves in the country have been mobilized for the war that he doesn't believe is far off.

Though there's speculation it's planned for the end of next week on a dark night - Freeman doesn't believe the president will wait that long.