CALEDONIA, Miss. (WTVA) - A man in Caledonia received an award sent form the highest ranks in the U.S. military.
Bradford Freeman was just 19-years-old when he entered World War II as a mortar man.
Bradford Freeman, a World War II veteran, received honors from the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff.
Little did he know, he'd take part in some of the most well-known battles in U.S. history.
“They told us when you drop out of this plane, you are going to be surrounded," said Freeman. "It’s live or die.”
Freeman is one of the last surviving soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division -- a group that dropped down in the invasions of Normandy (D-Day), captured Hitler's hideout, and much more.
During those large events, Freeman watched many friends not make it out alive.
“I went to the graveyards over there a lot, overseas," said the veteran. "That was a hard thing to do when you lay flowers by a friend.”
Freeman's bravery and service to his country brought members of the Columbus Air Force Base and army men from across the country to honor the hero with a very special coin.
General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff at the Pentagon, heard about Freeman and wanted to recognize his service.
“When you get a challenge coin, it’s just a sign of mutual respect of usually a senior officer giving it to someone for doing something," explained Captain Zach Shutte. "It’s not an official award, but it’s just more of a sign of respect. For that to come from the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, I’ve never seen that awarded.”
The veteran was at a loss for words seeing the unheard of award.
Shutte said even at the age of 96, Freeman continues to serve the nation by inspiring soldiers.
Freeman said he does not feel worthy of the challenge coin, but his family and friends see him as a real life superhero.