ARMADA, Mich. (WJBK) - He gave his life in service for our country and now a Navy SEAL from Armada is getting a memorial fit for his valor and service in his hometown.
For Rick Freiwald, September 11 is one of the toughest days of his life -- but it was September 11 of 2008 when his son Chief Petty Officer Jason Freiwald died as a Navy Seal. He died protecting not only our country but his fellow brothers in Afghanistan. It all started when he led his team bursting through an enemy compound.
"He was the first one through and he hit some heavy gunfire, kicked the door closed and told everybody to go up from the top, come down," Rick said. "So he was in the room by himself. So when he did get shot, it hit him in the plate, deflected down and hit his femoral artery."
The Armada native died in surgery. But he laid down his life, saving the lives of two comrades. He got a Silver Star because of it.
"I think people don't realize the sacrifice that the families and the guys go through," Rick said.
But even it it's finality, a remembrance lives on here in his hometown. A 175-year-old anchor is holding the new memorial space to honor the hometown hero that will never be forgotten.
"My wife and I just wanted a road named after Jason, something to give recognition that his 10 years since he died - he will be remembered," Rick said. "But then Dean came along,"
He's talking about Dean Smith who helped get the memorial built. Young and old alike in Armada are ready for the 10-year memorial dedication. It's a permanent way to say thank you.
"I wish I would have met him," Smith said. "His daughter just turned 13, and she has no memories of her own of her dad. And that's horrible. We are hoping this memory will outweigh the stories she has gotten along the way, and she will have a memory of September 9 when an entire town came out to celebrate her daddy's life."
A dedication with bagpipes and a flyover will highlight a life that started here in Armada and ended in service to our nation in Afghanistan.
The ceremony will take place at 12 p.m. September 9, 2018 marking the 10 years that has passed since Jason's death.