Christopher Freel Jr. is a father and husband, cowboy, horse trainer, coach and Marine. The Anza resident assists the local soccer and High Country Recreation organizations with teaching and coaching young athletes. He was inspired to join the military from a young age, he said.
“My entire family served in the military, as far back as my grandfather, who served in the British Royal Air Force and was a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II,” Freel said.
He joined the Marine Corps Feb. 7, 2010, and was discharged June 7, 2014.
Freel trained to become a helicopter mechanic, inspecting and maintaining helicopter airframes and airframe components and performing duties related to flight line operation.
“My military occupational specialty code, or MOS, was 6114. I was a power line mechanic on some of the coolest aircraft out there – the AH-1 Super Cobra and the mighty mighty UH-1 Huey,” he said.
Assigned to HMLA Squadron 369 and later to HMLA Squadron 469, he said he excelled in his field.
The Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 is a U. S. Marine Corps helicopter squadron consisting of AH-1W Cobra and AH-1Z Attack helicopters and UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters. The squadron is based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and is under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 39 and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. HMLA 469 was activated in 2009.
Freel deployed for one tour to Camp Leatherneck – a 1,600-acre Afghan Armed Forces base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan – and one tour was enough for him, he said.
“I was there from May 2012 to November 2012 and fought the Taliban in defense of the base,” he said.
Coming home, he met his wife Kayla in a bar in San Diego.
“After some liquid courage, I decided to dance with the tallest, most gorgeous girl I had ever seen,” he said.
Kayla Freel is active in the community, volunteering for school parties and Parent Teacher Student Association events.
As for the future, Christopher Freel said the sky’s the limit.
“I have a lot of things in the works,” he said. “I want to bring a rodeo to Anza. I also serve the community as a coach for both AYSO soccer and T-ball. I have started schooling for a degree in aerospace engineering and hope to finish that and build aircraft systems that help negate mishaps, as I have lost several friends in aircraft-related incidents.”
Full of a quiet strength, Freel said he feels the loss of his Marine friends deeply, which inspired him to pursue an engineering degree to prevent more tragedy.
“I would just like my friends recognized – Lance Cpl. Elliot, Lance Cpl. Little, Sgt. Everett and Capt. Quin. They all passed away in 2012 in a training accident in Yuma. I want to also recognize Sgt. Seaman, who passed away in 2015 while delivering food to earthquake victims in Nepal. All were great men who were gone too soon,” Freel said.
Diane Sieker can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.