DeBow Freed began military service at age 17 and spent seven years overseas in the 26th, 32nd and 35th Infantry Regiment of the 1st, 7th and 25th Army divisions in Japan, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, and Iran and the Middle East.
He graduated from the Infantry School, Army Command and Staff College, Air War College and earned a masters degree from the University of Kansas and a PhD from the University of New Mexico. He was chief of the nuclear branch of the Defense Atomic Support Agency and later was assigned to West Point to help strengthen the physics program and initiate an academic major in nuclear engineering.
He and his wife, Catherine Freed, enjoyed military service but believed they could make additional contributions in private church-related higher education as part of their commitment to lifelong public service. They decided to leave their lovely home and appealing position at West Point after 23 years of active duty military service in the Army to fulfill their lifelong public service commitment through leadership of church-related colleges and universities. That led to his becoming dean of one church-related university and president of three other church-related universities for a total of 32 years as president of church-related universities. Observers noted his and his wife’s prominent role in college, church and community activities, and that the institutions they served prospered greatly from their devotion to serving others.
They left the military service for higher education service. He notes that the commitment and experience in the military service was a big factor in their later life of community and higher educational service. At colleges and universities they served, he and his wife entertained 3,000-4,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and university guests in their home annually.
He and Catherine Freed visited student residence halls and had extensive contacts with faculty and staff and residents of the communities in which they lived. She was a lay minister in the United Methodist Church and Presbyterian churches and frequently spoke at those churches in the area where they lived.
Their approach was one of lifelong public service and getting to know and help others as part of their approach to public service.
He notes that their dedication to service to others is partially a result of being in the military service which contributed to their decision and subsequent approach toward others through their church-related private higher education. The two were very compatible for them. That is, military service as preparation for lifelong service and lifelong service attempting to help others develop themselves for the quality of life which they sought, and then attempting to help others.
Military service has been a key step toward developing habits, attitudes and experience in public service while being willing and desiring to follow up and develop ways to benefit and help others.
After 23 years of military service, they have been enormously grateful for their opportunity to serve others and the many ways in which it enabled them to provide service to others after active military duty.