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Just In Time For The Fourth, An Army Vet Frees 'Freedom'


This Fourth of July, a story caught our attention starring this guy.

JASON GALVIN: My name's Jason Galvin. I'm 36 years old. I was a sergeant. I was a crew chief on black hawk helicopter in Afghanistan. We flew medevac. And I did two tours there.

SHAPIRO: We reached him at his cabin in Rush City, Minn. Late last week, he was there when he looked up and saw something strange.

GALVIN: I was actually heading to the bait store to pick up some minnows for fishing and there's a bald eagle nest that's in the trees next to the road. And I saw something hanging there which I thought was a pheasant or something that they were eating. But I looked a little closer and I noticed it was one of the eagles. And it was hanging upside down by some branch.

SHAPIRO: The eagle was caught in some rope. Jason got his wife and they called for help, except...

GALVIN: All the people we called - the fire department, the sheriff, this conservation officer - they all knew about it. And it turns out that it had been there for two days...


GALVIN: ...Hanging there. Yeah. And they were going to call it a loss. And they - actually some people said that it was dead already and - but I had a better look at it with binoculars, and it was still alive. And it was actually - it looked like it was doing OK.

SHAPIRO: Now, you had been a sharpshooter in Afghanistan. So at what point did you think I've got skills that could come in handy here?

GALVIN: It was talking to my wife, and she said we had to do something about it. And I said, well, I could try shooting it down. And she just said, yep, that's what you're going to do.

SHAPIRO: There were four inches of rope between the eagle and the branch - very little room for error.

GALVIN: When I was shooting, you know, looking through the scope and that eagle was staring at me the whole time. And I just - it was kind of - it was a little weird shooting in the direction of a bald eagle. Some of the neighbors here at the lake had named the bird Freedom.

SHAPIRO: So you were shooting at Freedom.

GALVIN: Yep (laughter). So they were saying, you know, I was freeing freedom.

SHAPIRO: After one and a half hours and 150 shots, a small crowd had gathered.

GALVIN: Eventually, the rope started fraying away and it was really windy that day too. And eventually it came down.

SHAPIRO: What was that moment like when the rope finally released and the eagle fell?

GALVIN: It was pretty emotional. There was - at that point, there was probably a dozen people there watching. And the SEAL, the conservation officer, showed up. As soon as my wife said there it goes, and then the eagle fell into a soft landing into the woods. And everyone - there was, like, tears of happiness. And it was just a big relief.

SHAPIRO: Jason and his wife wrapped Freedom in a blanket and handed it over to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. There it's expected to make a full recovery. And that is how this eagle landed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.