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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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...

SHAPIRO: What?

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.