Tattoo of LTG Freddy McFarren, U.S. Army

Should have Been A Cowboy, Toby Keith

Freddy McFarren was born in San Antonio TX.  Freddy’s Father was from Indiana and moved to San Antonio to take a job at a local radio station. His mother was a Texas native and worked as a medical technician. The family already had a daughter, Betty, so Freddy became the little brother immediately. At age three the family moved to Cleburne, TX, where Freddy’s father and grandfather opened a small sporting goods store. 

In Cleburne, the family lived on Irving street, near the local school. Freddy’s mom encouraged him to take tap dancing lessons and in a class of 20 girls, he had his pick of sweethearts. Although he actually met his sweetheart, Aubry, in his third grade class, it wasn’t until  seventh grade that they started going steady. Coincidentally, Aubry had a childhood neighbor and playmate named Randall Rigby.  Freddy spent the rest of high school playing football, basketball and golfing. He became really good at golf and his math teacher, Mr. Arnold, helped him get into West Point. As Freddy headed off to the US Military Academy, Aubry enrolled in the University of Texas.

On Brave Old Army Team, West Point Glee Club

At Westpoint, Freddy’s horizons expanded. You see, growing up in a small town, before many people had televisions in their home, Freddy didn’t even realize he’d have to go into the Army after attending West Point. While there, he played a lot of golf as a member of the  golf team, became a good cadet and only occasionally goofed off. He ended up picking the artillery branch because that’s what his roommate picked and it sounded pretty good. He looked forward to the last 6 months of school because he was able to finally have a car on campus. Freddy graduated from West Point in June 1966. He and his Middle School Sweetheart, Aubry, were married that summer. 

Run through the Jungle, Creedence Clearwater Revival

1966 was before the artillery branches split, so Freddy attended both the Air Defense and Field Artillery Officer Basic Courses followed by Ranger and Airborne training. He was then assigned to a Nike Hercules Battalion, 3rd-59th Air Defense Artillery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He always jokes that he wasn’t sure what they were way up there for but at least all the beer factories were well protected. Freddy and Aubry’s oldest son, Preston, was born in November, 1967, and they got their first family dog, Poopsi, while they were in Wisconsin. 

In 1968, at the height of the Vietnam war, Freddy was deployed downrange. He earned his Vietnamese Ranger Badge as Senior Advisor in the 21st Vietnamese Ranger Battalion. He spent his time controlling all the air and fire support for the unit. The commander of the unit, Vo Vang, wounded seven times, was later able to get his family out of the country and they still stay in touch. He then became a Ranger Group Operations Advisor, part of the US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. During this first combat tour the conditions were rough, supplies lacking and the days long. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for valor, along with the Purple Heart.

All American Song, All American Chorus

After completing the Field Artillery Advanced Course at Fort Sill, where he was close enough for family to visit, he was sent to Fort Bragg, where he served consecutively as Commander, HHB, 18th Airborne Corps Artillery followed by Command of C Battery, 1st BN, 319th Field Artillery, 82d Airborne Division. He served with mentors, COL Art Lombardi, 1SG Williams and his divarty commander was MG Vern Lewis. Their second son, William was born while the family was in North Carolina in March of 1971. After battery command, Freddy attended Duke University and played tennis, earning a graduate degree in Applied Psychology, in between sets. 

The Longest Day, West Point Glee Club

Following graduate school the family moved to West Point in 1973 where Freddy served as a Tactical officer and Personnel/Logistics officer for the 1st Regiment. The family enjoyed living on the Hudson and all the activities upstate New York offered. Freddy loved working with the cadets those three years. In 1976, he attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk. Virginia. 

He deployed to Germany in 1977 for assignment as Chief of Combat Arms assignments and then Executive Officer for the Deputy Chief of Personnel for US Army Europe. In May 1979, he moved on to Battalion XO for 2d Battalion, 81st Field Artillery in the 8th Infantry Division. While in Germany, Freddy had the opportunity to learn from his Division Artillery commanders, General Sweet and General Reimer, two exemplary field artillerymen. After the Germany tour, he returned to the Army Personnel Command Center as the Distribution Officer. From there he was selected to be a Military Assistant for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs in Washington, DC. 

All the Way, All American Chorus

In December 1982, the family found itself back at Fort Bragg and Freddy took command of the 1st Battalion, 319th Field Artillery in the 82d Airborne Division. While in command he led his battalion in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, the Army’s first combat deployment since Vietnam. In addition to support from Aubry, his CSM, “Bulldog” McKenzie, always had his back. Good thing too, because the battalion definitely heard him coming when he arrived at work, giving them more than enough time to straighten up before Freddy walked through the door. Following battalion command, he was assigned as Executive Officer, Division Artillery, for MG Ralph Halada. At this time Preston, their oldest son, graduated and headed off to the University of Texas, following in Aubry’s footsteps. Freddy’s next stop was the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in June of 1985. The family moved into quarters in Smurf Village, however, as soon as he graduated they turned around and went right back to Ft Bragg.  Freddy bought an ‘Artillery Red’ 67 Chevelle that he drove the seven years they were at Ft Bragg. Everyone knew when COL McFarren was driving by.  Freddy became the Director, G3 Operations, XVIII Airborne Corp and then a follow-on assignment as the Corps G1. In March 1988, Freddy departed on a no-notice deployment to Honduras as part of Operation Golden Pheasant. The Nicaraguan Sandinista government launched Operation Danto 88 to overrun Contra rebel supply caches crossing into Honduran territory. The light infantry soldiers, paratroopers and special operations unit from 7th In Div and 82nd Airborne deployed ready to fight, causing the Sandinistas to rapidly withdraw back across their border. The following November Freddy took his next assignment, Chief of Staff for the 82d Airborne Division, which was a blessing because the family got to stay put at Fort Bragg. Aubry was given an award for all of her volunteer and service work during the McFarrens time there. Their younger son, William, graduated highschool and also went off to the University of Texas. 

God Bless the USA, Lee Greenwood

Freddy was selected for Brigade Command and was posted as Commander of the 18th Field Artillery Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps. Less than 90 days after taking command, the Division jumped into Panama as part of Operation Just Cause. His organizational skills and leadership in that position set the conditions for the Division’s success in its first combat jump since Operation Market-Garden in World War II. This was Freddy’s second combat tour and was soon followed by his third combat tour in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Saudi Arabia. The brigade redeployed from Panama in August 1990, did a turn and burn, and then deployed to the brewing trouble in the Saudi Desert. They were in country for just under a year, being part of the initial surge over the Iraq border in January 1991 and remaining to keep order until September. Homecoming was even sweeter coming from back to back deployments  and the family got to stay in North Carolina for two more years following Brigade Command, as Freddy became the Assistant Chief of Staff and G3 Operations of the corps. During the Hurricane Andrew Relief effort the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters spent a month overseeing units from the 82nd airborne division, almost all of the 10th Mountain Division and a Marine Corps brigade. When they returned from Florida, Freddy found out he had made the one-star list. 

Army Blue, Cadet Glee Club

He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1993 and assigned as Assistant Division Commander, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Stewart, Georgia. During his time at Fort Stewart, the Somali civil war raged on. In late September 1993, an Army Ranger’s Blackhawk was shot down while on patrol near Mogadishu and a fire-fight ensued. The 24th had a ready company of tanks and Bradley's and deployed on an overnight flight out of Hunter Army Airfield. The rest of the battalion task force deployed by sea out of Savannah harbor. They were deployed for what became known as the Battle of Mogadishu. Aubry was again awarded for her volunteer service during this deployment. The family adopted two dogs, Stranger and Dutchess. Stranger had been a stray on Hunter Air Base where Aubry and Duchess spent 30 days gaining his trust before adopting him. Aubry even wrote a book about it. 

ln June 1994, BG McFarren became the Commandant of Cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point. The McFarrens loved being back at Freddy’s Alma Mater and Freddy enjoyed interacting with the cadets. They spent a little over a year in upstate New York  and then, in October 1995, he was assigned as Director of Training, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations on the Army staff. The family was on the move again, this time to Washington DC.

The Army Goes Rolling Along, US Army Band

The pentagon assignment was followed by promotion to Major General in 1996 and assignment as Chief, United States Office for Military Cooperation, American Embassy, Cairo Egypt. He had the opportunity while in Egypt to work for General Peay and General Zini, two of his personal mentors. Freddy and Aubry enjoyed sightseeing but security was extremely tight. Freddy was handling a lot of aid money the US was dispersing throughout Egypt and Cairo was a very dangerous place for Americans in the mid-90’s. Aubry had a close call while visiting the Museum of Cairo, a bomb on a bus exploded outside the entrance, killing 14 people,  just 5 minutes after she entered the building. 

From Egypt, he was selected as Commanding General, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and Fort Riley where he served from 1998-2000.  Under his command were three National Guard enhanced brigades from Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina,  totalling 10,000 Soldiers and another 10,000 soldiers within the 24th  at Fort Riley. Coordination was challenging but Freddy learned a lot in that assignment. 

Following promotion to Lieutenant General in 2000, his final assignment was Commanding General, Fifth United States Army, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The Family moved into historic quarters where General Pershing once lived. They enjoyed their time at Sam Houston, the community was extremely welcoming. The Fifth Army also has strong relations with the Mexican Military going all the way back to WWII and Freddy made several trips to meet with Mexican Military Leaders. Freddy was juggling two training divisions that managed training of all the Reserve Component, National Guard and Army Reserve units located west of the Mississippi when the terrorist attack of 9/11 happened. At that point he and his Sergeant Major, Teddy Harmon, had to quickly mobilize 70,000 Reserve Component soldiers to be ready to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. On 9/11 Aubry was visiting their son, William, who was working on Wall Street at the time and lived a block away from the twin towers. She was coming down an escalator and saw the first plane hit. She and William watched as the towers fell, thankful to be safe in William’s apartment. 

Fifth Army also has strong relations with the Mexican Military going all the way back to WWII and Freddy made several trips to meet with Mexican Military Leaders. 

Lieutenant General Freddy McFarren served in the United States Army for over 37 years before retiring in October 2003. Most of his military career was spent leading and coaching soldiers at all levels, and he had a significant impact upon an innumerable number of lives. 

As Time Goes By, Kenny Rogers

Following retirement, he continued to work as a Senior Mentor for Joint Forces Command and Army North. In support of Army North, he participated in their course on military support to civilian authorities. He also supported training for Northern Command with Joint Forces Command personnel in exercises with Army North, Army South, First US Army, and Southern Command. He also served as a mentor with the Army's pre command course at Fort Leavenworth where he coached over 500 command designees, one of which was MG Winston Brooks, and participated in 360 assessments. 

For over 9 years he served with True Growth whose mission is to " ... help leaders embrace the transformational power of authenticity to improve themselves and the lives they touch". For over 15 years, he has served on a nonprofit board of the Association of Evangelical Chaplains, helping train military chaplains from other countries.

In retirement Freddy and Aubry built a house and moved to Canyon Lake, just north of San Antonio, Texas. Preston joined the US Air Force Reserves and still serves as a Brigadier General. He served on deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He and his wife, Katie, live in Houston. Preston has two daughters, both University of Texas Grads, Hannah, a doctor in Denver and Megan who works in Public Relations in L.A.  William is also married and lives in Russia with his wife, Yana and their two children, Mira and Willie. Freddy goes back to visit West Point every chance he gets. One in Five of his classmates was killed or wounded in Vietnam. He still stays in touch with many of his classmates.  In 2023, he was inducted into the 82d Airborne Division's All American Hall of Fame. To many, he set the standard for what it means to be a Paratrooper by dedicating his time and energy in the All-American Division to develop the best Paratroopers in the Division. Freddy has served this nation with distinction in his military career and in his civilian career both professionally and as a volunteer to many worthy causes.