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Salute to Wyoming War Heroes: William E. Adams

William E. Adams, cmohs.org
William E. Adams, cmohs.org

In this series on Wyoming War Heroes – we salute another Medal of Honor recipient, a hero from the Vietnam War – Major William E. Adams.

Born June 16, 1939 in Casper, Wyoming, the US Army Major flew in the A/227th Assault Helicopter Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade.

After Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, Adams graduated from Colorado State University in 1962. William E. Adams began serving in Vietnam, at age 32, on Monday, July 6, 1970. He would show incredible skill, patience, and courage, all on behalf of three wounded fighters, May 25, 1971. He is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.

A Vietnam War Memorial on the campus of Wentworth Military Academy is the same make and model helicopter that Adams was flying when he was killed. He is listed on Memorial panel 03W, row 054.

The Army Major’s full Medal of Honor Citation can be seen here, including:

… Maj. Adams volunteered to fly a lightly armed helicopter to evacuate 3 seriously wounded soldiers from a small fire base which was under attack by a large enemy force. He made the decision with full knowledge that numerous antiaircraft weapons were positioned around the base … he calmly directed the attacks of supporting gunships while maintaining absolute control of the helicopter he was flying. He landed the aircraft at the fire base despite the ever-increasing enemy fire and calmly waited until the wounded soldiers were placed on board. As his aircraft departed from the fire base, it was struck and seriously damaged by enemy anti-aircraft fire and began descending. Flying with exceptional skill, he immediately regained control of the crippled aircraft and attempted a controlled landing. Despite his valiant efforts, the helicopter exploded, overturned, and plummeted to earth amid the hail of enemy fire. …

His Medal was posthumously awarded to his family by Vice-President Gerald Ford on Aug. 8, 1974.

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