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First Name: Samuel

Last Name: Adams

Birthplace: Northampton, Hampshire,, MA, US

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Northampton, MA

Date of Birth: 10 April 1912

Date of Death: 06 June 1943 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 05 June 1942

Rank or Rate: Lieutenant

Years Served: 1935-1943

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1935

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Samuel Adams

Lieutenant, United States Navy

Navy Cross with two Silver Stars & Air Medal

SAMUEL ADAMS was the fifth child born to John Adams, aka John Adamec, and Kristina Duga, immigrants from the area of Eastern Europe that would later become the Czech Republic. They were married about 1904. Samuel's siblings, who were all born in western Massachusetts, were; John Jr., Stephen, Paul, Anna, George Martin, Vera, Edward Charles, Ludwick James (d.y.), and Emil John Adams. Brothers Edward Charles and Emil John served during WWII in the US Navy.

Samuel married Miss Maude Wellborn Ryan, a native of Baltimore, MD, on 26 Aug 1937 in Los Angeles, CA. Their only child, Anne Ridgely Adams, was born in Baltimore, MD on 23 May 1942. Maude clipped a locket of her infant daughter’s hair shortly after her birth and mailed it to her husband. The letter was never returned. She never knew whether Samuel learned that he was a new dad before his death. But apparently, he did because according to "Pacific Payback" Lt Adams received a telegram on 4 Jun 1942 announcing the birth of his child. Who sent the telegram is unknown. Mrs Adams never remarried. She died in Annapolis, MD on 07 Dec 1969. She was interred in Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, MD with other members of the Ryan family.

Samuel graduated from Northampton high school, Northampton, Hampshire, MA in June 1930. In the fall of 1930, Adams took the competitive military academy entrance examination and was one of the top qualifiers. He was appointed to the Naval Academy from Massachusetts’ 2d Congressional District in early 1931.

Samuel entered the U.S. Naval Academy on 10 August 1931. During his tenure at Annapolis, Sam, as he was known, was said to be even tempered, congenial, and a willing helper. He was known for his "Goliath-like" physique that he brought into play on the wrestling mat as a member of the wrestling team during all four years at Annapolis. It was said of him in the Lucky Bag year book of 1935, ". . . His is as gentle a heart as a Navy 'rassler' could have and still slaughter his opponents." Sam Adams was graduated with the class of 1935. He received at graduation his commission as an Ensign, United States Navy, on 6 Jun 1935.

Like most new officers of the day, Ens. Adams was required to do his first tour of duty at sea. That tour began on 28 Jun 1935 when as a passenger he board the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48). She was his ride to his duty assignment on board the battleship, USS Tennessee (BB-43), and he reported for duty on 19 July 1935. During his tour on Tennessee, Adams received a sub-specialty designation as a Spanish language Interpreter (5 b). Adams applied for training as a naval aviator, and his request was granted. On 2 January 1938, he detached from Tennessee.

Adams reported for flight instruction to the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, FL in late January 1938. His wife, Maude, accompanied him setting up housekeeping in the town of Warrington, FL. Six months later, Ensign Adams was promoted to Lt (Junior Grade) on 6 Jun 1938. As he neared completion of flight training, Ltjg Adams received orders to report later for duty that would involve flying with Bombing Squadron Five (USS Yorktown). Adams completed flight training and received his designation as a Naval Aviator (Heavier-Than-Air) on 17 January 1939. While the USS Saratoga (CV-3) was undergoing overhaul in 1939, her air group was stationed ashore in San Diego. After he detached from NAS Pensacola, Ltjg Adams was temporarily assigned to a Saratoga squadron for several months of additional training. He reported for duty with Bombing Squadron Five (VB-5) on 12 May 1939 in San Diego.

From the time of her commissioning on 30 Sep 1937 at the Naval Station, Norfolk, VA, the Yorktown was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. On 20 April 1939, Yorktown departed Hampton Roads and steamed to San Diego via the Panama Canal. In June 1940, Yorktown repositioned to Pearl Harbor where she conducted operations in the area between the US West Coast and Hawaii until the spring of 1941. Yorktown got underway from Pearl Harbor on 20 April 1941 and transited the Panama Canal on the night of 6-7 May. She steamed to Bermuda arriving on 12 May 1941 as a member of the US Neutrality patrol.

Adams was with the squadron through its transition at Norfolk from the Northrop BT-1 to the famous Douglas SBD “Dauntless,” and flew patrols from Yorktown when that carrier covered convoys in the North Atlantic into the late fall of 1941. On 01 October 1941, Adams was promoted to Lieutenant. During her Neutrality patrol assignment, Yorktown conducted four patrols in the Atlantic ranging from Argentia, Newfoundland to Bermuda while enforcing American neutrality. Yorktown returned to Norfolk arriving on 2 Dec 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Yorktown departed Norfolk on 16 Dec 1941 for the Pacific. She steamed into San Diego 30 Dec 1941.

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Yorktown participated in raids on Japanese forward bases in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. Lt Adams led a section of Dauntless dive bombers from VB-5 in raids against Japanese forces at Jaluit on 1 Feb 1942. He again led a section of SBDs in raids on Japanese shipping of Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea on 10 Mar 1942. Later he led sections on raids against Tulagi on 4 May 1942 and in the Battle of the Coral Sea (7-8 May 1942).

The Yorktown was damaged during the battle of the Coral Sea. She returned as quickly as possible to Pearl Harbor docking on 27 May 1942. She was hastily repaired in order that she might join the US forces preparing for the Battle of Midway. During the few days inport (27-29 May), the Yorktown Air Group was broken up much to the consternation of Admiral Fletcher and Captain Buckmaster. The stated reason for the break-up was to help fill-out other newly forming squadrons. Yorktown squadrons, Fighting Forty Two (VF-42), Torpedo Five (VT-5), and Scouting Five (VS-5), were ordered to remain ashore when Yorktown repairs were completed. Only Lt. Wally Short's Bombing Five (VB-5) would be retained on board.

After transfers of many veteran pilots to other assignments, VB-5 was left with only ten seasoned pilots. The squadron received 10 new, untested pilots. Of these ten, only two had carrier experience. Three quarters of the Yorktown Air Group were replacements from the damaged Saratoga's displaced air group. These included Lcdr. Max Leslie's Bombing Three (VB-3), Lcdr. John "Jimmy" Thach's Fighting Three (VF-3), and Lcdr. Lem Massey's Torpedo Three (VT-3). Yorktown now had two bombing squadrons on board. This caused much confusion on the flight deck and the ship in general. In order to alleviate the situation, Bombing Five was temporarily renamed Scouting Five (VSB-5). The renaming of VB-5 did not sit well with the squadron's personnel, but it did relieve the confusion caused by having two different bombing squadrons on board. Enterprise got underway from Pearl Harbor on 28 May 1942, and with Hornet, steamed toward a point Northeast of Midway called "Point Luck." USS Yorktown (CV-5) followed on 30 May. The forces rendezvoused on 2 Jun 1942.

At 0700 on the morning of 4 Jun 1942, the first strike packages from Enterprise air group along with those from the USS Hornet (CV-8) began launching to intercept and attack the Japanese carrier fleet approaching the Midway Atoll.

At first light that same morning, Yorktown launched ten Dauntless scout-bombers (VSB-5) on a search mission toward the northern semi-circle at a distance of 100 miles as a precaution against surprise by enemy carriers. Lt Adams and his gunner, Aviation Radioman First Class (ARM1) Joseph J. Karrol were originally scheduled to fly in the search group. However, Lt Adams "pulled rank" on the junior mission scheduling officer and switched assignments. Lt Adams would fly with the strike group. The scouts returned at about 0830 with negative search results. The deck was then spotted for take-off of the strike package. Between 1030 to 1050 Yorktown launched her strike group consisting of seventeen Dauntless Dive-Bombers (VB) from Bombing Three, twelve VT from Torpedo Three and six fighters from Fighting Three. This strike package was launched just over an hour after Enterprise and Hornet launched their strike groups. Yorktown's strike package found the Soryu and mortally wounded her. Missing, however, from the strike package were the dive-bombers of Scouting Five (VSB-5).

VSB-5 aircraft were spotted last on the deck as pilots manned their planes during the strike group launch. As the preceding planes of the strike package left Yorktown, VSB-5 moved up to their take-off spot only to be told to kill their engines and to return to their Ready Room. Their planes were then lowered down into the hanger bay. In the Ready Room, the pilots learned that only three of the four expected Japanese carriers had been found. As a precaution, Admiral Fletcher had VSB-5 split; ten planes would search for the fourth enemy carrier while seven were withheld as a back-up strike against the fourth enemy carrier if found. Lt Adams was one of the pilots of the ten SBDs on the search mission. At 1115, six fighters were launched for a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) followed immediately by the recovery of the six CAP already airborne. Then the flight deck was respotted with thirteen fighters and seventeen VSB-5 dive-bombers for immediate take-off.

At 1300, 10 SBDs of VSB-5, each armed with 1-1000 pound bomb, were launched to search in pairs assigned sectors out to 250 miles in an arc bearing 280 degrees (T) to 020 degrees (T) (from West Northwest to Northeast). They're mission was to locate and attack enemy carriers. The remaining seven VSB-5 planes on Yorktown were struck below. At about 1630, while on his return leg to Yorktown, Lt Adams and his wingman Ltjg Harlan Rockey Dickson made contact with an enemy force consisting of 1 carrier and escorting ships. Lt Adams made a radio report of the sighting to Yorktown. That report was followed up with a second sighting report sent by Morse Code by ARM1 Karrol. Their accurate and precise positional information was used to guide strike packages launched from Enterprise and Hornet against the Hiryu; the last untouched Japanese carrier. Adams' plane was also attacked by a Zero fighter, but his gunner, ARM1 Karrol, drove it off. Prior to the return of VSB-5, Yorktown was attacked at 1400 by Japanese aircraft and disabled. Her flight deck closed, Yorktown's returning aircraft were vectored to other carriers. One section of returning VSB-5 (2 planes) was forced to land on Hornet and four sections (8 planes) of VSB-5, including Lt Adams and Ltjg Dickson, landed on Enterprise.

The following day, June 5, 1942, a combined air strike comprised of 65 planes from Enterprise and Hornet were sent to find and sink the Hiryu. The strike package was unable to locate the Hiryu (it had already sunk) so they began looking for any other Japanese shipping targets. Without luck plus running low on fuel, the strike group was preparing to return to base when a single ship was sighted. All 65 aircraft would eventually attack the destroyer, Tanikaze, without scoring a single bomb hit. During the melee, one American plane was shot down; Lt Adams and his radioman-gunner, ARM1 Joseph John Karrol, were seen entering a cloud formation, but were never seen again. The remaining aircraft returned to the two remaining carriers in the dark.

Hornet's CO made a risky decision to turn on several search lights to help guide Hornet's planes home. That decision saved many lives and aircraft. Admiral Spruance issued similar orders to illuminate both Hornet's and Enterprise's landing lights at 1933. Several minutes later Enterprise turned on her thirty-six inch searchlights. The Hornet and Enterprise Landing Signal Officers (LSO) performed admirably, bringing sixty-three of the returning planes down safely in the dark. One plane of the returning group was lost when it ran out of fuel while attempting to land. The pilot and gunner were quickly retrieved by the ever-present rescue destroyer.

The Tanikaze had been sent out alone to find the Hiryu and sink it if she was still afloat. Her CO had commented later that he believed this would be a suicide mission for his ship because the Japanese no longer had any air cover to protect them. Other Japanese officers believed that because the Tanikaze distracted the American air group who had expended all their bombs on this ship, prevented further damage to the Japanese Striking and Occupation Force as it withdrew from the battle area. The Tanikaze was sunk by an American submarine near the Philippines in 1944.

Lt Adams was reported missing in action on 5 June 1942. His remains were unrecoverable. His wife and family received telegrams about 18 June 1942 from the Navy Department informing them that Lt Adams was missing following action in the performance of his duty and in the service to his country. They received a letter from the Navy Department about July 1943 to advise them that after a full review of all available information the Secretary of the Navy was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that Lieutenant Samuel Adams, United States Navy, was deceased. He was reported "missing in action" while a member of Squadron VSB-5, based on the USS Yorktown, when the plane of which he was pilot was shot down by the enemy in the Battle of Midway. His death was presumed to have occurred on the 6th day of June 1943, the day following an absence of twelve months.


Lt Adams was awarded an astonishing three Navy Cross medals, Purple Heart, Air Medal, American Campaign medal, American Defense Medal with bronze "A,* " Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 3 bronze stars, Presidential Unit Citation (maybe) w/ribbon, and the World War II Victory medal. * The bronze "A" was for contact with the Axis forces in the Atlantic Ocean between 21 September and 11 October 1941.

Navy Cross (First Award)

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Samuel Adams, Lieutenant, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Dive Bomber in Bombing Squadron FIVE, embarked from the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, in action against enemy Japanese forces over enemy-controlled waters near New Guinea on 10 March 1942. Lieutenant Adams and his squadron inflicted severe damage on the enemy, with probable destruction of three hostile ships. His outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


(Second Award)

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Samuel Adams, Lieutenant, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Dive Bomber in Bombing Squadron FIVE, embarked from the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Tulagi Harbor on 4 May 1942, and in the Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 and 8 May 1942. These attacks, vigorously and persistently pressed home in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire, and on 8 May opposed also by enemy fighters, resulted in the sinking or damaging of at least eight enemy Japanese vessels at Tulagi and the sinking of one carrier and the sinking or severe damaging of another in the Coral Sea. Lieutenant Adams' conscientious devotion to duty and gallant self-command against formidable odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Commander In Chief, Pacific Fleet: Serial 2050 (May 8, 1942)


(Third Award)

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Navy Cross to Samuel Adams, Lieutenant, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scouting Plane in Scouting Squadron FIVE, attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, in action against enemy Japanese during the Air Battle of Midway, 4 - 6 June 1942. Locating major enemy units, Lieutenant Adams, in a persistent and vigorous effort to maintain contact, pressed home repeated attacks against harassing enemy aircraft until he finally succeeded in driving t hem off. Throughout the duration of his bold assaults, despite the distraction of concentrated anti-aircraft fire and power fighter opposition, he, with superb presence of mind and keen appreciation of the value of uninterrupted information, kept sending out complete contact and amplifying reports, which later enabled our forces to attack the last remaining Japanese aircraft carrier. His gallant perseverance and conscientious devotion to duty contributed in large measure to the defeat of the enemy and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Commander In Chief, Pacific Fleet: Serial 18a P15(1), (July 18, 1942)


Air Medal Citation:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Air Medal (Posthumously) to Samuel Adams, Lieutenant, United States Navy, for meritorious achievement in aerial flight as a Section Leader in Bombing Squadron FIVE, attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Jaluit Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1 February 1942. Participating in the first raid of the war by Naval forces against Japanese-controlled territory, Lieutenant Adams led his section through darkness and extremely hazardous weather conditions over an area on which little advance information had been obtained and, reaching the target, executed a dive-bombing and strafing attack in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire to inflict severe damages on shore installations and enemy vessels in the harbor. By his courage, skilled airmanship and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Adams upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


His family also received a scroll from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in commemoration of Lt Samuel Adams. The citation reads: In grateful memory of Samuel ADAMS, who died in the service of his country at SEA, Pacific Area, ATTACHED U.S.S. Yorktown, 6 JUNE 1943 (Presumed). He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives -- in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.

(Signed) Franklin D. Roosevelt,

President of the United States


Enterprise Presidential Unit Citation (1942)

(Lt Adams spent one day on Enterprise. I don't know if that makes him eligible for this award.)

For consistently outstanding performance and distinguished achievement during repeated action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific war area, 7 December 1941, to 15 November 1942. Participating in nearly every major carrier engagement in the first year of the war, the Enterprise and her air group, exclusive of far-flung destruction of hostile shore installations throughout the battle area, did sink or damage on her own a total of 35 Japanese vessels and shot down a total of 185 Japanese aircraft. Her aggressive spirit and superb combat efficiency are fitting tribute to the officers and men who so gallantly established her as an ahead bulwark in the defense of the American nation.

Actions of the Enterprise mentioned in the citation include the Gilbert and Marshalls raid of 01 Feb 1942; Wake Island raid, 24 Feb 1942; Marcus Island raid, 04 Mar 1942; Battle of Midway, 4-6 Jun 1942; Occupation of Guadalcanal, 7-8 Aug 1942; Battle of Stewart Islands, 24 Aug 1942; Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, 26 Oct 1942; and Battle of Solomon Islands, 14-15 Nov 1942.


The USS Adams (DM-27) was a destroyer minelayer in the United States Navy. She was named for Lieutenant Samuel Adams. Adams was laid down as DD-739, an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, on 20 March 1944 at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. She was redesignated a Robert H. Smith-class destroyer minelayer DM-27, on 20 July 1944; launched on 23 July 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Maude Ryan Adams, the widow of Lieutenant Adams. Adams was commissioned at Boston, Massachusetts, on 10 October 1944

She operated primarily in the Pacific. The Adams was decommissioned in December 1946. She remained in reserve for almost 23 years. On 07 Feb 1955, while still in reserve, Adams was redesignated a fast minelayer, MMD-27. She was finally struck from the Navy List on 01 Dec 1970. She was sold for scrap to a steel company in Taiwan on 16 Dec 1971. The USS Adams earned one battle star for WWII service.


[Bio #259 composed by Gerry Lawton (G47)/GML470)]

Find A Grave memorial page #168643971

Military Hall of Honor ID#87093

Excerpts used from: Pacific Payback, Stephen L. Moore, published Penguin Random House, 2014.

Honoree ID: 87093   Created by: MHOH




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