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First Name: William

Last Name: Adams

Birthplace: Casper, WY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Kansas City, MO
Middle Name: Edward

Date of Birth: 16 June 1939

Date of Death: 25 May 1971

Rank: Major

Years Served: 1962 - 1971
William Edward Adams

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


William Edward Adams
Major, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

William Edward Adams (16 June 1939 - 25 May 1971) was a Major in the U.S. Army who was killed in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on 25 May 1971.

William Edward Adams was born on 16 June 1939, in Casper, WY. He attended Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO, and graduated from Colorado State University in 1962. He joined the U.S. Army in Kansas City, MO, with the serial number 521482167. He began his tour in Vietnam on Monday, 6 July 1970 and was assigned to Company A, 227th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade.

On 25 May 1971, Adams, a Major, volunteered to fly a lightly armed helicopter mission to rescue three wounded soldiers from a besieged firebase in Kontum Province, despite the clear weather which would provide the numerous enemy anti-aircraft around the location with clear visibility. Despite fire from machine gun emplacements and rockets, Adams succeeded in landing at the firebase while supporting helicopter gunships attacked the enemy positions. But, after takeoff, the helicopter was hit by fire. Adams momentarily regained control and attempted to land, however the helicopter exploded in mid-air and crashed. Adams, who was 31 at the time, was killed.

Medal of Honor Citation

Maj. Adams distinguished himself on 25 May 1971 while serving as a helicopter pilot in Kontum Province in the Republic of Vietnam. On that date, Maj. Adams volunteered to fly a lightly armed helicopter in an attempt 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 and that the clear weather would afford the enemy gunners unobstructed view of all routes into the base. As he approached the base, the enemy gunners opened fire with heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. Undaunted by the fusillade, he continued his approach determined to accomplish the mission. Displaying tremendous courage under fire, 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. Maj. Adams' conspicuous gallantry, intrepidity, and humanitarian regard for his fellow man were in keeping with the most cherished traditions of the military service and reflected utmost credit on him and the U S. Army.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The name William E Adams is inscribed on Panel 03W, Row 054.


The Vietnam War Memorial on the campus of Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO, is the same make and model helicopter that Adams was flying when he was killed.

Death and Burial

Major William Edward Adams was killed in action on 25 May 1971. His body was recovered and identified on 8 July 1971. He is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, CO, in Section P, Site 3831.

Honoree ID: 878   Created by: MHOH




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