William Edward Adams MOH

b. 16/06/1939 Casper, Wyoming. d. 25/05/1971 Kontum, Vietnam.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 25/05/1971 Kontum, Vietnam.

William E Adams MOH

Adams was born in Casper, Wyoming. He attended Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, where he graduated in the junior college Class of 1959. Three years later, Adams graduated from Colorado State University as a member of the Class of 1962.

Adams joined the United States Army in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1962. He began his tour in Vietnam on July 6, 1970. On May 25, 1971, Adams, a major, volunteered to fly a lightly armed helicopter mission to rescue three dead US advisors and a wounded crew chief from a previously shot down helicopter crew chief 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. After take off, however, 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.

Adams is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. His grave can be found in plot P O, Grave 3831. His Medal of Honor was presented to his family on 8th August 1974 at Blair House (the President’s Guest House), Washington DC by Vice-President Gerald R. Ford.



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.