The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
*ADAMS, WILLIAM E.
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army,
A/227th Assault Helicopter Company, 52d Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade. Place
and Date: Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, 25 May 1971. Entered Service at:
Kansas City, Mo. Born: 16 June 1939, Casper, Wyo.
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 machineguns,
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.