May 25, 1971.
Maj. William E. Adams, a Craig native and U.S. Army helicopter pilot, knew the risks involved in piloting a mission into the Kontum Province in the Republic of Vietnam.
He knew the enemy had numerous antiaircraft weapons positioned in the area, that his helicopter was lightly armed and that clear weather would afford enemy gunners an unobstructed view.
He also knew three seriously wounded American soldiers needed evacuation.
He volunteered for the mission anyway.
"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."
Those were the words Bill Harding, Moffat County Veterans Service officer, recited from Adams' citation Monday morning during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Craig Cemetery. Adams, who died that May day 25 years ago, was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States.
He was 31 years old.
American flags and floral arrangements decorated Craig Cemetery Monday as Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Sons of the American Legion members joined area residents to honor local veterans.
The names of about 600 veterans, who fought in American conflicts dating back to the Civil War, were read to the crowd in attendance.
"We are here to honor our veterans who have fallen," VFW member Johnny Garcia said in his opening prayer. He said their sacrifice provides Americans with a land "of which we are given the freedom of speech, religion and the pursuit of happiness."
Adams, VFW members said, was one such veteran who sacrificed all.
Undaunted by enemy fire, and displaying "tremendous courage under fire," Adams directed the attacks of supporting gunships and landed his aircraft until the wounded soldiers were placed on board.
As the helicopter departed, it was struck by enemy fire.
"Despite his valiant efforts, the helicopter exploded, overturned and plummeted to Earth amid a hail of enemy fire," Adams' citation reads.
Adams, who served two tours in Vietnam, is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.
Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.