Veterans, residents push for school to be named after soldier

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Bill Adams

Larry Neu, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265, never met Maj. William E. Adams, the only soldier from Craig to have received the Medal of Honor.

But today, he and many others are doing their best to honor him.

"Our feeling is, Bill Adams never got the recognition he deserves in his hometown," Neu said flatly Thursday afternoon.

He followed up those words hours later by delivering 16 letters containing 94 signatures to Craig Intermediate School.

The letters and signatures are in support of renaming the school after Adams, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who was killed May 25, 1971, while trying to evacuate wounded soldiers from the Kontum Province in Vietnam. His helicopter was struck by enemy fire.

The Moffat County School District is building a new middle school and restructuring its elementary schools. As part of the process, Craig Intermediate School, which houses fifth- and sixth-grade students, will house preschool through fifth grade.

The name the letters and signatures proposed for CIS: The William E. Adams School.

"There is a lot of support for it," Neu said about the effort to have the school named after Adams. "I think people are a lot more conscious of this stuff now. We're at war currently, and people are aware of what our military does and the sacrifices they make.

"That wasn't true back in the days of Vietnam."

Neu, 62, can speak knowingly about the "days of Vietnam." An Army veteran, he served two tours in the war.

"My dad was a World War II veteran, and I just felt like it was something I needed to do," he said. "So, I went over voluntarily. I went back a second time voluntarily.

"I thought I was doing the right thing for my country. I have no regrets. I think we did the right thing in Vietnam; I just don't agree with the political side of it - what the politicians did to us there."

Neu said he's been working on getting Adams a memorial in Craig for more than a year. The idea to try getting the school named after Adams came up during a recent VFW meeting, he said, and Neu took the idea and ran with it.

He began circulating the letter Monday, and by Thursday he had close to 100 signatures.

"As a Vietnam veteran, I lost some really good friends over there, and I don't want them to be forgotten," he said. "I think it's very important that, especially with this school, that the young people understand the sacrifices that were made for them to enjoy the life they have here today.

"Rather than just standing and telling them they should be grateful for it, this is something I think they can relate to. : They can see that here's a man who put his country before everything else."

Kamisha Siminoe, CIS principal, is a part of a committee tasked with narrowing down the name suggestions for the school.

It is too early in the process to say what the final name choices will be, she said.

The committee collected suggestion boxes this week and is in the process of compiling a list of name possibilities.

She said the consideration given to the name suggestion will be equal to that of other suggestions. The committee is meeting next week to narrow the list down to no more than eight.

Those eight names then will be put to kindergarten through sixth-grade students district-wide for a vote.

"So it's in the hands of the children," Siminoe said. "The kids will vote, and then we will take whatever they voted on and submit that name to the (school) board."

Board members could make a final decision at their May 28 meeting.

It is important, Siminoe said, to include not only the community but also students in the school naming process.

"We knew the community would have great ideas and suggestions, but we also felt like, ultimately, the students should have a voice in this," she said.

Siminoe said the name suggested by Neu and the VFW left an impression on her, however.

"What really was impressive to me was the story behind it, because that's really what it's about," she said. "It's about the person and history behind why they would be a great name for the elementary school."

Whatever the outcome of the name suggestion is, Neu said he wouldn't stop pushing for Adams to receive his due recognition.

"I've been working on this project for quite some time, and I'm going to continue working on it until I get something done here," Neu said. "He paid the ultimate price. People who make these kind of sacrifices should not be forgotten."

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