Jeanne Wayne, left, Sandra Adams, center, and U.S. Marine Corps Col. John Adams, right, participated Friday in a ceremony dedicating the Craig Veterans Telehealth Clinic to their late father and husband’s memory. U.S. Army Maj. William E. Adams, of Craig, was killed in action in 1971 while attempting to fly a helicopter rescue mission during the Vietnam War. He was posthumously recognized with the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

Photo by Joe Moylan

Jeanne Wayne, left, Sandra Adams, center, and U.S. Marine Corps Col. John Adams, right, participated Friday in a ceremony dedicating the Craig Veterans Telehealth Clinic to their late father and husband’s memory. U.S. Army Maj. William E. Adams, of Craig, was killed in action in 1971 while attempting to fly a helicopter rescue mission during the Vietnam War. He was posthumously recognized with the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

Craig Veterans Telehealth Clinic dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient

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Dedication of the Maj. William E. Adams Craig Veterans Telehealth Clinic

Medal of Honor citation

The text of Adams’ Medal of Honor citation, as reported by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, is below:

“Maj. Adams volunteered to fly a lightly-armed helicopter in an attempt to evacuate three 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 anti-aircraft 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 this 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.”

Hero is a word often used to describe the late William E. Adams, a Craig native and U.S. Army major.

But his son, U.S. Marine Corps Col. John Adams, chose another word to describe his father — humble.

“He’d probably try to tell you there were a lot of other brave soldiers who did a lot of brave things,” Col. Adams said. “I’m feeling very honored, our whole family feels honored.”

On Friday, Col. Adams joined his mother, Sandra, and sister, Jeanne Wayne, for a ceremony dedicating the Craig Veterans Telehealth Clinic, 785 Russell St., in Maj. William E. Adams’ memory.

The clinic will be known now as the Maj. William E. Adams Veterans Telehealth Clinic.

“These clinics are so valuable to veterans across the United States and it’s a terrific honor to have this one named after my dad,” Col. Adams said. “I think it’s especially poignant, because my dad was killed in the service of other soldiers, to have a clinic named after him that is helping so many veterans.”

On May 25, 1971, while serving as a helicopter pilot in the Kontum Province of Vietnam, Maj. Adams volunteered to fly a lightly-armored helicopter on a rescue mission to evacuate three wounded soldiers from a fire base that was under enemy attack.

Upon his return from the fire base, the helicopter was struck by anti-aircraft fire. Despite valiant efforts to execute an emergency landing, the helicopter exploded, killing Maj. Adams and the wounded soldiers onboard.

He was posthumously recognized with the Medal of Honor.

Friday’s dedication was the culmination of years of Congressional lobbying by representatives of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 and American Legion Post 62 in Craig.

It was attended by elected officials and their representatives at the local, state and national levels, and local veterans and residents.

“It’s such an honor and it’s pretty overwhelming with all these people here,” said Sandra, Maj. Adams’ widow. “The town opened their arms and we appreciate it.”

During the ceremony, Gar Williams, representing the American Legion, delivered an emotional address.

“Maj. Adams lived in Craig and answered his country’s call of duty. He fought and died for his fellow soldiers and his country,” Williams said. “Maj. Adams’ last act was in the care of fellow soldiers.

“It is truly appropriate that this medical clinic dedicated to the care of veterans be named after a courageous soldier, Maj. William Adams, who gave his life attempting to secure medical care for his fellow soldiers wounded in battle.”

Maj. Adams’ family deflected attention Friday, choosing instead to focus on the importance of ensuring veterans receive medical care they not only need, but also deserve.

During his address, Col. Adams said the nation is at a crossroads.

Due to budget constraints and the need to cut spending, Col. Adams believes the way the military operates in the future will likely change.

But he stressed the importance of facilities like the Craig Veterans Telehealth Clinic, which not only provides a valuable service to Vietnam veterans like his late father, but ensures servicemen and women who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom receive the care they need.

“We came from Denver and that was a really long drive,” Wayne said. “You need something like this in the area to connect with other doctors in other locations, and the technology is fantastic.”

Though Col. Adams believes his father would be humbled if he were alive to witness the dedication, Sandra said he would also be proud.

“Bill would be pleased to have his name associated with this clinic because this type of facility is so obviously needed,” she said. “Getting veterans the medical help they need is currently in demand, so this is really timely.”

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