Efforts underway to honor Craig Medal of Honor recipient
April 19, 2011
A "heroic American." An "inspiration to every citizen."
A man who showed "conspicuous gallantry."
Craig resident Larry Neu contends those are all accurate descriptions of Major William E. Adams.
But, they aren't Neu's words.
They were said by Congressman Scott Tipton in mid-February when reading Adams' accomplishments into the U.S. Congressional Record.
Adams, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, was killed in action in 1971 while trying to evacuate wounded soldiers from a hostile area in the Kontum Province of Vietnam. For his actions, the former Craig resident was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor — the highest honor a veteran can receive after risking his or her life in combat.
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"Mr. Speaker, it is my sincere honor to stand and pay tribute to a heroic American who was awarded our nation's highest honor for his conspicuous gallantry in the Kontum Province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam," Tipton read into the record. "Major William Edward Adams is an inspiration to every citizen of our great nation and a reminder to all Americans that some will sacrifice everything to preserve our way of life."
In a news release, Tipton, R-Cortez, said it was for those reasons he introduced legislation hoping to rename the Craig VA Telehealth Outreach Clinic after Adams on April 15.
"I hope that this much deserved recognition of Major Adams will ensure that his memory lives on, and that the people of Craig may continue to celebrate the life of this true American hero," Tipton said in the release.
That recognition hasn't come easy or fast, said Neu, who is a Vietnam veteran and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 quartermaster.
Neu has been working to honor Adams locally for about two years.
"Bill Adams didn't receive the recognition in his hometown community that he should have," he said. "It all started with the naming of (Sandrock Elementary) and after they decided not to do that, I just set off on a mission to do something bigger and better."
Last year, in May, the state legislature passed a resolution to rename the portion of Colorado Highway 13 that runs through Moffat County the "Maj. William Adams Medal of Honor Highway."
Neu said four signs were placed along the highway to make travelers aware of the road's name. The highway was formally dedicated in November with Adams' wife, Sandra, and family in attendance.
Former Congressman John Salazar introduced a bill to rename the Craig VA clinic after Adams, but Salazar lost a re-election bid to Tipton.
"These clinics are scattered all over the United States and a number of years ago, someone suggested that they be named after someone significant involved with the community," Neu said. "(Adams) was just a logical choice for Craig. He's the only Medal of Honor winner from here."
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., sponsored legislation introduced Feb. 14 to rename the clinic after Adams with co-sponsor Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo. The bill has been stuck in the committee on Veterans' Affairs since.
"This thing just happened out of the blue as far as I'm concerned because I had not contacted Udall or Bennet, either one," Neu said, noting Tipton's legislation was a surprise.
Neu said he was hesitant to put too much stock in the two pieces of legislation even though he appreciated the efforts.
"Well, you never know how the wheels of government are going to turn," he said. "I've been working on this for sometime — I'm not going to sit back and hold my breath. I certainly hope it is going to take place, but until then, we'll continue on with our planning toward our local veterans memorial."
That memorial, Neu said, will include a Vietnam-era decommissioned helicopter, which the VFW post has been approved to receive, he said. The helicopter will be the centerpiece of the memorial and be dedicated to Adams, but Neu was unsure how much longer of a wait it would be for it.
"Hopefully, it won't be too long," he said.