Local veteran renews pledge to honor Craig’s Medal of Honor recipient
Larry Neu, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265, walked away from Thursday night’s Moffat County School Board meeting without anger.
Rather, he said, he came away from the meeting with a renewed determination to honor Craig’s sole Medal of Honor recipient – Maj. William E. Adams – no matter what.
“I am going to continue until I get something in his name in this community,” Neu said. “I’m not giving up until I get something accomplished here.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the School Board unanimously approved the results of a district-wide kindergarten through sixth-grade vote to rename the former Craig Intermediate School.
With five options in front of them, the students voted to rename the school Sandrock Elementary.
William E. Adams Elementary, a name Neu and other veterans had lobbied for, placed third in the voting, almost 100 votes behind the winning Sandrock suggestion, and just two ahead of the fourth-place entry, Creekside Elementary.
Adams, a Craig native and U.S. Army helicopter pilot, was killed May 25, 1971, in the Kontum Province in Vietnam, while attempting to evacuate wounded soldiers from a hostile area.
He posthumously was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor given to a veteran who risks his or her life in combat, beyond the call of duty.
“I’m not angry, just disappointed,” Neu said about the district’s decision on the school name. “I felt like something like this should have been considered by the school administration and the School Board and not left in the hands of elementary children who do not understand the sacrifices that have been made.”
Neu, area military veterans and residents submitted numerous letters and almost 100 signatures asking the district to rename the school after Adams.
Honoring Adams with a school name seemed a small price for the community to pay to a soldier who made the “ultimate sacrifice” for his country, Neu said.
“I look at how some other communities have come together,” said Neu citing a community on the Front Range which recently honored a soldier killed in Iraq with a bronze statue and memorial, “: and I think something like that would be appropriate here. How we’d raise funds, I don’t know. That’s something I will look into.”
Neu said he and other veterans would meet soon to discuss what new avenues they can pursue to honor Adams. As of now, there isn’t a definitive plan, he said.
Pete Bergmann, Moffat County School District superintendent, described the Adams name suggestion as “very honorable and valid,” but that the School Board was compelled Thursday night to honor the process that had been established for the school name, the outcome of that process, and finally the voice of the students.
The district had determined long before the Adams suggestion came up that it would take suggestions from the community for the new school name. Then, a committee was to whittle those suggestions down and the students would vote on the final selection.
Had the board circumvented that process and put Adams’ name above the winning Sandrock selection, it would have sent the wrong message to students regarding the democratic process and the students’ vote.
“I thought it was really done in a very valid, well thought-out manner,” Bergmann said about the naming process and the board’s final decision.
Neu said he understood the School District and School Board’s decision. He may not agree with it, but he understands it, he said.
“I mean, the sand rocks are very definitely a prominent geographic feature of this area,” he said. “But, it’s nothing like the sacrifices that have been made so we can live here and enjoy the things we do.”
Regardless of Thursday’s outcome, Neu said he’s not done pushing for Adams to receive his due praise in his hometown.
“I’m a two-tour veteran,” he said. “Maj. Adams was on his second tour when he got killed. I lost a lot of friends over there. They’re too soon forgotten.
“I have such strong feelings about this. It’s like the saying goes, ‘A nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.'”
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