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Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 25 May


Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army, A/227th Assault Helicopter Company, 52d Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Brigade. Place and Date: Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, 25 May 1971. Entered Service at: Kansas City, Mo. Born: 16 June 1939, Casper, Wyo. Citation: Maj. Adams distinguished himself on 25 May 1971 while serving as a helicopter pilot in Kontum Province in the Republic of Vietnam. On that date, Maj. Adams volunteered to fly a lightly armed helicopter in an attempt to evacuate 3 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 antiaircraft 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 the 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.

Major William's crew and passenger went down with him that day, it's only right to remember them too, this Memorial Day.

Crew Members:

And while I exalt no casualty over another - this was a very bad day for Specialist Littleton: SP4 John Wayne Littleton was crew chief on 67-17760 for CPT Larry Dewey, member of the 92nd Avn Co. He survived this shoot down and crash of 67-17760 that killed CPT Dewey and SP4 Lubbehusen then escaped and evaded to Firebase 5 where he was rescued by MAJ Adams in 69-15704. 69-15704 was then shot down killing all on board.

The extra data (and the link in the citation) comes from the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's Association website.



This day is seared in my memory, for it was indeed a very bad day.  I also remember well the day that I met Chickenman 6 - the man the rest of the world knows as Major William E. Adams.  Chickenman was the call sign for Company A, 227 Aviation Battalion, a UH-1 "Slick" battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division  As that division stood down in the spring of 1971, its aviation companies were dispersed through the 1st Aviation Brigade as needed.  Chickenman was sent to Camp Holloway in Pleiku.

I was then a platoon leader in D Troop, 7th Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry.  We were the ground troop and therefore only had one troop commander and 5 lieutenants whereas the air troops had scores of officers.  Our little BOQ, therefore, was a modest affair, two small rooms that was usually about half occupied as we were often otherwise engaged.

One fine day, freshly back from a mission on the Cambodian border, I was sitting in a lawn chair enjoying the sunshine outside our little BOQ.  Some 1st Cav aviators stopped by to say that they were moving into our BOQ.  I explained that there must be some mistake, as D Troop had every intention of remaining in residence, but explained where he might be able to find suitable accomodations.  He disappeared only to reappear in a short time tagging along behind his company commander, Chickenman 6.  Major Adams stood me to attention, explained that this was his companies BOQ now and that I was to unass the area ASAP.  A Mexican standoff ensued, Lieutenant vs. Major and further words were exchanged.  We stayed in our BOQ, and I came to know and respect the Chickenman above all others with pilot wings.

This was especially so on that day near Dak To.  The NVA had sent a division across the border to seize Firebases 5 and 6 that blocked a key avenue of approach into the Central Highlands.  American ground forces (save our little ground troop) were gone from the Highlands, so the fight was US Air and artillery supporting South Vietnamese forces.  When CPT Dewey's aircraft was shot down, Chickenman 6 swooped in to rescue the survivor.  This was no mean task as a proper NVA air defense battalion was deployed around Firebases 5 & 6 with radar guided 57 mm AA guns.  It looked like Schweinfurt and 12 O'Clock High with flak bursts.

Chickenman 6 flew in without hesitation, but when he lifted off, the main rotor hub was hit with a 57mm round.  Both rotor blades separated from the aircraft, it inverted and slammed into the mountainside.  All aboard died instantly.  He was a great soldier, a great leader, and a friend to this young lieutenant.  We will remember them.