Art Brand   Bill Crawford   Hank Fannin   Harvey Meltzer   James Cockerill   James (J. D.) Adams   Jim Burns   Jim Moore   John Lindgren   Ralph Graves  




                                          THE SILVER STAR     THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS        THE PURPLE HEART

                                                              With 1 Oak Leaf Cluster                 With 1 One Oak Leaf Cluster


The Silver Star, as defined by law, is awarded by all branches of the armed forces to any person who, while serving in any capacity, is cited for "gallantry in action" against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force. The required gallantry, while less than that required of the Medal of Honor or Distinguished Service Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.


The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes himself or herself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The performance of the act of heroism must be evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty. The extraordinary achievement must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from his/her comrades or from other persons in similar circumstances. Awards will be made only to recognize single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement and will not be made in recognition of sustained operational activities against an armed enemy.


The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded


While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not "recommended" for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.






Staff Sergeant James D. Adams distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia on 27 June 1969.  On that date, Sergeant Adams personally silenced the hostile gun position responsible for the downing of his aircraft.  He then organized and took control of friendly ground troops, who had been on his downed aircraft, and directed their firepower toward the hostile positions.  Through his outstanding leadership, the remaining hostile gun positions were silenced during the firefight.  By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Adams has reflected great credit upon himself and United States Air Force.


Sergeant Adams was also awarded The Purple Heart for wounds received.

Here is the story in the words of Sergeant Adams

It was aircraft CH-3E 65-15691, "Knife 22" I was on when we were shot down at Lima Site 108 (Moung Soui) on the Plain of Jars on 27 June, 1969. Myself, Major Henery, Major Mattos and TSgt. Hernand "Willy" Wilson were on it that day.


An interesting thing happened when we left NKP that morning. We were about 30 to 40 minutes out of NKP and we got a main transmission chip light. We made a precautionary landing at Udorn and I checked out the MGB chip detector. All I could find was one (1) tiny chip on the detector, so we decided to go ahead and join up at Lima Site #20 with the rest of the 21st SOS. birds.


We sat idle at Lima Site #20 waiting for the official word to go ahead and take them out of there.


We were evacuating some Thai Mercenaries out of Moung Soui when the North Vietnamese came across the PDJ to capture the base. We had picked up the Mercenaries and were about 20 feet off of the ground when we took ground fire. I got the little Gomer out of the left side with my M-60 who shot at us and then down we went.


Willy and I got everyone (including the Thai Mercenaries) off the bird. I then organized the Mercenaries around the chopper and began to return fire to the tree line where the first guy had shot at us.


We were able to fend off the bad guys and were picked up by an Air America H-34 and flown back to Lima Site #20.





Staff Sergeant James D. Adams distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a CH-3E Helicopter Flight Engineer, in Southeast Asia on 14 February 1969.  On that date, Sergeant Adams was responsible for the rescue of two survivors of a Long Range Reconnaissance Team.  His duties required him to stand in the open doorway of his helicopter, fully exposed to hostile ground fire, during the approach and while hovering to hoist the two survivors aboard.  Although the helicopter sustained multiple hits from the hostile ground fire, Sergeant Adams remained at his position, directing the pilots into their hover over the survivors and operating the rescue hoist.  He then rendered first aid to the wounded soldiers, as the helicopter with drew from the hostile area.  The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Adams reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.







Technical Sergeant James D. Adams distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as an HH-53 Flight Engineer in Southeast Asia on 21 July 1971.  On that date, Sergeant Adams was sent on a mission to retrieve a downed aircraft deep within hostile territory. The recovery aircraft lost power while attempting the pickup, and Sergeant Adams, with complete disregard for his own safety, physically dove across the helicopter to jettison an external load in an attempt to keep the aircraft airborne.  In so doing, he placed himself in a dangerously unprotected position and did indeed sustain serious injuries.  The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Adams reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.



Sergeant Adams was also awarded The Purple Heart (First Oak Leaf Cluster) for wounds received.



Here is the story in the words of Sergeant Adams

We (Myself as FE, Maj. Clyde Bennett as Pilot, Capt. Hugh "Butch" Robben as Co-Pilot and 2 PJ's; S/Sgt Jon Holberg, S/Sgt Chuck McGrath) were tasked to recover an unmanned reconnaissance drone out of Northern Laos and return it to NKP. We would be a single bird mission. Our call sign was JG 54 (HH-53C 68-8285).


The longest sling rig we could find was only about 50 ft. long. The Intelligence guys told us "Don't worry; There are no real tall trees in the area". Just for good measure, we brought some extra 2000 lb. cargo straps on board that we could use in a pinch.


We were told that there were no hostile forces in the area and it would be a piece of cake. When we got up north of Vientiane we were to contact "Raven" (don't remember the rest of his call sign) and he would take us to within visual of the Drone.


WELLLLL, the weather was shitty with low clouds. The MSL altitude of the recovery site was about 6000 ft. on the side of a hill and the trees had to be about 150 to 200 feet tall. We hovered over the site and discussed what we thought we should do. It was decided by all that we could tie a series of cargo straps to the sling we had until it was long enough to reach the ground and then lower it all through the cargo sling hatch.


But before we could do that we needed to take on some fuel because we certainly couldn't hook up to a tanker with the Drone on a sling and we didn't have enough fuel to get back to NKP. We called for a tanker and arranged to meet him at 11,000 feet further south of our location. We took on some fuel and then went back down to where we thought the Drone was.


Wouldn't you know it, some more clouds had moved into the area and we couldn't find the damn thing. We called the "Raven" and he said Don't worry I'll take you to it. Well with some effort he did and we finally got back over the Drone.


I put Jon Holberg on the ground with the rescue hoist and Chuck and I tied all the cargo straps to the sling and put it down through the hole. Jon said it was too short by about a couple of feet. I told the pilot to go lower and by the time Jon said he had enough sling to hook up, we were sitting with the belly of the chopper in the tops of the trees.


I was standing in the door getting ready to lower the hoist so I could bring Jon back up into the chopper and all of a sudden I heard a loud "Bang" and we started settling into the trees. I hit the quick release on my gunners belt and dove onto my belly by the cargo sling door with the intention of releasing the cargo sling.


Too Late! By that time we were in the trees with the main rotor blades doing their best to chop down all those trees. Then the Bird started to roll down the hill. Without my gunners belt on, I was rolling around and banging around inside that thing like a BB in a tin can.


Finally it stopped rolling and I found myself lying on my back on the ceiling of the cabin soaked in JP-4 and God knows what else. I thought to myself "I've got to get out of here; this thing is going to catch fire". I saw a hole in the side and daylight. I stumbled through that and saw one of the engines lying in the grass, still spooling down.


I ran as best I could to what I thought was a safe distance from the Chopper and laid down because my back was really hurting. Pretty soon Maj. Bennett came over to me and ask me how I was. I told him I thought my back was broken. He said okay don't move. Jon is hurt really bad and Chuck is doing what he can for him. Help is on the way.


It was about that time that I thought I heard some gunfire but I couldn't be sure. Chuck finished doing what he could for Jon and came over to look at me. He checked me over and said that he thought my back was broken. He also told me that a piece of rotor blade had hit Jon and took off his whole lower jaw and he was bleeding pretty bad.


We had made such a big hole when we crashed that an Air America Huey landed and picked up Jon and I and took us to the Swiss Red Cross Hospital in Vientiane. I guess it was the next morning when they flew us out to NKP.


By the way, the guy flying the Raven was named Jim Roper. He has written a book oddly enough called "Raven" and there is a whole chapter in the book about that day and JG 54.


My back was broken in 3 places and after I got back to a hospital in the States, they found that my pelvis had also been broken but it was too late to do anything about it because by the time they discovered it, it had started to heal.


In the hospital at NKP they discovered that I had chemical burns on my back from the JP-4 and started to treat that.


While I was in the hospital at NKP somebody told me that they had sent a chopper in there from the 21st SOS to the crash site to take pictures and they took a lot of ground fire. In fact, one of the Pilots (I forget his name) from the 40th who went along as an observer got shot through both his legs.


I also learned that the day before we went up there they had tried to get an Army CH-54 Crane in there and they had taken so much ground fire that they had to withdraw and abort their mission. Joy, Joy, Joy!!!!!!!!!!


Anyway, after they got me stabilized at the hospital in NKP, they sent me to Clark AFB in the P.I. After about 10 days there, they sent me to Japan for some more treatment. Then they sent me to Scott AFB for a couple of days. From Scott they sent me to Fitzsimmons Army hospital in Denver. Finally they sent me to Offutt AFB in Omaha which was the closest hospital to where my wife was in Topeka KS.


An interesting footnote to this whole thing was when they put Jon Holberg and I into the Air America Huey, he was on his hands and knees and bleeding very badly. I looked over at him and saw that he was writing with his finger dipping in his own blood "Where we going"... That's what I call bravery!!!!!


For a story by a PJ on the mission and pictures