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News From The Past

May 2, 1999

 Stanley Adams, 76, Is Dead; 
Led Counterattack in Korea

By Richard Goldstein

Lieutenant Colonel Stanley T. Adams, who as an Army sergeant won the Medal of Honor in the Korean War for leading a counterattack that left more than 50 enemy soldiers dead in hand-to-hand combat, died on April 19 at the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles, Oregon. He was 76.

Colonel Adams, who lived in Bend, Oregon, had Alzheimer's disease, said his wife, Jean.

In July 1950, Colonel Adams, then a sergeant first class, was serving with the 19th Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division when it was rushed to South Korea from occupation duty in Japan soon after North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. Most of the men in the division were inexperienced, but Sergeant Adams, a native of Desoto, Kansas, was an Army veteran of World War II who had fought in North Africa and Italy and had been wounded in action.

By midwinter of 1951, United Nations forces in Korea were reeling after Chinese Communist troops had staged a large counteroffensive in late November 1950, forcing American soldiers and marines to retreat from the Yalu River and the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Within six weeks, Communist forces had recrossed the 38th parallel and recaptured Seoul, the South Korean capital.

United Nations troops in the Eighth Army, which included the 24th Division, began a counteroffensive in late January. Sergeant Adams's company set up positions south of Seoul on February 3. His platoon held an outpost on a ridge 200 yards in front of the rest of the company.

About 11 P.M., the Communists attacked two adjacent companies, driving a wedge between them. Two hours later, 250 enemy soldiers hit Sergeant Adams's outpost with machine-gun and mortar fire. After holding on for 45 minutes, the platoon retreated toward the company's main position. Soon afterward, Sergeant Adams fixed his bayonet and charged the enemy, followed by 13 men from his platoon.

"The tenacity of the Chinese and North Korean soldiers forced the men of the Eighth Army to battle them at close quarters reminiscent of the Civil War," Edward F. Murphy wrote in "Korean War Heroes" (Presidio Press, 1992). "The only way to remove the enemy from their hilltop positions was to dig them out. Men like Sergeant Adams knew this, and effectively used the almost obsolete bayonet to accomplish their missions."

When Sergeant Adams was 50 yards from the enemy he was hit in the leg by a bullet. He continued on only to be knocked down four more times by the concussion of exploding grenades.

But he got up and charged the Communist positions, swinging his rifle butt and using his bayonet. After nearly an hour of hand-to hand combat, the Chinese retreated, leaving behind more than 50 dead.

In a White House, ceremony on July 5,1951, President Harry S. Truman presented Sergeant Adams with the Medal of Honor, its citation crediting him with "saving his battalion from possible disaster."

Soon after receiving the medal, the nation's highest military decoration, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. He remained in the Army until 1970, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Colonel Adams later held an administrative position with the Internal Revenue Service in Alaska.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Gary, of Wellington, Mo.; a daughter, Joy Kenyon , of San Mateo, Calif.; a brother, Charles, of Wichita, Kan.; 12 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.


1999, by The New York Times


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