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


By Richard Goldstein, , May 2, 1999


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.


Medal of Honor




Rank and organization: Master Sergeant (then Sfc.), U.S. Army, Company A, 19th Infantry Regiment.


Place and date: Near Sesim-ni, Korea, 4 February 1951.


Entered service at: Olathe, Kans.


Born: 9 May 1922, DeSoto, Kans.


G.O. No.: 66, 2 August 1951.




M/Sgt. Adams, Company A, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy. At approximately 0100 hours, M/Sgt. Adams' platoon, holding an outpost some 200 yards ahead of his company, came under a determined attack by an estimated 250 enemy troops. Intense small-arms, machinegun, and mortar fire from 3 sides pressed the platoon back against the main line of resistance. Observing approximately 150 hostile troops silhouetted against the skyline advancing against his platoon, M/Sgt. Adams leaped to his feet, urged his men to fix bayonets, and he, with 13 members of his platoon, charged this hostile force with indomitable courage. Within 50 yards of the enemy M/Sgt. Adams was knocked to the ground when pierced in the leg by an enemy bullet. He jumped to his feet and, ignoring his wound, continued on to close with the enemy when he was knocked down 4 times from the concussion of grenades which had bounced off his body. Shouting orders he charged the enemy positions and engaged them in hand-to-hand combat where man after man fell before his terrific onslaught with bayonet and rifle butt. After nearly an hour of vicious action M/Sgt. Adams and his comrades routed the fanatical foe, killing over 50 and forcing the remainder to withdraw. Upon receiving orders that his battalion was moving back he provided cover fire while his men withdrew. M/Sgt. Adams' superb leadership, incredible courage, and consummate devotion to duty so inspired his comrades that the enemy attack was completely thwarted, saving his battalion from possible disaster. His sustained personal bravery and indomitable fighting spirit against overwhelming odds reflect the utmost glory upon himself and uphold the finest traditions of the infantry and the military service.

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© 1999 by Neil Mishalov