Merrel F. Adams, Jr.

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Captain Merrel F. Adams, Jr. for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving as a Pilot with Marine Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group Twelve, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with operations against insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On 5 February 1967, Captain Adams launched as Flight Leader of a section of two A-4E aircraft in support of an emergency retraction mission of a twenty-four man, Marine reconnaissance team which was surrounded and temporarily pinned down by a numerically superior enemy force in heavily wooded, mountainous terrain in the vicinity of Chu Lai. A previous helicopter extraction attempt had been aborted due to intense hostile fire from an estimated 130 Viet Cong positioned within 200 meters of the landing zone. Arriving over the besieged area, Captain Adams expertly assessed the situation, selected his approach pattern and pinpointed the enemy positions. Skillfully and without regard for his own safety, he placed his first two bombs directly on the enemy emplacements within 100 meters of the Marines’ position. Commencing his second run, Captain Adams placed two bombs only fifty meters from friendly positions. Continuing his low level attacks with unerring accuracy, Captain Adams silenced one enemy gun position and reduced the volume of enemy fire delivered from the tree line surrounding the landing zone. After expending his ordnance, Captain Adams fearlessly made repeated dummy runs over the Viet Cong positions until the helicopters had safely retracted the entire reconnaissance team. His unwavering determination and complete disregard for his own safety contributed significantly to the accomplishment of an extremely hazardous mission and accounted for an estimated twenty-five enemy killed. Captain Adams’ exceptional aeronautical skill, resolute courage and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of extreme danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.