“May your example serve as a reminder for us all that our capacity to do good is not limited to the battlefield,” said Maj. Crocker, acting commander, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) to Staff Sgt. Adams, 1st Bn., 3rd SFG (A).
Adams received the Soldier’s Medal, Monday, for valorous conduct during a vehicle accident.
While returning home to Fayetteville after spending time at a Family lake house, Adams and his wife witnessed a car accident on October 10, 2016.
The crash happened quickly. A 2006 Chevy Silverado veered off the road into a ditch and then 75 yards down a steep embankment — crashing into a line of trees just outside of the Asheboro, NC, city limits.
Adams immediately stopped his vehicle without hesitation and rushed down the embankment to render aid.
“The training that we get through Special Forces helps us remain calm … once that wreck happened, it was just an instant (decision) to pull over,” said Adams.
As Adams moved down the embankment, his sandals flew off as he ran, glass embedding in his feet as he approached the crash.
When he reached the vehicle, he found three trapped passengers and excessive smoke exiting the car. He removed two people from the vehicle, carried them up the embankment and provided first aid. Once Adams was sure the two crash victims were stable, he went back to extract the third casualty from the car, Colby Springle, 12, who later died at the scene.
Thrown from the car, a fourth passenger, Britanny Goodman, 26, died at the scene, according to a Courier-Tribune news report.
Lillie Mingin and her son, Eric Mason Mingin, then 7 years old, survived the crash as a result of Adams’ immediate response and aid.
Crocker explained to the audience attending the award presentation that those in 3rd SFG (A) have become accustomed to valor award ceremonies for combat heroism.
Most would agree that those awards are received for doing one’s job, said Crocker.
Adams’ act of heroism was entirely different.
“It takes a special person to do what he did,” said Crocker.
The 3rd SFG (A) chaplain called Adams a “guardian angel” and a “reminder that good still exists in the world,” that God is “still with us no matter the situation or circumstance.”
Adams’ team leader, Capt. Blake described him as quiet and humble after the accident.
The full story came to leadership by way of Adams’ wife, and it was then that they realized the enormity of his heroism.
“On the team, even before that, we always called him ‘the hero,’” said Blake.
“He’s the guy that is going to take care of everybody.”
Adams entered the Army intent on being a Green Beret, as a Special Forces Candidate, or 18X in 2013. Upon completion of the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2015, Adams was assigned to 1st Bn., 3rd SFG (A), and has since deployed twice.
Presented to an individual for putting oneself at risk to save others, the Soldier's Medal represents acts of heroism not involving conflict with an actual enemy.
“Your courage and display of compassion are examples for all of us to emulate. You faced a dangerous situation and performed extraordinarily,” said Crocker to Adams.
Several members of the audience were Adams’ Family members, some
of which drove 14 hours from his home state of Vt. through a snowstorm to be present for the presentation.
“Family is always important to have around,” said Adams. “It’s (Family) everybody that was here today; they are all brothers here ... They are very, very, proud of me.”
Despite saving two lives, Adams did not forget the people who could not be saved.
“It was a pretty bad situation,” said Adams. “I was just upset about the outcome.”
When nominated Adams was not familiar with the award, but soon came to realize the gravity of such an honor.
“This is a big, big deal,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Angle, the deputy commanding general of the 1st Special Forces Command to the room of Soldiers and Family members.
Angle explained that Adams' repeatedly risked himself to help others, displaying courage.
Courage, both physical and moral, is a vital attribute for a Green Beret, said Angle.
While Adams’ training and team time provided him the tools to do what he did on that day, Angle argued that Adams must have already possessed courage.
“We simply refined it, we reinforce it,” said Angle. “But I would say that attribute that courage comes, just as much, from an upbringing at home. Mom, you raised a heck of a young man. Thank you.”
Each member of 3rd SFG (A) leadership who spoke, charged attendees to use Adams as an example.
“Make a decision to do the right thing, no matter how big or how small the act. Make that decision, make a positive difference in the world. Make a positive difference in someone's life,” said Angle.