William J. Adams

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NAME:
William Joseph Adams
NICKNAME:
SERVICE NUMBER:
265505
HOME OF RECORD:
Yazoo City, MS
NEXT OF KIN:
Wife, Mrs. Ina Vezey Adams
DATE OF BIRTH:
7/2/1916
SERVICE DATES:
5/23/1938 – 9/30/1951
DATE OF DEATH:
3/4/1981
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE RESULT
Roi-Namur L/3/24 585 Gunnery Sergeant  
Saipan C/1/24 585 Gunnery Sergeant WIA
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Gunnery Sergeant

William Adams was born to Edmond and Mary (Robinson) Adams of Yazoo, Mississippi in 1916. Little is known about his life prior to his enlistment in May, 1938.

Adams proved to be an excellent Marine even before he left Parris Island. He was appointed a recruit instructor while still a private, and scored so highly with the M1903 Springfield rifle that he became a rifle range coach in July. He rarely left the range, and by December 1941, after training thousands of recruits, was rated a sergeant. He had only six months left on his enlistment–but if he planned to leave the Corps, his plans would quickly change.

The attack on Pearl Harbor galvanized the country, and soon a flood of new recruits were arriving at the nation’s training camps. Adams continued to teach each wave of boots the minutiae required to become Marine riflemen. He was promoted to Platoon Sergeant on April 18, 1942, re-enlisted, and that winter was assigned to the post MP company as the NCO in charge of drills and instruction.

The summer of 1943 saw William Adams earn stripes of a gunnery sergeant, and the new title of senior recruit instructor. However, his experience was needed elsewhere, and in the fall he was reassigned to the newly formed 24th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton California. The “Gunny” of L Company, 3/24 would experience his first taste of combat on the island of Namur in February, 1944.

On April 9, Adams was transferred yet again, this time to Company C, First Battalion, 24th Marines. He served as the company’s senior gunnery sergeant during the spring of training at Camp Maui, and in the first few days of the battle of Saipan.

On June 18, 1944, Gunny Adams was struck in the left heel by a fragment of shrapnel. He was lucky not to lose the foot; the wound was serious enough to warrant his evacuation to the hospital ship USS Bountiful. Although he would eventually recover at a succession of naval hospitals from Aiea Heights to Memphis, Adams’ days of combat were over. By January 1945, he was back at Parris Island at his familiar rifle range. For the rest of the war, and until his eventual discharge in September 1951, Adams taught young marines the basics of handling a rifle.

William Adams retired to California, and died in Contra Costa in 1981. He is buried in Oakmont Memorial Park.

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