|Bill Adams Company G, 1st Infantry Division
The sign at the troop depot said it all when Bill Adams arrived in France six months after D-Day.
''Front 200 yards ahead. Dismount and start fighting.''
For most of the next year until the war's end, fighting was what he did.
Mr. Adams, then Pfc. Adams, served with Company G of the 1st Infantry Division's 16th Infantry Regiment. He saw constant combat during his unit's push toward the German-Czechoslovakian border. As a scout whose job was to patrol ahead of his regiment, he was often the first man fired on.
He still can vividly recall one incident.
While on a patrol, he and 15 others stumbled across about 200 German soldiers. The enemy unit was about 150 feet below and equipped with a sort of large self-propelled gun and two motorcycles.
|Mr. Adams and his squad were ordered to fire on the Germans, run to ground several feet above, dig foxholes and pray a mortar attack by American forces would hit its intended target.
''As long as you're in a firefight where you're active, it's not bad,'' Mr. Adams said. ''It's when you're in that hole and you can't do anything that it gets rough.''
The aim was true, and most of the Germans were killed. Those who survived retreated.
Later, Mr. Adams was told that his comrades firing the shells cried out of fear that they would kill their friends.
For his efforts during the war Mr. Adams earned two Bronze Stars. Those hang on the wall beside his M-1 rifle, and are his only keepsakes from the war.
After returning home, Mr. Adams earned a degree in chemistry from Indiana University. He moved to North Augusta in 1954 and retired from Savannah River Site in 1984.
''When we came out we knew what we wanted to do,'' Mr. Adams said about how he felt when he was discharged. ''It matured you. It gave you a sense of purpose with what you wanted to do with your life.
''The time really has passed quickly.''