Soldiers gather to honor leader killed in Afghanistan
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 27, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany — When Sgt. 1st Class Danial R. Adams fell to enemy fire Sept. 13 in eastern Afghanistan, he was leading the same way he always did, from the front.
“He led from the front, time and time again, through enemy fire so his boys didn’t have to,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Hughes during a memorial service Tuesday.
Members of 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) gathered at Panzer Kaserne Chapel in Böblingen to mourn of one of their own.
Adams, 35, of Portland, Ore., died in an intense firefight when insurgents assaulted his unit with mortar, machine-gun and small-arms fire while the unit was on patrol in Wardak province.
Adams, who was posthumously promoted to master sergeant, was recalled as a natural leader with an easygoing nature. He was called a “quiet professional” who led by example.
The slightly built soldier, known as “Slim” to his comrades, was usually the last guy to leave the office when in garrison, going out of his way to make sure no one was stuck behind to work alone, soldiers said. It was no different on the battlefield.
“He’s everything that embodies a Special Forces soldier,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Steadman, who read recollections from Adams’ team members in Afghanistan.
“His appearance was deceiving,” Steadman continued. “We never fought beside a more fearsome warrior. He had the heart of a lion. He pushed forward when other men would have cowered. ‘Slim’ was the standard.”
Adams joined the Army in 1995 as an infantryman, serving as a team and squad leader while stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska. His first Special Forces assignment was as a senior medical sergeant with the 3rd Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, N.C.
As he worked his way up the ranks, Adams emerged as a talented leader and gifted athlete, winning unit iron man contests along the way, said Lt. Col. Isaac Peltier, commander of the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group.
“He was renowned for his physical fitness,” Peltier said. “His reputation as a warrior and outstanding medic preceded him.”
He also had the ability to smile and make a joke “even as everything went to hell,” Hughes said.
During downtime on his most recent tour in Afghanistan, Adams had started talking about how this could be his last combat tour. A veteran of five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he had hopes of making up for lost time with his wife Melany; his sons, Jeffrey and John; and his daughter, Skye.
“When we asked him why, he’d get that big grin on his face and say, ‘Man, because Melany would beat me if I try to go again,’ ” said Steadman.
Adams was serving as team sergeant, a key position within the Green Berets, when his unit came under fire earlier this month. Outmanned and outgunned, Adams took the lead in the fight, dying in the process, according to members of the unit.
“An A-Team is the heart of the Special Forces and the team sergeant is the heart of an A-Team,” Peltier said. “The loss of Master Sergeant Dan Adams strikes at the heart of our force.”
Soldiers said they would honor Adams’ memory by carrying on with the mission.
“Dan, your boys fought like lions that day,” Hughes said. “They refused to leave your side.”
A soldier pays final respects to Sgt. 1st Class Danial "Slim" Adams, who was posthumously promoted to master sergeant. Adams, 35, of Portland, Ore., and based out of Stuttgart, Germany, died Sept. 13 of wounds suffered during a firefight with insurgents while on patrol in Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan. A memorial for him was held Tuesday at Panzer Kaserne Chapel in Böblingen.
DAVID ROGERS/STARS AND STRIPES