Thomas Dewey Adams

By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian

Thomas Dewey “Tom” Adams, Jr. was born in the city of Radford, VA.  He was the eldest of three boys born to a painter in a viscose mill and housewife.  Tom’s family eventually moved to Roanoke, VA.  He was the oldest grandson of a very large family.  When he was young, he started playing with airplanes, including building models.  Around the age of 12, he would ride his bike to the local airport to see the planes.  He was eventually picked up by the chief mechanic and instructor at the airport and was taught to fly at the age of 17.  He could actually fly before he learned to drive.

After finishing high school, Tom worked as a civilian for the Navy for a couple of years.  At the age of 20, he decided to join the Army Air Corps.  He was sent to Keesler Field in Biloxi, MS to attend aircraft and engine tech school.  He was supposed to go to enlisted flight school but could not due to poor eyesight.  Instead, they kept Tom as an aircraft electrical systems instructor and sent him to Gulfport Army Air Base.  The school where he taught specialized in cargo aircraft like the C-47 and C-54.  Staying at this school, he became an area supervisor and then got promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.  While stationed on the Gulf Coast, he met a “pretty girl” named Esther from DeLisle, MS.  They married in Gulfport in 1943.  Meanwhile, he had been selected for a B-29 combat crew as a flight engineer.  After a year of training, his crew joined the 19th Bombardment Group and was sent to Guam.  His crew flew 26 bombing missions against Japan in 1945.  Next, Tom was promoted to flight officer. 

After WWII, Tom had to reenlist because his status as flight officer was only temporary.  He reenlisted as a master sergeant and went to fly with the Manhattan Project in Albuquerque.  His next transfer was to a bomb group that flew training missions out of Roswell, NM.  In 1947, Keesler AFB had lost most of its high school and college instructors and supervisors.  Since Keesler had Tom’s name on file, they requested that he become an electrical branch supervisor.  His next deployment was to Shepherd, TX where he worked as an Air Mechanic Technician.  While stationed in Albuquerque, Tom and Esther had their first daughter, Jeanne Gabrielle.  After a stint in Wichita Falls, he transferred to Clark Field in the Philippines to fly on a B-29.  However the Korean War broke out so he was assigned to a fighter squadron and sent to Korea as a maintenance superintendent.  After a year in Korea, he was transferred back to the Philippines and promoted to warrant officer.  After his time was up in the Philippines, he was sent to an air defense command and began as a jet fighter squadron maintenance officer.  This is where Tom found his niche.  After serving about ten years with the air defense command, he and his wife had a son, Thomas Dewey III.  The family ended up in Newfoundland where they spent three years and had their youngest child, Tina Marie.

Tom and his family came to Louisiana in 1960 and he started back in tactical air command as maintenance control officer for the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing.  He worked here for six years and decided to retire from the military.  He and his family relocated to Pass Christian where he worked for a NASA contractor at Stennis Space Center.  He worked at Stennis for about 20 years and decided to retire altogether.

Enjoying his retirement, Tom and Esther spent a lot of time fishing, travelling, and being involved with the Pass Christian Carnival Association.  He and his family also became involved with a group that did ballroom dancing.  This group spent time together performing at dances and travelling.

In 2004, Tom and his family lost Tina Marie at the young age of 45.  His son had moved off to work as an engineer with Gulf Stream.  His oldest daughter also moved away to open an amateur theater group and academy.  Sadly, his wife became ill.  Giving up his hobbies, he stayed close to home doing house work and other tasks so that he could take care of his wife.  Esther passed away in 2010.  About a year later, he was at Biloxi National Cemetery putting flowers on her grave and saw a lady, Kathy, at the cemetery.  Kathy became his friend, companion, and helper.  Enjoying each other’s company, Tom and Kathy now travel frequently.

Tom had always known about AFRH-G since he lived a good bit of his life on the Gulf Coast.  A couple of years ago, he got his room at the home but health reasons kept him from moving in.  Last December, he finally moved in.  Living at the home, Tom enjoys working in the wood shop.  One of the reason he appreciates the home is that he no longer has to purchase food or take care of a house.  AFRH-G had the pleasure of having Tom reign as the home’s 2016 King of the Mardi Gras parade and ball.  An appointment he gladly accepted due to his love for Mardi Gras.  As a matter of fact, Tom said he would “gladly do it again next year!”