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John Adams

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ADAMS, John COLONEL JOHN A. ADAMS Aviator and Vintner Dec. 22, 1919 - Nov. 4, 2009 Colonel Adams was born in Norcross, Georgia, where he attended high school. He graduated from preparatory school at Monroe A&M, Monroe, Georgia. Colonel Adams played baseball on the Norcross City Baseball Team and later played semi-pro baseball with several teams in the Atlanta area. In 1938, he signed a professional baseball contract to pitch for the Atlanta Crackers in the Southern League, throwing his first no-hit no-run perfect game in July 1939. He also spent time playing for the Waycross, Georgia and Ocala, Florida teams. After Pearl Harbor and the beginning of World War II, Colonel Adams entered the Army Air Corps and completed pilot training. He remained in the Air Force as a pilot for thirty-one years. One of the last surviving three-war veterans in Georgia, his service continued through World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Other postings included assignments in Turkey, North Africa, Okinawa, Nicaragua, Beirut, Panama and Japan. For more than fifteen years, Colonel Adams performed duty as Flight Instructor, Test Pilot, and Instrument Check Pilot on C-47 and B-25 aircraft. He was a pilot and Aircraft Commander on B-17 and B-29 aircraft and was one of the early military pilots to fly jet aircraft. In 1957, as pilot and Aircraft Commander of a B-29, Colonel Adams was a member of the Arctic Aerial Expeditionary Force, which accomplished the first aerial mapping of the arctic areas from Southern Alaska to the North Pole. For this duty, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by President Eisenhower. During his career, Colonel Adams flew twenty types of aircraft from bi-wing to jet aircraft. In 1971, while acting as Director of Operations for Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Vietnam, Colonel Adams flew 224 combat missions. His aircraft was shot down on his 204th mission and he crash-landed his airplane. He was rescued and returned to fly additional combat missions before returning to the United States. His decorations for this service include the Bronze Star with Valor, a second Meritorious Service Medal, several Air Medals and the Vietnam Honor Medal. Colonel Adams served three years as Chief of the United States Air Force Mission to Nicaragua. During this period, he supervised the reorganization and upgrade of the Nicaraguan Air Force. For this action, the President of Nicaragua presented him with the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award presented to a non-citizen of Nicaragua. In 1968, Colonel Adams was participating in a military exercise onboard a Nicaraguan Naval Ship that sunk in the South Atlantic. He was thrown overboard without a life preserver and remained in the water for hours until a rescue ship picked him up. Colonel Adams was a graduate of the United States Air Force Command and General Staff College, Squadron Officers School, Special Air Warfare Counterinsurgency School, the Military Assistance Institute, and the Joint Service Air Ground Operations School of Languages in Spanish. He was also a graduate of the Air Force Tropic Survival School, Arctic Survival School, and Jungle Survival School. In addition, Colonel Adams was a graduate of the U.S. State Department Foreign Service Institute, the Joint Service Inspector General School, and the Joint Service Uniformed Code of Military Justice School. Colonel Adams was a student of Texas A&M University, Georgia Tech, Wofford College, University of Alabama, Georgia Military Academy, and Tokyo University. He was a Certified Attorney under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice and served as a defense lawyer, prosecutor, and judge of the court. Colonel Adams retired from the United States Air Force in 1973. Since retiring, he served eight years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Gwinnett County Library System and eight years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Lake Lanier Regional Library System. He served three years as a member of the Senior Advisory Board to the Gwinnett County Public Superintendent. In 1987, he received the Annual Public Service Award, presented by the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce. Colonel Adams was further active as a founder of the First Security National Bank; a Director and past President of the Norcross Lions Club; a member of the Board of Trustees of the Norcross Woman's Club; a teacher of the Senior Bible Class at Norcross First Baptist Church since 1987; President of the Pinckneyville Community Association; and a founding Director, Treasurer and Secretary of the Norcross Old Timers Baseball Association. Colonel Adams was a Director of the Gwinnett County Unit of the since 1975, including three terms as Co-President and three terms as Co-Chairman of the Board with his late wife, Martha. In addition to his civic service, his passion over the last forty years was the development of one of the largest private vineyards in Georgia, growing some seventeen varieties of Muscadine grapes. Colonel Adams was preceded in death on July 1, 2008 by his wonderful wife of sixty-three years, Martha Miller. Colonel Adams is survived by two sons, Ronald S. Adams and John A. Adams, Jr. and wife Sherry; four grandchildren, John A. Adams III, Ronald "RJ" S. Adams, Jr. and wife Michelle, Carrie Adams Sellers and husband Cory, and Calvin John Green; and one great-grandchild, Ronald "Buddy" S. Adams III. The funeral service will be held Saturday, November 7th, at 1:00 p.m. at Norcross First Baptist Church. Interment will follow at H.G. Wright Cemetery in Norcross. The family will receive friends Friday, November 6th, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to: , 6500 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Ste 260, Duluth, GA 30097, 770-814-0123, in memory of Colonel John A. Adams. Online condolences may be expressed at www.crowellbrothers. com. Arrangements by Crowell Brothers Peachtree Chapel Funeral Home, 5051 Peachtree Ind. Blvd., Norcross, GA 30092, (770) 448-5757.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Nov. 5, 2009
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