Class 43-D-SE 4/29/1943 2nd Lt. 0801160 Greenville, SC
August 10, 1920 – July 8, 2013
Unit: 302nd Fighter Squadron,332nd Fighter Group
Awards: Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf clusters, Congressional Gold Medal
Pilot roster listing
Born in Greenville, S.C., Paul Adams dreamed of being a pilot since childhood. This dream was made possible because in 1940, the U.S. War Department asked the training unit to establish an experimental program to prove that blacks could become good pilots and flight instructors.
As a cadet in 1942, Paul Adams began fighter pilot training, and he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1943, class 43-D, assigned to fly the P-40 Warthog in the 332nd fighter group. Upon arrival to Italy with the 332nd Fighter Group, 2LT Adams was reassigned to fly the P-39 Belaire Cobra to patrol the Naples Harbor.
In 1945, CPT Adams returned to the U.S. and was discharged from the Army Air Corps. In 1946, Mr. Adams married Alda Thompson, and thus reentered the Army as 1st Lt Adams to attend Supply School. After assignments to Lockborne AFB in Columbus, Ohio, as the supply officer, and Travis AFB as the Fleet Service Officer, the Army Air Corps became the U.S. Air Force, and racial integration began.
Other assignments included: Hickam field AFB in Honolulu, HI, in Headquarters Pacific Air Division; instructor at Howard University, Washington, DC; Denver, CO for Photo Interpretation School; Westover, MA, with dual responsibilities as Supply and Intelligence Officer; Goose Bay, Newfoundland as an Intelligence Officer; and finally as Deputy Base Commander at Lincoln, NE.
After three children, Deloris, Gloria, and Michael, and obtaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, and 20 years of service, LTC Paul Adams retired in December 1963. During his service, LTC Adams served in nine major campaigns and received the Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
Upon his retirement from the Air Force, Adams began his teaching career at Lincoln High in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was a former leader of the Lincoln NAACP and one of three black teachers in Lincoln Public Schools when he started teaching in 1964. He taught industrial arts, and would also teach the school system’s first Black history class at Lincoln High until 1982, when he retired from school but not from teaching and serving his community. In 2008 the city of Lincoln honored his contributions by naming a newly built elementary school for him. (The Adams Elementary School’s mascot is the “Aviators,” of course.)
In 2007, Mr. Adams was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal along with all other Tuskegee Airmen for their service during World War II.
Lt. Col. Adams had a tremendous impact on our country, state, and city. Adams and the other Tuskegee Airmen, though segregated from the “white” units, served their country faithfully, flying many successful missions. He is an example to all of us and is very deserving of having a school named after him.
The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.