By Allie Burks
Major General Christopher Adams Jr. of the United States Air Force shared his story with students of Texas A&M University-Commerce to kick off the East Texas War and Memory Lecture Series on September 18.
Interns of the East Texas War and Memory Project hosted a reception to honor the two-star general and to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the United States Air Force before the program began.
“It was once asked why veterans are only honored once they die,” said intern Nick Sprenger before the Major General received a certificate of appreciation from ETWMP. “The East Texas War and Memory Lecture Series honors the men and women who served our country while they are still alive…to show our appreciation for their sacrifice and dedication.”
Following the reception, students gathered in conference room C of the Rayburn Student Center for an hour-long question and answer session with Adams, a distinguished alumnus of A&M-Commerce.
Adams went into the Air Force on August 11, 1952 upon graduation from then-East Texas State Teachers College as a member of the Air Force ROTC program. He wore his uniform for the event to honor the veterans who have worn the uniform throughout the years.
He discussed his 31-year career starting from his time at ETSTC, when he would run by Dr. Gee’s house, the President of the university at the time, in the mornings for the ROTC program singing a cadence they made up for him. After receiving his commission he went into the Strategic Air Command, the strategic nuclear force that was the largest strategic deterrent force during the Cold War. He recalled his time flying B52’s in the Cuban Missile Crisis where he, along with fifty-nine other pilots, circled the Soviet Union with bomb payloads in an effort to persuade Nikita Khrushchev to pull out of Cuba. He spoke of his time overseas while stationed in Korat, Thailand where he flew to combat zones such as Laos and Vietnam after bombings to collect casualties.
He retired from the service on February 1, 1983 to work as Associate Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and later became a chief executive for the Andrew Corporation. He is a recipient of a U.S. Distinguished Service Medal, DAR National Medal of Honor (2011), and many Air Medals. He has authored ten novels, mostly dealing the Cold War era.
When the questions were opened to the students, the Major General gave advice on how to be successful, the current state of the government, and the importance of war and memory.
“I think the most important thing is to be proud of where you came from and take that pride with you,” Adams said. “To build a legacy it is important to remember that people have served and died, been prisoners of war, sacrificed, and spent their life for service to this country.”