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Interview with Donald Adam [3/31/2012]

Jared Stuard:

Okay. Good morning.

Donald Adam:

Good morning.

Jared Stuard:

Today's date is 31 March --

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

-- 2012. My name is Captain Jared Stuard. I'm conducting an oral history interview at the Air Force Village I in San Antonio, Texas. The court reporter today is Ms. Kay Counseller. Our veteran this morning is Mr. Donald Adam. His date of birth is 5 July 1927 and he served in the United States Air Force from approximately October of 1945 into the 1970s. Okay. Mr. Adam, good morning.

Donald Adam:

Good morning. Actually, I enlisted in -- when I was in high school in 1944 as a junior but I -- I was formally enlisted and they called me on my 18th birthday which was '45.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. Active duty.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. Yes, sir. We're going to go --

Donald Adam:

And when they called me, I had a pilot's license.

Jared Stuard:

We're going to go -- I want to hear about how you got that, eventually. But so -- so as the first question, can you just state your name and your address for the record?

Donald Adam:

Okay. It's Donald Adolph Adam. 4917 Ravenswood Drive, Apartment 800, San Antonio, Texas.

Jared Stuard:

That's -- I think that's good.

Donald Adam:

You want the formal address number? You need -- you need that?

Jared Stuard:

What is that there, the --

Donald Adam:

4917 Ravenswood Drive.

Jared Stuard:

All right.

Donald Adam:

That's this building. Apartment 800.

Jared Stuard:

All right. Zip code 782 --

Donald Adam:

78227. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

-- 78227. Got it.

Donald Adam:

Okay. You got that?

Jared Stuard:

Yes, sir. Okay. So -- so start from the beginning. Where were you born, sir?

Donald Adam:

I was born in a town of Waukesha, Wisconsin. It's an Indian name.

Jared Stuard:

And tell us a little bit about that. Who were your parents? What did they do? What were their names?

Donald Adam:

I came from a beer-making family. My -- my mother was Frieda Hois, daughter of Adolph Hois, who was a brewmaster. And my father was Albert Adam, one of six sons of Anton Adam's family in New Ulm, Minnesota. And the brewmaster was moving across the country and he moved to -- from Wyoming to New Ulm, Minnesota because it was a famous German-settled town by one of my forefathers in the time of the civil war. And he came to that brewery. And he, of course, being a super German brewmaster, he had his own formula. And then he was invited to the brewmaster's annual convention which takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and he went there and he liked what he saw. So he took my father with him, because my father had married his daughter. And then he liked what he saw and he told him to -- "You call her and bring her down here." And she was pregnant with me and she came down and they got a house and moved in. And he ran the brewery there until he retired, and did a superior job. My father worked there for him and we, as children, worked there also as children because in -- it's a German custom that you do five years of apprenticeship. So the grandfather and the father were going to groom us to become future brewmasters. So as we were growing up we did things other than mowing lawns and shoveling sidewalks. We did petty jobs in the brewery.

Jared Stuard:

What -- what kind of work do you do as a brewmaster apprentice?

Donald Adam:

As a -- well, as a brewmaster you actually brew the beer in a copper kettle.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

But the title of the -- of the man, he now physically no longer puts the ingredients in as he's cooking it in the copper kettle, he oversees it to make sure that the -- because the brewery was -- the -- the kettle was 250 barrels so he makes sure that it's -- it's proper because all of these materials don't want to be wasted. So we -- my brother and I literally grew up in the brewery doing odd jobs because they were grooming us to become future brewmasters. And to become a brewmaster, that's one of the last old German occupations that's honored here in the United States that you have to have a five-year apprenticeship before you take your exam to become a brewmaster. All German jobs you have to do a five-year apprenticeship before you're -- you get the title of being a chief in your job.

Jared Stuard:

What was the name of the beer?

Donald Adam:

The name of the beer was Fox Head.

Jared Stuard:

Fox Head.

Donald Adam:

Fox Head.

Jared Stuard:

Is that -- is that still around or --

Donald Adam:

No, it closed down. It was Fox Head.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And then my grandfather added another name to it called the Fox Head 400. And it was a very good beer, a very popular beer. And it improved the size of the brewery and the shipments and, of course, the salaries went up because he was successful with it. And my brother was groomed to take over and I was groomed to -- to take over also. But then I had an airplane ride and the brewery flew out the window. And I -- I begged my mother to sign a paper that I could take flying lessons because my father was a rugged old German who did not have a -- a high school education and he had only one answer for us and it was always no. And if I asked him if I could take flying lessons it was an automatic no.

Jared Stuard:

Well, what --

Donald Adam:

So I -- I hounded her until she became almost crazy and she signed it so I could take lessons below the age of 18. But she said, "Be sure that nothing happens to you because if it does you know what he's going to do to me for letting you fly." So I was very careful. And I did get a pilot's license.

Jared Stuard:

Oh.

Donald Adam:

And when I went into the service and I was called, because I volunteered when I was in high school in my junior year and they accepted me, was during World War II. And there was a big demand for pilots in 1944 because we had a big pilot shortage because the Germans were beating us up over there in the air. So they were coming to the schools and the colleges encouraging people to become pilots. And I joined that group and I got a ride and I -- I learned to fly and I paid for it with all of the money that I made doing after school jobs without my father knowing it. And I got the -- when I came into the service I already had a pilot's license.

Jared Stuard:

Well, let me take you through each of those and kind of unpack each of those a little bit.

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

So at what age -- it was below 18. What age did -- what got you interested in flying and what age was that? What sparked your interest?

Donald Adam:

I was a junior in high school. And because there was this demand for pilots, the Army had sent to our home town -- there was a Carroll College, it's now a university -- they came to Carroll College to recruit people for flying duty in the Army Air Corps. And they were looking, of course especially at athletes who were very healthy. So when they came there to induce them even more than just talking about it, they made an arrangement with the local county airport, which had training Piper Cubs, that they would have that Piper Cub training company use their instructor pilots to give certain high school students a ride in the back seat that had never had a ride in an airplane before.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

I wasn't eligible, I was a junior, but I went along with my brother. And he said, "You can't come because you're a junior." I went anyway. Persistence. So then I was behind him and it was his turn. They took him and they put him in the back seat and they gave him a ride. And when they gave him a ride he made a -- because he was very athletic, he made a fast turn and my brother threw up. And, of course, it smelled up the airplane. So when he landed he had to clean that up. And then after he cleaned it up then he said, "Okay, it's now your turn to fly." And so I went in and I sat in the back seat and he took off. And he said, "Is there anything special that you want?" I said, "Yes. Would you fly over our city?" It was a town of 20,000 feet [as spoken]. In the center of town, five roads came together in the center of the town and, of course, it was nicknamed five points. I said, "Would you fly over five points at a couple hundred feet and dip the wing 90 degrees so I can look down like the movies and see it likes it's a picture taken from an airplane of the center of the city?" So he did that. And I didn't get sick and I looked and I liked it, and I liked the ride. And he gave it a couple of whips and it didn't affect me physically. And I was hooked. So then it wasn't a question of yes or no, but how soon. And I started to fly. And when I was called to service at 18, after -- I had volunteered before and they accepted me, but they waited until I finished school and had my 18th birthday. And when they called me in to service, I was already in possession of a pilot's license.

Jared Stuard:

What kind of plane did you train on for your pilot's license?

Donald Adam:

I took the test in a Piper J3, that test. But then when I got a commercial test I took the test in a larger airplane in Milwaukee because for a commercial license, you know, that goes on to include passenger carrying.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And it was a large -- it was a Stinson. It was a Stinson airplane. And I had to go to Milwaukee because we didn't have a Stinson at our airplane [as spoken]. And he gave me a test ride in a Stinson and an instrument approach, and I passed that.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And I loved to fly and -- very anxious. And then, of course, I -- I had -- was still on the list to be called. And the requisites were you had to have at least two years of college. So I was on their list. And at two years of college they called me to come in and I came in. And then again, I was different from most everybody else. There was a notice on my coming in that there were to be no motorcycles because the pilots in the class ahead of me, one graduated -- the class graduated at Randolph and a certain number went out to Phoenix to fly the first jets, the F80. And on the way out there, two of the pilots were riding a motorcycle from here to El Paso and it was at night and they hit a cow and they were killed. So the Air Force said -- Army Air Corps said, "There will be no more riding of motorcycles during pilot training."

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

Because they spend all that money on you, you learn how to do telegraphs, teletype --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- and six months of weather and all of that costly instruction, including flights in AT6s. They don't want you to go out and bust your rear end on a motorcycle.

Jared Stuard:

So --

Donald Adam:

So I was not supposed to ride a motorcycle. However, when they called me, I rode my motorcycle from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Waco, Texas in two days. And --

Jared Stuard:

Two days?

Donald Adam:

-- I made it -- I made it okay. But because that voltage regulator was going like this [indicating] all the time, between someplace in Missouri and the Texas border, my light for the electric voltage regulator came on which meant that the voltage regulator was going like this [indicating] for -- for two days, two long days. And it burned out but, fortunately, I was at that first city at the Texas border and when I -- but I was running on the battery to charge the -- the spark plugs. So there, fortunately, was a Harley Davidson repair shop. And I pulled in there and within a few minutes he put in a new voltage regulator and for five bucks I was on my way. And I rode the motorcycle down to Waco, Texas, and that was a very long ride. And I rode it safely. And because I wasn't supposed to ride one, I went to a garage in town, I spent a night in a hotel and I parked it. I said, "Can I park it here for $5 a month?" Said, "Yes." So I wasn't supposed to ride it. If -- if I rode it, I would have been kicked out but they -- they didn't catch me. But I was very careful with it. I didn't ride it around so people could see me, recognize me and report me. If they reported me I would have been out of training. But I made it.

Jared Stuard:

So -- so tell us a little bit about -- I think people would be curious about the training that the Army Air Corps had for the --

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

-- you know, the first generation of pilots. So they called you up. And you came --

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

-- to Randolph? Is -- is that where --

Donald Adam:

No, I went to Waco.

Jared Stuard:

Waco. So the --

Donald Adam:

Yes. I went to Waco.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

They were training at Randolph and Waco, and they were training at another base in Oklahoma for multi-engine pilots.

Jared Stuard:

How -- how did they train you? What -- what -- what planes and --

Donald Adam:

On the AT6.

Jared Stuard:

-- what was the process? Okay.

Donald Adam:

The AT6.

Jared Stuard:

And was there like a -- was there the equivalent of a boot camp process or basic military training?

Donald Adam:

That -- that -- that A1 Skyraider is an AT6. That's -- that's a similar airplane.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

And how -- how did they do the training? Is it -- how long does it take?

Donald Adam:

That training took --

Jared Stuard:

Take us through that process.

Donald Adam:

-- that training took -- good question. That training took eight months and then your advanced training took four months, because in advanced training -- and again, that was a sham. I was in the sham class of the history. The worst class to graduate in the history of U.S. aviation history. We had the most fatalities, the most incidents, the most accidents, the most dropouts. It was one of those things. But it was the fault of the training corps command. They insisted when they got together, the bosses, on discipline. Discipline. And they went overboard with the discipline. Because in this eight months at Waco we were not allowed the first months to look out the window. That was to let lights in. You could not talk on the telephone. You could not talk in the shower. You could not read a newspaper. When you ate, you had to eat square meals. And what they were trying to do was get the guys out of there that didn't want to go through that discipline.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

Because -- and the dropout rate was very, very heavy. And you had to have at least a -- well, you had to have four years of a college education or two. I had two, but then I had previous service. But that was the worst class in aviation history with the most fatalities, the most accidents, the most incidents. And I graduated in the top percentile of the class.

Jared Stuard:

So did any of that bother you at all? Was that --

Donald Adam:

No.

Jared Stuard:

Did you handle the discipline well?

Donald Adam:

No. Because I wanted so it bad that nothing was going to deter me. And guys were killed in front of me and while I was in the air and I didn't have any serious incidents, but I was blessed. My civilian training was a help because -- but, of course, these AT6s were more complex and they were heavier. But then again, we had such a high accident -- accident rate, this came back to haunt us, too, and that was also a mistake. And that's good for history. Because I took my advanced training at Las Vegas and it was in the P51. And they knew about us with an accident rate and a dropout rate and so they were very careful. And we had accident rates and incident rates there and they still couldn't understand why. What was causing this to this class? So they brought in all the commanders of the training command so they could observe our training and they went to every training base. And this was very interesting. So at the end of the runway we had what we called a -- a little house there with a glass on it, a mobile control, and we had a pilot in there, an instructor pilot. So he was at the end of the runway. He could observe, first of all, that you did put the gear down; second of all, that you weren't too high or too low; third of all, he had the airplane book. If you had an emergency he could immediately go to the book and help you with the corrective active [as spoken] on the emergency. So they had this at the end of the runway. So at -- near that base they put up a little line of seats, like a little --

Jared Stuard:

Bleachers or --

Donald Adam:

What is it?

Jared Stuard:

Bleachers?

Donald Adam:

Bleacher. Yeah, small bleacher. And they -- they had there the -- the heads of all of the training command bases so they could watch our landings at Las Vegas in the P51. And we did have accidents and fatalities. And so they were watching. And this guy was coming in and he got oil on the wind screen. And, of course, with side windows out here with peripheral vision, you could at least get some depth perception. So he was making his approach okay and the guy was talking to him. He said, "Okay, you're -- you're okay, you're high, now you're a little bit low." He said, "Put the power on and bring it up to the field. You're low, put the power on." And the guy couldn't see and he went like this [indicating] and he crashed right in front of all of those -- those commanders in front of them. So they came to see the program and here this guy crashes and kills himself right in front of them.

Jared Stuard:

Wow.

Donald Adam:

So we were a snake bitten class.

Jared Stuard:

What --

Donald Adam:

But those things happen.

Jared Stuard:

How did you get -- you know, today, in the Air Force, you go through an undergraduate pilot training and then -- and then they decide whether you're going to go to fighters or cargo planes. How was -- is that how it worked back then or how -- how did you get to Las Vegas? How did you get to the P51?

Donald Adam:

Well, I volunteered for fighters. And I qualified in the AT6 because when I made my first landing they could see that I was flying real well because I flew light airplanes before and I had a pilot's license.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So this was a bigger airplane. So when the guy thought I was ready to solo -- and it would be landing at an auxilliary base. So he got out when he thought I -- well, I made a couple of landings with him in the back seat watching. And he thought, "Well, he's -- he's got the speed okay, he's got the nose up okay." Because when you pull the nose up you can't see in front of you. So he said -- so now he would get out and he would stand by the runway and watch my landing. So he said, "Okay, now, be careful." I said, "I'll be careful." So I made a round [indicating] nice landing, so I passed that one. But then again, there -- we were the worst class in aviation history, and that continued. Because they made a -- a real mistake out there at Las Vegas. Because we were having these accidents and incident rates, they did not let us practice any instrument approaches with the airplane. And the P51, that was a -- a pretty tricky thing because that was a -- a fast airplane and with the -- the throttle if you would move the throttle up like that, it had so much torque the wing would go down 90 degrees. So they didn't let us practice making instrument landings because you have to be very precise, you're following the instruments. You can peek and see the runway, but they didn't let us practice that. That's very important. Keep that up here. So then the next thing was because we had the accident rate and the incident rates they wouldn't let us fly at night. And that's one of the best places to fly in the United States because Las Vegas is one great big light bulb down there.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

You can't miss it. The rest is all black, it's dessert and the airfield is just north of town.

Jared Stuard:

Is it -- was that -- is that the current Nellis Air Force Base?

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

What was it called back then, was it still Nellis?

Donald Adam:

Las Vegas. Las Vegas Air Base.

Jared Stuard:

Las -- Las Vegas Air Base? Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. Yeah. Now they changed it to Nellis.

Jared Stuard:

All right.

Donald Adam:

So they wouldn't let us fly at flight because of the accident rate and the incident rate. Now, that's very important that I tell you that because after we graduated we were all lined up in our classroom by alphabet. And Adam, first seat. So we got to make a choice and there were nine selections for Germany. And I had been to Germany before as an enlisted man at the end of the war. Germany. So I went to Germany. And we graduated at the end of September in '49 and, of course, we were given a 30-day leave, because we hadn't had any leave, to get things in order. And then I bought a new car. And there was a small accident in -- on the way to the -- to the base to check it out to send it to Europe. A guy hit me at an intersection in Baltimore. I had my mother and father with me. I wanted to show them the brewery. My father was a brewmaster. So it was at an intersection downtown. It was a small dent, but I had to have it fixed. Well, the military said, "You are supposed to get on the boat and go over there. You're due over there in December. But we're not going to assign an officer to take your car to a garage and wait for it to have it repaired, get it repaired, test it, drive it up to New York, drive it to the port, check it in in your name and sign for it. That's too much work involving somebody else. So you stay here until the car is finished and you take it up and sign it like you are supposed to." And I did that, and that took all of three weeks. Well, I just didn't sit there and wait around. I went to airfields and told them I'd just graduated from flying school and could I fly as a co-pilot to log some time just to be active instead of sitting there waiting for the car. And they let me fly co-pilot, and even went to Washington D.C. made a landing there in the co-pilot seat. So I was logging flying time using the time. The time the car ready, it went over and that was taken care of.

Jared Stuard:

I don't want to -- I realize I may have skipped a very important part of -- of your history and that's when you were over in Germany and when you were enlisted.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

But that was before all of this; is that right?

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

So how did you -- let's go back and -- and just talk about that piece of history.

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

How you enlisted and how you got to Germany.

Donald Adam:

Well, first of all, I enlisted in high school for the Army Air Corps. And then when they called me in I had a pilot's license and I showed it to them. Still got it. So they had in mind, "He's -- if he's physically able he's qualified for a pilot training." Went in as pilot training. But the pilot training was closed then because the war ended and pilots were coming back from the Japanese theater and from Europe so they weren't training any for about a year or two because there was a big surplus of newly-trained pilots that got their training at the end of the war.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So the pilot training was delayed. But I -- again, I was able to get in 18 months of college, which was on the record as two years. I had two years in number. And they -- that was acceptable. And I immediately went in, immediately went in to -- rode my motorcycle and was right back in to the pilot training field.

Jared Stuard:

Had you gone to Germany before this?

Donald Adam:

Yes, I went there as an enlisted man.

Jared Stuard:

Take us through that, when you enlisted and when you went to Germany.

Donald Adam:

Okay. I enlisted and I went through basic training and then they didn't know what to do with me. And they -- they had me hang around the bases for a while and I was doing -- I was a private and I was doing a -- private duties, picking up cigarette butts and carrying stuff from orderly rooms.

Jared Stuard:

What base were you at?

Donald Adam:

Pardon?

Jared Stuard:

What -- where were you?

Donald Adam:

Oh, my goodness. I started at Keesler Field and then I went to Chanute Field. And they didn't know what to do with me there and -- at Chanute. And because I had this pilot thing on my record, after about three months they decided they would send me to a parachute training school. At Chanute Field they had parachute training.

Jared Stuard:

Where -- where was Chanute Field?

Donald Adam:

Pardon?

Jared Stuard:

Where is Chanute Field?

Donald Adam:

Chanute is in southwest corner of Illinois.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. Chanute. Southwest corner of Illinois.

Jared Stuard:

Is Keesler, is that the current-day Keesler Air Force Base?

Donald Adam:

Keesler in is Mississippi.

Jared Stuard:

Mississippi. Okay. Absolutely. Okay.

Donald Adam:

So I went from there to -- to Chanute.

Jared Stuard:

Chanute. Okay.

Donald Adam:

So then at Chanute they didn't send me to parachute school. They kept me around for three months and I was doing orderly duties and all kind of things. Then they assigned me to go to parachute training and I was ready to go to parachute training. Then they changed it and for some reason or another they sent me to Scott Field to become a teletype mechanic.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. Is that Scott Air Force Base today?

Donald Adam:

Scott Air Force Base, yes.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So I went there and I became a teletype mechanic. And I volunteered to go to Germany, of course. And I -- I went to Schweinfurt, and I loved that city. And I even flew an airplane there. There's a guy who had an airplane and he let me fly it, make a landing. But I -- I was there for about six months. And I -- but I spent most of my time at Rhein Mein. They were building Rhein Mein. And that was the first initial building. In fact, the old Zeppelin building was still standing there when I went to Rhein Mein.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

They used to have Zeppelins there at Rhein Mein. And so that was how early I was there. So I worked there for many, many months installing and building teletypes because the teletype was the forerunner of the computer for sending weather information.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Because weather information was supposed to be given every hour. So I spent a long time there. And I was a private, I made PFC later.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

And I was with a sergeant and we had our own truck which had a toolbox in the back and a cabin and we actually could put some cots in it so we had our own motor home. And we were equipped with 30-caliber carbines. So I -- I hunted with him and I had my own -- my own travel trailer. So when I wasn't in the barracks there at -- in Rhein Mein, I would take my truck and go out and hunt there in the woods around Frankfurt, kept busy.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

Oh, and then I had relatives over there. This grandfather who was a brewmaster had a sister who lived in Karlsruhe which is south of in Manheim on the way to -- to the Swiss border.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And I went down and visited her. And I was learning German all along the way. I tried to take it in high school.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

And in 1944 we hated the Germans so much. My brother was a year ahead of me -- I'm sorry, my -- yeah. 1944 was my brother, I was class of '45. My brother got to take two semesters of German in high school and my parents spoke some, my grandfather did. And I was listening and hanging on, knew the -- knew the expressions, you know, the routine. But I wanted it. I wanted it bad. And I wanted flying bad. So I wanted German. And when I signed up for German they didn't give it because that was 1945. They hated the Germans. They stopped teaching it in high school so they dismissed the teacher. I didn't have a chance to learn it. I wanted to learn it. I learned it later and I'm --

Jared Stuard:

Learned it there?

Donald Adam:

-- fluent in it.

Jared Stuard:

So what -- what was your impression of -- when you were enlisted in Germany, what was -- what was the attitude of Germans towards Americans? What was your experience there just interacting with the local population?

Donald Adam:

Well, I -- I knew enough German --

Jared Stuard:

Uh-huh.

Donald Adam:

-- from what I had picked up from the family and what I was picking up being over there. When I was working there in Germany as a teletype mechanic, we were next to the air base and we were a technical building repairing teletype machines and then taking them and delivering them to German -- to different American bases that needed teletype machines. So I worked with two German workers and they lived nearby and they became specialists so I would speak with them. And my German was improving, was improving. So we -- we were talking, you know, about the food and normal things, you know, without a textbook and the nouns and verbs and all that. We could -- we could speak to one another okay. When are you going home? When are you coming here? What are you going to do? All that. I was picking up all that, directions and all that. I was really improving without any formal German -- German class. And I could speak it well enough. And there was black marketing going on over there with people selling cigarettes for -- for Deutsche marks. So I was helping with the numbers there. And I knew streets and signs. My German was really, really improving, but yet no formal German teaching on my record.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

So -- okay. So where are we now?

Jared Stuard:

So you are -- you are building these -- you are building and delivering these teletype machines in Germany.

Donald Adam:

Oh, yeah. Right.

Jared Stuard:

What -- what happened? Did you do anything else in Germany or did you come back and go to school after -- after that assignment?

Donald Adam:

Well, when I -- when I finished the tour, and they did it by time, I think I had 18 months. When I finished it by time they sent me back. And that was another horror story. I made PFC and they sent me to -- I was in a branch of the Air Force which is known as AACS, Air and Airways Communication Service. And, of course, there's the weather center and there's this and this and this. But I was with the Air and Airway Communication Service.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And their headquarters was in Bremen. So they sent me from Schweinfurt to Bremen because at Bremen, which was close to Bremerhaven, Bremen was in touch with Bremerhaven as to when there were openings on ships going back for Army Air Corps people because it was primarily run by the U.S. Army. And then Bremen would send people up to Bremerhaven because there would be room on a ship that was either coming in and there were thousands going back because this was after the war.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

So I went up there and they -- I didn't get to go for more than a month to six weeks because sometimes the ships didn't arrive, sometimes they were overloaded, so they -- and I was a PFC so they were going to send me up there when it was guaranteed I would have a -- a seat on the ship to go back to the states. That took more than 30 days. While I was there a terrible physical thing happened to me. Staying in the transit quarters as a private first class, and it was good building because it was AACS quarters, the -- the laundry and the sanitation wasn't very good.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

And I came down with scabies.

Jared Stuard:

Oh, no.

Donald Adam:

With scabies. And I told them about that and I was a PFC and they said, "There's no treatment here but when you get up to Bremerhaven you'll get treatment because you're going to get a physical before you get on the -- on the ship." Well, I didn't get any treatment there. I didn't know about going to a doctor as a -- a civilian doctor as a PFC so I suffered with the scabies there for 30 days.

Jared Stuard:

Oh, no.

Donald Adam:

Scratching and itching all the time. It was terrible. So then I finally got to go and that was a hardship. The truck broke down halfway to Bremerhaven, had to wait a half a day for another vehicle to stop, pick us up, take us up there. And then when I went there I wanted to report to get -- I said, "I've had the scabies now for a month." And they said, "Oh, you're -- before you get on the ship they are going to give you a physical." I said, "Oh, okay." I was a private first class. "Okay." So I still had scabies. So then I was called to the ship and, sure enough, we had a physical. You're going to appreciate this. We lined up in a great big line. I was a PFC. And we were about to go on board the ship and we had the physical. So we're were standing in a straight line. The sergeant went down and said, "Okay, drop your pants." So he said, "Okay, skin it back and milk it down." He wanted to see if you had VD. That was the physical. So I had scabies on the ship. And when we landed in New York there was a hospital ship there. A hospital training. I thought, "Oh, boy." I now had a month of scabies. So on the hospital training, "No, we don't have any treatment." So they took me all the way to Illinois --

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

-- where I was discharged and I checked in immediately. So I had gone -- and I've got it on a calendar, I kept a -- I kept a book as a -- diary as a GI. I went 35 days without any treatment for scabies.

Jared Stuard:

Oh, gosh.

Donald Adam:

And they treated me so I could be discharged because they wouldn't discharge me with scabies.

Jared Stuard:

Right, right.

Donald Adam:

And usually you were out of there in one day. You came in and all you needed was a physical --

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

-- and to get paid up to the day, how many days you were in that month, a physical, get paid and get out.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

But they kept me there until the scabies were -- were gone, 35 days --

Jared Stuard:

Oh, gosh.

Donald Adam:

-- with no treatment.

Jared Stuard:

So --

Donald Adam:

So I had a very romantic, interesting life.

Jared Stuard:

That's right. So they discharged you. Where did you go to school for -- right after that for 18 months?

Donald Adam:

In my home town we had a college called Carroll College, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

It's now a university. I enrolled immediately and the timing was perfect. I was discharged in January and the semester changes in January, February. I fit right in and, of course, I was on the GI bill. And then I took a maximum load and I took German. That was the first time. I had two semesters of German, and that was a big help. So I took the two semesters and then I took semesters in the summer. Well, I was thinking ahead. I took -- pilot training was still closed. I took two semesters in the summer and I worked part time in the brewery. My grades -- I graduated -- I left Carroll College on -- don't write this down -- academic -- let's see, there's a name for it when you're on academic probation. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Because I took so many classes just to get the hours but I -- I was still above flunking but I was on academic probation. So I -- and it's probably still on my record there. So I -- I did get the two years which was required now by the Air Force, two years or a full year for pilot training, and I did have the 18 months at Carroll. That qualified me.

Jared Stuard:

Uh-huh.

Donald Adam:

So I immediately went down to Chanute Field and enlisted and they accepted me and they accepted my college certificate and I went from Chanute Field orders down to Waco, Texas.

Jared Stuard:

Down to Waco. What year was that, do you remember, thereabouts?

Donald Adam:

Yes. That was '48 -- '47 and '48.

Jared Stuard:

Well, let me ask you because this is just, I think, a very interesting part of history because that's when the Army Air Corps was becoming the Air Force.

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

And what -- can you -- can you tell me kind of what was -- what was the impression of creating a new Air Force at that time? What were your thoughts on it?

Donald Adam:

Well, when you're --

Jared Stuard:

What were the thoughts of other people?

Donald Adam:

When you're at the bottom on the list of officers and -- at rank, you know, you don't -- you don't have anything to say about it, all you can do is react and you have to accept it --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- naturally, change uniforms. But it sounded good like it was going to be an independent thing because the Army is more -- was more strict with all of their procedures than the Air Force was.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

And even in the beginning. The Army is very, very strict. And, of course, I was in the Army as an enlisted man and they're very, very emphatic about it. That thing about me driving that motorcycle down, if anyone had reported me on that motorcycle while I was going to pilot training I would have automatically have been discharged. So I took a hell of a gamble with my future and my life by riding that motorcycle. But I ain't like everybody else. There's something different in me. So I -- I gambled and I made it.

Jared Stuard:

All right.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. So -- so let's go back to --

Donald Adam:

Right.

Jared Stuard:

-- Las Vegas Field.

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

When did you graduate from the advanced pilot training, the P51s?

Donald Adam:

At Las Vegas. Las Vegas Air Base at that time.

Jared Stuard:

Do you remember when -- when you graduated from there?

Donald Adam:

Yes. I graduated from in there September of '49.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. And -- and where did you go from there?

Donald Adam:

That's a -- I -- I have a memory problem. That's on my record.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

I just lost it.

Jared Stuard:

No.

Donald Adam:

It could have been -- let's see, at Las Vegas we got -- oh, yeah. At Las Vegas we sat in our academic room and I was front seat alphabetically and they had the place -- Germany.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Germany. I went right back to Germany.

Jared Stuard:

Where in Germany did you go?

Donald Adam:

I went to a base called Neubiberg which is just south of Munich. And everyone served at First and Fellbrook which is their biggest training base. That's west of Munich. So I went to Neubiberg and flew that P47. Got a picture of it up there.

Jared Stuard:

What was your rank at this time?

Donald Adam:

Second lieutenant.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. And you're flying the P47?

Donald Adam:

P47.

Jared Stuard:

What were you -- what were you doing? What was -- what was the mission?

Donald Adam:

Well, that -- that's a fighter bomber.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum. Okay.

Donald Adam:

That's a fighter bomber. So we were shooting eight machine guns and we were dropping bombs and we were practicing it. Later I went into the nuclear business and I even taught nuclear weapons to six foreign countries.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. So the P47 time in Germany, was there any active -- was it mainly a training exercise?

Donald Adam:

No, no, no. We were -- we were defenders of western Europe.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And actually we were -- we had inferior aircraft because in the east they had better aircraft than we did. They had -- they introduced the first jets over there and we were -- had propeller. It took us one year to get the first jets which were the F84 straight wing, the F84B. So I flew the F84. I got a picture of mine.

Jared Stuard:

Did you have any interactions or run-ins with the Soviets --

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

-- at this time in the air?

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

Can you describe --

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

-- a couple for us?

Donald Adam:

Yes. Yeah. We played games with each other.

Jared Stuard:

Uh-huh.

Donald Adam:

And, of course, we had radars which could see when they were coming over. And a lot of times they would come to the border and stop and turn around. It was game playing. They would come real fast like they were going to overshoot. And they would alert us and we would come up to challenge them.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

And by the time we got there they had turned around and gone back. And then they played games in the winter. In -- in Europe the weather comes from the northwest to the southeast from England across the channel --

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

-- across the continent and snow comes the same way.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So when snow comes our bases cover with snow first and ice, which closes the runway, and their runways are open. And they know that. So when they would watch the weather -- and they had spies over there, too, with bicycles. So when they saw that our runways were snowed over or frozen over, they would take off with their bird, come over the border because they knew there was no way we could come up and challenge them.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

And if they did their radar would say, "Hey, they got somebody in the air," they would turn around and go back. So they were -- we were playing this game back and forth. They would fly over the border and challenge us. And they actually baited a couple of our guys. And we had a Norwegian pilot that came down to check out the airplane because we gave the Norwegians the F84 later.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

And this pilot and the Norwegian was baited by the radio signal, this radio navigational signal. They knew what our -- our navigational signals were and they could transmit the same signal only put more amps on it, make it stronger.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And they baited this pilot with a Norwegian pilot to follow that because there were clouds below and they actually sucked them over the border, flew up and challenged them. And, of course, they could see, they had the markings on the airplane.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

So they gave them rock the wing and he pointed, Follow us down. They had to follow them down. They captured them and they kept the airplanes for one month. And what they did was they -- they heard that we had a new camera gun sight in this new jet airplane so they -- the -- their intelligence information gave the Soviets that and they wanted that -- that gun sight, that airplane. So they trapped two of our airplanes, American pilot, and a Norwegian. They kept them for 30 days, they disassembled that one with the gun sight. And then at 30 days they brought them to the Austrian border, boarded trucks, and notified us, "We're returning the guys and the airplane." Of course, the airplane was torn down --

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

-- but it was in -- it was intact, but it was on a truck. So they exchanged at the Austrian border and they both came back. But they got what they wanted --

Jared Stuard:

That's amazing.

Donald Adam:

-- by baiting us over. So, see, these tricks were going on all the time. You had to be careful.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah. So -- so how long did you fly the P47? Or did you eventually switch to the F84?

Donald Adam:

Yes. Yeah. The 84 came in and replaced the P47.

Jared Stuard:

How long did you fly in the P47?

Donald Adam:

At least -- at least a year. A least a year.

Jared Stuard:

So what was your experience? F84 was your first jet aircraft.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. The -- the -- oh, the first jet air? Well, they did have the T33 there which was two-seated. The 84 was one seat. So with the -- with the two-seated aircraft the first thing they did, naturally, was put you in the back seat so you could feel it and then you could look around while he was flying without having the controls. And then after you had so many flights they'd put you in the front seat with the instructor pilot in the back. And then you would actually fly some actual instrument approaches. And then could you watch the instruments from the back seat --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- because sooner or later he was going to put you in the front seat and you had to do it from the front. He was going watch it from the back in case you screwed up, he could salvage it. So that was your transition training to the F84. There was no two-seated F84 aircraft.

Jared Stuard:

What was your feeling -- what was the -- what was the difference in feel for you as a pilot going from propeller to jet for the first time really in history?

Donald Adam:

Excitement and anticipation because that was a real transfer because here you're -- these -- these didn't go super sonically because they had a straight wing. The other ones did. But so it was a -- a very smooth flying airplane but the fact that it was so fast, your reactions had to be fast and things happened faster. And then we always had a psychological thing in our minds when we were flying at Neubiberg, which is an air base just south of Munich. Sixty-five miles to the south are the row of the Alps mountains. And the Zugspitze is just south and it's 10,000 feet high. So if the -- the clouds are in the mountains and we're only 65 miles way, they were very, very careful. We -- there was embedded in your brain about making turns to the south to watch out for that Zugspitze.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

And we did have one guy, a classmate of mine, who was a -- a guy with a little wild hair and he went down with a plane. And he wanted to fly down in the mountains and see how nice it looked in there, and he did in the airplane. And it was fun because, jeez, you can look right there and see but you can turn around and go back out the way you came in. So he went to the end and, my God, there was no farther. So he had to turn around and go back out. And he was so close he made a real sharp turn, pulled back hard on the stick and he crashed. And there was a shepherd in there who saw the crash and he reported it. And they were able to find him and the airplane but he was dead.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

So there was a big taboo about flying in the mountains. Don't -- don't get in there unless you know what the hell you're doing.

Jared Stuard:

I imagine. So how long did you fly in the F -- well, how -- how much longer were you in Germany in that particular airfield?

Donald Adam:

There was a three-year tour.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. And so for the latter two years you flew the F84 there?

Donald Adam:

Yeah. Yes.

Jared Stuard:

Did you have --

Donald Adam:

Did bombing and gunning with it.

Jared Stuard:

Did you have -- was the mission very similar to the P47 mission in terms of just --

Donald Adam:

Yes, only it was faster. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

-- interdicting the Soviets and stuff?

Donald Adam:

It was faster. Yeah. Then later I got in the nuclear business.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. So what happened right after that three-year stint in Germany? Where did you go from there?

Donald Adam:

I -- I believe I went back to Bergstrom -- Bergstrom Air Base here in Texas.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

What -- what did you do there?

Donald Adam:

I think we had -- we had -- yeah, we had the jets there, too. Yeah. Yeah. We had the jets and then we got improved jets there.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. Were you -- were you an instructor or --

Donald Adam:

Oh, yes, I became an instructor and a flight commander.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

But when you -- well, let's -- let's -- let me make sure I'm taking the right sequence. So when you came back to Texas, what rank were you by that time, first lieutenant or captain?

Donald Adam:

Oh, I'd say first lieutenant, yeah.

Jared Stuard:

And what -- what was your mission there in terms of -- you're flying the jets, but what -- what were you doing in terms of flying the jets?

Donald Adam:

We went -- I graduated in the top of my class.

Jared Stuard:

Yes, sir.

Donald Adam:

And that's noted on your record. I didn't know that until later. But Curtis Lemay was the head of the Strategic Air Command.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

And there are a lot of people who want the top graduates of the pilot classes. I didn't know I was one until years later. But I went in to SAC and I was unhappy about that because I volunteered for Korea and they -- they didn't take me. I went to SAC and I volunteered for Korea. I was a top gun fighter pilot but SAC got me. And that's flying around the country here, nuclear weapons and not nothing overseas.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

So -- but I had no choice in that. So let's see, what was your question? I did the nuclear bomb thing and --

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

-- became very, very involved in that and later became an instructor. I went to the nuclear school out in Arizona and --

Jared Stuard:

How -- how did you get -- so from Texas -- from Texas where did you go from there?

Donald Adam:

Well, I stayed there a long time. We changed and went to the -- to the nuclear mission.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. So did you -- were you still a pilot at that point?

Donald Adam:

Yes. I stayed a pilot all the time.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. And so by "nuclear mission" you mean you were -- you are flying planes that carried nuclear weapons or --

Donald Adam:

That -- yeah. We -- we didn't fly around with them, we had -- we had them on -- on alert --

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

-- with nuclear weapons in case we were called. And that was a 24-hour alert.

Jared Stuard:

What -- what kind of planes were those?

Donald Adam:

The F84.

Jared Stuard:

Still F84. Okay.

Donald Adam:

And then the ones that came after that, the 101 and F100.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. All right.

Donald Adam:

And even in England. I went -- went to England and went -- went on a real nuclear mission over there. We had a 24-hour tour of duty there with a red telephone in the -- in the cabin. If the red telephone rang you had to run out, your gear was in the airplane and you had to be airborne in five minutes. Head nuclear weapons on it.

Jared Stuard:

When -- when you were in Texas did you ever have any alerts where you had to scramble the aircraft?

Donald Adam:

Oh, yeah, we had -- we had practice alerts but they were very careful and especially with nuclear weapons. That's such a -- a dangerous weapon. They didn't ever let you fly or move an airplane around with a nuclear weapon that had the -- the explosive inside of it. And it was just a shell. So in other words, you had the equivalent of about a 200-pound bomb there because it took 200 bombs -- 200 pounds to crush that -- that cell which exploded the nuke inside of the bomb. We had to know all about the bomb. So you flew around technically with a 200-pound bomb because that nuclear cell was not in there except for the aircraft that were on alert. And then they were guarded by two guys with guns. And nobody would go in there unless the red -- red signal came out, the red telephone. Then the guys with the guns would know.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

And they even -- I was even involved on one of them and they let me start up and taxi because they had so much faith in me. But -- but I -- I thought I would pull -- pull one on them that would really shake them up. And it was a great plan but if I did it, it would have been the end of my career. I was to go to the end of the runway and they had the chocks in the wheels --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- so that the wheels wouldn't come up. And I was to run out there, start it and get to the end of the runway. And they had a big crew there from the headquarters to see if it really worked. And I was the top gun. So I ran up there and put on my helmet, started up, cranked up, and went. And at the end of the runway I was going stop because that airplane was so heavy it had no handbrake, it wasn't going to move. I jumped out on the wing, take out the plugs on the landing gear so that the gear would retract, then I could gown down the runway, retract the gear and head to Europe with a nuclear weapon on it. But I thought that will be the end of your career.

Jared Stuard:

Probably.

Donald Adam:

So I didn't do that. But, you know, all boys have dirty thoughts.

Jared Stuard:

So --

Donald Adam:

I would have -- I would have gotten my name in the paper.

Jared Stuard:

That's for sure.

Donald Adam:

And my -- and my ass kicked out of the Air Force.

Jared Stuard:

That's for sure. Maybe more.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. Right.

Jared Stuard:

So -- so where did you go from -- from Texas? What was the next -- what was the next step?

Donald Adam:

I -- I think it was -- it was back to Europe. I'm not -- really not sure. Again, I -- I do have a memory problem. They just informed me of that this -- within the past week. Yeah. I took a memory test and -- and they told me after -- yeah, the cards, that I do have a memory problem. And I -- I recognize that but it's -- as you can see, it's not -- I remember the motorcycle --

Jared Stuard:

Absolutely.

Donald Adam:

-- to Texas so I still have some memory.

Jared Stuard:

That's why this so is important.

Donald Adam:

But after Texas -- oh, we did have TDYs to Japan and also with the nuclear mission.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And we -- we didn't fly over there. Let's see, maybe we did but then we -- then we left the airplanes to make it simple because that was a -- a lot of air miles on there. Leave the airplanes, bring the pilots back in a transport and take the pilots from another transport wing in another state, take them over there. The airplanes are sitting there, the mechanics and so everything is there but you're not flying them back and forth putting that extra wear and tear on them. That's a long flight to Japan.

Jared Stuard:

Is this the early 1950s?

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

And so how many times did you go to Japan during this time? Do you --

Donald Adam:

At least three. At least three times.

Jared Stuard:

And where -- where were you going in Japan when you went up there?

Donald Adam:

It's called Misawa way up on the north tip. Misawa. You ever heard of it?

Jared Stuard:

Oh, Misawa. Misawa Air Base now?

Donald Adam:

Misawa Air Base, yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Yes, sir. Okay. What -- what planes were there? Was it the F84s again?

Donald Adam:

Yes. Yeah, the 84.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. What was the -- what were you doing there? Describe some of the missions there.

Donald Adam:

Well, I think it was -- it was the nuclear mission but we did -- we did fly locally. And I'm a hunter, I flew around that -- that island to the north and circled it and I did see deer and I took a leave and went up there.

Jared Stuard:

Hokkaido? The Hokkaido island?

Donald Adam:

Hokkaido, yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah. Okay.

Donald Adam:

Went deer hunting up there.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

That was interesting.

Jared Stuard:

What was -- did you have any interactions with the -- obviously, you're closer to the Soviets when you're in Japan.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Did you have any interactions similar to the ones you had while you were in Europe?

Donald Adam:

No, we were -- we were to go over and test it. But, again, our radar was watching them and their radar was watching us.

Jared Stuard:

Uh-huh.

Donald Adam:

So they would alert us if -- our radar would alert us if they saw anything coming our way and their radar would alert them if they saw us coming beyond that magic point between Japan and the Russian border.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So it was very closely watched. And we didn't test it because you didn't want accidents. That's the worst thing that can happen on an Air Force commander's record is an accident made out of stupidity --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- by doing something you weren't supposed to do.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

So they were very accident conscious about doing these daring things. That was out of the question.

Jared Stuard:

Do you have any -- you said you went to England. Was that also a TDY to England from -- from your Texas base?

Donald Adam:

Yeah. No, I went over there PCS.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

I volunteered because I was already thinking if I volunteer and that meant that I was going to go back to the 84. Yeah. We got the new 101. I got the 101 up there. We got the new 101 airplane and that was a super airplane. That set a speed record of 1207.65 miles an hour. And it had 15 hours of oxygen in it. That SAC Commander, Lemay, was really nuts about the -- about the fighter pilots. He now had a fighter airplane based in Austin, Texas that could fly nonstop from Austin, Texas to Norway is where we would pick up our nuclear weapons, nonstop with in-flight refueling including in-flight refueling at night. And we practiced in-flight refueling at night. And, boy, trying to find a tanker on a black night, that ain't easy --

Jared Stuard:

That's right.

Donald Adam:

-- because you have no -- no signal except a radio signal.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

You got to stare and look for lights like a little Christmas tree up there and then be sure you don't run into him. So that was a good test.

Jared Stuard:

All right. So --

Donald Adam:

So you were either good or you were out.

Jared Stuard:

Did you start flying the 101 here in Texas or when you went to Europe when you PCSed?

Donald Adam:

We flew them here. We got the first ones here in Texas.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

And what rank were you when you PCSed to -- over to Europe? Was it captain or --

Donald Adam:

No.

Jared Stuard:

-- major?

Donald Adam:

I probably -- let's see, really -- really don't remember. I don't remember.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. Were you flying the 101 in Europe when you PCSed?

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

And what was -- what base was that at?

Donald Adam:

Bentwaters.

Jared Stuard:

Germany?

Donald Adam:

In the UK.

Jared Stuard:

UK.

Donald Adam:

UK. North of London. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

On the coast.

Jared Stuard:

Bentwaters. And describe that mission, flying the 101. What was the -- what was the mission? What were you doing?

Donald Adam:

Well, it -- it had the nuclear mission. We -- we did fly down to north Africa nonstop and we had a range down there where Gaddafi is in Syria. We had Tripoli Air Base, you might have heard of it.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. It was -- it was a very good air base. We -- we built it, extended the runway. The Italians were there before we were in the '30s and '40s. They even had a racetrack there. So we put in an officer's club and a school and a hospital --

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

-- and extended the runways and all of that. And when they took over they took it all over and they told the Americans, "You got 30 days to get your butt out of here." So they just assumed all of that by kicking us out of there.

Jared Stuard:

So how -- how many times did you fly down to Libya?

Donald Adam:

We did that annually.

Jared Stuard:

Annually?

Donald Adam:

Oh, yeah.

Jared Stuard:

And were you doing exercises down there or --

Donald Adam:

Yeah. They had a bombing range down there on the west side of town.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Nuclear and conventional. And then we flew air-to-air over the Mediterranean Sea --

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

-- against a 10-by-30 target.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

With bullets from -- bullets in it from the gun.

Jared Stuard:

What did you think -- what did you think of Libya? What was your impressions and feelings going down there?

Donald Adam:

Well, it was an interesting town. I went there and I walked around. It was a -- after the war it was settled by the Italians and they made a great impression there. And there were stores there with Italian names and, of course, that was -- that was taken away from them. But I learned something there, I lived in a small BOQ and I had to walk to the flight line. And when I walked to the flight line I observed a sign every day when I walked to and from the flight line. And it was in four languages. And the one that fascinated me was, "Camminare de sinistra di fronte il traffico." And that was -- the sign was in English, Arabic and Italian. And that means, "Walk on the left side facing traffic." So I never forgot that. So when I get somebody here calling me in Spanish, I don't know Spanish, I'll answer with, "Camminare de sinistra di fronte il traffico" because I learned that walking and seeing that sign in the Italian language, "Walk on the left side facing traffic."

Jared Stuard:

That's amazing.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. I'm internationally oriented.

Jared Stuard:

Absolutely. Did you -- did you go -- did you have any other interactions with -- I'm kind of fixated with the interactions with the Soviets, but what were your other experiences in Europe that were of note when you were over there?

Donald Adam:

Well, I was a hunter and I was accepted by the hunting society. And, of course --

Jared Stuard:

Is this the period when you were accepted by --

Donald Adam:

Yeah. Because I hunted at the end of the war, but we were occupiers and we did very bad things and I did, too. I was an enlisted man. We were shooting deer with semi-automatic rifles which were issued to us. And then some of the sergeants, they were the worst. They would go out and shine them at night and shoot them. And if they wounded them and they went into the forest, why they weren't going to drive into the field with the Jeep and bugger up the Jeep and try to find them in the woods. They'd leave them die in there. And the farmer, of course, would smell the smell and tell the guy who had the hunting area, "I smell one in there." And they would find -- find the animal. And they blamed the Americans. That's all unsportsmanlike. And I was admitted into the German Hunting Society, the only one, and I got the badge to -- to prove it because I proved myself and passed all their tests.

Jared Stuard:

You were telling us about that earlier. Tell us about again the tests that you had to go through to get into the hunting society.

Donald Adam:

There was what?

Jared Stuard:

Tell us about the tests that you had to go through to get into the hunting society. MR. SHAW: Okay. There's technically a hundred tests. But when I was growing up my father had a -- he belonged to the VFW. He had a comrade who had a butcher shop that was only a couple blocks away from where we lived.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

So he said to his buddy he said, "My son's a good driver, he's 16." And he said, "You got a driving truck there and you go to Milwaukee to those big" -- oh, there's a name where they have all these animals and they take them down. I forgot the name of it. A big place. But I had to go over there and pick them up or pick up boxes of meat. But anyway, they -- they put me in the back room and I wound up cutting meat, making hamburger. And then I wound up slaughtering 40 chickens a week and then two calves and then one other animal. So I -- I learned all about that in the butcher shop.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

And I couldn't go wrong because there was an old man grandpa, he watched me and I learned how to use the knives and how to butcher. So that was a good experience. Where were we going with that question?

Jared Stuard:

You were telling us about the initiation. They -- you were telling me earlier they -- they made you tell a joke and --

Donald Adam:

Oh. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Technically you have to pass a hundred examinations. You got to be an expert marksman in both the bullet and with the shotgun. And they -- they test you and mark down the score. And then there's an exam that you take and you have got to know about the breeding and the animals and about them, but they were a lighter on that for me but they knew about my butcher shop experience and they didn't make me open up any animals. They accepted the word because the guys that I hunted with said, "Oh, my God, he can open them like any butcher," and I could. And I cut out the liver and the heart and carried those separately because you can take those home and eat them right away.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

So I -- I did all of that and I -- I excelled. And then they invited me and -- I'm not sure you are going to write this down. But for the initiation, and it was a -- the second holiday of Christmas. They have two holidays at Christmas, we have one. It was the second holiday of Christmas. That hunter had a big hunting day on the second day of Christmas, after Christmas, and it was for hare. And hare are larger than rabbits. Four people can eat off of a hare. And we shot more than 50 of them. So then he assembled the drivers who were driving him out of the woods and driving him across the field and we were lined up with shotguns. So then he had -- he hosted the afterhunt because it was successful. And, of course, he gave some of them hares or they could eat, they didn't have to buy them. He sold some. So then he paid for the -- the food and the drinks. And then because I was there I had to get up in front of them and tell them a joke. And he said, "It's got to be funny." And because he said, "You know, you pass the test and if you fail any part of the test you got to study for a year before you can retake the test. And then -- and your joke is going to be -- has to be funny. And we're not going to pass a piece of paper around and say he passed, he didn't. We're going to do like the Romans. It's either this [indicating thumbs up] or this [indicating thumbs down] and you know right away. And it's this [indicating thumbs down]," he said, "nobody is going to say anything to you except you got a year to practice" --

Jared Stuard:

It's either --

Donald Adam:

-- "and come back because they -- they like you."

Jared Stuard:

It's either thumbs up or thumbs down, huh?

Donald Adam:

Yeah. It's this [indicating thumbs up] or this [indicating thumbs down].

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So I told the joke and [indicating thumbs up].

Jared Stuard:

They gave you the thumbs up?

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. And what was -- do you remember the joke? If it's -- only if you want to tell it.

Donald Adam:

It's a -- yeah. It's a -- it's an American joke.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

It's an American joke and I Germanized it. I was in an area that was originally called when Germany was settling after it became a country, Lower Franconia, Unterfranconia. And this was the area and the county was Schweinfurt. And that was my first assignment as enlisted man was Schweinfurt --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- where the ball bearing factory was.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

Schweinfurt. So we were in Unterfranconia. So immediately I made this hunter, says the American, the original one, I made him in Unterfranconia. So I said, "This Unterfranconia Jager saw in the Munich newspaper, and it's there today, that Alaska and Canada are advertising in the -- in the Munich newspapers that you can come to Alaska or Canada and they will guarantee you -- they will meet you at the airplane, they will give you food and quarters and pay for it, of course, but they will guarantee you that you'll shoot a bear there in Kodiak. They will guarantee it."

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

And -- because the Germans always want a trophy that somebody else hasn't got. And there are no bear over there. One did come in -- I remember the only one came in from Italy, just once, but there's no bear in Germany. So all these big Jagers like me want to have something. And I shot two trophy birds that nobody else had shot. So the guy wanted -- this Unterfranconia Jager, he had -- he had his room full of trophies so he wanted a bear. So he went to -- went to Alaska with the plane. And the guy said, "I'll meet you there at the airport, take you to my place, feed you, you can get a good night's rest." Then he said, "I'll take you out in the morning," and he said, "I'll take you a pack," and he said, "I'll pack you some food and I'll pack you some beer so you'll have something to drink." And he said, "We'll go to Kodiak in my little boat." And he said, "When we get to Kodiak," he said, "I'll tie up the boat and then we'll get out," and he said, "I'll lead you to the bear."

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

And the guy said, "Okay, that's fine." So he did that. And he got a good night's sleep after that long trip from Munich to Alaska.

Jared Stuard:

Uh-huh.

Donald Adam:

So he had breakfast and he packed him a lunch and he got in the boat. They went to Kodiak and they got out. Said -- oh, got to Kodiak, tied up the -- tied up the boat. And said, "Okay." Said, "Okay, now," he said, "now I'm going to lead you to the bear."

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

The guy said, "Nein, nein. No. I'm an Unterfranconian Jager. I will find the bear myself." "Oh? Oh. Well, okay. Good luck." But he said, "Be careful and make sure you get a good shot because if you wound him that thing can attack you and he can kill you."

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

He said, "Ich bin ein Unterfranconian Jager." He said, "Okay, I understand that." He said, "Good luck." So the guy went out and he was looking and looking and looking and looking and he didn't see any. And this guy was following way back behind him and watching him. He was looking and looking and looking and didn't find any. And all of a sudden his belly was telling him, "Jeez, it must be about time." So there was an oak tree. Oak. Oak. The Germans like oak. Saw an oak tree. So he sat down at the oak tree. Yeah. And he put his head back and he could feel the sun on his face. Now, in Germany it's very prestigious to have a tan because that means you have been to the sea, you have had a good time and you got a tan. Boy, you've been someplace. So he said, "Oh, my God, I'm getting a tan." He said, "Oh, that's wonderful." He had his head up against the tree, he's getting a tan, and then he fell asleep and he had his head up there against the tree. Aber, aber, aber. That means "however." However, there, 35 meters away there was the bear and the bear had been watching him. So the bear sneaked up on him. He sneaked up on him and he had his head up against the tree. So the bear -- this is the story I told.

Jared Stuard:

Uh-huh.

Donald Adam:

So the bear reached around the tree and he grabbed him and he picked him up and he squeezed him and he started to squeeze him real hard. And the guy -- the guy could feel his chest and he said, "Oh, please, dear God, Ich bin ein Unterfranconian Jager, I'm a Jager from Unterfranken, I don't want to die this way. Please, dear God, help me, dear God, help me." So he was an Unterfranken Jager. So -- God help him. So he thought -- so with his hand he worked it back down and he got behind him and got ahold of the bear's penis and he shook it a couple of times and the bear let him go. And he took off and then he ran about 30 meters and he looked back, and the bear was standing there and he was saying, "Come on back. Come on back." I passed. That was my initiation. I passed.

Jared Stuard:

They gave you the thumbs up on that.

Donald Adam:

When I go back over there, and I used to go back yearly, they'd say, "Hey, Adam, do you know any more bear stories?" "No, I only know that one."

Jared Stuard:

That's funny.

Donald Adam:

That's a good story.

Jared Stuard:

That is a good story.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Thank you. So -- okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

So you're in Europe. You are flying the F -- you are flying the 101s.

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

Where -- what was your next step? Where did you go after that?

Donald Adam:

Well, let's see, I spent a long time there. I was in England. I -- I did keep a diary. I really can't --

Jared Stuard:

What's the big next step in your career --

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

-- that -- that was the mile marker for you?

Donald Adam:

Oh. I -- I wound up going -- going to the Pentagon somewhere in that line. I wound up going to the -- to the Pentagon. And I went to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And naturally, with my nuclear background, I went to the nuclear section and I had a lot to do --

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

-- with the nuclear section.

Jared Stuard:

Do you remember what rank you were at this time?

Donald Adam:

I think I was a major or lieutenant colonel.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. And I was working directly for the chairman because this was the nuclear business. I knew about the targets and about the -- the problems you have with nuclear storage and the dangers and the other things. So I did that for quite a few years and -- maybe even five.

Jared Stuard:

Was that in the late -- was that in the late '50s or --

Donald Adam:

Here -- here again, I'm --

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

-- I apologize for my memory.

Jared Stuard:

What were the -- let me ask you. What were the big -- what were the big issues that you were facing and dealing with in terms of the nuclear -- the national nuclear issues that were going on at that time?

Donald Adam:

Well, I was directly for -- we were working on targets and we were working on -- of course, they wanted to know -- this is very, very common -- what the big people would want to know. What would happen if they attacked first without warning? And what would happen if they attacked first with warning?

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

What would be the outcome? That's a big question. And what would happen first if we attacked them without warning? Or what would happen as a result if we attacked with warning?

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

Boy, you got to wargame that. And that even brought in SAC, the Strategic Air Command, they even got in on that.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So that was a big Air Force project to --

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

-- to work this system out because that nuclear thing was building up so tensely that they wanted to -- to use every method possible to wargame and use the Pentagon and use special sections in the Pentagon to figure this thing out as to what would happen if we started it without -- with or without warning --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- or they did. That was one hell of a big thing. I worked on that program for several years.

Jared Stuard:

Do you -- do you remember who the president was at that time?

Donald Adam:

No.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Again, my memory.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

It just doesn't come to me.

Jared Stuard:

So how do you -- how do you wargame something like that? Who -- who did you have to get together and what kind of --

Donald Adam:

Well, we had -- we --

Jared Stuard:

What was the process?

Donald Adam:

We had a special section in Joint Chiefs of Staff that was known as the nuclear because, see, there wasn't just us. The submarines have nuclear weapons.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

The Army has artillery nuclear weapons.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

So they had -- they had to be brought in on their sections and then we would have to combine it. So it was a well-organized, big nuclear portion which a lot of people didn't know about because it wasn't publicized very much. But it was so important because when the nuclear crisis was -- was really building up, it was a big thing because the nukes are very, very bad. And they have a lot and we have a lot. And whoever -- whoever leads off has got the advantage and -- and we both know that.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

So it's -- it was a -- a big study involving a lot of people, a lot of organizations worldwide.

Jared Stuard:

What was your -- in terms of, you know, you were working those issues, what was your personal feeling at that time in terms of our preparedness versus the Soviets' versus the, you know, entire situation at that time? What were your feelings about it?

Donald Adam:

Well, it's -- it's simple and it goes back to the -- the earliest form of warfare. Whoever strikes first, and especially with no warning, has the advantage. That's -- that's just a common bit of philosophy. But, again, there are -- there are groups of people who are looking out for signs, you know. Their whole job is to study signs, communications, letters, articles, comments in the paper, comments that nuclear people will make when they are making speeches or whatever. Any kind of hints at all that will give any information of something forthcoming or some plan. So there was -- it was a huge overall study other than nuke against nuke about --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- the starting of the thing. So that was a big issue. And I was put into that -- that business and I did that for about three to five years. I think it was five years.

Jared Stuard:

Five years.

Donald Adam:

Then I went from there, I volunteered and went directly to Vietnam.

Jared Stuard:

And before we get there, I want to make sure I don't skip something. And if we're not there in time, then we'll -- we'll get there. But are you -- have you -- are you married at this point or --

Donald Adam:

I -- I married a nurse, yeah, and she passed away a few years ago.

Jared Stuard:

Well, at this time -- at this time that we're talking about that you're at the Pentagon, were you married by that point or --

Donald Adam:

Yeah. At the Pentagon I was, yeah.

Jared Stuard:

So -- so -- I skipped that process. But go back and tell me how you met -- how you met your wife and where you guys met and how you got married.

Donald Adam:

Don't write --

Jared Stuard:

If -- if that's okay.

Donald Adam:

I didn't want to get married. It was -- technically it was a forced marriage. This -- this is a small technicality. I had a -- a squadron commander's wife -- oh, yes. The squadron commander and I were very close. I was his top pilot. And she knew Pat because we were neighbors. We lived at Bergstrom not too far away. She knew her from the hospital but she had a baby at the hospital and she had the baby on a Sunday and Pat was off that day. But Pat was a -- a most unusual generous, loving -- a most unusual person. But because she knew this lady and she was the squadron commander's wife and he -- we flew together in Germany at one time. But she was off and she had -- there were other people qualified. She went anyway, because she was a neighbor, to hold her hand and make sure everything was all right. And she never forgot that. Well, then later when I came back from a second tour in Japan she was waiting for me at the airport and -- at the airplane. And we went down that big thing on -- you don't have to write that down. And when we went down the ramp, my buddy, he married the chief nurse, and I was behind him on the other ramp and she was down at the bottom and she was waving at him coming down. So I went down and I looked up and there she was and she was smiling, she was waiving at me. And I said, "Hi Patty." And she said, "I'm glad you're back." I said, "Will you give me a ride over to the BOQ?" I had my bags. And I brought back -- I sneaked back a case of booze from Hawaii, 12 bottles. I had that. I told -- they said, "What's in there?" I said, "Laundry." And but so I said, "Will you give me a ride to the BOQ?" She said, "No, you're not going to the BOQ." She said, "I found a place for you." And it was out on Lake Austin, a cottage on Lake Austin. And it was very, very nice. She found it by working with another woman who was working at the air base. But she was a surgical nurse, an OB/GYN at Bergstrom. And it was a very, very lovely cottage. But it was a -- quite a long distance away from Bergstrom, that northern part of Lake Austin they called it, part of the river.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

So after a few months I even put out a line because there were fish in that canal now. And after a few months I realized, realization, I said, "Look, you're on duty as a surgical nurse. You're on call and I'm on call." And I said, "We're out here. If we're -- if we get called, that's -- that's at least -- at least a 20-minute drive." And I said, "We used to live just up the street only three or four blocks away from getting to the squadron." So I said, "We'd better move closer in." So we did move closer in. Let's see, is this how -- how we met, you asked?

Jared Stuard:

Right. How you met. And were you already married at that point or --

Donald Adam:

No. No. No, we weren't.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. So did you get married in Texas -- here in Texas?

Donald Adam:

Yeah. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Well, it so happened that when I was back there over in Germany in Neubiberg --

Jared Stuard:

Um-huh.

Donald Adam:

-- in another squadron. There was a guy there with his wife and I was in another squadron. And I knew this guy and his wife, and then later he became my squadron commander in -- in Bergstrom because of the F84, you stay pretty close together. So his wife was there, so we were friendly. Well, she -- she knew Patty and because of the baby thing and so she was a -- had a very curious and suspicious mind. So she looked in the telephone book -- in the telephone book and she noticed that we both had the same telephone number, so that suggested that we were cohabitating. So she called me. And she looked me in the eye she said, "You better marry that woman or else."

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

I knew her. And I knew it because we had a guy there at Bergstrom, I don't know what he did. He was in our squadron, he was a concert pianist. He did something, I don't know what it was. There was some talk. And usually you know everything about everybody, but they shipped him out and they shipped him up to -- Rein Mein? No, in -- here in the states. The big airport. But as a transport airport. So that meant that was the end of his pilot career. He was going into flying transports.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So that was his penalty for whatever he did. So when she said, "If you don't marry her, you know what's going to happen to you?" I -- I could see it right away mentally. So I -- so we -- we got married shortly thereafter on New Year's -- New Year's Eve or whatever to pacify her. But it was a good -- it was good move. She was a -- really an excellent nurse, an excellent woman. Her only downfall was she was a smoker. And I learned -- I learned, surprisingly, at her funeral when I went to Indiana and we talked about her smoking, I said, "I heard that she smoked after she graduated from school." And her sister said, "Oh, no, Donny, that's not so, she smoked while she was in high school." And so she was a smoker.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

And over here, here's a burn mark where she was watching TV at night it dropped off and burned the rug.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah. Yeah.

Donald Adam:

But that got her. That was a tragedy. That was unfortunate. But she was a chain smoker.

Jared Stuard:

Was she able to come to Europe with you when you went back?

Donald Adam:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. She made the trips with me over there. Sure. Oh, yeah. She was a wonderful -- well, you can see, this is all her doing. This is all her doing. She was a collector.

Jared Stuard:

It's -- it's beautiful.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. Those are matches from around the world. She loved to travel. She loved -- she told me she was in 40 countries. She -- she went from here on a trip around South America, she went to the end of the Yangtze River. She liked to travel. She liked to walk. She was a real special woman.

Jared Stuard:

Did you two travel together when you were in Europe?

Donald Adam:

Yeah, we -- we did, but not -- not on some of the -- well, here in the village a group got together and organized that trip to South America. Yeah. There's even a picture there from Rio de Janeiro that she brought back, that famous statue, and got a statue here on the side. But all of this stuff, that blue and white is from Holland. We lived in Holland for five years. But all of this stuff is -- you must have you touched the clock. THE REPORTER: Oh, I'm so sorry. I probably did.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. No problem. THE REPORTER: I'm sorry.

Jared Stuard:

That's okay.

Donald Adam:

No problem. THE REPORTER: You know, I bumped into this and knocked this candle off. I probably did touch the clock.

Donald Adam:

Yeah, but no problem. I -- I've got it turned off for the noise.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah. It's 10:40 -- about 43.

Donald Adam:

10:43. I got the exact time. THE REPORTER: It's a beautiful clock.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. This -- this is a special clock. This is called a French farmer's clock. That thing is worth $5,000. That's -- the thing that's special about it, and you can see French, the guy's hat there -- and he needs lubrication. It's supposed to go like this all the time. Isn't that cute? I got -- I got to stick a long-nose oil can down there and oil it. But the -- and then the story about it is it chimes two minutes after the hour. That's why it's called a farmer's clock. And that idea came -- and that's an old, old clock. That idea came because -- have you been to Europe? You know Europe?

Jared Stuard:

Yes, sir.

Donald Adam:

You know, they -- they come in from the fields and they bring the cattle in and all. And then they work around the yard, they got a working area behind the house where they take out the manure and all that stuff. So he's working out there and he's working, working, working, and about 11:15, 11:20 his stomach is telling him, "I can't smell the cooking but it must be getting close." So in those days the clock would go off and he would say, "Oh, I missed it. Was that 11:00 or was it 12:00?" So from that idea the French developed this clock. And it will repeat itself two minutes after the hour. But I disconnected it because the bells are so big and so loud that the people would call me waiting for the elevator. They said, "Hey, we can hear your clock out here."

Jared Stuard:

That's funny.

Donald Adam:

I said, "Okay, I'll turn it off." So I just disconnected the bonger. But it will repeat on the hour and two minutes after so you can be sure that you know, "Was it 11:00 or was it a 12:00?" But again, she had eyes for things like that --

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

-- and all this stuff. And those are all her idea. That was memorializing all the Christmases overseas. That was her idea.

Jared Stuard:

It's beautiful.

Donald Adam:

Those silver ones are Christmases I spent alone.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

But we did travel back. After we retired, we went back there. I got Jager friends, hunting friends, over there and visit our friends, so we made many extra trips in different countries.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

But she -- she liked to travel. And, of course, she was a lieutenant colonel, I'm a lieutenant colonel, that's a general's money so we -- we could pay for the air trips over there.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

She -- she liked to travel and it shows.

Jared Stuard:

I want to get to those trips, but let's see, let's go back to -- let's go back to your time right after the Pentagon. You said you --

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

-- volunteered to go to Vietnam?

Donald Adam:

Yes.

Jared Stuard:

What -- what program was that? How did -- how did you volunteer to go to Vietnam? What's the context there?

Donald Adam:

I want you, please, not to write this. I was -- I volunteered to go to Vietnam. And the guys told me, they said, "You can go to Vietnam but you can't fly." I said, "Why?" He said, "Because of your nuclear clearances. Because if you get captured they can -- they can beat it out of you."

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

And then they gave me a piece of history. There's -- and it showed up in Korea. There's only one nation where with captured prisoners they couldn't beat it out of them. Can you imagine what nation that is?

Jared Stuard:

I can't, no, sir.

Donald Adam:

Turkey. You cannot beat it out of a Turk. You can't. You know, you can force it, torture him, put burn on his body and he won't talk. The only country. But every other one, there's a breaking point. So they said, "With your nuclear clearances they can get the nuclear information out of you so you can't fly." So I worked a little deal and -- to fly with the Vietnamese as a instructor and an overseer of their operations.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

But that went very quietly. But I arranged to fly with them and did. I flew 105 missions with them.

Jared Stuard:

Was this -- this was during the Vietnam war?

Donald Adam:

Yes, sir.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Right.

Jared Stuard:

And so what -- what planes were you flying with the South Vietnamese during the war there?

Donald Adam:

The A4 Skyraider.

Jared Stuard:

A4 Skyraider?

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And that's a bad airplane because they -- that was built during World War II, at the end of World War II, for the Navy. It didn't see action in World War II but it saw action in Korea.

Jared Stuard:

Korea.

Donald Adam:

That thing can carry more than its own weight in bombs because that engine is so big. But the Vietnamese wanted it for a fighter bomber, close air support.

Jared Stuard:

Uh-huh.

Donald Adam:

Because it had 18 stations on the wings which meant could it carry up to 18 bombs, depending on the size. And it had eight -- eight cannon. So it was ideal for close air support. But it flew low and slow and they could hear you coming and it was a very dangerous airplane, but I volunteered to fly that.

Jared Stuard:

So what was your impressions of that South Vietnamese air force? How did you -- how was it instructing those pilots?

Donald Adam:

I didn't -- I didn't instruct them. They were instructed here in the United States.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

They were -- they were combat pilots.

Jared Stuard:

How was it flying with them?

Donald Adam:

Good. They were very, very good. Yeah. In fact, they -- they even gave me some considerations about accepting me. And this was done in English by a Vietnamese who was a lawyer who spoke perfect English. He laid -- he laid down the law to me and he said, of course, he said, "If you're ever seen with a Vietnamese woman or if you ever go to bed with one we're sending you back. We got a way to diplomatically send you back where the Americans don't have to know why you were sent back, and they have agreed to it. If you send it back -- if we send you back we send you back because of a reason and they have accepted that. So if you have a short bomb, if you miss a target, have a short bomb, bomb a long one, we will send you back. And if you do any of these other things we will send you back." So these are the -- these are the things that I had to be careful about with the bombing. And then they hung another one on me that was a very, very challenging one. The airplanes were wearing out. They had no -- no resupplies. They had -- that airplane originally had one of the best compasses on the cockpit that I've ever seen on any airplane in my lifetime, including the jets. Is was an electrical compass. Well, when that wore out there was no replacement. So can you imagine flying that airplane with the wings with that stand-by compass which is a kerosene compass like the one you stick on the dashboard of your car?

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

I flew a hundred and five missions on that compass because it had no navigational aids, it had no radio aids to tune in a beacon or radar. And then I -- I had an additional job, because I was so experienced, to ferry 17 of them, not at one time, from Vietnam to the Philippines, Clark Field, up to the north tip of Taiwan to Taipei to China Airlines for a complete overhaul. And then, of course, I did the American ferry. I used to ferry the 84s from the republic in Long Island, New York. You -- you take -- first you go up with three of them, and then when two of them are ready you fly two of them up and bring two back. Two up, two back. So I did that with the Vietnamese with 17 of their airplanes --

Jared Stuard:

Wow.

Donald Adam:

Getting them over and back. And I had a couple of incidents there that never happened to any air force pilot before. But I took off on -- on one flight on the way home and because we -- we didn't have navigational aids, they didn't put the navigational aids in, we were led by an American medium-type of bomber rescue airplane that could drop floats and things. They had them in the Philippines. They would fly the coast. If we had a plane go down --

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

-- they could fly over you, spot you, radio the position, drop emergency stuff.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

So he would escort us through the front. And then once we got through front and we knew the weather was clear, weather was okay to land at Vietnam, we would fly formation on him. And, of course, they got a little bit edgy, we being in so close but we flew in either two or three.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

But we went over with three and flew back with two.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

But then it was my responsibility. And when they said to me, "It's your responsibility," I knew exactly what the hell they were talking about. If there was any mistake or screw up, especially with the Vietnamese, they wanted to hear from me as to why and how did that happen.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

So a couple of incidents did happen. We flew over with one and the guy said, "My engine's rough," when he landed. I said, "Okay, I'll start it up and check it out." And it was that A1. So I started it up, he had it chocked. I checked it out. It was -- it wasn't good because I flew the P47 and the P51 and the AT6 and that's a long way over the water, no islands in between. That wasn't good. I said, "No, this one's got to -- we got to call and they got to bring over a maintenance airplane with mechanics, with parts and fix it and then bring and take you back or whatever, they will work that out, but that airplane does not go up to the north tip of Taiwan." So I had one incident where this guy had this -- this problem and I was flying the one that had the back seat in it, the back cover. And that was designed by the Navy to hold either five seats like you had to take some people back to a -- to a meeting or somebody had a death in the family or you could put in three cots, it would be suitable for three cots, and -- or five people or you could put in a lot of packages as long as you didn't exceed the weight in that back cover. That's on that long one. That's the long one up there. So I had this long one. And when the long one went over to the -- to the airport, they took out the ejection seat on the right side because of the weight and the fact that -- the ejection seat was a package in its own and they didn't do anything in China Airlines except screw it to the frame. So they removed it so there would be no problem. So this guy had a problem with his airplane and I could let him take mine because mine was flying okay, but if anything happened to him they'd say, "You were in charge and you let him fly the airplane by himself. It's your fault."

Jared Stuard:

That's right.

Donald Adam:

And that's exactly what would happen. So I said, "You got a choice." I said, "You can stay here, I'll give you some money for a BOQ and food, you can call back, they can come over sometime with another airplane, pick you up, you can do that." I said -- and he -- he didn't have any lunch with him, he just had his pocketbook, that's all, and me, too. So I said, "Here's another thing." I said, "You know, I don't have a seat over here on the right side." But I said, "I'll give you a choice, and I shouldn't do this." I said, "If you want to, you can fly with me. My airplane's running good." I said, "You sit there and you put your hand on the dashboard when we take off just -- just to hold yourself straight," because he had no strap. And I said, "When you -- when you get up," I said, "You know how we relax." I said, "You'll be okay. Then when we land, put your hand up there on the dashboard. Do you want to do that or do you want to stay here?" He said, "Colonel Adam, you good pilot, I fly with you." I said, "Okay, you fly with me." I really took a chance.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

But I "dood" it.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

And -- and we made it okay.

Jared Stuard:

All right.

Donald Adam:

And there were two airplanes to pick up. We took two and flew back. So that was -- that was an error where I won.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

And then I had another one. I flew it back and I noticed the most important -- one of the most important instruments on your dashboard is the -- is your air speed indicator, like your speedometer. And mine was a jumping around. And I know it got the information from that pitot tube that's out on the end of the wing. And I landed it in -- in Vietnam or in Thailand -- wait a minute, where -- Clark Field in the Philippines. I landed it in the Philippines. And I noticed when I landed and I touched down the damn thing went up to 500 miles an hour as I was taxiing down the runway. But in high school I was a musician. I played in the band, I made money, and I saved the money and paid for flying lessons. I played the trumpet so I'm musically inclined. Hmm-mmm-mmm. So when I fly I actually listen to that damn engine. That engine will tell you a story. So I listened to the engine. So the engine on that airplane sounded okay and I -- I had no air speed indicator. So I took off at full -- full throttle and the -- and being the musician, that engine was humming. That's a good engine. That's a -- that's a damn good engine. In Korea and in -- all through Vietnam, did a good job. Good engine. So that engine sounded to me to be good. So I took off and I didn't tell them that I had no air speed indicator. So I said, "Here's how -- here's how we'll do it." We had an escort, that bomber --

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

-- fighter rescue airplane. He was going to take us through this big mass of clouds that was in the middle because we didn't have the instruments or navigation. So he was going to -- we were going to fly on his wing. So he took us through and when he got us through we knew it was clear on the other side. And the Philippines said, "The weather in Vietnam is good, you can land VFR." "Okay. Good." So we flew on him. We flew through. So when they took off I said, "Okay" -- I was in charge. I said, "You take off first with your bomber and we'll join up on you. And you don't have to slow down, we can catch you. We'll join up on you. He's -- he'll be on one wing and I'll be on your right wing and we'll follow you through. And we won't get too close but we'll follow you through." He said, "Okay, I trust you." So we joined up on him and I didn't tell him that I didn't have an air speed indicator. So as we approached Vietnam I told the Vietnam -- Vietnamese wingman who spoke some English, I said, "Hey, I lost my air speed indicator." I said, "You know how we make GCA landings when you land on the guy's wing and once he touches down he goes farther down -- down the air field, and when you touch down, you touch down behind him and immediately pull your throttle back so you don't catch up and overrun him or touch him?"

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

I said, "We'll land like that. I will land and go down the runway fast and then you can land behind me, but you lead me down so that -- because I don't have a speed to know where to round out. And I can handle it when I go over the fence to the runway." He said, "Okay, we'll do that." So we "dood" that. So --

Jared Stuard:

That works out.

Donald Adam:

That worked out. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

So I want to make sure we get everything in. A quick question: The North Vietnamese at this time, did they have an air force?

Donald Adam:

North Vietnamese? Let's see. I have to think.

Jared Stuard:

Did you -- did you engage them in combat missions or --

Donald Adam:

I have to think. Let's see, I was flying out of -- no, I was doing all air to ground. We had --

Jared Stuard:

Air to ground. Okay.

Donald Adam:

We had -- the Americans that were over there that had fighter interceptors, they were very fortunate. They were stationed in -- stationed -- I think Thailand is the next country.

Jared Stuard:

Probably Thailand. Yeah.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. They -- yeah. They had hotels and girls and bars and all that. We didn't have that in Vietnam.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

But, yeah, they -- they would take care of the intercepting and our radar would pick them if they came over.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. But the missiles were a bigger problem than the airplanes.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Because they -- they were actually shooting missiles. Swede Larsen lives next door. They shot him down with a missile.

Jared Stuard:

Really?

Donald Adam:

And he spent six years in the camps there.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. So they were using missiles and not airplanes.

Jared Stuard:

Well, where did you go after Vietnam?

Donald Adam:

Pardon?

Jared Stuard:

Where did you go after Vietnam?

Donald Adam:

Oh, I went -- I volunteered and went directly to Europe. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

There was a -- they -- they knew about me in personnel. This guy helped me -- helped me go to Vietnam because they told me in the Pentagon, "Now you volunteered for Vietnam?" I said, "Yeah, I did." Said, "Well, that's nice. That's very proud. You can go there but you can't fly any airplanes there, you understand?" I said, "Yeah, I understand." So, well I had a sergeant and he gave me a paper said -- he said, "If you get your boss to sign it, you mail it to me through the mail, not -- says information that he has which is top secret is no longer current, no longer valid."

Jared Stuard:

Sure.

Donald Adam:

So he said, "If he'll sign that" -- this guy was retiring and he smoked cigars and I smoked cigars. I went in there with a cigar, and he was about to retire. And I said, "Boy, I bet you can smell that golf course there in Norfolk, can't you?" He said, "You're damn right." He said, "This time next month I'll be on that golf course." He said, "What can I do for you?" I said, "I got a paper here. I'm going to go down there." There's a Navy base down there, a big Navy base. I used that name but I checked out in that American base so I used that base. He said, "Oh, I know that base." He said, "Are you going to fly that -- that jug, that airplane?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "Oh, that's a good airplane. I flew it. Where do I sign?" He signed that. And he -- all it said was, "The information he knows is no longer current." So he gave that to me. I was able to just quietly go around and be -- be allowed to fly even though, technically, I had nuclear clearances, was not supposed to fly so -- but I "dood" it.

Jared Stuard:

That's good to know. What did you do in Europe when you got -- after Vietnam?

Donald Adam:

Let's see. Oh, yes. My -- my reputation became well known throughout Germany, specially with the Luftwaffe because there were three attempts on my life with the Luftwaffe. Three attempts. Yeah. So but then I was a Jager and a Jager is a special guy over there. He gets a special funeral, he gets a special write-up --

Jared Stuard:

Uh-huh.

Donald Adam:

-- and he's a special guy. And I'm the only American that ever qualified for a Jager. And I told that story, you know, about the bear.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

Yeah. So -- so I was a Jager. So let's see --

Jared Stuard:

So tell us about being in the Luftwaffe --

Donald Adam:

Oh --

Jared Stuard:

-- in Germany.

Donald Adam:

Oh, in the Luftwaffe. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

When you went back to Germany.

Donald Adam:

Oh. When they found out I was a Jager I automatically became a special guy with them because Hermann Goring was the senior Jager. He was both -- in World War I he was a hunter and later he became under Hitler the chief of the German air force.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Hermann Goring. So Hermann Goring -- they even gave -- I even have a Hermann Goring medal here that they gave me in Germany because he was a -- a Jager above and a Jager below. And I'm a Jager above and a Jager below. So that was a good -- a good story.

Jared Stuard:

So -- so what -- what were you doing flying with the -- were you -- were you flying American planes with the German air force or were you -- were you flying with the German air force in Europe after -- after Vietnam?

Donald Adam:

They -- they were flying -- they were flying American F84s and they got the license to build them. And they did -- they did build them. They did have aircraft factories. They did build them. And then even the Norwegians got them and they -- Norwegians built their own -- had their own aircraft company and they built them. But then I forgot what happened after the 84 because so many things happened afterward. But they were flying the 84 and they got the -- the later models and I think those were the ejection seats in them and they were good. They were happy with the airplane. It was a good airplane.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. What -- what sort of missions were you doing with the German air force at this time?

Donald Adam:

I don't -- we didn't -- we didn't give them the nuclears. We kept them because we had to --

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

We had to keep the -- we didn't -- we didn't -- they did -- they did fighter bombers and we did the nuclear because we -- we were in charge. The nuclear had to be guarded day and night, and especially the ones that were on -- on alert at the end of the runway. They had to be guarded 24/7 with our MPs. And nobody came and messed with the -- with the bomb because it was on the airplane. And it was loaded, except the igniter was not in the -- in the case.

Jared Stuard:

Got it. Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

How long were you in Germany for at this time?

Donald Adam:

The last time?

Jared Stuard:

The -- the time after Vietnam.

Donald Adam:

Oh, let's see. Oh, I went -- I went -- yeah. The word got out about me being a Jager. And all of NATO -- yeah. All of NATO shortly after the war came under the command of General De Gaulle in France. And he had the NATO Headquarters just to the south and west of Paris. And then in -- forgot the year, Germany became a federal republic and then they were invited into NATO and then they got the fighter airplanes. And then because they got fighter airplanes and they were one of us De Gaulle hated them because of the wartime record, and that's understandable. And that's where the NATO Headquarters was so he said, "I'm closing the NATO Headquarters here because I don't want to see any German officer walking down the streets of Paris in uniform anymore," because this was peacetime.

Jared Stuard:

I see. I see.

Donald Adam:

To coin a medical expression, that pissed him off. So he doesn't want to see a German officer walking down Paris in a uniform.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

So -- so they moved the headquarters to the Netherlands. So it went to the Netherlands and then it was given to a German commander. And this guy was a World War II but he was not a member of the Nazi party. So he was well, well qualified. He went through the German academy. And out of the nominations that came in he picked me because he -- he talked to the -- to the German staff, to the German Luftwaffe, when he had to select a replacement. And he said to the Luftwaffe commanders, "Do any of you guys know this guy? His middle name is Adolph." And they said, "Adolph?" They said, "Yeah, we know him. He's a Jager." He said, "He's a Jager?" "Yeah." He said, "We take the Jager." So he -- he took me.

Jared Stuard:

So did you go --

Donald Adam:

Five years.

Jared Stuard:

You -- you went to the Netherlands then and --

Donald Adam:

To the Netherlands to his headquarters.

Jared Stuard:

What were you doing there at headquarters?

Donald Adam:

I was on his cabinet.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Cabinet. Personal.

Jared Stuard:

Were you a colonel at this time?

Donald Adam:

No, I was a lieutenant colonel.

Jared Stuard:

Lieutenant colonel. Okay.

Donald Adam:

And I -- I -- I was responsible to him for all air matters, all American matters, and all Canadian matters.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Because he only had five people on his cabinet. He had a personal staff who had -- including a Dutchman, but on his cabinet he had one American and I was responsible for air, all air matters, including Canada, and -- and American and aviation matters there.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. Okay.

Donald Adam:

That was good -- a good job and I proved myself with him, too, because he was -- he, of course, tested my German. But the fact that I was a Jager, that gave me something up here. Because a Jager is a special guy over there. He gets a special funeral with a bugle corps and he gets special treatment. Because that plaque up there has his oath. It's four sentences. He will care for and protect his game. We don't do that in this country. Up in Wisconsin, we don't feed them in the winter. And we don't feed them in Dakota or in Wyoming, but there they do. And they will take, before they had vehicles, oxen or cattle or horses and take in food. And they've got feeding stands on the corner of a -- of a forest where they will knock off the snow and put feed out there for the deer and even some for the boar. And they -- they will -- The code: He will care for and protect his game. He will hunt in a sportsmanlike manner. That's number two. We didn't do that at the end of the war and they remembered that and they hated us for it because we were shooting with semi-automatic license -- guns. We had -- even officers were shining them at night with their car along the headlights, see two eyeballs, that's a deer and they'd shoot him. And if they wounded him and he went in the forest, they never retrieved him. In Germany you got to retrieve them and put them down and give them a last bite. You have to give them a last bite. They don't do that. So -- so there's the difference between being a Jager. I'm a Jager. I got the badge. So --

Jared Stuard:

All right.

Donald Adam:

He said, "We take the Jager."

Jared Stuard:

Did you -- did you come back to the United States after serving at NATO Headquarters?

Donald Adam:

NATO Headquarters?

Jared Stuard:

Or -- or after you served in the Netherlands.

Donald Adam:

Oh.

Jared Stuard:

And then after that did you --

Donald Adam:

I have to think -- think about that. Yeah, I think maybe I came back, yeah, from -- oh, yes. I was -- I was actually sent back. We had a -- on -- at NATO commando's staff he had a chief of operations, which is normal, but he had an American general and he was a two-star. And, of course, they rotated after three years. I spent five years on his cabinet.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

He had me extended. And then his successor had me extended. So then this -- this new major general came in and I knew him and he knew me. When I was flying in Neubiberg he was at First and Fellbrook and we met one time. We came on a plane together from north Africa back to the states and he remembered me because it's easy to remember me from Adam. I'm Adam. So he came in. And he looked and he saw how long I was here and he said, "If I don't send you back to the states, you won't -- you won't be able to speak English anymore." So he said, "Your ass is going to go back to the states pretty soon." I said, "Well, he -- he wanted me to extend for this new guy." And he said, "Okay, you can take care of this new guy for a certain period but this new guy speaks English. He was a -- he did a short tour of duty in the Pentagon and he's a Bavarian and we're not going to have any problem." So he said, "You have been here too long." So he said, "I'm going to send your ass back to the states." So he "dood" it.

Jared Stuard:

So he did it.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

So what did you do when you got back?

Donald Adam:

They sent me back to -- they gave me a choice, because I was going to retire in Texas. I went to the 12th Air Force Headquarters at Bergstrom.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

And I was there about a year and a half and I retired.

Jared Stuard:

What did -- what did you do at Bergstrom your second time there?

Donald Adam:

I was a chief of -- I think it was war plans. Yeah. Chief of war plans.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Worked the war plans. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

For the 12th Air Force. It was -- 12th Air Force headquarters was there.

Jared Stuard:

What was 12th Air Force doing at that time?

Donald Adam:

Well, they -- we have a numbered air force --

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

-- and they were -- they moved there. I don't know where they came from but they had a -- a building that was built like the Pentagon, an octagon [as spoken] shape.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

It was still there. Of course, when they -- when they tore -- tore Bergstrom down and put in that new -- it's now Austin International Airport.

Jared Stuard:

Um-hum.

Donald Adam:

I think they tore that building down, too. But it was a miniature Pentagon.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

It was a nice, big office building.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

So I spent about a year and a half to two years there and then retired by length of serving.

Jared Stuard:

Where was your wife at this time? Was she -- was she here? Was your wife in Texas at this time?

Donald Adam:

Yeah. She came -- she came with me. Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay.

Donald Adam:

Yeah.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. So you retired in --

Donald Adam:

Well, let's see -- yeah, yeah. She -- she was with me.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. So when you retired, what -- where did you go? You stayed here in Texas?

Donald Adam:

Yeah. I -- I moved to -- to Austin. Oh, yeah. Then I -- I had a buddy that I flew with and he worked for the highway department and he heard about me. And I not only did the things that I did but I was a -- an accident inspector and was on boards for accidents. So he worked for the highway department and he said, "You got excellent qualifications." He said, "I told the highway department about you. If you're looking for a job," he said, "come on down and he'll talk to you. You'll be doing accident investigations and that sort of thing." And he said, "You've got a good background for that." So it was something to do. I did that and I did that for a couple of years and went around the state investigating accidents and incidents and it was very, very interesting. But then I lived so far away, I had such a long commute.

Jared Stuard:

Right.

Donald Adam:

I said, "I don't need the money," and so I lived there for a couple years then moved in here.

Jared Stuard:

Okay. So I think we're getting close to the two-hour time period, but I want to just open it up. I mean I think we've gone through your career. Is there any -- is there any other -- is there anything you want to add in terms of just your views on your career, the air force?

Donald Adam:

I had a -- I had a very dull, simple life.

Jared Stuard:

That's obviously not true. But -- yeah, what was your impression overall of your -- of your time in service and the Air Force and the career that it gave you?

Donald Adam:

Oh, very good. I -- I feel I made a right decision from the beginning because I -- I enlisted when I was 17 years of age and I was a junior in high school. And I wanted -- I enlisted in the Army Air Corps and they accepted me. Of course, I was in the reserve.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah.

Donald Adam:

And they called me at my 18th birthday. But I knew when I was 17 in the 11th grade that I wanted to be a pilot.

Jared Stuard:

What's your --

Donald Adam:

I enlisted.

Jared Stuard:

What's your impression of how the Air Force changed over the -- over the many years that you were in, the 30 years that you were in?

Donald Adam:

Well, of course, it's gotten more -- more sophisticated. And it's -- it's upgraded like all -- all forms of the government. And it's not down to the nitty gritty things that we did. And they're much more -- the aircraft are more expensive and they're more versatile and they have to be treated very, very carefully and -- because they're so expensive and with all of the weapon systems so they've got to have very good specialized people in all phases of the jobs. So it's not like the old days where it was pretty wild and you did things like -- like I did. But it's all very well controlled, and regulated. My class had the highest accident rate, the highest dropout rate, the highest fatality rate, the worst class in aviation history. I graduated in the top percentile. That's a true story.

Jared Stuard:

The craziest class?

Donald Adam:

Yeah. It was. Yeah. Okay.

Jared Stuard:

Well, Mr. Adam, thank you for -- thank you for your service.

Donald Adam:

Okay.

Jared Stuard:

Thank you for your time today. If there's nothing else you want to add we'll -- I think we can conclude.

Donald Adam:

I'm glad to share these stories with you. Not many people are -- are interested. I haven't made any talks about it.

Jared Stuard:

Well, they're fascinating stories so --

Donald Adam:

Yeah. They're different.

Jared Stuard:

No, it's -- it's really good to get these facts down and hopefully other people will be able to read them. So --

Donald Adam:

Yeah. That shooting a bear, that's quite a story.

Jared Stuard:

Yeah. Okay. That's it. [Interview concluded.]

 
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  October 26, 2011
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