Last Known Activity Don Adams was born on February 23, 1921, in Caton, New York. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree from Western Michigan College in 1942, he entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on October 24, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings on August 30, 1943.
Lt Adams then served as an instructor pilot at Newport, Arkansas, from August 1943 to July 1944, followed by advanced fighter training in the P-51 Mustang.
He went to England and joined the 343rd Fighter Squadron of the 55th Fighter Group, 66th Fighter Wing, 3rd Bombardment Division, 8th Air Force in February 1945, where he was credited with destroying 2 enemy aircraft on the ground while strafing enemy airfields before the war ended. Adams transferred to the 307th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Group on occupation duty in Germany in November 1946, and then returned to the U.S. in June 1947.
His next assignment was flying F-80 Shooting Stars and F-86 Sabres with the 62nd Fighter Squadron of the 56th Fighter Group at Selfridge AFB, Michigan, from July 1947 to October 1951.
Maj Adams then deployed to Korea, where he was credited with the destruction of 6.5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 3.5 more damaged while flying with the 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing at Suwon, South Korea from November 1951 to June 1952.
He joined the 27th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 1st Fighter Interceptor Wing at Griffiss AFB, New York, in July 1952, and was killed while flying an F-89 Scorpion near the Detroit Airport on August 30, 1952.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations as a Pilot, 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Group, FIFTH Air Force, on 3 May 1952. Leading a squadron of six F-86 type aircraft, Major Adams attacked a flight of twenty MiG type aircraft. In the ensuing battle, from 30,000 feet down to 5,000, Major Adams aggressively pressed the attack despite mechanical difficulties which resulted in sever frosting of his windscreen and rendered his sighting system useless. With an extraordinary display of airmanship and gunnery skill, Major Adams succeeded in destroying the flight leader of the enemy element. In succeeding maneuvers he observed a second aircraft and, unaware of the first destruction because of excessively reduced visibility, he attacked, believing this aircraft to be his first target escaping. Continuing his aggressive attack, he destroyed the second aircraft as well. The destruction of the two aircraft effectively broke up the enemy force. By his high personal courage, resourcefulness, and extraordinary flying skill, Major Adams reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces, and the United States Air Force.
VIII FC 12 Jan 1943
VIII FC, 4 ADW 30 Jun 1943
VIII FC, 65 FW 7 Aug 1943
2 BD, 65 FW 15 Sep 1944
2 AD, 65 FW 1 Jan 1945
P-47C 5 Feb 1943 to Apr 1943
P-47D Jan 1943 to Mar 1945
P-47M Jan 1945 to Sep 1945
KINGS CLIFFE 13 Jan 1943 to 5 Apr 1943
HORSHAM ST FAITH 5 Apr 1943 to 8 Jul 1943
HALESWORTH 8 Jul 1943 to 18 Apr 1944
BOXTED 18 Apr 1944 to 9 Sep 1945
LITTLE WALDEN 9 Sep 1945 to 10 Oct 1945
Col Hubert Zemke 1 Sep 1942 to 30 Oct 1943
Col Robert B. Landry 30 October 1943 to 11 Jan 1944
Col Hubert Zemke 19 Jan 1944 to 12 Aug 1944
Col. David C. Schilling 12 Aug 1944 to 27 Jan 1945
Lt. Col. Lucian A. Dade Jr. 27 Jan 1945 to Aug 1945
Lt. Col. Donald D. Renwick Aug 1945 to Oct 1945
First Mission: 13 Apr 1943
Last Mission: 21 Apr 1945
Total missions: 447
Aircraft MIA: 128
Claims: Air 674 Ground 311.
Two Distinguished Unit Citation:
20 Feb 1944 to 9 Mar 1944 foe destroying 98 enemy aircraft
18 Sep 1944 invasion of Holland in support of airborne forces
Unit Claims to Fame
Destroyed more enemy aircraft than any other 8th AF fighter Group.
Had more fighter aces than any other Fighter Group
Top Scoring fighter aces Francis Gabreski, and Robert Johnson flew with the 56th Fighter Group
First USAAF group to fly P-47
Only 8AF Group to fly P-47 throughout the War
Activated on the 15th of January 1941 at Savannah AAB, Ga. Expansion of the Group began after the move to Charlotte AAB, NC in May of 1941 when they were equipped with a small number of P-39 and P-40 aircraft. IIntensive training at Charleston MAP, SC in Dec 1941 and from Jan to Jun 1942 at airfields in New York, at area headquarters at Mitchel field, NY. Here they flew on air defence patrols. Selected to train with the new P-47B they received the first aircraft in June of 1942. The group then moved to Bridgeport MAP, Conn on 7 July 1942 and continued testing and training with early P-47s. Alerted for overseas duty in December of 1942 they sailed on the Queen Elizabeth on the 6th of January 1943 and arrived in Gourock on the 11th of January 1943. The 647 aerial victories placed the group on the top of the 8th AF in that category and they finished second only to the 4th Fighter Group in combined air and ground victories. The group finished with a eight to one kill ratio.
Aircraft went to depots on September 1945. The remainder of the personnel went to Little Walden. they returned to the States on October 1945, sailing on the Queen Mary on the 11th of October 1945, and arriving in New York on the 16th of October 1945. The group was established at Selfridge field, Michigan and flew P-47s and P-51s until 1947, then they transitioned to P-80s and moved to O'Hare IAP, Ill on August 1955 and were equipped with F-86Ds, then they were reestablished as the 62 Fighter Intercepter Squadron with the F-101 Vodoos until 1969. Then the designation was given to a special operations wing in Thailand in 1967.
Radio Callsign: YARDSTICK (A Group) and ASHLAND (B Group)
These changed on April 22nd 1944 to FAIRBANK (A Group), SUBWAY (B Group)
and (C Group) PANTILE
In the middle of July 1944, 61st Fighter Squadron commander (and leading scorer of the 56th Fighter Group) LTC Francis S. Gabreski bounces an ME-109 for his final victory of the war. Within two weeks he would make himself a prisoner of war when, during a strafing run on an enemy airfield, he got too low and caught his propeller on the ground.
Francis "Gabby" Gabreski of the 56th Fighter Group