Based: British Aircraft carrier Ark Royal
On exchange w/Royal Navy 849 Squadron
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 22, 2003
Persian Gulf, Int'l waters
Hometown: La Mesa
High School: Grossmont High (La Mesa)
Burial: Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego
"He was slow to anger, but great to laugh, love and serve," his uncle, Lt. Col. Marc Masquelier of the Air Force Reserve, said during the service.
Masquelier spoke of Adams' devotion to his younger sister, Cari. As children, he helped her learn to read and count to 20.
Adams grew up to be selfless and ready to serve his country. He had come from a family of privilege, and his grandfather served on the rebuilding boards of the Old Globe and the Aerospace Museum when both were destroyed by arson. He was a descendant of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
"He gave it all for service," said his uncle, Tim Moran. "There are not many like him."
Adams graduated from the Naval Academy with honors and was a radar operator, whose job it was to detect low-flying aircraft and skimming missiles, as well as direct fighter aircraft.
"Tom was loving what he was doing, and was so impressed with his British crew that he was arranging inter-ship visits so our guys and their guys could learn from each other," said his friend and fellow Navy flier Lt. Mike Herbert, who escorted Adams' body on the trip home from Kuwait.
Herbert had just returned from flying in the first strike against Iraq when he heard the news that among the British casualties in the crash was one American.
Adams was honored with a rifle volley and a lone bugler played "Taps." When two S-3 Vikings screamed overhead, and Navy personnel folded an American flag and a British flag for his parents, the sound of gentle sobbing came from those who loved him. Family members and friends slowly rose and walked by the casket, which they covered in red, white and yellow roses.
He was buried on a hillside that looks toward Mount Helix, where he grew up.
"It's a personal consolation that he will be able to hear airplanes," said his aunt, Elizabeth Hansen.
At a reception following the service, fellow fliers talked about Adams.
"He was friends with everybody," said Navy Lt. Eric Nelson, who came from Washington, D.C., to the funeral, along with about 10 of the 30 people in Adams' class and company at the Naval Academy.
Some are deployed in Iraq, but "in spirit, all of them are here," Nelson said.
Adams' mother said she was grateful for the outpouring of love and support from all of the people who knew him.
"What you hope for your kids is that they are happy," she said, "and he truly was."
Read the entire San Diego Union Tribune article about Navy Lieutenant Thomas Mullen Adams