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100-year-old World War II veteran takes ‘dream flight’ back into the clouds

Thomas Adams Jr. flew on planes during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 7:16 AM CDT
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HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Thomas Adams Jr. knows the sound of an airplane engine all too well. As a U.S. Air Force flight engineer in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, he’s been shot at more times than he can count. But this time, the skies were full of only friendly faces instead of enemy fire.

The 100-year-old took to the air once again Thursday thanks to Dream Flights, a nonprofit made up of volunteer pilots that take veteran pilots back into the clouds.

100-year-old World War II pilot Thomas Adams Jr. flew with Dream Flights, a nonprofit that...
100-year-old World War II pilot Thomas Adams Jr. flew with Dream Flights, a nonprofit that takes veterans back into the clouds.(WLOX)

Tom Adams III worked with Dream Flights to arrange the flight for his dad.

“It’s to kind of repay, I guess, in a way a lot of the things that he’s done for me,” he said. “I believe who I am is directly because of him.”

James Sims has been a Dream Flight volunteer pilot for a year. His favorite part is hearing the stories of heroism and valor told by the older veterans, most of which are recorded in meticulous detail.

“Being able to meet the men and women that served our country and gave us the opportunity to live the life we live now, it’s incredibly rewarding, to be able to meet living history and to have them give you their firsthand accounts,” said Sims. “It’s just incredible to shake their hands and say thank you to them.”

In his military career - which included flying during World War II, the Korean War and the...
In his military career - which included flying during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War - Thomas Adams Jr. recorded 27 flights and earned two distinguished flying crosses.(WLOX)

In his military career, Thomas Adams Jr. recorded 27 flights and earned two distinguished flying crosses. He had nothing but good things to say about his experience on Thursday.

“Life is good. The flight was wonderful and the crew chief is special and the pilot is exceptional,” he said.

Adams only had one problem.

“They took the stick out, so I didn’t get a chance to fly it,” he said with a laugh.

Thomas Adams Jr., a 100-year-old Air Force veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, gives a...
Thomas Adams Jr., a 100-year-old Air Force veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, gives a thumbs up before being taken for a ride courtesy of Dream Flights.(wlox)

The flights operate out of Stennis International Airport in Hancock County.

“We proudly serve and host various events, including supporting our military,” said airport director Chanse Watson. “A lot of our traffic is our military and we’re pleased to support events like today.”

Dream Flights is a nonprofit organization established and dedicated to honoring seniors and military veterans. Through donors, community support and volunteers, the foundation provides Dream Flights in a Boeing Stearman biplane, the same aircraft used to train many military aviators in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Dream Flights inspires many veterans to share their stories of how they survived through great times of strife, preserving those memories for future generations, as well as closing the generation gap and teaching many valuable lessons.

These missions by Dream Flights are sponsored by Sport Clips Haircuts, but the nonprofit also uses donations, grants, and the support of their volunteers. For more information on how you can help Dream Flights or to request a Dream Flight for someone, visit the organization’s website.

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