ACRM James Wilbur Adams

ACRM James Wilbur Adams

Springfield, Greene County, Missouri, USA
Death 4 Jun 1942 (aged 30)
At Sea
Cenotaph Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA
Plot Courts of the Missing
Memorial ID 56113784 · View Source
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James Wilbur was the only child of James Marvin and Hazel Davis Adams. They were married about 1910 probably in Springfield, Greene, MO. James Marvin was employed by the Railroad for most of his working life. He and Hazel divorced before 1930. She and her son moved to Des Moines, Polk, IA before 1930 where she was employed as a seamstress. James W. Adams married Erma Vivian Adams before 1940. She was believed to have been a Canadian citizen from the Province of Ontario. It is believed that the couple had no children. Just prior to James' death at Midway, Erma returned to Ontario, Canada to live.

James was a high school graduate and draftsman when he enlisted in the US Navy (NSN: 320-85-62) for four years on 5 April 1932 at the Naval Recruiting Station (NRS), Des Moines, Polk, IA as an Apprentice Seaman (AS). His mother, Hazel Adams, gave her consent for her son to enlist as he was a minor under twenty-one years of age. He was transferred on 6 April 1932 to the US Naval Training Station (NTS), San Diego, CA for recruit training arriving on 08 April 1932. After he completed basic training, Adams was transferred on 26 July 1932 to the Radio Operating School in San Diego for duty under instruction. On 16 Aug 1932, he was advanced in rate to Seaman Second Class (S2c). He completed the course of instruction with a final grade of 98%. He was detached from Radio School on 01 Nov 1932 and transferred to USS Argonne (AS-10) via battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) on 13 Nov 1932 as a Radio Striker. On 3 Mar 1933, S2c Adams was transferred to the USS Antares (AG-10). He reported for duty on board the USS Brant (AM-24) from the USS Antares on 20 Mar 1933. On 30 Aug 1934, his rating changed from Seaman Second Class (S2c) to Radioman Third Class (RM3). On 29 Jan 1935, Adams qualified as a rifle marksman. He was transferred to USS Tern (AM-31) from USS Brant on 12 Sep 1935. He was advanced to Radioman Second Class (RM2) on 28 Feb 1936.

Radioman Second Class (RM2) Adams was honorably discharged from naval service on 03 April 1936 on board the minesweeper, USS Tern (AM-31). RM2 Adams reenlisted in the US Navy on 06 May 1936 for four years at the NRS in Los Angeles, CA whereupon he was transferred to the Receiving Ship, San Diego to await further assignment. On 4 Jun 1936, Adams was transferred as a passenger to the USS Henderson (AP-1) for further transfer to the USS Black Hawk (AD-9) in Manila, Philippines. Adams reported on board USS Parrott (DD-218) on 17 Aug 1936 for duty. Several days later, Adams submitted a request to attend the Naval Flight School in Pensacola, FL. He stated that he had completed all the examinations required for entrance to that school on board the USS Saratoga on 13 Mar 1936. RM2 Adams transferred on 29 Aug 1936 back to USS Black Hawk for duty. On 30 Nov 1936, RM2 Adams was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal. On 22 Dec 1938, Adams was detached from the USS Black Hawk (AD-9) in Manila, Philippines and transferred via the USS Henderson (AP-1) and then USS Trinity (AO-13) as a passenger to the Receiving Ship (RS) at San Diego. On 08 Jan 1939, Adams became a Shellback after crossing the Equator on board the Trinity while bound for Singapore via the Dutch East Indies. Adams arrived on 01 Mar 1939 at the Receiving Ship in San Diego.

RM2 Adams transferred from the Receiving Ship, USS Rigel (AD-13), in San Diego to Bombing Squadron Four (later changed on 01 July 1939 to Bombing Squadron Three (VB-3)) attached to the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) on 19 April 1939. Adams was promoted to Radioman First Class (RM1) on 16 Oct 1939. On 28 Feb 1940, Adams qualified for duty as a radioman in aircraft. Adams was honorably discharged on board USS Saratoga (CV-3) on 11 April 1940. The following day, Radioman First Class (RM1) Adams, reenlisted on 12 April 1940 at Lahaina Roads, Maui (HI) on board USS Saratoga.

On 8 Nov 1940, RM1 Adams was transferred from VB-3 to the Radio Material School, Naval Research Laboratory, Bellevue, D.C. for a course of instruction. The course began on 09 Dec 1940 and ended 11 July 1941. RM1 James W. Adams was transferred from the Naval Research (Radio) lab, Washington, DC to the Receiving Ship in New York on 09 Aug 1941. Several days later on 15 Aug 1941, he was assigned temporary duty as an instructor at the US Naval Detachment, Radio School, Clinton, Ontario, Canada (ZED) until 13 Sep 1941.

He was detached from ZED on 17 Sep 1941 and on 2 Oct 1941, he reported to the Receiving Ship, San Diego from the Receiving Ship, NY. Then on 07 Oct 1941, he was transferred to the Transition Training Squadron Pacific in San Diego for further assignment. He was assigned to Patrol Squadron 44 (VP-44) on 11 December 1941 to duty involving flying. On 12 Jan 1942, RM1 Adams changed his rating to Aviation Radioman First Class (ARM1). He was issued an acting appointment as an Aviation Chief Radioman on 01 April 1942.

Patrol Squadron Forty-four (VP-44) departed from the Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA for Pearl Harbor, T.H., in two divisions of six planes each. The first of these left the United States on March 26, 1942. The second, because of unfavorable weather, delayed its departure until April 12. Ordered to Midway for extended operations, PATRON 44 arrived at Eastern Island on the 22nd of May and began long-range reconnaissance flights on 27 May in anticipation of a Japanese attempt to capture Midway Island. During the first few days of June 1942, the VP-23 and VP-44 PBYs based at Midway flew long patrols over the trackless ocean, searching for signs of enemy shipping. Then on 3 Jun came the first surface contact reports from the VP-23 PBY searchers. The following day, 04 Jun 1942, pilot Lt. (j.g.) Robert S. Whitman and his PBY-5A Catalina from VP-44 were airborne again when he reported contact at 0925 with enemy ships (probably the Japanese Occupation Force), antiaircraft fire, and that his aircraft was being "opposed by two enemy observation planes." Japanese Mitsubishi F1M2 Type 0 floatplanes from the seaplane carrier Chitose had attacked Ltjg Whitman's Catalina about 340 miles west of Midway. During the attack Ltjg Robert S. Whitman (pilot), Ens. Walter H Mosley (co-pilot), ARMC James W. Adams (radioman), RM3 William H. O'Farrell (gunner), and AMM3 Clarence J Norby Jr (gunner) were killed. Ens James Hill Camp (observer) was mortally wounded, and the plane set afire. AOM2c Philip L. Fulghum, the PBY’s bow gunner, continued to operate his .50-caliber machine gun, and sent one of the attackers away trailing smoke. On his own initiative, with a crash imminent, Fulghum released the plane’s two 500-pound bombs. After the crash, AMM1c Virgil Ruel Marsh (flight engineer), despite the roaring flames, freed a rubber boat from the plane, which AMM2c John C. Weeks (gunner) repaired while in the water. Fulghum then assisted the wounded into the raft. Several days later, June 6, 1942, a PBY commanded by Ltjg Norman Bradley located the five men in the raft. He safely picked them up and returned them to Midway. Ensign Camp died on Midway of his wounds on 07 Jun 1942. After the battle of Midway, Patrol Squadron 44 returned to Pearl Harbor on 09 Jun 1942. Chief Adams was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal for wounds he received on 04 Jun 1942. In Dec 1946, he was posthumously awarded the American Defense Service Medal and the World War II Victory medal.
Chief Adams' family received a commemoration from President Roosevelt. It reads:

“In grateful memory of James Wilbur Adams, United States Navy, who died in the service of his country at Midway Islands, 5 June 1943 (Presumed). He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives – in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.

(signed), Franklin D Roosevelt, President of the United States of America)”

(Compiler's note: *Presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943. Actual date gone missing was 4 Jun 1942.)
The crew of 44-P-12 (call sign 8V55)

Adams, James Wilbur ACRM (A) (Radio Operator)
(KIA-Drowned after clearing downed aircraft)
Camp, Jack Hill, Ensign (Observer)
(Died of Wounds 7 Jun 1942 on Midway)
Fulghum, Philip L., AOM2c (Bombarier/Bow gunner)
(WIA - exposure)
Marsh, Virgil Ruel AMM1 (Flight Engineer) (WIA - exposure)
McCleary, Lee Coleman, Ensign (Navigator) (WIA)
Mosley, Walter H. Ensign (Co-pilot) (KIA)
Norby, Clarence J. Jr. AMM3c (Gunner) (KIA)
O'Farrell, William H. RM3c (Gunner)(KIA)
Weeks, John C. AMM2c (Gunner) (WIA)
Whitman, Robert S. Lt.(jg) (Pilot) (KIA)
[bio compiled by G47]

Family Members

Gravesite Details Entered the service from California.

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  • Maintained by: G47
  • Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
  • Added: 6 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56113784
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for ACRM James Wilbur Adams (24 Jul 1911–4 Jun 1942), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56113784, citing Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA ; Maintained by G47 (contributor 47281148) .