GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Tom Adams Jr. may be 100, but you’d probably swear he was at least 30 years younger. Attitude is big.
“I’ve always been a guy that’s smiled and laugh a lot,” he said.
He has another secret.
“I drink good gin,” he added with a laugh.
While gin doesn’t necessarily get better with age, his sense of humor does. In addition, his gate is solid and his mind is sharp.
“I mean, the stories he can tell about the war years,” said his daughter Jeanne Koonce. “He remembers all of it. He remembers dates and names and missions and the names of planes.”
He has had a fascination with planes since he was a child.
“I’ve always liked things that go fast and make a lot of noise,” he said.
His birthday was appropriately celebrated at the Aviation Museum in Gulfport on Saturday. He was in the first graduating class in airplane and engine mechanics at Keesler Air Force Base, and he is a veteran of three wars: World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
He flew in bombers as an engineer.
“Got shot at in the first two,” he said. “Got shot at in World War II a lot.”
On May 14, 1945, his bomber was held up because of a storm and was running out of fuel. He and his crewmates successfully parachuted out while over Iwo Jima. Adams kept his parachute, and he donated a part of it to the museum. That, and a lot of other memorabilia, served as the backdrop for his celebration.
He brushed off the milestone.
“It’s just a day. Birthdays come and go,” he said.
His daughter Koonce knows better.
“He acts like it’s just casual, but I know it’s not,” she said. “He is the definition of a lifer.”
He’s also the definition of a good father.
“He was a good dad,” said his son, Tom Adams III. “He still is a good dad. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He taught me a lot of good lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better dad.”