From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Dudley Adams '39

Date of birth: March 7, 1917

Date of death: May 13, 1953

Age: 36

Lucky Bag

From the 1939 Lucky Bag:


From Naval History Command:


Dudley Hale Adams was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 7, 1917, son of Donald B. and Louise R. (Ufford) Adams. He attended Burlington (Vermont) High School And Columbia University, New York, New York, for one year prior to his appointment to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from the State of New York in 1935. As of midshipmen he was a member of the French Club, the Quarterdeck Society, and the news staff of the Log and participated in cross country track. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on June 1, 1939, he subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Commander, to date from July 1, 1949.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1939, he joined the USS Tennessee. Detached from that battleship in February 1941, he had flight training at the Naval Air Stations, Pensacola and Miami, Florida. Designated Naval Aviator on September 5, 1941, he had further instruction with the Advanced Carrier Training Group, Norfolk, Virginia, until January 1942, when he reported aboard the USS Wasp. He was attached to that aircraft carrier during the initial assault on Guadalcanal, August 7, 1942. “For meritorious achievement… against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on August 7, 1942…” he was awarded the Air Medal. The citation continues in part:

“While attempting to drive off several Japanese Zeros which were harassing the plane ahead of him in formation, Lieutenant Adams was attacked by an enemy fighter from behind. Although severely wounded in the engagement, he succeeded in bringing his severely damaged plane to be safe landing on the sea alongside one of our destroyers…“

He was also awarded the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in this action.

Transferred to a shore hospital for treatment, he rejoined the Wasp early in September 1942, and was aboard her when she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on September 15, of that year. She was sunk by destroyer of our Navy to prevent her from falling into the hands of the enemy.

Between October 1942 in January 1944 he was an instructor in fighters and bombers at the Naval Air Station, Vero Beach, Florida, after which he served as Executive Officer of Fighting Squadron SEVENTY NINE, operating in the Atlantic. In April 1944 he transferred to Fighting Squadron ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR, to command that squadron until September 1944. He next had duty as executive officer and commanding officer of the Naval Air Combat Training Unit, Pacific. Designated for Aeronautical Engineering Duty Only (Electronics) in 1946, he was assigned in March of that year, to the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, D. C., where he remained until August 1950. He was then transferred to the Naval Air Technical Training Center, Memphis, Tennessee. He was so serving when he was killed as a result of an airplane crash on May 15th, 1953, in Memphis.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Wartime Service

Dudley was shot down by Japan's fourth most successful ace of the war, who had 64 confirmed kills. Dudley ditched his aircraft near USS Dewey; his crewman did not survive. They were flying a SBD-3 Dauntless dive bomber of Scouting Squadron (VS) 71.

Class of 1939

Dudley is one of 77 members of the Class of 1939 on Virtual Memorial Hall.