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Adapted from "Rear Admiral John Clausel Adams, United States Navy, Retired"
[biography, dated 15 April 1949] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library.

Document Type
  • Biography
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War II 1939-1945
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Location of Archival Materials

John Clausel Adams

9 October 1893 - 22 March 1981

PDF Version [4.6MB]

Rear Admiral Adams, born in Jackson, Alabama, on 9 October 1893, was graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Alabama, in 1917. Appointed Lieutenant (jg) in the Medical Corps of the US Navy on 6 September 1917, he subsequently progressed in grade to that of Commodore on 3 April 1945. His promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral, approved by the President on 9 December 1946, was confirmed by the Senate, to date from 19 September 1942.

Following his appointment in the Medical Corps of the Navy in 1917, Rear Admiral Adams completed the postgraduate course at the Naval Medical School, Washington, DC, that year and served during the remaining months of World War I with the Eighth Regiment of the US Marine Corps, at Quantico, Virginia, and subsequently in the transport Northern Pacific. Following the Armistice, 11 November 1918, he served in the hospital ship, USS Mercy, engaged in returning wounded from Europe.

After duty in the Naval Hospitals, Ft. Lyon, Colorado, and Great Lakes, Illinois, Rear Admiral Adams reported in 1923 for the postgraduate course in aviation medicine, and during the two subsequent years completed that course at the Army School of Aviation Medicine at Mineola, Long Island, and was designated Flight Surgeon.

Assigned to sea duty, Rear Admiral Adams served in USS Langley from 1924 to 1927, and served later on the staff of Commander, Aircraft Squadrons, Pacific Fleet. He had successive duty from 1927 to 1935 at the Naval Hospitals, San Diego, California, Pearl Harbor, TH, and Pensacola, Florida, before reporting in October 1935 for two years' service at sea aboard USS Quincy, operating in the Mediterranean during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, and under the Chief of Naval Operations the next year.

In 1937 Rear Admiral Adams became Chief of the Division of Aviation Medicine, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department, Washington, DC. During his administration, the original organization, consisting of a few flight surgeons, was expanded until it became numerically larger than the entire Bureau establishment prior to the national emergency. In addition, he crusaded for research, helping to establish a Division of Medical Research in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department; and assisting in the original planning and development of the Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.

Rear Admiral Adams initiated and was primarily responsible for the establishment of the Physiological Research Unit at the Naval Unit at the Naval Air Material Center, Patuxent River, Maryland; the School of Aviation Medicine and the Aviation Medicine Research Unit, Pensacola, Florida; and had worked actively with the several research activities of the US Army, the Canadian Government, the British Government, the Committee of Aviation Medicine of the National Research Council, and other scientific institutions and groups.

For outstanding services as Flight Surgeon in charge of the Division of Aviation Medicine, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, prior to and during World War II, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, with the following citation: 

"For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Flight Surgeon in charge of the Division of Aviation Medicine, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, prior to and during World War II. Maintaining close liaison with the Bureau of Aeronutics, the Army Air Corps and civilian aviation activities, Commodore Adams procured and trained a sufficient number of medical aviation personnel to meet the urgent demands imposed by the rapid expansion of Navy and Marine Corps Aviation. By his scientific knowledge and administrative ability, Commodore Adams contributed immeasurably to the advancements in aviation evacuation of casualties, to the increase in personnel safety factors and to the high level aviation medicine has attained in the Navy."

In July 1946, Rear Admiral Adams was advanced to the position of Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for Aviation Medicine and Medical Military Specialties. On 6 January 1947, he was ordered to duty as District Medical Officer, Fifth Naval District, Norfolk, Virginia. He was relieved of all active duty and transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on 1 April 1949.

In addition to the Legion of Merit, Rear Admiral Adams had the Victory Medal, and was entitled to the American Defense Service Medal, the American Area Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He also had the rank of Honorary Commander in the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Rear Admiral Adams received the "John Jeffries Award,"  presented by the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences for outstanding contributions to aviation in Medical Research for 1945. He had written many articles concerning medicine in connection with flying, and received commendation for a paper entitled "The Physical Examination for Flying with Special Reference to the Eyes, " which appeared in 1928. 

Rear Admiral Adams was a past Vice President of the Association of Military Surgeons and past President of the Aero Medical Association of the United States (1946). 


Published: Wed Jan 03 12:18:50 EST 2018