Thomas McConnell Adams was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on 7 June 1913, son of Samuel Morton and Helen (Gibbons) Adams. He attended Washington High School in Sioux Falls and Sioux Falls College, for one year, prior to entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state in 1933. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 3 June 1937, he subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Captain, to date from 1 July 1955.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1937, he reported on board USS Lexington and in May 1940 was detached for duty on the Staff of Commander Aircraft, Battle Force. He continued to serve in that assignment until July 1941, when he was ordered to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. Designated Naval Aviator on 30 January 1942, he joined Patrol Squadron EIGHTY-THREE, which operated in the South Atlantic Area. He was entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded that squadron for outstanding services in the Atlantic Area off South America.
For two years, July 1943 - July 1945, he was a student in electronic engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland, after which he served as Aviation Electronics Officer on the Staff of Commander Air Force, US Pacific Fleet. In August 1947 he reported as Superintendent of Training at the Naval Air Technical Training Command, Naval Air Station, Memphis, Tennessee and in August 1950 was assigned duty in connection with aviation electronics on the Staff of Commander Operational Development Force. From July 1952 until June 1955,he headed the Planning Branch, Electronics Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, DC.
He next served as Bureau of Aeronautics Representative, Factory A., Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, California, and in July 1958 returned to the Bureau of Aeronautics, (later combined with the Bureau of Ordnance and designated the Bureau of Naval Weapons), Navy Department, where he was Director of the Avionics Division. In June 1961, he reported as Overhaul and Repair Officer at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, and in July 1964 was assigned to the US Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Regional Organization, with headquarters in Paris, France. In March 1965 he was ordered to duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC.
In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Captain Adams had the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; AsiaticPacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal.
Captain Adams had written a textbook titled "Descriptive Electronics," which was published in 1950.