Sgt. John Adams kept secret electronics going aboard B-24 for Office of Strategic Services in WW II

Sgt. John Adams had a top secret security clearance in the Army Air Corps because he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was in charge of keeping all of the electronic equipment operational aboard an all black B -24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber that delivered supplies and guns to spies and resistance fighters throughout the European Theatre of Operation during World War II.

He ended up at a top secret air base near Hackenberry, England working for the OSS. He was the sergeant who saw to it that the radar and the secret equipment aboard the “Liberator” was operational. Every three weeks or so he would have to take a flight with the crew when the electronic gear only acted up while the bomber was airborne.

“The plane only flew at night. It would fly over the drop zone 200 to 400 feet above the ground,” the 92-year-old Port Charlotte resident said. “If they picked up a signal from one of their people on the ground they would parachute their stuff in. If they got no signal they dropped nothing.”

The supplies were delivered in canvas bags about 2 1/2 feet wide and 5 feet long. A parachute was hooked to one end of the bag and the other end had a spongy rubber pad that protected the precious cargo when it hit the ground.

When he wasn’t being a super sleuth, Adams and his buddies would ride into Hackenberry on their bicycles and tip a pint at a favorite local pub.

“The British were tolerant with the Americans up to a point,” he recalled more than 70 years later. “They weren’t too happy with us drinking up their beer supply.

“They also thought we were paid too much — much more than an English serviceman of equivalent rank. They weren’t too happy that we dated their girls either.”

Adams admitted he was 19 at the time and liked the English girls.

Adams and his wife, Carman, are pictured on their wedding day in 1948. Photo provided

Adams and his wife, Carman, are pictured on their wedding day in 1948. Photo provided

After 2 1/2 years working at the base on the OSS flights they got word from President Harry Truman one day in May on Armed Forces Radio that the war in Europe was over. The Germans had unconditionally surrendered to Allied forces.

It wasn’t long after that he hitched a ride in the tail gunner’s spot on a B-24 that was headed back to the States. They flew by way of Iceland, Labrador and eventually to an airbase in Pennsylvania. It was late 1945.

“I immediately got a month’s leave. While I was on leave the Japanese surrendered, World War II was over and I was discharged a few weeks later,” he said.

He took the G.I. Bill for a year, when he graduated from electronic repair school he immediately got a job working as a Philco Tech Rep. I was doing pretty much what I was doing in the service, repairing radar equipment on military aircraft.

“I was sent out to Clark Field in Manila, the Philippines to work on radar in planes out there. I also set up a radar training center out there for servicemen,” Adams said.

Eventually he wrote technical manuals for the Air Force after he quit Philco and went to work for an armory in the Philadelphia area near his home town.

About 10 years ago he retired and moved to this area from Philadelphia.

In 1948 he married Carmen, his wife of 68 years. They have four children: Linda, Sandra, Steve and Patty.

Adams’ File

Adams wearing his “World War II Veteran’s” ball cap today at 92. Sun photo by Don MooreName: John W. Adams
D.O.B: 9 March 1924
D.O.D.: 17 March 2020
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.
Currently: Port Charlotte, Fla.
Entered Service: 4 May 1943
Discharged: 3 Oct. 1945
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Unit: Office of Strategic Services – Europe
Commendations: Distinguished Unit badge, Good Conduct medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Service medal with 6 Bronze stars representing air offensives in Normandy; Southern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes, Central Europe, Northern France campaigns

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, March 28, 2016 and is republished with permission.

Click here to view Adams’ Collection in the Library of Congress.

Click here to view the War Tales fan page on FaceBook.

Click here to search Veterans Records and to obtain information on retrieving lost commendations.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be republished without permission. Links are encouraged.


  1. Don, If possible, could you provide a local phone number for John William Adams. He’s another Philadelphian and I’d like to call and chat with him for a few minutes. (Great story here by the way.) Semper Fidelis Joe Featherston _jrhd@aol.com_ (

  2. Very interesting. I flew similar missions, starting out on C130Bs and, later, on RC135s, to include Rivet Ball and Rivet Amber. I was on Rivet Ball when it crashed on Shemya. Most of the time I flew I was the Airborne Mission Supervisor. I was both a Russian linguist and a Hebrew linguist.

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