BOSSIER CITY, La. -- Ray Adams had a couple of older brothers in World War II. One was in the Army and the other in the Navy. Ray wanted to go to the Navy at age 17. But his Mom wouldn't sign for him.
When he came of age at 18, Ray was off -- but to the Air Force.
As US warplanes continued to fly over an uneasy cease-fire in Korea, Ray Adams was deployed to keep those planes flying. He was close to hostilities on the ground.
"We were living in tents. But we had dug bunkers for us to get into if we were that close to North Korean line. If anything happened, we'd just crawl into that bunker and hope we survived it," he says.
Ray's aircraft maintenance duty continued on F-5's, F-100's and other jets in the Vietnam War, with deployments there and to a base in Thailand.
Ray closed out his career at Barksdale where he had a major assignment for inspections.
"Went out to every base in the 8th Air Force at least once or twice a year," he says. "We just inspected everything. Checked their records. Made sure they were training their new troops right. Checked their aircraft over."
With the medal for Meritorious Service, among his collection, Ray rose to the highest rank for an enlisted man in the Air Force -- Chief Master Sergeant -- with a patriotic sendoff after 30 years of service.
"That flag came down. Became mine," he says, proudly, of the U.S. flag waving outside the front of his home.
"Got to see the world. Have some good times and some bad times. I never had any regrets," he says.
One frightful experience for Ray early on in the Air Force was a flight to the base in Amarillo on a C-130. They lost an engine and were in real danger of hitting mountains. Ray says he opened the rear cargo doors and tossed our the crew's luggage to lighten the plane's load. They made it down to Amarillo with just the clothes they had on.