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LINCOLN, NEB. — Paul Adams, a Nebraska veteran who served as a Tuskegee Airman during World War II, has died. He was 92.
Adams died Sunday, his son, Michael Adams, told the Lincoln Journal Star.
A native of Greenville, S.C., Adams joined the Army after graduating from South Carolina State University, joining the Tuskegee Airmen — a group that broke racial barriers in World War II by becoming the first black aviators in the U.S. military. Adams flew with the 332nd Fighter Group, a unit also known as the “Red Tail” group for its distinctive aircraft paint scheme.
The group flew 1,500 missions in Europe and North Africa. Adams served in nine major campaigns and received the Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf clusters, each of which signifies subsequent bestowals of the same honor.
In 2007, he received the Congressional Bronze Medal for his contribution as a “guardian angel” — a name of respect given by white airmen who were escorted by the Tuskegee Airmen during the war. Doane College recognized Adams with the President’s Honor of Distinction Award the same year.
Two years later at President Obama’s invitation, Adams and other Tuskegee Airmen attended the inauguration of America’s first black president.
The military transferred Adams to Lincoln in 1962. He retired a year later and began teaching industrial arts at Lincoln High School in 1964, becoming one of the first black teachers in the Lincoln public school system.
His son said Adams also taught what likely was the first Black History class in the district. Adams retired from teaching in 1982.
“He taught by example, by the way he lived,” Michael Adams told the newspaper. “I kind of thought of him as Superman, because anything he said he could do, he did it.”
Adams also played a role in the civil rights movement in Lincoln and served as president of the Lincoln chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Alda Adams, three children, four grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
A memorial service will be held Saturday at Lincoln Memorial Funeral Home.