2016 Grand Marshals LTC Henry Burkle & CWO4 Thomas Adams


Henry Burkle, LTC (Ret.)

Henry Burkle was born at home in West Mineral, Kansas a small coal mining town where he spent his entire school years. He was raised by a "nanny" since his mother died when he was a very small child and his father had to support him working in the coal mines. After graduation in 1939, he attended Joplin Business College in Joplin, Missouri working his way through college.

Not successful in finding a job post graduation, Burkle enlisted in the Army as a Private in 1941 and was sent to the Aircraft Mechanics School at Chanute Field in Illinois. While there the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor so the course was greatly expedited and upon graduation, was sent to the newly opened Army Keesler Field, in Biloxi, MS as an instructor. There he found streets paved with fresh oyster shells with stench permeating their clothing, his take home pay just a mere $20.25 a month, classrooms in tents on the flight line, and mainly fed Spam with powdered milk, often called SOS. With his college background, he was selected for numerous special projects including working with a team to select everything needed to deploy a B-24 squadron. Upon completion of the project, he went to Officer Candidate School and then was assigned to join a 90 ship convoy in Newport for overseas deployment where they finally debarked in Taranto, Italy and made their way to an inland Olive Grove Area. There he spent two years assigned to B-24s providing direct support to ground forces against German troops, their war plants, and oil fields.

After two years, he returned to the States in 1945, and given 30 days leave in which to deploy again to the Pacific for the war against Japan. While on leave, he married Althea Martino, his finance, but before deploying, the Japanese surrendered. He returned to civilian life working for Firestone in Biloxi and then at his own Firestone store in Ocean Springs.

Lt Co. Burkle was recalled to active duty in July,1950 when the Korean War broke out. He was sent to a B-36 bomber organization near Rapid City, SD. While there, he was selected as an instructor for a course on a new aircraft maintenance system being taught to senior officers. He was then selected to attend the University of Illinois for Advanced Management Training, took several night courses and awarded a B.S degree. Then off to Korea, ending up at the 38th Parallel but after 11 months, was airlifted back to the States due to a back injury and upon recovery, was assigned as an Inspector with the IG Team.

Being assigned to the Research and Development Command, Burkle became extremely involved in the Highly classified Air Force Ballistic Missile Program and Space Program, the forerunner of NASA. Then, at the Dayton Wright Field Research Center he was assigned to a highly classified, top secret program as Director of Special Projects directing his staff on contracting of projects involving covert enemy affairs dictated from Washington.

Upon retirement from the Air Force in 1966, LTC Burkle accepted a position with General Electric as a Logistics Engineer on the NASA Space Program and the Apollo Man on the Moon Program where he remained through the Apollo 14 flight. He was there when Fred Haise of Biloxi was on the Apollo 13 aborted moon landing. Following the slow down and eventual end of the Apollo Program, he moved back to Biloxi in 1971, and worked at Ingalls in Pascagoula as a Logistics Engineer, retiring from there in 1989 as the Logistics Project Manager.

Lieutenant Colonel Burkle's numerous military awards include 9 Battle Stars, 2 Presidential Distinguished Unit Medals, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, and the Korea Defense Service Medal. He also wore the Ballistic Missile Badge.

Tom Adams, CWO-4 (Ret.)

Thomas Dewey Adams, Jr. was born in Radford, Virginia but was raised and spent his entire childhood in Roanoke Virginia where he went to school. During his high school years, he worked part time at a local airfield doing any and all work required in order to take flying lessons, making his first solo flight while merely just a junior. Following graduation in 1939, he sought a job working around the airplanes he loved and thus was fortunate enough to land a job as an aircraft mechanic at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.

Adams lust for airplanes and flying, led him on a career path involving aircraft and space. In 1941 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was sent to the newly established Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi to attend the Aircraft & Engineering Tech School. Upon arrival, he found a base paved with oyster shells and many classes taught in tents on the flight line. Post graduation, he had planned on attending pilot training but could not pass the required flight physical due to eye problems so was kept first at Keesler Field and then transferred to Gulfport Army Field as an instructor in Aircraft Electrical Systems. In 1944, he was sent to Guam as a B-29 combat crew flight engineer where he and his crew participated in 26 combat missions against Japan.

Adams got out of the military in 1946 for a very short period of time but missed military life so much he rejoined and was assigned to the Manhatten Project, flying test missions for the "A" bomb. Other assignments included a return to Keesler as the supervisor of the Aircraft Mechanic school followed by multiple tours as a maintenance technical officer/inspector in Korea, the Philippines, Lovelace Field in Maryland, and England AFB in Louisiana.

For twenty years following his retirement from the Air Force in 1966, he again followed his love of flying by working for NASA Support Contractors at Stennis Space Center as a planner and scheduler for engineering of the high pressure gas components involved in the Shuttle Engines Test Program.

CWO-4 Adams retired from Stennis Space Center in 1986 to Pass Christian where he and his family became very involved in the Carnival Association, building and decorating many parade floats.

In 2015, one year after his move to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, he was honored by being selected as the King of the Parade and Ball. Still following his love of aircraft and flying, Adams took two recent flights through the AFRH on a PT-17 Stearman WWII trainer. He is also an active member of the Mississippi Coast Military Officers Association (MCMOA).

During his long military career, CWO-4 Adams was awarded numerous awards and decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals from the Asiatic-Pacific, Korea, and the Vietnam Campaigns and the Air Force Commendation Medal. Following his twenty years at Stennis Space Center, he also received NASA Citations for his work in the Space Shuttle Test Programs.





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