John Adams

Prepared: December 1999

EARLY BACKGROUND

 

I was born on the 12th of October 1917 in the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. My parents were living on Broad Street at the time near Seaside Park. The house was owned by Philip Cotmil, cousins of my parents.

My father, Nikola, had arrived in America sometime before 1915 and settled in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Many Albanians had settled here and with their help he was able to open a grocery store business near the railroad station in the center of town. My mother, Anastasia (Tessie), had remained in Albania with my older brother, Nicholas. They, the two, probably arrived in the states in 1916—Ellis Island. Soon after, in 1917, I was born.

During the year of 1918, a Flu epidemic persisted—world wide—many people died, among them, my father. He died on the 4th of December 1918. He was 36 years old. At that time my mother was pregnant with my younger brother to be, Charles (Chuck). He was born in August 1919.

We continued to live on Broad Street. My cousins, the Cotmils, lived next door. A few years later we moved to a home at the corner of Seaview and Stratford Avenue in the east end of Bridgeport. I-95 now goes through the very home we lived in.

The home was three floors high. A grocery store located on the ground level and owned by Peter Atanas, cousins of my parents. He and his wife had five daughters. It was here that I grew up in my early years. I remember having a paper route at ten years of age (1927). I was thrilled by the exploits of Charles Lindberg as he crossed at Atlantic in his single-engine plane.

I attended and graduated from Lincoln grammar school in 1931. Had to attend Lincoln Junior High School—one year—1932. The following year attended Warren Harding High School—sophomore and junior years. During this time my mother cared for and brought us up as best she could with a great deal of love included. She worked nearby at the Lowe’s Laundry. My brother, Nick, worked as a grocery clerk in the BPT area, in stores owned by Albanians.

L to R: Nicholas, Unknown Uncle, Charles, and John Adams

 

In 1933, Nick was able, with help from Albanian cousins, to open his own grocery store business. He became a part of a number of Albanians owned grocery stores known as the Crown Food Stores. His business was located on State Street across from the YMCA (Park Ave. was nearby). It was at this time that we moved to Hanover Street, off Park Avenue. I had to transfer to Central High School—(junior and senior years). I graduated in 1935.

I wanted to go to college, not having enough money, I worked for a year as a grocery clerk. I was also able to take some more courses at Central High. In 1937 I entered and attended Connecticut Agricultural College, which later became Connecticut State College and finally the University of Connecticut—all during my four years. During my freshman year I was taking Agriculture courses—planning to become a Forest Ranger (wrong decision—advisors were not in vogue). Anyway, by the end of my second year I realized I was in the wrong field; science, chemistry and math appeared to be my strengths. In my junior year I changed my major to chemistry. During this time I was a member of the R.O.T.C. It was a time that Europe was at war. Franklin D. Roosevelt was our president. When 1941 arrived I did not have quite enough credits to graduate with my class. However, because of the war brewing, in June 1941, I had to go on active duty in the army. I was sent to Fort Devens, Mass. My schooling was put on hold. At Fort Devens, I was assigned to the 18th Infantry Regiment—1st Division—as a second Lt. In December 1941, the army was looking for officers to enter the Army Air Corps. I jumped at the chance.

 

I eventually ended up in Monroe, LA. In the summer of 1942—Navigation School. After graduating from Navigation School that same year I became a member of a B-17 bomber Crew—a navigator of a B-17 called the Texas longhorn. We trained at Blythe, California and eventually ended at Dyersburg, Tennesse. In September of 1943 my crew and I were sent to England, we went by ship (boat)—crossing the Atlantic. After more training in England we began flying over Europe on aerial missions.

 

 

December 15, 1943 our flight took us over Hamburg, Germany. It was here we met severe flack and countless fighter planes. It was the flack that hit our plane. Engines on fire and 50 caliber shells exploding in the plane. Our pilot (Parker) ordered the crew to bail out. The bombardier, navigator co-pilot and pilot jump from the escape-hatch door in the nose of the ship. The enlisted men departed through the Bombay doors. Navigator (me) opens the escape-hatch door—then drops—rest of officers to follow. I landed in the backyard of a German home in Hamburg. I had been wounded in several places from the flack—fortunately, they were surface wounds. My landing was hard and I as out for a while. When I came to German Police; people and dogs were around me. I was taken captive and escorted to a German Airforce Base. Next day, with other P.O.W. we were put on a train and taken to Frankfort-on-the-Main Germany. Here, interrogation took place. After a number of days P.O.W’s were gathered and by train we went to Stalog-Luft ONE, near the Baltic Sea. I spent 18 months at this camp (located outside of Rostock, Germany).

POW Photo

 

 

In May of 1945, I was liberated and sent to camp via plane outside Paris, France. The camp was named "Camp Lucky Strike." Why? I never learned. After a couple of leave time in Paris — and paperwork was completed flew back to the states (air base in Mass.) Reunited with my family—happy to be back.

 

Wedding Photo John & Regina Adams

16 Aug 1945

 

AdamsJohnBreta.jpg (80168 bytes)

On 12 April 1989, Regina died of a stroke in Milford Connecticut at the age of 65. On 1 August 1990, John remarried to the former Breta Vanessa Manley.

John and Breta Adams

Aug 1, 1990

 

 

Link to additional photos

 

 

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