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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
15, 1943 our flight took us over Hamburg,
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,
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
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
John and Breta Adams
Aug 1, 1990
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